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Arisu in Twisted Wonderland

Chapter Text

Arisu knew he wasn’t entirely normal. Sure, he grew up in a loving family with his mother managing her own a café and his father also managing his own car repair shop. Even the town he lived in is surrounded by forests and had a beautiful lake as well, just like a start of a child novel. Sunnydale was their beautiful haven, and with the forest surrounding them, they were also a hotspot for faeries. Faeries like one called Lilia Vanrouge. He didn’t remember exactly how they met and only went off of stories his parents told; they met at the grocery store and the strange faerie appeared to help settle a fussy Arisu while his mother, Loraine, did the shopping. Since that encounter, Lilia would act as a nanny and come visit the family with his boys every time his parents would be gone for long hours at work – which ended with Arisu essentially being raised by both his human family and the faeries.

Despite how it sounded as though it was a pitiful situation for him to grow up without the presence of his parents, it actually wasn’t that bad of a situation; In fact, Arisu had a lot of fond memories of the four, and some of those fond memories transferred over to the now. Although, he had to admit that he does miss them since they stopped coming over the years. However, that all changed one day without warning.

He was on his bike one August morning, letting the cool summer breeze grace his lightly freckled face as he sped down the bike trail that was surrounded by the forest and the many lakes that would pop up every now and then. He loved riding his bike down the trails, when he’s there earlier in the day he didn’t have to worry about city tourists riding like daredevils and it was easy for him to stray from the main trail unto the many hidden trails that would lead to the various clearings that acted as a border between the mortal realm and the Fold. Now, Arisu knew the warnings of those trails from his faerie guardians who had often told him, "Go only to the clearing and never stray further, ‘less you wish to never be heard from again in the mortal realm." 

And he took those warnings to heart, he only went to the clearing and announce himself so they could come to him.

Coming to a stop on the side of the trail for a water break, Arisu looked to the lake that was separated by a wooden fence and smiled as the rush of the cool breeze graced his warm face. With summer quickly coming to an end, the school season would be starting up again. While Arisu did have a basic education when he was in grade school, he did have the extensive work with Lilia growing up. He may as well had forgone middle school altogether, but the family had their doubts that the government would accept homeschooling from a faerie. Not to mention, Lilia didn't even bother arguing against them when his boys almost did. However, middle school and high school was too easy for him and even boring. There was only one good thing in the middle/high school setting, the bike racing club. If it weren’t for that, he’d probably say ‘to heck with it’ and just come out of school with a C at best out of laziness, but…he needed the B or higher grade to stay on the team. How troublesome, he thought with a slight huff.

Now that he thought about it, school was probably the only thing that was the key difference between him and the faeries. Lilia and Malleus had mentioned about a school that trained students to become the greatest of magicians. In all honesty, Arisu had thought about visiting there a few times in the past but there were tight restrictions for guests due to where the island was located – that and it was another realm, and he couldn’t really use magic, like Lilia's boys Silver and Sebek. 

Well…no, that was a lie.

He had noticed that whenever he made eye contact with people, he would be in another ‘area’. Arisu laid a hand by his eyes as he thought of that weird power and wonder how long has it been since he accidentally gone there? He couldn’t really explain it, but every time he made eye contact with Silver for example; he would find himself in a forest with a little cabin in the center and seeing his friend in a hammock relaxing in the afternoon sun while being surrounded by wildflowers. The only thing odd about that is that they could be at the house just talking about this or that when this happens. It was a weird ability to be sure, but…he decided to keep that tidbit to himself. He was certain this school would help him keep it under control and it probably would. He was just scared of this ability.

The wind started to blow a bit more harshly as he raced down the trail on his bike now struggling to halt his bike to a stop when he felt the wind stinging against his cheeks. To a normal person it may seem that it was just a breezy day, but Arisu knew better and he was terrified! 

Luckily, he came to a halt in time and quickly turned around with a sigh of relief and smiled excitedly. He recalled what Lilia had shown him once all those years ago. This tends to happens when there’s an air of magic around. His heart skipped thinking that one of his friends from the fold would be arriving. Luckily, he stopped before he ended up in their magical world. With a grin, Arisu started down the trail again until he would come upon a nearby trail that was hidden within the trees. It was then that he noticed a strange looking trail he hadn't recalled using before.

Curious, he got off his bike and began traversing deeper and deeper onto the strange trail before him. He had never seen this trail before and he had been on just about every trail growing up knowing them by heart, so where does this one lead to? Unfortunately, thanks to the tall trees the light from the sun was pretty limited so he was essentially in the dark. Arisu felt his heart starting to race from both excitement and fear as a million of ideas, fears, and other scenarios filled his head on where this path would take him. With bright eyes, he tightened his hold on the handlebars. The whole forest was quiet now, which was troublesome if he had to be honest. Usually there would be birds singing in the tree, cicadas screaming, or even the sound of something rustling in the grass. Nothing…just deafening silence echoing throughout the trail and made him uncomfortable by the dead silence…at least there was, at first. Then suddenly, he heard a small voice in the distance, too far to make out what was being said.

Magic or no, creepy voices in the forests were never a good sign. Lilia had warned him of such and told him to never follow such, always turn the other way and run. Run and never look back. “I can hear you, but I won’t.” Arisu was frozen in place; not all faeries were benevolent, there were those who were cruel and being caught by one of those would end poorly for him. “Some look for trouble, while others don’t. There’s a thousand reasons, I should go about my day and ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.” It was best to just turn around right now, he would meet up with the others another time.

As he turned around on the trail, the voice started to get even louder, making him freeze in place even more than he already was. It was coming straight for him! Oh no, this was really bad news. He needed to get out of there, and fast! Arisu turned his bike, frantically hopping on to get through the path behind him as quickly as he could. At least, that was the plan; the trail that should have been there behind him had vanished!

What on earth was happening? Where did the trail go?! Straining his ears, he heard the voice again but this time it was accompanied by the sound of a horse? As he strained his hearing; he was able to make out some of the words being said; “Ah…my dear beloved…” Beloved? He knew that was one of the names Malleus would bestow upon those he grew attached to, but…the voice wasn’t his! Whose voice did it belong to?!

“You’re not a voice, just a ringing in my ear; and if I hear you, which I don’t, I’ve spoken for I fear.” Arisu took some steps back and away from the approaching horse and voice, he extended an arm to where the trail used to be and back to where the town would be. “Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within this town, I’m sorry secret siren, but I’m blocking out your call!” He had his doubts that riding would get him away, but if there was one rule in horror that he would forever follow; Even if running won’t save you, it’s always best to try. 

Unfortunately, it was as he called it; he had his doubts that riding away would get him from the strange horse and voice. Despite having turned around and riding back the way he came from, he found himself in the old clearing again and again where the sounds of hooves and the voice were growing louder and louder; he could hear more of what was being said. “A lovely and noble flower of evil. Truly, you are the most beautiful of all. Magic Mirror on the wall…Who is…” Well, that wasn’t ominous in the slightest! 

With a sigh, Arisu straightened himself and turned to the source of the sound; there was just only one other thing he could do in a situation like this and that was to face the approaching figures head-on. He may as well put another teaching of Lilia’s to use; defense, and using Malleus’ status to his advantage. “What do you want? ‘Cause you’re keeping me in place, are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?” Don’t let them see you at your weakest.

As he waited for a reply, he thought about everything else he remembered from growing up to Lilia’s stories and warnings. Technically, the fair folk were tricksters by nature, they would never cause intentional harm unless Arisu did something offensive to them. They were curious as well and want to see what their limits were when it came to curious humans like himself.  “Or are you someone out there, who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?” 

And that’s when it came into view; a black carriage similar to an old funeral carriage from the 19th century; glass walls that showed an ornate coffin resting inside. The horses were light grey and were a Percheron and a Belgian horse; they had a black harness that attached them to the carriage in question, and stayed in place as Arisu cautiously approached them despite the warning bells going off in his head. Something about the haunting appearance just drew him to it; curiosity outweighed the caution side of things. Gently greeting them, he looked at their breast collar, he saw the words ‘Night Raven College’ embroidered in gold letting. 

His mind clicked a little as he remembered that was the name of the school that Lilia, Malleus, Silver, and now Sebek attends. The carriage of the mysterious school entering Sunnydale. Arisu took a step back and laid a hand beside his eyes once again as he remembered his powers, the one he was nervous about and the one he wanted to get under control. They were getting stronger and since his main teachers were in another school, they wouldn’t be here to help him; was this the universe’s sick way of telling him to go?

“Every day’s a little harder as I feel my power grow.” He looked back at the carriage with the little longing look in his eyes. “Don’t you know there’s a part of me that longs to go into the unknown? Into the unknown…into the unknown!”

“O, thou who wert guided by the Dark Mirror.”

Arisu paused and looked around. The good news; the voice from earlier was clear, the bad news; he still had no idea where it was coming from. He knew the owner of it had to be nearby if he was able to hear them that clearly. As he looked around, he noticed a strange eerie light coming from the coffin the carriage held; he should leave, this was a recipe for disaster, is what the small rational voice inside was saying; but he was drawn to it like a moth to the flame. If this was the universe’s way of telling him to go to the prestigious school, he should go, he would see his friends again and to get his strange power under control.

“Are you out there?” He called. “Do you know me? Can you feel me? Can you show me?”

He got his answer when the coffin in the carriage opened up and showed a mirror on the inside; the green glass reflecting the interior of the carriage and the voice returned, now louder than before.

“Let thy heart’s desire reflected in the mirror, take thee by the hand.”

Throwing caution to the wind, Arisu climbed into the carriage and reached out to grab hold of the hand that had appeared before him in the mirror’s reflection. As he was pulled through the glass where he saw nothing but shadows, he had felt a tinge of uneasiness from the realm of darkness. He wasn’t afraid of the dark, and his heart was racing with the growing temptation of wanting to let go of the hand until the voice had returned.

“In me. In them. In you. We all have very little time left. No matter what, never let go of my hand.”

Chapter Text

The entrance ceremony was actually going well underway; with a few minor hiccups here and there, but nothing that would be considered serious. It had appeared that the Ebony Carriage had the tendency to be late with the arrival of some new students so there were numerous times Dire would have to move from the mirror and go up to the gate to open it for them. Such was the case of the first student; Ace Trappola, the poor boy was pretty disoriented at first upon getting out of the gate; this was on the list of things-to-do list, find a way to make the spell guiding here to be less disorienting on the new arrivals. The boy recovered and immediately flared out his ceremonial robes as his headmaster had led him to the mirror just as someone had been sorted into the Scarabia dorm. 

He nodded to Ace and told him to approach the Mirror of Darkness, just one look to the crowd and Dire could see that Prefect Rosehearts was on edge for a bit; he could understand that Trappola-kun could be a little overexcited about finding out his new dorm, but the same could be said for every new student; Prefect Rosehearts definitely needed to relax someday. 

“The shape of thy soul…Heartslabyul.” The mirror called out.

Dire couldn’t help but to chuckle at the young prefect’s expression; well, the students would handle the rest without him. A new late arrival had appeared and it was his duty to collect them after all. He sent Sebek up to the mirror before ducking out and into the room with the gates. It was time to welcome the new student to their wonderful academy and get them settled in their new dorm; ah, he was such a generous headmaster for allowing late arrivals to their school. That was the plan at least, but like everything; plans had changed when a strange monster came crashing through a window and started to run up to the gates.

The arrival of the monster was what threw everyone into a frozen silence. No-one had known what it was or what its goals were, it just started to sniff around the gates until it found the one it was looking for. With a grin, the strange monster started clawing at it and growling about needing to get a uniform. The room was dead silent, and everyone was just honed in on the strange creature, wondering what the hell was going on.

“Does…that thing know we’re watching it?” a student whispered.

“I don’t think it does, why does it want a uniform so badly?”

A soft chuckle. “Shroud, I’ll put up a copy of Rule of Rose if that monster gets the gate opened.”

“An unlikely situation.” Came an electronic voice. “But I’ll take your bet and put-up Night of the Rabbit.”

Silent chatter came to a halt when the monster moved from the gate and shot a wave of fire at it. Knocking it open and causing a student to stumble out.

“Are you kidding me?”

“That shouldn’t be possible.”

The poor student started to back away from the monster – going as far as calling it a tanuki in a panic, that alone just got the monster agitated and even started to threaten the student. As more and more student began to become vocal, the monster growled and advanced towards the boy, readying another shot of fire from his mouth.

The boy barely dodged in time and ended up landing on the floor by where the Vice Prefects were seated at. 

Now sitting upright, and now with his hood down, his features were shown to the rest of the room; platinum blond hair and honey brown eyes, light freckles graced his Caucasian skin as he backed into a wall. One of the vices recognized the boy off the bat and immediately jumped into action.

“That’s enough out of you, you nasty cat!” A sharp growl came, the student armed with a wand as he blasted the creature across the room. “I will not allow such a low-level monster such as yourself go near Sunflower.”

Hearing that familiar voice, Arisu looked up at the figure. The hood was still covering his face, but the magenta strip that dangled out was enough to confirm it. He heaved a soft sigh of relief as he started to get up from the ground.

“Lilia.” Arisu said in a relieved tone. “I…suppose this means I owe you for this.”

The figure lowered his hood and looked at Arisu with a brief smile before turning serious. “You owe me an explanation, young man.” He crossed his arms. “I want details; what are you doing here?”

Arisu flinched a little bit. “In front of everyone?” He nodded to the rest of the spectators now shifting their attention to the two.

“Did I stutter, Arisu?” Lilia demanded. “No? Then start talking.”

The headmaster cleared his throat and walked over. “Vanrouge, I’m…sure there are more suitable places to have your family meeting. What I mean is…” Crowley hesitated before clarifying his thoughts, “Is that he is enrolled a student here so he should be on his way to the Dark Mirror and be sorted into his dorm.”

"Ah, right. Apologies." Lilia sighed in dismay and wore a creepy smile over his face, "Well, let's have a nice chat later, Arisu."

Hearing this, a shudder ran down Arisu's spine as he nodded his head frantically and prayed for the eyes to also disappear from his back before it could pierce holes into him.

“State thy name.” The face in the mirror demanded.

“Arisu Carol.” 

“The shape of thy soul…” The mirror went quiet. “I do not know.”

Dire walked up and cleared his throat. “Pardon?”

“A spark of magic resides in this young one, but the power is far too weak to discern a shape or color; therefore, they are not suited for a dormitory.”

Whispers filled the room; the boy was no doubt connected to Lilia so how was it that his power wasn’t strong enough to be detected. Crowley was surprised and looked down at the boy; The Ebony Carriage wouldn’t go to meet someone who can’t use magic! In a hundred years, there hasn’t been one mistake in student selection, so why in the world would it make the mistake now? 

Taking advantage of the Headmaster’s distraction, the strange grey cat got up from where it was thrown and ran up to the group; loud proclaiming that if the human wasn’t going to be a student, then it would take their place instead. Even going out of its way in displaying its power by engulfing the room in flames; one such student was caught on fire – one of the prefects no less.

Dire had two dorm heads tasked in chasing and catching the strange creature, and this was enough; Arisu rushed over to the student on fire, taking off his own robe (he would have to ask Lilia where this had come from) before smothering the fire out on the burning student.

“Are you alright?” Arisu asked the student.

The student gave a sigh in relief; “Yeah, I’m fine!” he smiled at Arisu. “Thanks to you and your quick thinking! It’s nice to meet one of Lilia’s boys.” He shook Arisu’s hand. “I’m Kalim, we’re in the same club together!”

“It’s nice to meet you, Kalim.” Arisu smiled. “Uh this is going to be an odd request; do you know any water-based spells?”

“Of course, I do!” He smiled.

“Perfect; think you could extinguish the flames?” Arisu pointed to the room around them.

The student cracked his knuckles and took out a pen. “Of course, I can!” he assured. “You just leave this to me; your senior will take care of everything.” He patted his shoulder and hurried to the center of the room to perform his magic.

That was one problem taken care of, all that was left was taking care of the demon cat. Arisu rushed and joined the two students who were after the cat and got in front of the creature, the cat recoiled and its sudden stop was enough for one of the students to act. From the inside of the robe; Arisu could see the student’s red hair and serious expression in his grey eyes as he took out his wand and advanced to the strange creature, making sure to corner it.

“Are you ready for your sentence? The verdict will come afterwards.” The boy said, charging up the spell. “Prepare yourself, Off with your head!” 

With the sound of a lock being locked in place, the cat was seen wearing some heart-shaped collar. Growling, it tried to burn the collar off before paling in realization that it sealed off his magic. The first student calmly walked up and grabbed the cat before carrying it out of the room, presumably to throw it out. With the calm settling, the dorm leaders led the new students from the chamber and to their respective dorms, Lilia and Crowley led Arisu to the headmaster office to figure out about the blonde’s situation. 

Once in the office, Arisu told his account of what had happened; from the bike ride to meeting the carriage and coming to this school only to be attacked by that strange tanuki creature. Lilia sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose; this was quite the mess the boy was in, but there was a sliver of good news out of this; Arisu being here could help get those strange powers under control! 

With a heavy sigh, he folded his hands and looked to Crowley. “I suppose I should fill you in; Arisu is my godson, I met him years ago when his mother was struggling to settle him while they waited for the husband to get back with the ear medicine. But he is technically one of my boys, Headmaster.”

“I see.” Crowley nodded. “I suppose that’s why the Ebony Carriage came for him. However, there’s still the case of the results of the sorting process; The Dark Mirror said his spark of magic was too weak to be sorted into a dorm.”

“He can stay in Diasomnia until that spark grows.” 

“Afraid not, most if not all of the fresh faces now know about his weak powers.” Crowley shook his head. “You and his seniors won’t always be around to help him.” He tapped his fingers in thought. “Of course, he’s still a student so we can’t just turn him away.”

His own glowing eyes lit up as he remembered something. “Ah! That’s right, there’s an old dorm he could stay in!” 

Lilia narrowed his crimson eyes. “Absolutely not. I am not letting him stay in that old rundown dorm.”

“I respect that, but it’s not that bad.” Crowley assured. “Since I am so gracious, I shall assist in some of the major repairs and do everything in my power to make it livable.”

“I hate you so much right now.” Lilia growled. “Fine, but for tonight he is staying in a nice warm bed that we have in Diasomnia.”

“Very well.” Crowley nodded. “I’m sure you’d like to see the old dorm for yourself, Mr. Carol?”

After a few moments of silence; Arisu just nodded and followed Lilia out of the office.

Chapter Text

He wasn’t trying to be mean, but the old dorm was worse than he thought! Arisu stared at the old dorm before him and shook his head, he inquired if the place had insurance around it – it didn’t, the dorm was the same age as Pomefiore and that pristine dorm took forever to get insurance on it because of how old it was. Oh, this poor dorm, it most certainly needs a lot of work done, it wouldn’t last long in the next storm. Arisu shook his head and walked in the old building with Lilia and to both of their chagrin, the inside looked like snow had blown in with how much dust covered the lounge. Just how old was this place, exactly? Immediately, Lilia started propping open a window or two to avoid inhaling the dust, while Arisu had set off to find some cleaning supplies.

Thankfully, there were cleaning supplies – a little dated from the looks of them, but they would do for the time being. An old broom to help sweep the floor (“Hey, maybe I might get muscles going if I sweep the whole lounge”), feather duster to clean some of the higher places (who the hell uses a feather duster anymore?), and as for the furniture; they just had to take the plastic sheeting off and they could use them. This was as good as it was going to get for the first night.

“Well, at least look at it this way.” Lilia folded his hand. “You’re now getting some life experience.” He sat on the couch and sighed. “Come sit, Sunflower.”

Arisu sat beside him and looked up at him. “I know what you’re going to say.” He sighed. “I can assure you I kept my eyes anywhere other than another person’s eyes.” 

Lilia laid a hand on his back. “I did some reading here and there; your ability to enter a person’s soul is quite rare…it’s not a common ability, but this school is amazing.” He smiled. “Every magician that steps foot in here turns out to be the greatest of them all. And knowing you, you’ll be in the ranks in no time.” He ruffled his hair. “Of course, first off, we have to get your powers under control.” He stood up.

“How the hell do you do that?” Arisu asked. “I swear you can read minds or something.”

“A magician never reveals his secrets, Sunflower.” He teased. “Come now, let’s get you to Diasomnia; this dorm will be here when we wake up.” 

Drip

Both looked up and saw a small leak from above; Arisu just sighed and shook his head, he told Lilia to head on ahead, he was going to get a few bowls or a bucket to keep the place from getting water damage. The vampiric faerie nodded and kissed Arisu on the head before heading off for the time being.

Drip

Seriously, how many leaks were there? Arisu had lost count of how many bowls he had to get out for this. He crossed his arms and looked at the lounge that was the worst of things; it looked like a warzone of kitchenware, Arisu shook his head; there wasn’t much he could do in this state. With a soft sigh, he turned around and started to make his way to the entryway where he saw the door still opened. Strange, he had heard the door shut earlier when Lilia had left the old dormitory, so who the hell opened it?

“Hyii! It’s really coming down!”

Arisu had turned around to where the voice had come; behind the couch, saw the familiar grey cat that was thrown out of the entrance ceremony. “What the-! How the hell did you get back here!?” he demanded.

The cat laughed and held himself. “If you think getting thrown out is gonna make me, give up on getting in, you’ve got another thing coming!”

“I am too tired for this.” Arisu shook his head and walked up to him. “Alright you floating tanuki, humor me, why do you want to go to this school so badly?”

“Grr! The Great Grim is not a tanuki!” Grim huffed and sat on the table. “I’m a genius who is destined to be a great magician! I don’t know how you, a magicless human, attracted the Ebony Carriage, but I’ve been waiting for it to come pick me up!” he looked down slightly before puffing his cheeks out. “Hmph! The Dark Mirror just doesn’t have an eye for greatness! That’s why I came here on my own, not letting me in would be a loss for the world.” He grinned. “Humans just don’t get it.”

“The headmaster will only throw you out again.” Arisu warned. “And then what? You try sneaking into class and get thrown out again?”

“Ha! You think I don’t have a plan?” Grim walked up and poked his leg. “You are going to bring me to class with you; you’re on good terms with that influential Vanrouge guy, so people have to listen to you!”

Arisu crossed his arms. “And what makes you think I’m going to agree to that?”

“Come on!” Grim begged. “The Great Grim is skilled in fire magic and you…are magicless, so, this is what we’re going to do; you’re going to convince the headmaster to let you in as a student, you’re going to tell him that you’re learning pyromancy from the awesomeness that is me! In return of me teaching you how to shoot flames from your hands, you have to let me go to class with you!”

Arisu shook his head, “You really are hellbent in getting into the school, aren’t you.” He stood up. “If I’m going to be smuggling you into my dorm and into classes, you’re going to be following the rules set out for you; is that clear?”

Grim’s eyes shone and he jumped onto Arisu’s shoulder, rubbing his face into Arisu’s and thanking him over and over in between purrs. Arisu let out a laugh and stood up, gently petting Grim on the neck before they were about to head out. As they were about to head out, the sounding of a bell chime rang through the dorm; the old cuckoo clock was still working after all of these years, that had to be an impressive feat. Deciding not to pay much attention to it, they just shrugged it off and started off walking; they barely took three steps before new voices chimed in, breaking them from going any further.

“When the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake.” A ghost had appeared from behind and tipped its hat. “Spooks come out for a singing wake.” As if on cue, a ghost appeared behind Arisu and another behind Grim before harmonizing with the first ghost; “Happy haunts materialize, and begin to vocalize. Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!”

Both Arisu and Grim moved from the couch and placed a distance between them and the ghosts; of course, this dorm was haunted, why wouldn’t it be?! Grim was arched up and hissing at them – if the situation were different, Arisu would have found this rather adorable. But this was not that case, and it looked like Grim’s antics got the ghosts targeting him.

“Now don’t close your eyes, and don’t try to hide.” The first ghost covered Grim’s eyes and another showed up beside the cat, causing Grim to shoot upwards out of fear. “Or a silly spook my sit by your side.”

Arisu wasn’t faring any better as the third showed up wearing one of the protection sheets and standing behind him. “Shrouded in a daft disguise, they pretend to terrorize.” Arisu jumped and cried out, clutching his chest. The ghosts laughed and regrouped; “Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.”

“Arisu! Do something about them!” Grim cried from his hiding spot.

“What the hell do you want me to do?!” Arisu demanded. “Unless you have sage on hand, I can’t do a damn thing!” In all honesty, he didn’t want to do anything, there was something about the ghosts’ behavior that was setting him off…there were different types of ghosts in the world; the trick was trying to figure out which one these trio fell under.

He didn’t have time to think as the curtains were yanked off to show a full moon outside and lighting the lounge in natural ‘stage light’. Grim was grabbed again as he was forced to dance with one of the ghosts; “As the moon climbs high o’er the dead oak tree, spooks arrive for the midnight spree.” A set of glowing eyes appeared outside the windows caused Grim’s fur to stick up on end. “Creepy creeps with eerie eyes, start to shriek and harmonize!” Whatever was out there gave a shrill scream that caused Grim to nearly jump out of his skin. “Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize”

“Grim!” Arisu went to rush over to his weird feline companion but found himself to be pulled back by the second ghost; he struggled in their arms as the two made him walk to the moonlit stage like some morbid wedding march – didn’t help that the third was throwing old rice at them; “When you hear the knell of a requiem bell.” the first ghost was now dragging Grim over in the same fashion (“If I could claw you, I would!”) “Weird glows gleam where spirits dwell.” The two living beings were pushed into each other’s arms, as the bells started to chime. They looked at each other before pushing away and turning back to the trio rejoined. “Restless bones etherealize, rise as spooks of every size! Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!” They took their hats off and gave a bow to them.

It took a while in silence before Arisu could put two and two together. “Tricksters.” He finally said. “You three fall under the trickster category of hauntings.” Well…now his heart can stop racing.

Grim growled and looked at the ghosts; “You mean to tell me they were just messing with us!?”

The first ghost laughed and held himself; “We haven’t had a guest in so long, the people who used to live here got scared of us and left!”

“Can you blame them!” Arisu cried. “We thought we were going to die!”

“No! We would never want to cause such harm to new friends!” The second one flew over and held his hand out. “Arisu, right? And Grim? You two were so much fun to play with! I’m Futuro, at your service!”

The other two grinned, the first placed his hat back on. “Passe, and this charming fellow beside me is Paron!”

Past, present, and future…kind of strange names, but Arisu gave up on expecting anything normal after everything that has happened so far in his life. He cleared his throat and smiled at them; “It’s nice to meet you three, looking back with a rational mind; your performance was definitely something else.”

“Thank you.” Passe grinned and ruffled his hair. “Now then, will you boys be staying with us?”

Arisu looked to the clock and winced. “Would it be okay if I answer that tomorrow; it’s getting pretty late and that Faerie is waiting for me at Diasomnia.”

“Oh! Of course.” He backed off. “We’re so sorry for holding you gentlemen up.”

“You’re good!” Arisu smiled. “You boys have a good night and we’ll talk after classes.” He picked Grim up and bowed a little to them before heading off. “Thank you for the evening sendoff!”

*

From the lively atmosphere that was the ghost performance, to the stern and cold serious look of Diasomnia’s dorm master; Malleus Draconia was seated on the draconic throne at the top of the stairs, beside him on both sides were Silver and Sebek staring him down, and on the rails was Lilia. Arisu flinched and made his way up the stairs on the left and just set Grim on the ground before explaining his situation with the ghosts holding him up – that got the gazes to soften up and the silent conversation of them understanding (Lilia blinked and held his head muttering something about ‘I forgot the old dorm had ghosts’). As for Grim? He told the quartet about what was discussed about wanting to help him be a student as well.

That went as well as anyone would expect. Malleus and Lilia were harshly opposed to the idea and even brought the fact that Grim nearly harmed Arisu at the entrance ceremony; Arisu had tried to settle them, saying that he knew that but they had a heart to heart at Ramshackle before the ghosts had appeared – the strange creature really wanted to work at being a great magician of his own caliber.

“It’s unheard of.” Silver spoke up. “But…perhaps a familiar is what’s needed; Arisu could use the creature as practice for his ability.”

“Silver.” Lilia got off the rail and walked up to him, laying a hand on his shoulder. “We don’t know what this creature is, it’s too much of a risk.”

“But isn’t being a magician all about taking risks?” Silver looked up at him. “Isn’t that what you said when we were growing up.”

“Using your old man’s words against him.” Lilia chuckled. “I’ve raised you well.” He moved from him and turned back to Arisu, turning a cold gaze onto Grim in the process. “Very well, we’ll put in a good word for that mongrel; however, and mark my words Grim.” His voice was ice. “Should you cause problems or cause Arisu harm in any way, shape, or form, I shall have you skinned and turned into a fur scarf.” His fangs grew a little bit. “Is that clear?”

Grim yelped and hid behind Arisu’s leg, the message was well received. Lilia just nodded and told Arisu to head on off to bed, Silver would guide him.

That was how the first night ended. Come morning light, Arisu was dressed up in the uniform and had his schoolbag at the ready; Lilia had assured him that he would be getting his own pen in due time since the situation made it a little difficult for him to get it at the moment, Arisu assured him he would be fine. With that all said and done, the boys started out and made their way to their classes; it was a little strange to be coming through mirrors, but there wasn’t anything Arisu could do about it.

Chapter Text

Going through the outdoor corridor with his head held high, he caught Grim sneaking off. First day and the monster was causing him problems, rolling his eyes he followed Grim towards Main Street where the statues of the Great Seven were. Judging by Grim’s excitement, it was probably evident that he hadn’t have the chance to see them in full details; Arisu just had a soft smile, they had plenty of time left, they could take in the sights for the time being. He looked up at the statues himself and couldn’t help but to let a soft chuckle out; his world was different for certain – especially with how his world saw the Seven as villains, and if he had to be completely honest, he enjoyed seeing Lilia and Malleus get all huffy when he picked the movies that had them in it.

“Hey, Arisu!” Grim called out, breaking him from his thoughts “Mainstreet is amazing! I never got a chance to get a good look at it yesterday!” He immediately started to paw at the statue he was by. “Check this lady out, who is she? She’s pretty snobby looking.” 

“You don’t know who the Queen of Hearts is?” a new voice called.

The new arrival was a boy with dark orange hair and red eyes. Over his right eye, he has a red patch shaped like a heart. He wore the uniform for the school, a red ribbon was on his left arm, black gloves, and a black blazer jacket that rested over a red vest that covered a white shirt; he had a black and white striped tie, and a red pen rested in the left breast pocket.

Arisu looked over and shook his head. “Grim’s just excited; but yeah.” He pointed to the Queen’s statue. “She’s the Queen of Hearts, the ruler of Wonderland – and also the ruler that people like to lump the Red Queen of the Looking Glass world with.” 

Grim tilted his head. “So, what made her important?” 

“Because it’s as your friend said; she was the Queen who ruled Wonderland.” The boy said. “She lived in the Rose Maze and she was someone who valued rules and discipline above all, strict in all things from the march of the Card Soldiers to the color of rose bushes.” He grinned. “It was a land of madness where all submit to her rule! Why you ask? Because or else it was off with your head!”

Arisu stared at the other, he had a bit of a plan forming in his mind; well, more or less he wanted to mess with this student a little bit. It wouldn’t be too hard to mess with people who look up to the villains and it was all in good fun, so why not mess with him?

“Well, actually.” Arisu said with a light smile. “That’s partially true, she was well-known to behead people if she was crossed even in the slightest of inconvenience no matter how small it may be, she was borderline tyrant at that stage.”

The student tugged at his tie a little bit. “I…suppose to an outsider it may seem like that.” He muttered. “But she was still a just ruler, nobody would listen to a queen who’s just nice all the time.”

Grim nodded and jumped to the next statue. “Yeah, I guess a strong leader is better!” he agreed. “By the way, who are you?”

The uneasy disposition was replaced with a grin; “I’m Ace! Fresh first-year here.”

“I’m the Great Grim! A being who is destined to become the greatest magician!” he pointed a paw at the blond. “This is Arisu Carol; he’s going to be a great magician as well!”

“Arisu?” Ace repeated, his grin grew “Does this make you Alice in Twisted Wonderland?” 

“Somehow I knew you were going to crack that joke.” Arisu sighed. “Yes, I’m aware my name is similar sounding to that of Alice; my blond hair doesn’t entirely help my case in the slightest.”

Ace laughed and shook his head; “Nope! Nor does your last name help you either, I’m just going to call you Alice from now on.”

Grim growled; “Hey! Show my human some respect!” he pointed to the statue beside him. “And tell us who this lion is! He has a cool scar on his face!”

Ace laughed; “Whatever you say ‘Great Grim’.” He walked over. “That’s the King of the Beast who rules the Savanna; he wasn’t born to be king, but he took the throne through effort and elaborate planning. After he became king, he allowed the loathed hyenas to live in his kingdom without discrimination.”

“Now is that before or after he screwed up the Pride Lands by overpopulating it with predators.” Arisu chimed in.

“Do you have a quip for everyone?” Ace challenged, he narrowed his eyes when Arisu just shrugged and just grinned at the redhead. “Right, don’t answer that.”

“Arisu, stop antagonizing him!” Grim growled. “He’s trying to tell me about these amazing magicians!” he jumped over to the statue of an octo-mer. “Magicians like this lady!”

“Oh! You mean Ursula?” Arisu kept a poker face despite Ace’s flinch to how casual he was being. “Sister to King Triton and daughter to Poseidon; she was exiled from Atlantica and became a ‘businesswoman’; however, her methods tend to be on the shady side – especially since she only agreed to help Princess Ariel in her wish just to go through with some elaborate plan to rule the seven seas.” He tapped his chin. “Also, her deals were pretty…one-sided to put it nicely.”

“I’m starting to think you grew up in a pessimistic household.” Ace narrowed his eyes. “She helped any and all unfortunate merfolk as long as they could pay the price. She could transform you, help you find love, anything if it was within her power!” 

“Strict, just, and rich!” Grim snickered; “All great promises to become a great magician!” he pointed to another statue. “What about that man in the big hat? He looks like a cobra!” He glared at Arisu. “Don’t you dare say anything, Arisu!”

Ace looked over at the statue in question. “Ah, the Sorcerer of the Sand, he was a cunning cabinet minister to a foolish sultan and saw through the fake prince that was actually a street rat trying to deceive the princess.”

“Just hold the damn phone!” Arisu snapped. “First of all; the princess was the one who found out about him before Jafar did – as far as I know. And not only that, but the ‘street rat’ and her had met before coming into possession of the lamp and he wanted to be with her; the law said that she had to marry a prince, he just found a loophole in it.”

“And if she felt the same way she could have talked to the sultan about that and make it so the street rat had a chance.” Ace shot back. “She didn’t, he still deceived her, and the sorcerer became a powerful sorcerer with the help of the lamp – which, he rightfully took from the thief – and became sultan.”

Arisu was about to snap back but Grim was quick, he yanked on his hair and swatted him. “Quit fighting with the other students, you’re making us look bad, Ari!” he scolded. “Now hush, and let Ace finish telling me about these amazing magicians!” he jumped over to the one that was a beautiful queen. “Like this regal beauty~”

“She is the Beautiful Queen; everyday she would check the “Beauty Ranking” in her magic mirror and when it looked like she might fall from the number one spot, she never hesitated to do anything to get it back. I guess she had the strong will to remain the most beautiful in the world? They say she was even adept at making poisons.” He looked over to Arisu. “Got anything to say about her too?”

“Not really.” Arisu smiled. “I mean, she’s like Krista Sparks who works just as hard to be a famous model.”

“Huh…I guess you do have a positive thought on some people.” Ace said, relaxing a little bit.

Arisu smirked. “I mean, Krista once bludgeoned a model to death, sawed off another’s high heel and caused her to fall on the runway. So…”

“There it is.” Ace groaned. “Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?”

Grim just growled. “Just ignore him, Ace! That dumb faerie probably influenced him to be like this!” he jumped over to another statue. “This guy is on fire! Whoa…looking at him gives me goosebumps.”

“Yeah, he’s the Lord of the Underworld.” Ace said. “He rules a land crawling with evil spirit on his own! No doubt he’s extremely skilled. Even though he’s got a scary face, he did that detestable job without ever taking a vacation and his sincerity won over Cerberus, the Hydra, and even the Titans to fight for him!”

Grim looked to Arisu who only just shrug, silently saying he didn’t really have anything to say. “So…having talent doesn’t mean you get to be haughty.” He went to the final statue. “And this lady with the horns?”

Arisu looked up at the statue and smiled fondly at it. "Wow, Granny even has her own statue in Night Raven College?" he said with admiration.

"Of course, Malefi- Wait, what?" He stared at Arisu with deadpanned tone and wide eyes in disbelief, "Is my hearing going bad or did you actually just call the great magician in history... Granny?"

"Ah, sorry. I should clear up. She's not my actual grandmother. I've been calling her that since I was a kid." Arisu clarified with a wide smile, "Many said she is a powerful magician, but I didn't think she'd be this well-known..." 

As Arisu continues to admire his granny's statue in awe, Ace turns to Grim in disbelief and whispered quietly, "So, this guy didn't hit his head or anything, right?"

"He was healthy enough to convince a dorm head and vice dorm head to let me stay." Grim whispered with a complicated expression. 

"Ah, no. That is already weird enough that he'd help in the first place." Ace grumbled in disbelief.  “Noble and elegant, even within the Seven, she’s top class in magic and curses -She can not only summon lightning and storms, cover an entire country in thorns, but also turn into a dragon! And you call her ‘Granny’!”

“I just grew up around her family is all.” Arisu shrugged. “Seriously, you’re making this bigger than it should be.”

Ace just sighed. “I'm just gonna be honest, I was hoping to mess with you guys; after the show you gave at the Entrance Ceremony, the whole you being weak at magic and the tanuki who was being stupid and trying to open a gate in front of people like an idiot." 

"You must've been really desperate to get into the school, or just incredibly stupid," he taunted as he looked to Grim. “Well, come on weirdos, we have class to get to – maybe seeing a teacher going after you for your comments on the Great Seven will be better entertainment.” He smirked.

Doctor Wilson once said “Flight or fight indicates a permanent choice, but flight often means putting off the flight for another day. Choose your battles wisely.” and in most cases he would actually be right. Arisu scowled as Ace sauntered off from the group while Grim was just growling at him.

“That jerk…he’s just going to say that and leave!” Grim growled, his teeth were showing.

Arisu grabbed the ribbon Grim wore; “Grim, it’s not worth it, just let him go.”

Grim broke from his grip and ran up to Ace before letting out a wave of flames at him. 

Ace had dodged in time and took his wand out. “What the hell?!”

“It’s what you get for being an ass! I’m going to light that fire-top head of yours!”

“Grim! Knock it off!” Arisu tried to grab at him again.

“Fire-top, huh?” Ace smirked. “You’ve got guts picking a fight with me, I’ll turn you into a puffy, little toy-poodle.”

Their fight brought the attention of different students as Ace would use wind magic to deflect Grim’s fire magic; spectators when some of the students were cheering Ace on. The cheering egged the two fighters on and the end result…well, there was one good news; magic could possibly clean the Queen of Hearts statue.

The group stared in horror at the sight of the burnt statue. Whispers filled the street. Before anyone could process what had just happened a wall of thorns appeared, blocking the main street to keep people from escaping and a whip whooshing by ensnaring Ace and Grim.

Both the headmaster and Malleus were here; Arisu could feel the aura of anger radiating off of them – he didn’t even need to turn around to see the pissed off expressions they had either.

“We put in the good word for you to become a student here and this is how you repay us?” Malleus walked over.

Grim yelped and tried to hide behind Arisu, only to be picked up by the scruff of the neck. “I’m sorry! But this jerk was making fun of Arisu and I! I had to defend our honor!”

Malleus stared him down. “The agreement was you were not to cause Arisu harm nor problems while you’re here. Getting into a fight with another student counts as causing problems, you mangy thing.”

“And both of you to go so far as to char a statue of the Great Seven! I very much would like to see you both expelled.” Crowley crossed his arms.

“Wait! Not that!” Ace begged. “Please, there has to be something else!”

“What is your grade and name, young man.” Crowley demanded

“Ace Trappola, first year.”

Crowley nodded. “Then you and Grim, as punishment I order you two to wash one hundred windows around campus.”

“Why the hell do I have clean windows!” Ace pointed to the two; “They’re the ones who started this mess!”

“I don’t care who started it, I’m ending it!” Dire crossed his arms. “After school, you two are to report to the cafeteria, is that understood!”

“Yes Headmaster.” Grim and Ace replied reluctantly.

Chapter Text

If you were to ask Vil what he expected for in this year of Night Raven College, he’d just scowl and tell you that this year brought nothing but trouble. And he was right; a first-year had tried to take him in a fist-fight (That ended poorly in the first year’s favors, and the Dark Mirror had to sort that feral child into Pomefiore). Then there was the entrance ceremony itself with that unruly monster and that weak first-year; how he wanted to snatch that petite blond up and train him alongside the feral child, of course, the weakling was in the care of Diasomnia’s Vice-head so the chances of getting close was going to be non-existent.

Fate did have a strange way of working. As Vil was tying his hair back for alchemy, he felt the telltale cold chill in the air. He didn’t need to turn around to know the draconic faerie had walked into the room, but he ended up doing so when he heard the familiar voice belonging to the monster from last night.

“Put me down already!” Grim growled. “Put me down or I’ll roast you!”

"Hm? Is the little cat trying to threaten me? Does he think he's stronger than me?" Malleus stared down at Grim, his eyes still glowing with anger. “You’re in no position to make threats, hairball.”

The faerie’s mood shifted for a brief moment as he looked up recalling his task, "Ah, good morning, Beautiful. I see that you've arrived early to class again.”

Vil crossed his arms with a slight frown on his face. “Naturally.” He looked to the two figures Malleus had in his grasps; the monster, and the weakling. “Aren't they the two potatoes from the entrance ceremony? What are they doing with you?”

“Potato? A human and a cat shouldn't be vegetables... Regardless, this is Arisu.” He gently nudged the blond towards him. “You may know him better as Sunflower; I’m entrusting his care to you during school hours.”

A soft chuckle escaped Vil’s lips as he brought the boy close to him. “Let me take a look at you, boy.” He lifted his chin up so he could look at him better. “Clear skin, not a blemish in sight – off to a good start.” He frowned at the uniform and huffed. “Clearly dressed yourself in the dark.” He grabbed a spare lab coat and got him dressed up.

“He overslept sadly.” Malleus sighed. “Beautiful, please go easy on him; I know how you get when it comes to projects.” 

Vil just hummed and waved him off. “I got it from here.”

The moment Malleus dropped Grim on a nearby desk before leaving was when the mood had shifted. Vil’s gaze turned sharp on both Arisu and the strange monster. 

“Alright, you heard him; while you’re in the same classes as me, I’m in charge of you.” Vil snapped. “First thing’s first, ‘Sunflower’, I want you to tell me about your power.”

“My power?” Arisu repeated.

“Is there an echo in here?! You have until the bell rings for class to start talking.” He took his phone out and opened a blank page in notes. “Do not leave anything out.”

“Alright…” Arisu sighed. “It’s hard to explain, but whenever I make eye contact with someone, I find myself in another place; I could be sitting with someone talking about a movie but the moment my eyes meet theirs, I’m…Well with Silver, despite us being in the living room talking, I found myself in a forest clearing and seeing him in a cottage.”

Vil just hummed in thought. “Have you heard of the saying ‘The eyes are the window to a person’s soul’?” He watched him nod. “It sounds like your ability is entering a person’s soul room.”

“What’s a soul room?” Grim asked, jumping over to where they are.

“A soul room is a person’s true room; they show who a person truly is on the inside.” Vil explained. “Quite the interesting power your owner has…Tell me, ‘Sunflower’, how long have you been able to do this and how in control are you in it?”

Ding
Dong
Ding

Vil scowled at the bell. “We’ll pick this up another time, Arisu.”

More and more students started pouring into the room and grabbing their lab coats before hurrying to their assigned seats just as the teacher sauntered in. The teacher’s appearance was a bit out of place for an alchemy teacher though; his hair was parted at the side, with the longer section colored white and the shorter section black. He has narrow grey eyes and wears silver studs in his ears. Beneath a thick, black-and-white furry coat, was a tuxedo - consisting of a black dress shirt, red tie, and black-and-white vest. He also wore red gloves that held the teaching pointer with a red collar and jewel charm attached to the end of it.

“Good morning puppies, now sit down and let’s begin.” He ordered. “Now then, for those joining us this new year, my name is Divus Crewel. You shall refer to me as Master Crewel, if you please, and I will be your teacher in Alchemy from here on. A few disclaimers; I shall have your tiny brains remember hundreds of names of medicinal herbs and poisonous plants.”

“Crap, I suck at memorizing.” A student grumbled.

Arisu looked over to his left and saw Ace looking dismayed, he felt a bit of a smirk rising within him; finally,” something else knocked that arrogant redhead down.

“Mushrooms are a whole different topic. I’ll have you remember them so that you don’t accidentally poison yourself if you eat some when you go for a walk.” Divus had a smirk on his face. “Dogs love to eat anything they see, after all.” His smirk vanished and a harsh look returned to him “I don’t want to see anyone getting a failing mark during the exam, so I shall be as strict as I can.”

“He’s so scary.” Grim whimpered.

Arisu smiled and petted Grim on the head. “Hey relax, I can go down a list of five flowers and their meanings without blinking.” He assured. “I can help ya out.”

“Is that so?” Divus walked up. “Mr. Arisu Carol…” he drew out his name a bit. “One of Lilia’s boys, I expect high marks from you. But first, I wish to test that claim of yours; starting right now with Basil.”

“Good wishes.”

“Garlic.” 

“Courage and strength.”

“Heliotrope.”

“Eternal Love.”

“Hollyhock.”

“Ambition.”

Divus had a small smirk on his face. “Impressive.” He praised. “Final flower; Petunia.”

“Your presence sooths me.” Arisu started out. “But it also means resentment and anger.”

A soft chuckle. “I’m impressed, perhaps you’ll be one of my star students, now then…take some Sweet Woodruff and sit back down, pup.” Crewel turned his attention back to the class. “Thanks to our little star student, your first assignment is writing ten different flower meanings and hand them in before the bell.”

There was a collective groan of disappointment from the class, everyone grabbed their books and started to flip through the flower list and getting a notebook page ready to start the assignment. Vil shook his head at the boy, some students were glaring at him, and Arisu just sort of shrugged in general.

Ace had gently nudged Arisu to get his attention. “Alright, Alice, help me out here.” He hissed.

“What?” Arisu stared at him incredulously. “Why would I do that?”

“Because you were the one who started this mess.” Ace replied sharply. “If you hadn’t shot your damn mouth about the Great Seven, I wouldn’t be on window cleaning duty later on; so, you have to help me!”

Arisu sighed. “Did you write the five I listed already?” he watched him nod. “Okay, in the book look up; Asphodel, Edelweiss, Elderberry, Frangipani, and Jasmine.” He watched as Ace gave him a thumbs up and started writing.

If this class was anything to go off of, it was going to be a long school year.

*

When it came to the end of the day, it was just the two of them waiting for Ace to show up. Arisu had offered to help Grim out with the window chores, at least until Ace had showed up to make the work much easier.

Grim agreed, even though his forked tail was twitching in annoyance – not that Arisu could blame him, everything that had happened was essentially a domino effect. Time had passed and no sign of Ace, they figured he might be held up by a teacher and tried to give him a few more minutes; thirty minutes had passed before Grim got up and stretched before taking off, calling Arisu that he was going to hunt down Ace since he wasn’t going to wait any more. Arisu agreed and continued to work on the cafeteria windows.

Ironically, after ten minutes of Grim’s departure, Ace had showed up and reluctantly grabbed a rag from the set on the table before going over to Arisu’s side.

“No Tanuki today?” Ace asked

Arisu looked at him surprised. “Grim said he was going to look for you.”

“Well then we probably missed each other.” Ace sighed and got to work. “I was talking to Master Crewel…um, I guess I have some…what I mean is…if I was able to, I’d give you purple hyacinths.”

“If anyone’s giving apology flowers, it’s me.” Arisu turned to him. “I egged you on with the Great Seven stuff.”

“And I riled up the tanuki that caused the fight; could’ve left enough alone and let him take the fall but…”

Arisu held his hand out. “Agree we’re both in the wrong?”

Ace smirked and shook it. “Yeah…so how long ago did Grim say he was going to look for me?”

“About ten minutes ago?”

“Furball couldn’t have gotten far, let’s go find him.” Ace grinned and led the way.

The two had started their search for him – with the help of some of the paintings they were able to find him in a hall of mirrors. Grim paled slightly before glaring at the two before he tried running, Ace gave chase without a second thought and Arisu was right on his tail. This kept up until a student was nearly barreled over and Arisu called for their help; the good news was that the student did indeed help…in the form of dropping a cauldron on top of Grim. Now that he had a chance to catch his breath, Arisu was able to get a better look at the student before him; he was in the same uniform as Ace and even had the same pen, the student had dark blue hair and teal eyes, his hair brushed mostly to the side while a portion hangs down on his right side. Over his left eye, he has a large black patch shaped like a spade. 

He stood up and brushed off his shirt before going up to him; “Thanks for helping.”

“Seriously, what the hell! You have another human to help you clean a hundred windows!” Grim growled

“Headmaster’s orders, Grim.” Arisu reminded. “Besides, a great magician must take responsibilities for their own actions!”

The student looked at Grim and raised an eyebrow; “You have to clean a hundred windows as punishment? What the hell did you do?”

“That kid’s tanuki attacked me, I was only defending myself and, in the process, we burnt one of the statues of the Great Seven.” Ace huffed

“You damaged one of the Great Seven statues?! No wonder you got in trouble, you get into a prestigious school and then do something like that on the first day?!”

“Shut up, who are you anyway?” he demanded

“I’m Deuce. Deuce Spade, would it kill you to remember your classmates’ face at least.” Deuce faltered a little, “Umm…”

“You haven’t even memorized mine either!” Ace snapped.

Deuce recovered; “Anyway! If you were ordered by the headmaster, that means you take it seriously!”

“Finally, someone who agrees.” Arisu sighed in relief. “Seriously Grim, just come with Ace and I and just get it over with.”

Silence was their answer. The trio looked around and found that Grim had just ditched them again.

“I’m going to fucking skin that damn Tanuki!” Arisu cried out.

One thing led to another; Ace and Deuce teamed up to chase after Grim which led them to the cafeteria where he hid on one of the chandeliers, Arisu had called out to him saying that they had an agreement (to which Grim just said he had two other humans to help him instead and that the said agreement didn’t come with cleaning windows). It was frustrating to say the least. The group was trying to brainstorm to figure out how to get Grim down and how to get through the punishment; nothing they were coming up with was a solid solution to getting the damn cat from the chandelier.

Deuce had come up with an idea afterwards; he looked to Ace and casted a spell to make him float. Arisu paled at the motion and even tried talking Deuce out of whatever idea he was coming up with, his pleas went unheard as the dark-haired boy and threw him towards the chandelier. It felt like time slowed down; the action did get Grim down…along with Ace and along with the chandelier that now laid in shambles. 

“Oh god, the headmaster is going to kill us.” Arisu paled and held his hair. “Even worse if Lilia learns of this-!”

“If Lilia learns of what, Arisu Carol.” Came a calm and cold voice. “Care to explain to us why the chandelier is in pieces?”

Arisu gulped and turned to where the Headmaster and Lilia stood; Lilia now in adult height and staring him and the group down with his bright crimson eyes and the Headmaster staring them down with his own glowing yellow eyes. This was not going to end well for anyone.

Chapter Text

“Now then, what exactly are you children doing!?” Crowley demanded. 

“Headmaster.” Arisu started out. “We’re really sorry, Grim had evaded window duty and we were trying to catch him!”

“And you decided to destroy the chandelier? Torching the statue wasn’t enough when it came to wrangling that feral creature you said you would be responsible for?” Crowley turned to Lilia. “My deepest apologies, but this is the last straw of things; I respect the boy is one of yours, however, he’s not exempt from punishment.”

Lilia nodded. “Oh no, I agree with you fully, Dire.” He was honed in on Grim. “You worry about the students; I’m going to make a new fur scarf.”

Whatever daze Grim had been in earlier was snapped out of it when he saw Lilia closing in on him. Grim yelped and jumped on Arisu’s shoulders trying to make himself scarce. The boys weren’t paying much attention to the monster shaking and Lilia trying to get it from them without causing harm; they were more in favor of trying to present their – nonexistent – case to the headmaster. 

“There’s nothing more to discuss.” Crowley said, firmly. “Expulsion is on the table.”

“Please no!” Deuce begged. “I’ll pay for the damages if I have to!”

Crowley pinched the bridge of his nose. “That was no normal chandelier.” He sighed. “That was a magical chandelier that used candles that would burn for eternity; a beautiful masterpiece made by a legendary master of magical tools that had been entrusted to the school since its very foundation.” 

Lilia looked over, now holding a struggling Grim by the scruff of the neck. “Taking into consideration to its historical value, it would cost no less than a billion Madol.” He narrowed his eyes. “Can you pay for those damages?”

“Can’t it be fixed with magic?” Ace choked out

Lilia sighed and shook his head solemnly. “Child, no matter the magician, magic is not all powerful; even the Prince of Thorns has his limits.” He looked to the chandelier. “The magic crystal, what we call the Heart of any magic tools…no two are the same.”

The three boys had a crestfallen expression; there was no humanly way they could come up with that money – that, and Arisu was pretty certain the currency from his world wouldn’t translate well enough here. It was probably best to just exchange numbers now and just leave the school with some dignity intact.

“There…may be another way.” Lilia said softly. “It’s possible to fix it with another crystal from the Dwarfs’ Mine.” He tapped his chin, and dropped Grim unceremoniously on the ground. “It’s a slim chance since the stones have been exhausted of gems.”

“I’ll get the gem!” Deuce cried. “Please, let me go retrieve it.”

“It’s a fool’s errand.” Crowley shook his head. “But…I’ll let you have one night; come with a magic crystal by tomorrow morning or face expulsion.”

With all said and done, Deuce had grabbed Ace and Arisu by the hand and dragged them off towards the Mirror Chamber where the Dark Mirror resided. Both Lilia and Dire watched the four go off; while Crowley wasn’t confident in their search, Lilia had a small smile – maybe it was the old age getting to him, but he had a feeling that they would be back with a crystal in hand.

“Even if they don’t return with it, they may learn something along the way.” Lilia pointed out.

“Hm?” Crowley looked at Lilia. “And what would that be?”

“Well, both Ace and Arisu finally learned some humility and regret.” Lilia pointed out. “I for one believe that knowledge is more important than some gem.” He smiled bright. “Who knows, this generation is full of surprises!” he turned and left. “Oh, and Dire…do keep in mind of my warning, I don’t care what you do but you know what happens should you fail your end.” 

“I know, Vanrouge, and I assure you that this won’t fail.”

“It better not.” He showed his fangs before leaving for his dorm.

*

Despite having grown up in a town surrounded by forests; the ones here were different than the ones in Sunnydale, it didn’t have the same…it was hard to pinpoint what it was. When Arisu went through the trail back home he could always smell lilacs even when they weren’t in bloom, hear the song of the loons and doves, and feel the rush of the breeze even when he closed his eyes. Here…it was more like he found himself in the middle of a horror movie; there was no breeze, even with the flowers there wasn’t the beautiful scent –

“Oi! Alice!” Ace called. “Are you done spacing out?” 

Arisu looked at Ace and nodded; “Sorry…this is a whiplash compared to the forest I grew up in.”

Ace walked up and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Wanna talk?”

“It just…this doesn’t feel right.” Arisu whispered out. “Even at night there would be some sound in the forests.”

Ace nodded. “Well, look at it this way, we’re not going to be here long.” He made two fingers walk in the air. “We go into the mine, pick up the gem, and then scurry back to the school. We won’t be here for long; think you can handle it?”

A silent nod was all that Arisu was going to give, he still felt uneasy about being here. 

The group made their way down the path and up to an old cottage, they explored a little bit at first and coughed at the dust; there wasn’t much to go off of in the little home. Leaving the cottage, they made their way to the old mines.

Despite the beautiful gems that filled the mine, none of them were the magical stones that they needed but that didn’t stop him from going after some of the more common stones such as rubies and sapphires. Further and further into the mine before they were approached by ghosts – unlike the ones from the Ramshackle dorm, these ghosts in particular were pretty volatile. Not wanting to stay long, the group ran and shot some offense spells to keep distance between them – despite the hostile behavior, once they had the space needed, they were able to take them down with the spells in question.

No more ghosts to handle. The feeling of triumph had filled them for a brief moment. The feeling left just as fast as they returned to going through the mins and looking for the stone; the good news; they found one! Just as Arisu was going to grab it, there was sound of a drop somewhere and a ghastly voice.

Stone…is…MINE

“Guys…did you…say anything?” Arisu choked out.

They shook their heads, and with a shrug, Arisu turned back and reached for the magical stone. As he got close a pick ax came and crashed close to his hand. He cried out in surprised and scampered away; the other three were just as surprised as this…words couldn’t really describe what they were looking at! It was as if they were looking at Slenderman’s ink faced cousin! 

They hardly time to register anything as Arisu dodged another swing of the ax, his honeyed eyes were honed in on the being before him and couldn’t move from where he was – he was frozen in terror! He only heard “Alice!” and felt someone grabbing him just as the ax was coming down towards him again. The rest was a blur he didn’t even realized they were outside of the mines and back at the old cottage.

“Alice.” Ace gently patted his cheek. “Arisu, come on, snap out of it!”

Blinking, Arisu looked around before turning to Ace. “Thank you…if you were the one who carried me out that is.”

“Don’t get used to it.” Ace huffed. “Look, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be expelled than fight that thing and die.”

“What?!” Deuce looked at him like he grew a second head. “I’d rather die than face expulsion! There’s a magic crystal in front of us and you wanna go home?!”

“Great, then you can go on ahead alone.” Ace grabbed Arisu’s shoulder. “Me? I’m taking him with to face the music.”

“Don’t go deciding other people’s fate!” Deuce pulled the boy away from Ace. “We wouldn’t be in this mess if you had just shown humility and went through with the punishment the Headmaster had set!” he went towards the mines. “Whatever, you go on ahead, I’m getting that crystal on my own.

“Given with how well your plan to get the tanuki from the chandelier, have fun with that; you’re going to die in there!”

Enough! Arisu gave a sharp whistle; “Will you two knock it off!” he yelled, causing them to stop arguing. “Ace, I’m grateful you got me out of that situation, but…Deuce is right, there’s a gem in that mine waiting for us. I’m not all for dying over our place in school, but, even if we return to the school and tell the Headmaster about the creature…he’ll just think we’re making it up to get out of the challenge.”

Deuce let his shoulders drop, Ace just huffed and kicked a stray rock. There was a deafening silence and the group sat in silence for a little while before Grim finally spoke. “Well…how are we going to get the stone; in case you forgot, you’re weak in magic.”

“He’s right, you’re essentially mortal.” Ace pointed out. “If you were to go back in there without some form of defense, you’re screwed.”

“Who said I need magic?” Arisu smirked. “Whatever that…thing is, I doubt it’s bright – and its head is also glass.”  He folded his hands together. “So, this is what I’m thinking; we have two people stay out here to distract it while the other two go into the mine and grab the stone.”

“Add in something heavy like a cauldron.” Grim looked at Deuce. “We can buy more time as well for the stone retrieval group!”

“That…does sound crazy enough to work.” Deuce agreed. “Alright, let’s do this.”

*
Clang.

Crack.

Even from within the mines, that sounded painful. Arisu shuddered as he imagined what could have happened to the creature as he and Ace were digging the stone out; okay, it was actually Arisu who was digging it out as Ace played watch and only jumping in to help at the last minute when he heard Deuce and Grim calling for them, the cauldron wasn’t going to keep the creature pinned down forever. After finally getting the stone out, they didn’t waste any time in running out of there.

Running could only do so much, the creature recovered and started giving chase. This wasn’t good, if this kept up, there was a chance it could follow them into the school – and that was the very last thing they needed. They had to weaken it here and now; Ace, Grim, and Deuce were casting spells to tire it out, as for Arisu; he grabbed a pick ax from the old cottage and charged with it. His allies called to him telling him to pull back.

Shatter

He wasn’t really expecting that to work. Sure, Arisu used to be in baseball when he was in elementary, but a pick ax is relatively heavier than a baseball bat and he had his doubts that he would be able to make any damage. He was wrong, and he was covered in ink after that. It was unlikely that the shower at Ramshackle worked, maybe he could ask Ace and Deuce for their shower at least until the old dorm gets renovated.

“You lunatic!” Ace was laughing.

Grim was holding onto Ace, laughing as well. “Where did…where did you even get that idea!”

“I used to play baseball…to be honest, I didn’t think the pickaxe idea would work.” He wiped the ink from his face. “I’m so visiting Diasomnia for a warm shower when we get back.”

Grim sighed and went to lay on the ground; “Augh, I don’t know about you…but…can we go back to school? We won, we got the stone, we’re students again, and I’m starving from that battle!” his eyes lit up and tilted his head. “What’s this?” he picked up a stone laying on the ground.

All attention was on the stone now, Deuce looked at it and tilted his head; “It looks like a magic crystal, did the monster have that on him?”

“Hey, two magic crystals for the price of one; Headmaster’s going to be so impressed!” Ace grinned.

“It smells good!” Grim purred.

“Grim, don’t you dare!” Arisu tried to grab it from him.

He ate it. The tanuki ate it with no problem. 

“Delicious! It’s full-bodied, but also rich, with an aromatic sweetness!” Grim was gushing about it.

“Grim so help me if you get sick and throw up, I am kicking you out of the dorm!” Arisu hissed

“Don’t worry, my stomach isn’t weak like yours!”

Arisu shook his head “Switching gears for the better, let’s get this back to the school.”

Chapter Text

He lost count how many times he filled out the forms for expulsion that at this point he just stopped filling them out altogether. Dire Crowley tapped his clawed fingers on the desk as he played with a pen in his other hand and looking over a notebook filled with vague sentences and scribbled out ideas, was keeping Arisu here the right idea? He believed so, that boy was important with or without coven ties – Grim was a big concern to him as well, Arisu had promised he’d keep Grim under control but if that incident on Main Street was anything to go off of, he had his serious doubts. With a sigh, he rubbed the bridge of his nose and shook his head; this had to work, he couldn’t afford another failure. He refused to let failure happen again.

“Keep thinking and your head will explode.” 

He was taken out of his thoughts when he heard Lilia’s voice; looking up he just sighed and rested his head in his hands; “I’m not in the mood for this Lilia.”

Lilia just ignored him and began to play with a cat’s cradle; “Horomancy, a magical discipline that uses clockwork to manipulate magic to various effects; including manipulating time, shifting probability fields, as well as traveling across alternate realties. Only very few people can master it.”

Crowley looked up at Lilia. “If you have something to say, say it instead of stating what everyone knows.”

“I’m not saying anything.” Lilia said with a shrug. “But you know, fear of the unknown gives power to the unknown.” He sighed. “It’s almost midnight, I wonder how the boys are doing.”

“We got the stone, Headmaster!” Ace proclaimed as he held the magic stone up. “We got it in the time frame, we’re still students here!”

Speak of the devil and he shall come – so the saying goes. There were a lot of things in the school that no longer had an effect on Dire nor on Lilia; they had learned long ago to expect the unexpected, however, what they weren’t expecting to see were three disheveled students and a familiar holding up a magical stone with a triumphant look on their faces. Students driven with determination; they were so proud of them! 

Of course, what was concerning was seeing Arisu covered in ink, Lilia frowned and had asked what happened at the mines; the answer he got was surprising. There was some ink monster in the mines that they had to fight in order to get the stone. That got Lilia to freeze a little bit and to look at Dire Crowley, he had the same expression but it was masked.

Clearing his throat, Dire just applauded the group. “Well, seeing how you were able to complete the task, you boys get to be students again.”

“And what about Grim?” Arisu held the creature up. “He helped us with retrieving the stone too.”

Dire sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “The last time we’ve had him here as a ‘student’ a chandelier was broke and a statue was set ablaze.”

“I know, but I promise this time he’ll be better!” Arisu pleased. “We can get him to act more like a human…even if he doesn’t look the part.”

Lilia shook his head. “Should have expected this.” He crossed his arms. “Very well, but you’re not getting help this time; you’re taking care of him on your own, is that clear?”

“Yes Lilia!” Arisu smiled. “I’ll…be at Ramshackle later tonight; Ace and Deuce are taking me to their dorm to wash this inky mess off.”

The small group left the office and made their way to the mirrors; Lilia just chuckled and shook his head at the sight. Those boys were something else entirely; perhaps Crowley might be onto something, perhaps this little project of his would be successful.

*
“I can’t believe you managed to talk the Headmaster into letting me stay!” Grim moved from Arisu’s arms and got onto his shoulder. “How can I ever thank you!”

“For one.” Arisu looked to him. “You need to learn how to adapt here; we get you’re a monster and you’re not entirely like us humans, and we understand.” He started out. “But you can’t just start fights like you usually do. No one will take kindly to it and you’ll just put yourself into more trouble.”

Deuce nodded in agreement; “He’s right…Let me tell you something you can really trust, everybody’s got a wicked side.” He gently picked up Grim. “I know you think that you can never be like us, watch and learn so you can get it right.” 

He sat Grim on the ground and stood beside Ace before shuffling down the hall; “You need to drag your feet; you need to nod your head.” They did a little nod before sliding their feet. “You need to lean back, slip through the cracks.”  They turned to face him. “You need to not care.”

Arisu looked down at Grim, “Uh, you need to not stare. You need a whole lot of help.”

“You need to not be yourself.”  Ace picked Grim up and held him under his arm. “You wanna be cool? Let me show you how you don’t break the rules. We can show you how, and once you catch this feeling, and once you catch this feelin' you’ll be chillin’ chillin’, oh! Chillin like a villain!”

Grim squirmed out of Ace’s grip and jumped to the floor. “Alright, alright, so I have to adapt to the school.” He agreed. “I’m already going to classes, isn’t that enough?”

“Not quite.” Arisu said. “Yes, you are going to classes like a student; but your attitude is another thing – need I remind you of the statue?” he watched the monster freeze up. “Your attention when you act like that, let us teach you how to disappear.”  He looked him over. “You look like you would lose a fight to an alley cat, gotta be wrong to get it right ‘round here.” 

Ace patted his head and led the group into the Heartslabyul dorm mirror, they were one step closer to a quick shower and send Arisu back to Ramshackle without rising suspicion.

“You need to watch your back.” Ace said in a low voice as he led the way. “You need to creep around” he pulled Arisu and Deuce into a nearby bush as a member from their dorm came to do last minute rounds of inspection – mostly to see if anyone was breaking curfew.  “You need to slide real smooth, don’t make a sound.” 

“And if you care about your health.” Deuce held Grim. “Seriously, you need to not be yourself.”

Grim growled softly. “So many damn rules to follow!”

“Yeah, welcome to society; rules keep society from collapsing.” Arisu said bluntly. “You’re just proving that you need some serious help in how to adapt.”

“He’s right, you have to stay low-key.” Ace patted his back. “Come on, show us how bad you can be.”

Grim huffed and stood up on two legs before strutting around before them. “Like this?” he looked up and saw them cheer quietly, his grin grew. “Oh! I’m sorry for starting a fight – that’s a human thing to say, yeah?” even more encouraging cheers. “Yeah! I think I got this.

Ace picked him up and set him on his shoulder; “You wanna be cool? Let us show you how, you need to break the rules, I can show you how.” 

Deuce ruffled Grim’s fur; “And once you catch this feeling, and once you catch this feelin' you’ll be chillin’ chillin’, oh! Chillin’ like a villain!”

The group laughed quietly and made their way into the dorm and led Arisu to where the showers were; whispering that Ace would stay watch while Deuce went to get something for him to wear on the way back to Ramshackle.

*
There was something about being in the botanical garden at night that just brought calm to the soul. Perhaps this is why Leona liked taking his usual naps here – Malleus had decided as he walked through the empty building, having only the company of the foliage, the fireflies that graced everything, and the sound of the small waterfall from the distance. 

Malleus’ cold aura was enough to alert his presence just as the soft growl from a tree alerted anyone that Leona was there. The lion beastman jumped down from a branch and walked up to Malleus, despite him growling at the draconic faerie he had his head bent and under Malleus’ chin, nuzzling him in greeting before pulling back and crossing his arms.

“About damn time one of you fucks show up.” 

“Wonderful to see you too, Wildcat.” Malleus gently petted his ears. “Any word from our queens?”

“Riddle’s doin’ a last-minute check on his dorm and Vil’s on his way – be warned, he will come with his stupid facials.” Leona slapped his hand away. “And quit fucking around with my ears!”

“I can’t help that they’re soft.” Malleus smirked. “Sadly, your personality is coarse.”

“Fucking Lizard.”

“Honestly, you two are like children.” Came Vil’s cool voice.

True to what Leona’s claims were, Vil was before them in a short blue and green (peacock styled) silken robe that showed a little bit of his chest, dark blue silken pajama pants. On his face was a milky (and apple scented) facial mask that settled with little to no problem – it took Leona and Malleus every inch of composure to not pounce and kiss the mask off their beautiful queen.

“Radiant as ever, Beautiful.” Malleus complimented. “How were things with Sunflower today?”

Vil had a cold smile. “Honestly, I’m upset you’re not surrendering him to me completely; the ability to enter a person’s soul – oh the many raw potential I could get from him and make him bloom into something more than a common sunflower!”

“Did you seriously give Vil a new project?!” Leona demanded. “You know that boy’s going to end up traumatized, Lizard!”

“Oh hush.” Vil snapped. “He’s fine, we’ve only had a conversation about his ability and that’s it…he’s also quite knowledgeable in floral meanings. Though, I suppose that’s a given since he grew up around faeries.”

Leona just huffed. “Fine, you have a point. Still, the Dark Mirror said he’s weak in magic, and yet he’s still here.” He picked up a stray stone and skipped it on the cobblestones. “Then there was that monster that was…well a dumbass to think he could try to pose as a student – in a room full of witnesses.”

“Said monster ended up as a student regardless.” Vil sat on a nearby flat rock. “How did that monster get on the Isle of Sages to begin with? We’ve never had a creature outside of familiars brought here once.”

Before another word was said; the three prefects heard the fourth member of their little group approaching long before they saw him. Riddle stomped into view in a furious expression, the force of his ire almost enough to crack the ground beneath. He seemed almost unaware of the other three boys until he walked right into Leona with a yelp. The redhead tumbled onto his rear, the impact disrupting his bad mood if only temporarily.

"Apologies, but you would not believe the shit I went through today" Riddle said not bothering to get up and opting to instead flop onto his back. He'd worry about getting the grass-stain out of his clothes later, he needed to vent!

Malleus unfurled his wings and went over before wrapping the redhead in them, letting his claws gently run through Riddle’s hair – essentially combing it for him, and giving a soft purring sound to help settle him down. It worked to some degree, but Riddle was still upset.

“Come now, Little Queen, whatever has you upset?”

“For one, we’ve had that blasted cat disrupt the ceremony!” Riddle snapped. “No offense, Leona.”

“I thought the thing was a raccoon.” Leona shrugged. “None taken, brat.”

Riddle nodded. “Not only that, but two first years had snuck out during the ceremony before that creature came smashing in with no regards! Don’t you dare get me started on Trappola, that arrogant first year had been nothing but a rule-breaking…”

“Shh.” Malleus gently hissed. “You’re becoming quite red, Little Queen.” He raked his claws in his hair again. “Breathe now, Little Queen.”

A soft sigh. “I hate you, how the hell do you calm anyone down like this?” Riddle leaned into the touches. “Sneaking out of the ceremony, burning a statue, breaking a chandelier, and now he had the gall to steal a tart. The Headmaster should have expelled him.”

“He almost did.” Vil said. “I heard from Rook that after Ace and Deuce shattered the chandelier that they were given a task to find a magical stone to replace it; sure enough, they managed.”

“Seriously? Weren’t the mines drained?” Leona demanded.

“Apparently not, strange enough…there was a monster in the mines…Malleus’ Sunflower took a pickaxe to the monster and slayed it.” Vil hummed. “Impressive that young boy is.”

Riddle had a glare. “You mean Arisu Carol? He was caught up in that as well?!”

“Why the fuck are you getting worked up about it?” Leona demanded. “He’s not one of your students.”

“Malleus.” Riddle was forcing his tone to be gentle. “I respect Arisu is dear to you, but I mean it when I say that boy will be nothing more than a troublemaker while he’s here at the school. I will treat him as he’s one of my own; is that clear?”

There was a soft growl from the faerie holding him. “Riddle, I know you value rules and tradition, but I ask you to go easy on him; you know his upbringing was from the hands of Lilia and thus has a trickster side now.” He kissed his cheek. “At the very least, please be patient with him.”

“I will try to be, that’s the extent of my promise, Malleus.”

Chapter Text

It was kind of funny, Ace had showed up yesterday and was sorted into the same dorm as his brother was in; yeah, he got scolded by who he assumed was a dorm head and sure, he dozed off during most of the ceremony, but he was bored. 

That was when he met Epel from Pomefiore, they actually snuck out during the sorting and they actually hung outside for a while; he was actually a quiet type and only spoke out when he wanted to; they learned a lot about each other – sort of; Ace was from the Rose Kingdom and he enjoyed cherry pie, Epel wouldn’t say where he was from but he believed his special skill was crafting apple shape and enjoyed Yakiniku. They had to hide shortly after, Riddle had come out looking for them. It was actually thrilling!

When they came back inside and blended back in with the crowd; that was when he saw the strange racoon trying to break open a gate to become a student – in a room full of witnesses. Even more so when that fiasco had ended the boy that stumbled out was favored by one of the seniors (He had to be powerful then, right?); not quite, the Dark mirror had said the spark of magic was weak. That was unusual in the slightest; why would the Ebony carriage come for the boy if he was weak?

It was why he wanted to mess with them on Main Street, the raccoon and kid couldn’t be that hopeless could they? Well, his plan had backfired when the kid just shot off his mouth and continued to contradict Ace’s explanation of the Great Seven – heck, that little blond had the gall to call Maleficent ‘Granny’! Picking on them was a lost cause and he wanted to ditch them and head to class instead.

That all changed when that stupid cat started to shoot fire balls at him and that resulted in burning the statue of the Queen of Hearts! The end result…well, that was one thing he was keeping out of his letters for home…the other blessing that came from all of this was that he had a newfound respect for Arisu and Grim (sort of, he’s still mad at that floating cat), Deuce made an okay friend and now? They were sneaking around Heartslabyul getting Arisu to wash off the ink from the weird monster they had to battle. 

Ace couldn’t help but let a grin grow, Arisu Carol, he was something else on another level; just what was this kid’s deal? Well, there was a full year to find out and he actually felt his heart beat with excitement from thinking about it. He lifted his head when he saw Deuce returning with a set of clothes for Arisu and watched as he went in to hand said clothing off. 

As Arisu came out wearing Deuce’s clothing – they were a little baggy on him, Ace took him by the hand and quietly thanked Deuce before leading Arisu out of the Heartslabyul dorm and back to Ramshackle; the two shared a good-night and waved each other off, of course, he stayed to watch and make sure Arisu was settled before he returned back to his assigned dorm. Everyone’s had a long day and he was going to side with Grim in feeling hungry after that monster battle; he hadn’t had anything to eat since he got back, so he did what any normal person would, raid the fridge for something to eat before turning in for the night. 

He wasn’t expecting to find three whole tarts inside, that much was true; but in Ace’s book, he figured one wouldn’t be too noticeable, and if so, he could just explain his case. It wouldn’t warrant that much problem, right? 

Wrong.

“It’s so good!” He smiled. “Compliments to the chef!”

“Of course, it would be delicious. After all, anything that Trey makes is bound to be exquisite.” A cool voice said behind him.

Ace truly thought he was alone. “Nah, man this is something else! It’s better than the one at the shops…” It dawned on him and he turned to be face to face with the prefect. “Oh fuck.”

Riddle stood there with a cold expression on his face; this was how he was going to die. “Quite the boldness you have there for touching something that belongs to me.”

“Prefect, please…if you’ll just hear me out-”

“Queen of Hearts rule #89: You shall not eat tarts prepared for the Queen ahead of her.” He took his pen out and turned it into a scepter. “Larceny of the Queen’s tarts is a capital crime!”

[Off with your head!]

And right around his neck was a collar. Arisu wasn’t too far into dreamland, right? He was rooming with him tonight and from here on out! 

Coming upon the Ramshackle dorm, he banged on the door a few times and sauntered in when invited him; loudly declaring he was going to be a member of this dorm for a while. It confused the poor blond and the floating tanuki, but he wasn’t going to pay any mind; he just flopped onto the couch and fluffed out his pillow before relaxing. 

Arisu just stared and cleared his throat; “Uh Ace…why are you here?” he asked

“My prefect decided to seal my magic, now hush, I’m trying to sleep.” He closed his eyes with a huff.

“You broke a dorm rule, didn’t you?” he crossed his arms. “What did you do, Ace?”

“I ate a tart.” Ace sighed. 

That made zero sense. “Okay Ace…it’s midnight and I am too tired to deal with this.” Arisu yawned. “You can tell Grim and I everything when we get up for breakfast tomorrow.”

Ace had a little grin on his face, he stood up from the couch. “You’re absolutely right, how is Alice supposed to go to Wonderland if he’s awake?”

“Ace, what the hell are you planning?” Arisu took a step back, he yelped in surprise as Ace picked him up and swung him over his shoulder. “Ace! Put me down this instance!”

“You know, you and my prefect are around the same height!” Ace laughed, “Come on, Alice, we should get you to bed.” He carried him up the stairs.

“I’M GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS FOR THIS!” Arisu cried out.

*
There was the scent of roses lingering in the air. Arisu found himself in a rose maze, he was wandering around lost and confused – wasn’t it supposed to be impossible to dream of a place or person you’ve never seen before? Was this even a dream? The scent was real and he could feel the petals brush against him, perhaps this was the famous astral projection people have talked about; the kind that could be achieved with enough practice and will power, but even if that were true; where was he? As he traveled through the rose maze, his ears picked up humming and singing – now, if he had his own playlist going, he would have believed he was waking up as his songs were blending into the dream world; but he didn’t have his I-pod so it was unlikely. Coming to a courtyard he watched as cards were by rose trees painting white roses red; it was here he was able to hear the song clearly.

Painting the roses red, we’re painting the roses red. We dare not stop or waste a drop, so let the paint be spread; we’re painting the roses red, we’re painting the roses red!” The cards went to the next tree and continued their little song; “Oh, painting the roses red, and many a tear we shed.” 

The three held a wet rose close “Because we know” the two joined him and they leaned together. “They'll cease to grow” and the Ace joined. “In fact, they'll soon be dead.” They shared a brief sob before recovering; “And yet we go ahead, painting the roses red!”

Dream or not, Arisu had to admit he found this performance a little cute if only for a brief moment; why would they bother painting the roses if they know they’ll be dead soon after? It felt a little counterproductive and a pointless effort. He was about to get his answer when a girl with blond hair, blue eyes and…in a powdery blue dress and white apron came up to them. 

“Alice?” Arisu called out.

Obviously, she didn’t answer him. “Oh, pardon me, but Mister Three, why must you paint them red?”

The three answered; “Well, the fact is, Miss, we planted the white roses by mistake and...”

“The Queen she likes them red, if she saw white instead.” They had a fearful look on their faces. “She’d raise a fuss, and each of us, would quickly lose their head!”

Waking up to sunlight shining on his face, Arisu groaned and rubbed his eyes; what the hell kind of dream was that? He barely had time to think about it when Ace tackled him on the bed, hugging him and rolling off the bed so they were tangled up in the blankets. This was not the kind of wakeup call he was looking for, but Ace’s laugh was impossible to be mad at him – that and he was just too tired to even care at the moment. 

Once they were out of their blanket trap, they got up and went to get changed for their second day of classes. Freshly changed into clean uniforms, Arisu went to get Grim and attach the magic gem around his neck that would essentially be his magic pen before pocketing his own pen. The trio looked themselves over in approval before going to the lounge of the dorm where Deuce was waiting for them after letting himself in.

Ace waved at him and greeted him, Deuce did the same and even greeted Arisu and Grim. With the group together they started out onto Main Street where Ace was catching them up on the events of last night; he was feeling hungry that night and was looking for something to eat, he went for one of the tarts in the fridge where the Prefect latched the collar onto him. He did try to explain his case but was cut off abruptly as the collar was placed on him. 

Now, Ace had admitted he was in the wrong for taking something without permission and even planned to apologize after seeing Arisu’s scolding look earlier, but Riddle going far as to seal his magic like this was a bit too far. Deuce had spoken up about three students facing the same fate for not following wakeup routine. This was just…well as the famous meme would say “We don’t have time to unpack all of that”. 

Arisu offered that they still had time before classes start, maybe they could present Ace’s case to the prefect and get the collar off of him; there was some reluctance from Ace but he agreed as they went inside the school and to the mirror chamber where they would take the mirror to Heartslabyul. 

The dorm itself was just beautiful in the daytime, Arisu was able to see it in all its glory compared to last night; a lamppost baring the dorm name stood vigil on the right of the cobblestone path that led up to the dorm, which was lined on either side by potted rose plants which sat on short pedestals, alternating with taller rose tress shaped into hearts, all of which were adorned with beautiful red roses. The path itself split around a bubbling fountain and came back together in front of the dorm itself, creating a heart-shaped opening for the fountain. The Heartsabyul dorm, which looked more like a castle than a normal dorm from back home, loomed over the group, its walls a brilliant red, while the accents stood cream in contrast. Dark windows were constructed to look like the four suits: diamonds, spades, clubs, and hearts, ran the length of most of the walls.  The most prominent windows were the large heart-shaped window on the bell-tower, decorated with cream filigree to mimic thorny vines.  Below this window was the heart-shaped doorway that led further into the dorm itself, purple walls and a giant floor to ceiling door with equally tall windows on either side visible from where they stood.

“Whoa! This is super fancy! It’s completely different from our dorm!” Grim was in awe.

“Our dorm is still in development!” Arisu huffed. “Comparing’s gonna make me sad, so stop it.”

“Hey, Hey.” Grim grinned at him. “Can you ask your weirdo friend to hook us up in a place like this?!”

“Oy tanuki, leave Alice alone.” Ace moved Grim off him. “Let’s see if we can’t find Riddle and get this damn collar off.”

The sound of someone whistling broke the silence, Arisu blinked…the tune was pretty familiar. He turned and led the way to the rose maze, following the whistling until he came across someone painting the white roses red. Painting the roses red…it was like his dream…except the person wasn’t a card at all. No, this was just a coincidence, dreams couldn’t predict events, could they? Returning to the present, Arisu took in the details of the student that was making his way over to them; the student had orange hair, the top portion tied back into a ponytail while the rest hangs straight. His eyes are green and under his left eye, he has a small red patch shaped like a diamond. It was almost laughable; Ace had a heart, Deuce had a spade, and now this person had a diamond. 

“Hm? Did you guys need something?” He asked

“Ah…sort of.” Ace answered. “Uh what are you doing?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m painting the roses red!” The student had a cheerful smile.

Both Ace and Deuce looked at other confused, Grim furrowed his brows confused and Arisu…stop that, he told himself, a dream was a dream!

“Hm~ Your reactions are so fresh it’s kinda cute!” the student laughed. “Now that I look at you closely, you guys are the freshies who totally wrecked the 10mil chandelier and caused a ruckus yesterday!”

“I get this odd feeling the school is never going to let that chandelier thing go until we graduate.” Ace grumbled, Arisu just nodded in silent agreement.

Ace should have kept his mouth shut, because the student was honed in on him now. “And you’re the super sinful kid who stole the Prefect’s tart!” He brought his phone out and grinned. “I’m so lucky to meet the rumored freshies so early in the morning! We have to take a pic together!” he didn’t give the group a chance to react, he just arranged the three and the cat before taking a group selfie with it. “Hey, can I upload this? I wanna put hashtags so tell me your names!”

“I’m Deuce Spade.” Deuce nodded to the group; “My friends; Ace, Grim, and Arisu.” He introduced.

“Arisu~ Ah the fabled magicless mortal!” Cater spun him around. “Falling into our school like Alice herself!”

“Hey! I already gave him the Alice nickname, call him something else!” Ace pulled Arisu back to the group.

“Fine, fine.” He typed away at his phone before smiling. “And uploaded! I’m Cater Diamond, a third year and that makes me your senior! Call me Cater-kun, okay? Cate’s fine too!”

Arisu pulled from Ace; “It’s nice to meet you, Cater.” He smiled a little. “You’re pretty easy-going for a senior.”

“And you’re well-rested for someone who can live in Ramshackle Dorm! I’m surprised you can live in a place like that, it’s so dark, and I feel like something’s going to pop out. I feel for ya, Ari~” and he was also rude as hell. “Ah! I shouldn’t be here standing and talking! The party’s the day after tomorrow and it’ll be off with my head if I’m light.” Cater’s green eyes lit up. “Hey freshies~ can you help me with painting the flowers?”

Ace muttered under his breath, Arisu could have sworn he heard ‘and he’s acting weird again’ before Ace finally spoke up; “Why’re you doing something so strange?”

“Well, it’d be more photogenic if the roses were red for the party!” Cater sighed, “I’m really busy because I’m also in charge in coloring the flamingos for the croquet match.”

“Dear god, I really am Alice!” Arisu groaned. “The more I’m listening to this the further into Wonderland I’m getting myself into! Someone, please translate for me!”

Cater laughed and hugged Arisu; “You are just so adorable, Alice-chan! In a few days it’s the dorm’s legendary Unbirthday Party! It’s a tea party that our Prefect felt like doing, so he chooses a day that doesn’t fall on anyone’s birthday.” He let go of him. “By the way, when is your birthday, Alice? We need to know so we can plan ahead for the next one if you join us!”

“November 26th.” He replied.

“So, we have to be careful in our fall planning.” Cater nodded in understanding. “We’ll burn that bridge when we get there, right now!” he dragged Arisu to the roses, causing Ace, Grim, and Deuce to follow behind. “Since you’re in our little Wonderland you have to help me paint the roses!” he shoved a paintbrush into Arisu’s and Ace’s hand. “You two can’t use magic, so you have to paint them by hand!”

“Give me a super-soaker water gun and I’ll get these roses painted in no time.” Ace grumbled. “We’re not here to paint roses, we have something important to do!”

“Help paint the roses and I’ll see about helping you~” Cater chimed.

Chapter Text

When all was said and done, the roses actually looked amazing, the shine they were giving from the paint almost made them glitter on the spot.

Of course, the moment of admiring their hard work was cut short when Cater had asked what he could do for the group and when it came to the reason; the cheerful demeanor dropped and the unexpected happened; the cheerful senior actually turned serious. Turned out the prefect wasn’t at the dorm and until Ace owned up to Riddle…he was to be escorted from the dorm. The only thing that was going through the group’s head was ‘what the fuck?’ they tried to battle Cater but…that proved to be fruitless and they were just escorted back to the mirror. They decided to say heck with it and just went to their classes; fortunately, Arisu was in the same year and class as his friends so it was easy to just follow them to class.

History was the current class being overseen by Mozus Trein; a teacher that was strict and thorough; never would accept late work and expects the best of his students. 

Arisu felt himself losing more and more focus; it wasn’t that the subject was boring, he loved history, it was just the fact that their teacher decided to lecture on a topic he was all too familiar with. The Headless Horseman; he found himself trying not to nod off during the lecture which had proved to be an impossible feat. He decided that in order to save himself from a scolding for falling asleep in class he would rather focus on who the teacher was. Mozus Trein was strict and thorough; he never accepts late work and expects the best of his students. 

There was one other rule in the classroom; as Mr. Trein would also teach the music class, if anyone was caught with their music – even during study periods – the student would have to give a show of whatever song was playing. This wasn’t so bad as he assured them that it would count towards extra credit and to see where the student’s voice range was.

There was a soft side to him, on his desk was a picture of a family; three boys and three girls. Aside from them, Mr. Trein favored his familiar – there was a cat tree in the room where Lucius would hang out and watch the students; turned out the cat was smarter than he looked, anyone who tried to be discreet with their electronics would get a cat in their face.

“The tragic tale of the Fier and Goode has been around since the Salem Witch Trials.” Trien started out. “Benjamin and Matthew Fier had a mother and daughter burned at the stake under the guise of them being witches; sad to say, it was actually to keep the daughter and Benjamin’s son away from each other. But, as we all know, fate has a way of working, the father was the actual witch and he placed a curse on the Fier family for destroying his.”

Trien’s eyes scanned the room, looking for any student that may be nodding off. “Mr. Trappola, could you kindly come back down to earth and share how the curse was to be broken?”

Ace paled and stumbled for an answer “Oh uh…” He looked to Arisu beside him in silent help. “It’s broken by…”

Arisu mouthed the answer to him ‘Marriage’

“Marriage?” Ace answered.

Mr. Trein was not amused; “Partially there, Mr. Trappola, it’s the Marriage between a Goode and Fier.” He turned to Arisu. “As for you, Mr. Carol, do refrain from giving your peers the correct answers.” He turned back to the bored. “Now then…”

In one ear and out the other, the bell chiming signaled the end of class and the group found themselves at gym with Mr. Ashton Vargas, he was that one gym teacher who got enthusiastic about his job and gave insane exercise regiments as well as putting a lot of importance into whatever activity was scheduled for the day. As of now, Arisu was running laps with Deuce and Ace, Grim had to run on his paws as the teacher called out no flying. He barely remembered anything from that class other than a relaxing shower afterwards, before long they were finally able to head to lunch for the day.

Everything was hurting; his pride, his head, and now his entire body was aching like no tomorrow. Arisu just sighed and went to the pasta dish before him; garlic parmesan, he sighed in bliss as he ate without a care in the world, he was too tired to deal with whatever squabble his friends were having with seniors over some food or another and he just wanted to enjoy his lunch in peace. That was short lived when a familiar cheerful voice called out to him.

“Ari-chan!” Cater hugged him from behind. “How are classes for you?”

Ace just stared at him; “Hey! You’re that guy who tricked us into painting the roses for you!”

“I didn’t trick you; you know~ It’s not like I wanted to do that either, I only did it ‘cause of the Dorm’s rules.” Cater grinned.

Deuce sighed. “You looked so happy about it though.”

“There, there, Deucey~” Cater patted his back. “The rules don’t matter outside the dorm, so Cate here is just your very gentle senior!”

“I am not awake for this.” Arisu groaned. “My brain is already fried from history.”

“Haha, I’m afraid that’s how Cater expresses his affection.” A new student walked up to them; green hair, gold eyes, and a club under his left eye. They had the full card set now. “Pleasure to meet you, my name is Trey Clover, I’m a third year alongside Cater and I’m the vice dorm head of Heartslabyul.” He looked at Arisu. “Ah, you’re from the old dorm, yes?”

“Sadly.” Arisu shoved more noodles into his mouth.

“Speaking of dorms!” Cater hugged him again. “Ari-chan, your big brother here will tell you and your friends everything!”

Ace pulled Arisu away from him. “Okay, tell us about our dorm; what the heck is with the rule number whatever of the Queen of Hearts?”

“I’m sure you’re all familiar with the legendary Queen of Hearts, right?” Trey adjusted his frames. “And Arisu, we did hear your realm’s version of her, don’t worry we’re not going to judge. Anyway, in order to establish absolute law and order, she made severe rules in order to oppress the eccentric citizens of Wonderland.”

Cater nodded. “And out of respect for the Queen of Hearts, our Heartslabyul dorm wear red and black in order to represent the dress she wore. And it’s part of our traditions to adhere to the Queen of Hearts’ rule.”

“Sounds like that should have been in the FAQ’s of the dorm pamphlets.” Arisu said in between bites. “I’m getting seconds, you boys behave.”

“Hey, what kind of places are the other dorms?” Grim asked.

“Let’s wait until Alice returns.” Ace said. “I’m sure he’d want to hear about them too.”

“Augh…fine.” Grim felt his ears flatten. He waited for what felt like hours (in reality, it had only been five minutes) before Arisu had returned with his food. “Okay, he’s back, now back to telling us about the other dorms already!” he demanded.

Trey chuckled; “I did say I would tell when Arisu returned.” He nodded; “Now then, this school has seven dorms that are dedicated to the Great Seven; starting with our dorm Heartslabyul that’s grounded on following the Queen of Hearts’ law with our entire being.”

Cater smiled and quick took a picture of Arisu’s chocolate strawberry brownie. “Then we have Savanaclaw that’s grounded on the fortitude of the King of Beasts.” He smiled at the blonde’s annoyed reaction. “I’m done Ari-chan, you can enjoy your food.”

“I’m close to taking that phone.” Arisu warned. “Octavinelle’s founded on the Sea Witch, am I correct?”

“The Sea Witch’s benevolence, yes.” Trey confirmed, he raised an eyebrow when Arisu scoffed at that. “Going to ignore that…Next we have Scarabia that was formed on the careful planning of the Sorcerer of the Desert.”

Cater smiled and brought up an image of the Pomefiore’s dorm; “Next we have a personal favorite of mine; Pomefiore, the house grounded on the magnanimous efforts of the Beautiful Queen~ It’s so beautiful, but that’s to be expected~”

“Then there’s Ignihyde.” Trey started, “Whose foundations lie on the perseverance of the God of the Underworld

He shoved a fork full of noodles in his mouth again. “What about the final dorm?”

The table grew cold. Cater took a breath and brought up a gothic castle image on his phone. “Diasomnia” he started out. “Founded on the gracefulness of the Queen of Thorns.”

“You mean Maleficent.”

Arisu’s seniors grew quiet, giving him a surprised look before turning their gaze to one another. The silence remained until Trey piped up in an attempt to break the awkward silence amongst them. “So... you know of her?” He asked, fixing his glasses.

Arisu nodded, swallowing his mouthful of noodles. “Well yeah, she’s pretty cool in my opinion. The stuff she does with the green flames...being able to turn into a dragon...pretty fancy if I do say so myself.” He answered.

“What’s with you?” Cater interjected, putting his phone down on the table. “You’re really going to talk about one of the Great Seven just like that? The Queen of Thorns is so much more than “cool” and “fancy”. You gotta show some respect for her, Arisu.”

Trey nodded in agreement. “Listen to me Arisu,” He began, with a stern look on his face. “Here’s some words of advice to you; next time someone talks to you about one of the Great Seven, it may not be a good idea to speak of them so casually. I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by it, though do keep in mind that talking about one of them the way you did might get you in trouble with certain people…”

“You should have heard what he said about the other members of the Great Seven.” Ace huffed. “Heck, he calls her ‘Granny’!”

“I’m sorry, he calls her what?” Cater choked a little bit. “Why the hell would you call The Queen of Thorns ‘Granny’?!”

Arisu just blinked at him. “Because she’s essentially my second Grandma?” he said like it was obvious.

The seniors had decided that switching topics before someone else overheard and went after the strange mortal before them was the better option in that case. They started to point out each of the students that belonged to each dorm; Savanaclaw was mostly filled with athletes and had the yellow and black color; Scarabia with the dark-red and gold and Octavinelle with the grey and light purple were considered the smart dorms – written tests were their best fields; Arisu was quick to point out Pomefiore with the purple and red color – Cater filled in that the dorm was full of beauty and took their routines seriously (Essentially the ‘Popular Girls’), Trey had to be the one to let them know the beautiful dorm was filled with alchemy masters.

When it got to talking about Ignihyde, Trey had made the remark that it was rare to see one of their reclusive students out and about, but they were amazing at technology and had the colors of blue and black; finally, the Diasomnia students, in some way, they’re super popular and they had an aura that makes it hard for most students to approach them (not to mention their prefect is near impossible to get to). 

Looking over at the table in the corner; Ace was able to see what the two meant, they looked like they were in their own little world. Though two things stood out; one being a student with horns coming out of his head, and bright glowing green eyes, and the other being the boy with the magenta tips that was sitting beside the silver-head and the green/blond boy, at first glance he looked like a child who skipped some grades…grade skipping was natural but…Looking back, Ace blinked. Where did he go? He was just there at that table a second ago.

“Pray tell, are thou interested in mine dorm members?” The boy was hanging upside down over them., Ace and Deuce jumped and stared at him, the boy just chuckled. “It is true that I might resemble a sprightly and endearing young boy, however, your friend in the glasses is correct, I am a child no longer.”

“Sprightly…” Trey repeated the boy’s words.

“Prithee, why not approach us instead of simply watching from afar? Are we not comrades from the same school? We from Diasomnia will welcome you anytime.” Lilia turned to Arisu and his grin grew. “We meet again, Sunflower, how are you holding up today?”

Arisu smiled at him. “I’m doing fine, Lilia, history nearly killed my brain.”

“Honestly, you should just let me write an excuse note to exempt you from that class.” He shook his head. “But back to the subject at hand.” He turned to the cards. “Would you like it if I were to bring my boys over to sit with you instead?”

Deuce gulped and looked to the table before shaking his head. “N-No, we wouldn’t want to be a bother.”

“Oh? Very well then, I’ll leave you boys be, do keep in mind that if you ever wish to sit with us, our dorm will welcome you with open arms; after all, a friend of our darling Sunflower, is a friend of ours.” He patted Arisu’s head and made his way back to the table he was at earlier.

Ace stared in disbelief as he looked at Trey and Cater. “Are all members of Diasomnia like that?”

“Sort of.” Trey nodded. “Their Prefect, Malleus Draconia, is said to be one of the five greatest sorcerers of our world! He’s pretty dangerous…well our prefect’s dangerous too.”

Ace groaned, “You’re telling me! Eat one tart and you get a collar on you; he has to be the worse!”

“Hm? I’m the worse, you say?” A calm and cold voice asked.

Arisu paled, this was not going to end well. “Perhaps that’s not the right word, Ace.” He started out. “I think your prefect is just a bit…strict and harsh is all.” 

“Whatever.” Ace huffed; “He didn’t give me a chance to let me explain my actions!”

“And what would your explanation be?” The cold voice returned.

“That the reason I went after a tart was because I missed dinner.” Ace huffed. “And the reason I missed dinner was because I had to get a magic stone with my friends to save our place here in school, we wouldn’t have been in that mess had Grim not try to roast me alive and I was defending myself!”

“Typical reply from someone who was part of the ruckus yesterday.” 

“Oh, what exactly do you-” Ace felt his voice cut off. “P-Prefect!?” There before them stood Riddle before him, his cold gaze staring down at the group. The famous Red Queen of Heartslabyul, Riddle Rosehearts.

Alright, Arisu had to be honest here, he could see why Ace said he was relatively shorter than his prefect. He felt like he was looking at a red-haired version of himself but with a colder silver-eyed look. No, cold wouldn’t begin to describe the look in Riddle’s eyes, there was something there…what was it?

 “Prefect Rosehearts.” Arisu greeted. 

He narrowed his eyes. “The Headmaster may have forgiven you, but the next time either of you break the rules, I won’t let you off so easily.” He snapped. “Tch. The Headmaster’s too soft. Letting someone off the hook for not following the rules once will break the foundation.”

Ace looked up at him; “Uh…is there a way to get this collar off?”

“I was thinking of removing it once you’ve repented, but judging from what you said a while ago, it seems like you’ve yet to do so.” Riddle crossed his arms. “Frankly, I should place the same collar on that misbehaving cat of Mr. Carol’s.” he ignored Grim’s cry of protest. “Now, if you’re done eating, hurry and go to your next class. Rule #271 of the Queen of Hearts: “You must not spend more than 15 minutes sitting at the table after you’ve eaten.” You know what happens when you break the rules, don’t you?”

There was a reluctant ‘Yes Prefect’ from Ace and Deuce. Arisu shook his head, he wasn’t going to argue that it was best to just finish eating and head out since they were in a prestigious school. 

Still, he couldn’t really shake the feeling he got when he looked at Riddle; there was something going on behind that cold façade but he couldn’t really place it. Without another word, he stood up and collected his bag and empty tray; telling his friends he would meet them in class.

Chapter Text

There comes a point where Arisu had asked himself over and over ‘What the hell did I do to get roped into this?’ and right now this was that point in time. Sometime after lunch, Ace had pounced him from behind and began dragging him and Grim to the botanical garden to get chestnuts for the apology tarts. He wanted to say no, but he had no reason to – and his feline friend was eager to make this tart as well, if it kept Grim out of trouble, he would go through with this.

The inside of the greenhouse was actually beautiful; so many plants he’s never seen before, various fruits and nuts that were just begging to be picked! He felt at home in a way, his mother did pride herself in her blueberry garden – and what luck, there were some right in front of him! Smiling, Arisu rushed over to them, he would catch up with Grim and the others at the chestnut trees in a little bit, right now he just wanted the sweet and bitter taste of those blue colored delights!

“Fuck-!”

Arisu stumbled and looked down. A tail? 

The owner of the tail got up from where he was and approached, “You’ve got some guts stepping on someone’s tail without apologizing.”

“Oh god…” Arisu covered his mouth. “I am so sorry; I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going.”

“No shit.” The lion’s ears picked up a little and the annoyed look turned curious, approaching the boy and started to sniff him before growling. “And you smell like that damn Lizard, you must be ‘Sunflower’ he won’t shut up about.”

Arisu took a step back, “You mean Malleus?” the dangerous look from the lion didn’t leave. “Y-Yeah, we’re good friends…um…I should get going-”

He grabbed the boy’s shirt and dug his claws into the uniform. “You think I’m going to let you off scot free after you stepped on the great Leona’s tail? I’m in a bad mood after being woken up from a good sleep, start gritting your teeth, prey.”

Arisu paled, dear god he was going to die! He sealed his eyes tight and braced himself for the inevitable end.

“Leona-san!” 

Saved by the bell? Arisu sighed in relief before crying out after Leona threw him on the ground. Not wanting to stay around, he got up and bolted to a safe distance, he turned back a bit and saw a hyena looking boy scolding the lion for something. He really didn’t want to stay around to find out and get his face rearranged. Instead, he just returned to the trees where the others were waiting for him; not wanting to alarm them, he just said he got turned around while looking for gloves and decided to come back here. 

“Curiouser and Curiouser, eh Alice?” Ace grinned, he laughed as Arisu nudged him. “Come on, we have chestnuts to pick!” 

“Yeah…I know.” Arisu sighed and put the gloves on. “So, this is how you’re going to get back into Heartslabyul?”

“That’s what Trey and Cater said!” he looked down at him. “Arisu, what’s wrong?”

“Well, I ran into a student with lion ears who was ready to kill me.” Arisu started off. “And I saw my life flash before my eyes.”

“…What do you even say to that?” Ace looked at him. “Don’t answer that, let’s go back to Prefect Rosehearts, why did you look hurt when you saw him, did you two meet up in the past?”

Arisu shook his head. “No, it’s nothing like that.” He shrugged. “It’s hard to explain but…I saw an ice wall when I looked into his eyes.”

“Just leave it then.” Ace said simply. “Look, you’re still working on your magic and he’s a powerful prefect. He probably saw you were unintentionally performing a spell and put a counter spell to block it. If he wants you to know something, he’d tell you himself, right?”

“I…guess?”

“So then just ignore it.”

Deuce scoffed. “That’s horrible advice, Ace!” he thought for a bit. “Maybe we can ask Malleus about it?”

“I’m not going to keep going to him every time something about a prefect bothers me.” Arisu snapped. 

“Well, what about that blond guy you were with yesterday?” Ace asked. “I mean, I only caught the tail end of your conversation with him, but it sounds like he was trying to help you with something. Maybe we can ask him instead?”

“Vil? I only know he’s in Pomefiore, I don’t have his number so I don’t know how much that’ll do.”

“Good thing we have a senior who knows everyone.” Ace grinned. “We’ll ask Cater when we finish here; right now, it’s chestnut picking time.” He patted Arisu’s back and went back to the tree.

When all was said and done, they headed off to the kitchen in the cafeteria where the rest of his time was roasting and peeling the chestnuts while Ace and Deuce went off to the school store to get some extra ingredients from the school store. 

The chestnuts part of the job was actually relaxing in a strange sense of things; it helped kept his mind off the reading he tried on Riddle and it kept him from remembering the brief moment where a lion was going to slaughter him in the greenhouse earlier at least. But he knew this good feeling had to end soon…he couldn’t ignore the warning signs. 

Well, it was as Ace had said, until they talked to Vil, there wasn’t anything else he could do. So, until then, he agreed to help the others out with the making of the Maron tart.

There was something about making homemade treats that just melted the cares away, it could be the sweet and warm smell of delicious pastries baking in the air that brought one to heaven, or it could be the anticipation of trying out the final product for the first time to outweigh everything else. 

With the tarts coming out of the oven the group had taken a slice small enough to go unnoticed but big enough for everyone to try a slice for themselves. It was heaven to the taste, the boys felt themselves melt after taking that one bite; even if this apology fails, they were pleased with the results.

“Hey Trey, do the thing! Really blow these cute freshies’ minds!”

Trey chuckled. “Alright, Alright.” He smiled to the first years. “Boys, what is your favorite food?”

Blinking, Arisu looked to his senior, “Cinnamon rolls.”

Ace tilted his head. “Cherry pie?”

“Tuna!” Grim chimed. “Lots and lots of tuna!”

“Omurice…if I had to choose.” Deuce replied.

Trey nodded and flicked his wand, “[Doodle Suit] Okay, take another bite of the tart.”

Strange, but he wasn’t going to argue. To Arisu’s surprise, after taking a bite of the tart again, it tasted like a cinnamon roll! He looked up in astonishment and felt his jaw drop to the ground.

“Surprised? It’s my unique magic; Doodle Suit.” Trey smiled. “It’s the ability to overwrite things with what you imagine; I can do with color and smell too, not just the taste. However, it’s not a permanent effect so it’s sort of like a sketch only – hence the name ‘Doodle Suit’.”

Cater grinned at the group and patted Trey’s back. “Anyway, we’ll take the tarts back to the dorm and tomorrow we can give them to Riddle – we always have a pre-party, it’s basically the final setup then the real party happens.”

“Hey, before we leave.” Ace spoke up. “Cater, can you call this Vil person? We have something we need to talk to him about.”

“Weird request, but I got this.” Cater said typing away at his phone. 

@Vil_Schoenheit some cute lost freshies want to talk to you [image]. You should meet with them!

“And sent!” Cater smiled. “You boys should get to the mirrors, don’ wanna make him wait long!”

*

Trey shook his head as he heard the student before him, Riddle appeared to have been in one of his moods when it came to rule 256 ‘One should not drink lemonade with honey when it’s past 8 in the evening’ – last year that rule was commonly broken among other minor rules that Riddle hardly batted an eyelash. This time it was different, Trey assured the student he would talk to Riddle and Cater went off to get some herbal tea made for the prefect in question.

Taking the cup from Cater, he made his way up the stairs and went straight to Riddle’s room. He walked in and set the tea on the desk beside Riddle. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Riddle looked up at him. “Students broke the rules, the usual.” 

“That’s not what I mean.” Trey said tapping the redhead's shoulder. "Come on you know you can tell me anything, if not as your vice-dorm head, then as your best friend. I want to know what’s bugging you" he added before stepping back and folding his arms.

"I want to behead someone, not just collar them but full out behead them like the Queen of Hearts did" Riddle said avoiding eye-contact. 

"I'm sorry you want to do what?" Trey stared at him. “Riddle, why on earth would you want to do that?”

“Because Alice is here.” A familiar chilled voice called. Both students looked over and saw a familiar purple-haired boy on the bed and a lazy smile on his face. “Now that Alice is here, the Queen’s wrath has awoken.”

Trey raised an eyebrow at that, “Are you referring to Arisu, Che’nya.” The cat-boy just hummed and tilted his head to the side. “Riddle, he was trying to defuse the situation Mr. Trappola was about to cause, as far as I’m concerned, he’s actually a good hardworking student.”

"He's a trouble-making scoundrel who is trying to undermine everything that this dorm stands for. His presence disrespects me and in turn disrespects the spirit and tradition of Heartslaybul!" Riddle said with his eyebrows furrowed. "I'm going to wring that boy's neck myself if someone else doesn't beat me to it" the redhead snarled.

"Why don't we try talking to him calmly before we go to the neck-wringing route" Trey said uneasily. He hadn't seen Riddle this upset in... no he couldn’t think of a time he'd seen his friend look so murderous. It was making him fear for his life and he knew for certain that Riddle held no malice towards him.

Che’nya chuckled and grinned at them, “You’ll be seeing him tomorrow~ Though I have to wonder, will Alice need a vorpal blade for defense? Or will Alice leave the dorm with her head in place?” He stood up. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see.” He stretched. "Ahh has anyone ever noticed the sweet scent of barberries outside? it's a wonderful time of year for them, wouldn't you say." He flashed a grin.

Chapter Text

“There better be a good reason you three had Cater messaging me through social media.” Vil snapped. “What is it?”

“Sorry senpai.” Deuce bowed a little bit. “It’s Arisu, he…well I don’t know how to explain it; he looked into our prefect’s eyes and he saw a wall of ice, and it’s bothering us.”

Vil sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Sounds like a mental shield.” Vil confirmed. “It’s not uncommon for strong magicians to consciously or unconsciously set up mental barriers to keep other magicians out. There's still a problem in the magical community with mind-control spells and hypnosis that such measures are occasionally necessary. However, I don't believe Rosehearts was at risk from an attack on his mind, correct?”

“Correct, I only made eye contact with him and saw the wall of ice.” Arisu explained. “But, how did that transfer over to the soul room?”

“Rosehearts tends to keep to himself, he’s going to close himself off to keep others from getting close.” Vil laid a hand on his chin. “Now that I think about it, he has been acting strange lately…”

“Do you think it’s because of the upcoming Unbirthday party?” Ace offered.

“Ah, right.” Vil muttered. “That time is coming up, he tends to extend an invitation to those he holds high respect for.” He looked at Arisu and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Listen, I’m going to tell you this now; your power is something else, and I admire that. However, I’m asking you to stay out of this – come the end of the unbirthday party, we’ll have this sorted out. You, just focus on your school work and nothing more, do you understand me?”

Arisu just nodded. “Yeah…um, I guess that’s all we wanted to talk to you about.” He turned from the other. “Have a good night, Vil.”

“Good night to you too, Arisu.” 

Arisu nodded and started to escort his small group back to Ramshackle – much to the dismay of Ace and Deuce. They dragged themselves back to the dorm and…as Arisu’s bed was the only one that was prepared for anyone, the three just squished into it. It was uncomfortable fit, but they were still able to drift off to dreamland, where as before, Arisu was greeted to a strange dream.

He found himself in the rose maze again, and like before he followed the sound of a march going on. It led him straight to the courtyard where the cards were painting the roses with Alice, except unlike before…there wasn’t a cheerful tune. Dread filled the air when he saw the Queen make her way over to the guards with a pissed off expression.

Paling, Arisu rushed over just in time as the cards were either trying to throw the other under the bus or trying to plead their cases, but it was no use, the Queen had ordered for their exaction on the spot.

“Please, it was a mistake!” Arisu cried and even tried to grab one of the cards. He just went through them like the ghost he was in the dream.

Come morning light, Arisu awoke to Ace and Deuce pulling him out of bed, he groaned and got dressed before making his way downstairs where they were greeted to a familiar red-head; Cater, he grinned at them and hugged them. With everyone together, Cater got his wand out and mentioned that because this was a grand event, they had to look the part; with a flick of his wrist, the clothing they wore were changed into the dorm uniform.

A white undershirt peeked out from under a black vest on Deuce and Trey, an argyle pattern with the suit icons embroidered in a light gray adorning it and four black buttons to keep it closed. The blazer everyone wore had a white base with four gold buttons, the collar being red on the right and black on the left, with the heart-shaped lapels in the opposite colors, all of which was edged in gold. Attached to the left red lapel was a white rose, the top of which was painted red that dripped toward the bottom to give it an unfinished look. Black and gold diagonally striped epaulettes held a gold rope that looped around the left shoulder. The left sleeve boasted a black and white diamond pattern while the right sleeve was solid black. On the left side of the blazer was a gold heart-shaped pin, the interior mother-of-pearl with the letters Q and H in gold script, a crown set on the Q.  Below that was a playing card, which was different for each member of the house, and finally the dorm crest near the bottom hem. A black and gold striped sash wrapped around the waist and held by a large white button with a gold H imprinted and a red ribbon wrapped around it. The pants were white with a gold stripe down the outside leg seam and high-top tennis shoes in white with accents matching their vest color completed their uniform.

Looking themselves over; Ace, Deuce, and Arisu were laughing and were in total awe about what they were wearing – even Grim’s bow was white with a bit of red adorning it!

“This is totally stylish!” Ace cheered as he flared his blazer out.

“You look like carriage drivers!” Arisu laughed.

“But we look so cool!” Grim puffed his chest out. “We have to start our own Carriage business now! Queen’s Carriage is our name now!”

“You know back home we have Ubers and Minnie-Vans.” Arisu had a grin.

“You’re definitely fashionable~” Cater smiled. “And now for the wonderful Alice-chan!” he aimed his wand at Arisu before giving it a flick.

The blond watched as his clothes began to magically change. The pajamas he had been wearing a moment earlier had transformed into a beautiful white and red dress that went down to his mid calves, the sleeves tight to his arms except where they proofed out at the shoulders, complete with a small cape, a ruffled neck scarf that matched the thigh high black boots over white tights. Golden embellishments adorned his dress, giving a more regal look to the garment. His blonde hair was neatly done in a bob cut, with a cute little rose clip to complete the look. Cater had taken a few pictures of Arisu, excitedly showing him how he looked from a different perspective.

“Uh Cater?” Arisu started. “Why am I in this and not what Ace and Deuce are wearing?”

“Well obviously, what we’re wearing is our dorm’s uniform – you’re not really a member of Heartslabyul, but a substitute works just fine!” Cater grinned.

Deuce had a light pink on his face. “I think Arisu means ‘why is he in a dress’?”

“Why not?” Cater challenged. “Guys can wear dresses too, they’re called Queens.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Anyway! Off to Heartslabyul to deliver the tarts and to get some last-minute painting in!” Cater took his hand and led the way into the mirror.

Unlike before, painting the roses today wasn’t as fun. Then again, unlike today, Arisu didn’t have a lot on his mind to distract him from the current activity. Of course, this round was a little exciting since Cater was able to clone himself – although, this did rub him the wrong way because, why trick them when he could have cloned himself instead! Despite the extra Caters running around, Arisu was still lost in his thoughts and Ace was the first to have noticed. After the roses were painted Ace had told the others he would catch up with them later when it came to bringing the tart out (“If the prefect asks, tell him I’m checking on a friend”), he had more important matters to worry about. 

Ace stood before Arisu with his arms crossed and a serious expression on his face. “Are you going to tell me what’s really bothering you?”

“It’s hard to explain.” Arisu sighed. “I’m…having dreams about the past – not my past but…”

He slowly nodded and took out a pocketbook from his uniform before flipping through it; “To dream of the past suggests that a current waking situation is paralleling a past situation. You need to learn from the past and not make the same mistake again. Alternatively, the dream may represent unresolved issues from the past. Or that you need to stop living in the past and look forward toward the future.” He shrugged and looked at him. “What sort of past events are you dreaming about?”

“The Queen of Hearts, I’m seeing her with Alice and the cards mostly…how the cards made a mistake and were executed for it.” He looked up at Ace. “Kind of like how you and the other Heartslabyul students make one small mistake and end up getting collared?”

“Guess I can see the similarities.” He put the book away. “So, we’re reliving the past but to a less extreme…we’ll figure something out to keep it from repeating completely.” Ace pulled him close and held him. “And I’m not going to let anything happen.” He pulled back. “Come on, I don’t want Prefect Rosehearts sending a search party after us.” He smiled and led Arisu back to the group.

They didn’t even make it through the gates, they just waited for the two to return. Upon questioning why, Cater merely shrugged and said that they weren’t going to do Ace’s apology for him, they were willing to wait until he returned with their ‘darling Ari-chan’. Arisu actually laughed and smiled at that, he assured them things were fine and that he was just having problems with a dream he had – Ace helped him out with a book he carried around, he had to be honest, he wasn’t expecting Ace to be into dreams (“Everyone has a hobby, Arisu”).

Upon arriving at the sight of the party – that was mostly the seniors of the dorm; the pre-party was for the seniors to make sure that everything was in place for the actual party with the first years. Make sure the hedgehogs and flamingos were taken care of, the roses were painted and shining in the light, the tablecloth freshly pressed and cleaned, and made sure the treats made beforehand were at top quality (granted if Trey made them, they would be at high quality, but even still…it was tradition). The presence of three juniors walking in with a senior got the group to hone in on them, especially Riddle who narrowed his steel-grey eyes at the third student; Arisu Carol.

Sensing an impending doom, Vil – one of the guests that Riddle had invited – stood up and quickly made his way over to the group, grabbing Arisu by the arm and guided him out of the garden. The moment they were out of earshot, Vil narrowed his eyes at him and crossed his arms. Silently demanding to know why Arisu was here.

“I’m only here to back Ace up.” Arisu said. “Cater was the one who dressed me in this despite me on tart delivery duty.”

“Deliver the tart, and then get out.” Vil hissed. “Riddle’s not in a clear headspace right now and I am not dealing with a pissed off dragon because you decided to be reckless and get yourself caught in the crossfire.”

Arisu nodded and returned to the side of his friends, making his way over to where Riddle was; the hard glare from the prefect didn’t take his eyes off him for a second and continued to watch him like a hawk ready to attack a defenseless field mouse.

Trey was quick to act and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Conversation first.” He reminded.

Riddle grit his teeth and folded his arms as he continued to scowl at the blonde. "It's against the rules for a member of another dorm to attend an unbirthday party without the formal consent of both dorms leaders" he snarled shaking Trey's hand off his shoulder. 

"Well technically Arisu isn't really a member of another dorm since Ramshackle doesn’t have status as an official dorm anymore. And even if it did still count, since Arisu is the only member that makes him the dorm head by default. If anyone asks, we can just say that as your vice-dorm head I acted temporarily in your place and invited him" Trey replied making Riddle hiss in annoyance at his flawless rebuttal.

Arisu lowered his head in respect to Riddle. “Prefect Rosehearts.” He greeted. “I’m glad to see you’re healthy, Trey had invited me because he was worried about you – and Cater-senpai had talked me into helping with tart delivery.”

Riddle scoffed a bit and looked him over, “You’re not even in appropriate attire; it isn’t remotely close to our dorm’s uniform, are you trying to make a mockery out of us with that?”

“Easy, Rose.” Vil spoke softly, he approached and held his other shoulder. “I already chewed him out for you; he won’t be staying, he’s only here to assist one of your students in tart delivery and nothing more.”

“Fine, make it quick.” Riddle snapped, forcing himself from the grips of Trey and Vil. “What tart did you bring anyway.”

“Monte Blanc.”  Was the unanimous answer from the first years.

Riddle's mouth twitched into a deep frown as he slowly rose to his feet, the menacing aura he gave off was enough for Vil to act first; grabbing the redhead and holding him firm and close to keep him from doing anything brash and regret later on.

"How dare you bring Monte Blanc? Rule 562 of the Queen of Hearts clearly states that you shall not bring Monte Blanc to a unbirthday party" he snarled, gaze now returned on Arisu and struggling to pull from Vil’s grasps. “And you, you're the one who caused this mess! You're the one disrupting and corrupting my dorm's members with your idiocy.”

“MALLEUS!” Vil called. “I’m going to need your assistance!”

It didn’t take long for Malleus to show from the shadows and pinned Riddle down to the chair, Vil had to kiss Riddle on the head – he was thankful he chose to wore his special blend, though the DSD lipstick would knock a person out if he kissed someone on the lips, the forehead would be that of a light sedative. It would keep Riddle down for the time being. Vil looked over to where Arisu was and paled at the sight; the boy had his gold eyes locked into Riddle’s own grey eyes; this wasn’t going to end well. He told Malleus, to keep a hold onto Riddle while he sorted the mess out.

The moment Arisu had made eye contact with Riddle, he was thrown into the redhead's soul room. Once again, he was face to face with the ice wall in the boy's mind only there was a blurry figure on the other side of the wall now. Arisu squinted at the figure and opened his mouth to speak only to shut it again when he realized that the figure was wielding a giant axe.

The figure pulled the axe back before swinging it down and against the wall with a loud crash as a huge crack formed on the ice. With another swing the ice wall was sure to break in two and Arisu would be up and close with an axe-wielding psycho. Fortunately, he was returned to his body as eye contact was broken, Vil had came over and shook him to get his attention. Looking up at his senior, Vil just nodded to the gate and patted his back, silently telling him to get out of the garden while he could.

Turned out there 810 rules. 810. Rules. And Trey only memorized up to 350…the long version short; escorted out and now trying to figure out what it is they needed to do – and figure out what to do with the Monte Blanc tart they still had.

“Ah~? What’s up with all of ya~? Wearing all those collars like that?”

“We’re not in the mood for-” Arisu turned to where the voice was and saw…just a floating head. “Guys-!”

The reception was a given, the small group had a heart attack while the head laughed. Coming into view and now with a full-body, they were able to see him completely; choppy purple hair with his bangs cut in a curve, purple cat ears, a white shirt and blue pants, and yellow eyes with slitted cat pupils.

“Who…are you?” Deuce asked

The cat bowed in greeting. “I’m Alchemi Alchemivich Pinkaa.” He stood and grinned at them. “But please, call me Che’nya.” He stood and tapped his chin. “I couldn’t help but overhear your little dilemma; Riddle’s been a little stickler for rules since he was little.” He chuckled.

“Do you know something about him?”

“I do and I don’t.” He shrugged. “Why? You four want to know about him?”

Ace narrowed his eyes. “Damn right we do! 

“Then…I’d ask the clubs; he’s known Riddle since they were children and if I were you, I’d go and ask him if I wanted to know more about the young prefect.” 

Arisu raised his eyebrow at that. “You seem to know more than what you’re letting on.”

Che’nya’s grin grew as he got right up into Arisu’s face. “If that’s what you think, then maybe that’s what it is~” he pulled away. “If you’re smart, Alice, I’d suggest you don’t return to the gardens again, not if you want to keep your head.”

Ace held Arisu close. “Is that a threat-!?”

“Me? Threaten dear Alice? I wouldn’t dream of it.” Che’nya tilted his head again. “I’m just warning you; the Queen’s wrath has been awoken and unless you’re armed with a vorpal blade, you won’t be living for long.” He ran a finger across his neck. “The next time the Queen calls for Alice’s head, it will be for real.”

Chapter Text

After the encounter with Che’nya, Arisu actually stayed behind in the garden while his friend group went after Trey to get more information out of him about the tyrannical prefect; there was something he actually wanted to try before any of his friends decided to do something stupid and end up putting themselves at risk of detention or worse – he was not in the mood to go hunting for another magical stone to fix any damages like the last time. 

It took some time before Trey actually left the scene of the party for the trio to go after him and for Arisu to devise a plan to sneak back into the party and try to reach out to Riddle; he had a few ideas how to go about it and they all included showing a form of humility, the problem he was facing was when he should go in that wouldn’t cause suspicion – especially since Riddle had ordered Cater to create his clones to make sure the small group stayed out until they were ready to own up. And knowing Cater, he probably wouldn’t let him in that easy or so soon. 

Well, guess he was just going to hang by the mirror until he thought of something.

His friends were having better luck interrogating Trey. They had learned about Riddle’s upbringing being because of extremely harsh parents – he believed that being harsh would benefit everyone, help make others grow, and by allowing rules to be broken it would be as if he was denying everything that he was made to be. Well, that was part of the reason; no-one ever chooses who their parents are…but with Trey having been Riddle’s childhood friend, he could have done something to keep Riddle from becoming more and more like his parents; enabling and just feeling sorry was going to get people to resent the young Prefect.

Their heated conversation caught the attention of the Headmaster who claimed to have been there to research something – and definitely not because he wanted to read a latest addition to a novel. Right. Well, in the end the headmaster had given some sound advice; either Ace transfer dormitories or challenging the prefect to a duel and take the title of Prefect for himself. Ace had no problems agreeing to it and even agreed to team up with Deuce for the duel. 

“Hey! When you guys become prefects, you’ll let Arisu and I stay at the dorm right?” Grim asked. “We can move into someplace fancier!”

Ace narrowed his eyes; he was putting a tack in that for later. “Right…I’ll see what I can do when we win.” He assured. “I mean, I don’t entirely feel like having Riddle and Arisu in the same building is a good idea – you saw what happened earlier.”

Grim’s ears flattened at that, “Arisu didn’t do anything wrong…why did your prefect try to attack him like that?”

“What did that weird kid say? The Queen’s Wrath has been awoken?” Deuce spoke up. “Maybe it has something to do with that?”

“Whatever it is, we’ll focus on that after the duel.” Ace snapped. “If it weren’t for those two seniors, I would have punched that bastard for trying to hurting Ari…”

Returning to the dorm, Arisu walked up and explained the situation to them; he couldn’t think of a way to get in without raising suspicion, at least not in a way that would have Riddle coming after him with some form of blade or another. 

Ace had suggested they’d forgo the sneaking in and just go for the direct approach and even mentioning he was going to challenge Riddle for the right of prefect – that earned a smack upside the head. 

Before returning to the garden, Deuce gave Arisu the quick rundown of what Trey had told them; it physically hurt just hearing the type of upbringing he had, and getting through to Riddle before Ace and Deuce decided to try their inane plan was a lot easier said than done. He didn’t want to put that worry on the backburner, but there wasn’t much he could do, he had to go in with a clear head and not be distracted for the aura spell to work. Plan here sounded simple enough; go in get into the soul room, and…pray he get the information he needed before he died.

Despite walking in with an air of confidence, Riddle was honed in on Arisu like a hawk. To say that he was impressed was an understatement; Ace had made a point of the group not giving their apologies and this magic-less mortal approaching him in a casual manner was a sight indeed. He couldn’t really help but to smirk as he was curious what this boy had to say to him – if he was going to plead on Ace’s behalf, he had a better chance talking to the Hatter back home. Once Arisu got close to the table he was seated at, the two stayed in silence for a while, neither saying a word and challenging the other to speak first.

It was Arisu who finally broke the silence. “Prefect Rosehearts, on behalf of the others; I’d like to give my most sincere apologies. You were right about me…disrupting the ways of the Queen and straying your students and in hindsight despite not being a part of your dorm I should at least learn the laws set by the Queen of Hearts herself.” He curtsied before him. “I don’t expect you to forgive me, sir, but please at least give Ace and Deuce a second chance.”

Riddle stayed silent for a bit before standing up, the partygoers went stiff and quiet as they watched him approach the boy, they relaxed when Riddle had lifted Arisu’s face so they were eye to eye, “Humility is a virtue one that not a lot of people possess.” Riddle mused. “I’ll forgive you and give you a second chance here; on a few conditions.” He smirked. “First is be mindful who you align yourself with, it would look bad if you shamed your family by being around unruly characters like Ace.” His expression turned serious. “Second, seeing as you grew up with a prince, you should be talented in something; entertain us and we’ll see what happens then.”

The opening he needed; Arisu kept the calm expression on his face as he nodded. “I used to play guitar, but I can do Acapella renditions.” He looked Riddle in the eyes. “I just want to make sure there’s no miscommunication here; I’m free to sing any song of my choosing?”

“Within reasons.” Riddle said sharply. “I’d rather you spare us from listening to you sing anything explicit.”

“Don’t worry, that would be the last thing I would choose for an occasion like this.” Arisu assured.

Intent was key in any spell, that was the lesson Arisu had drilled in his head growing up – heck, even the teachers here would drill that into his head. And even though he wasn’t magical in traditional terms, he still knew that magic or no magic intent was important for whatever the reason; song, dance, story, if the intent wasn’t there it wouldn’t hold. And he had the perfect intent in mind; he was going to get Riddle to come out of hiding from that ice barrier he keeps himself surrounded in – and get close without having to worry about the executioner waiting inside the soul room.

“There’s more to us than flesh and bone, so look in our eyes to find our soul.” Arisu started out. “Yeah, all the magic in us it can’t be tamed, and nothing’s ever gonna put out this flame.” He started to move his right hand in a snapping motion before doing a spin – making the skirt fly up a little. “Oh, I’m filled with wonder, never felt so free, and I gotta search for grace and peace; cause I’m a teenage runaway, runaway, runaway.”

Arisu moved so he was in a magical girl pose before sinking to his knees, the entire time he kept his eyes locked with Riddle’s – the good news was he was in the room again, and the executioner was nowhere in sight. The bad news, he was still blocked off from exploring.

“Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough, and a little different, well don’t give up.”  He extended a hand to him. “We’ll support each other through the highs and lows; cause you’re built for something greater than you know.” He got back up and took a strode forward. “Yeah, through the thunderstorms I’ll be by your side; Promise, I give you my word it’s gonna be alright.”

“Enough.” Riddle called out to him, ending the song abruptly. “Word to the wise; make sure your spell-casting isn’t obvious.” he narrowed his eyes at him; “Just what were you aiming to do, Carol.”

“What makes you say I was trying to do anything?” Arisu challenged.

Riddle strode over and grabbed his face in a harsh grip. “I know when someone is casting a spell, whelp.” He growled out. “Not to mention you wouldn’t take your eyes off mine, you were trying something that needed direct eye contact. Now talk.”

Arisu was feeling his heart race; “Yeah…uh…about that, I can’t really control that…it just happens and it’s easier to make eye contact than break it…it’s an automatic spell.” Weak excuse, but a truthful one.

Unlike before, Vil and Malleus weren’t here to rescue him – they had informed Riddle that they had to return to their dorms and perform their duties as dorm masters so they wouldn’t be at the party for long to begin with. Call it a sick sadistic glee when he heard that and felt the rush when he watched his lovers leave, but it was what Riddle was feeling, and being around the monkshoods that had grown alongside the roses elevated that delight.

Riddle harshly threw him to the ground, staring down at him with a sneer before pressing his boot down on Arisu's chest; “Listen closely, you best get that power of yours under control ‘less you find yourself poking around in areas you shouldn’t be and risk dealing with the consequences” he hissed. “You are not even worthy to be the ground that I stand upon" the redhead accented his words by twisting his foot so that the stiletto heel of his boot dug into the other boy's body like a blunted knife "I should very much have your head on a silver platter for this!” He removed his foot and backed off. “Get out of my sight, this is your one and only warning that if I see you again, I will take an axe to that thickheaded skull of yours.”

That was enough. Ace walked over and picked Arisu up off the ground before moving him behind. “Stand back, Deuce and I are going to take over.” He watched as Arisu backed down; “Riddle, we’re challenging you for the title of Prefect!”

The garden went silent. There was no way that a couple of first-year students were serious about challenging Riddle to a duel. The silence was broken by laughter; Riddle cleared his throat and looked at the two with a smug look on his face.

“Oh, you two were serious? I’d laugh harder if I could.”

“We wouldn’t joke about this.” Deuce said.

Riddle shook his head; “Your funeral, but I’m feeling nice today.” He snapped his fingers to let the two be freed of the collar. “I’ll give you today to prepare yourself and tomorrow we’ll have our duel.”

That was how the first day of the party ended. Ace and Deuce were at the Ramshackle dorm training with the ghosts in order to prepare themselves for the duel, they had thought of some combo attacks and even put those into practice to see what would stick and what wouldn’t. As they were doing this, Arisu was laying back on the couch and dozing off to the music that was playing on his playlist at the time being; there was something deep inside him that was screaming at him about the upcoming duel the next day, and though he wanted to end the duel before it even started…there really wasn’t much he could do in regards of this. For one; all he had was an invasive soul spell and he wouldn’t be able to challenge Riddle as he wasn’t even a part of the dorm, he would be stuck on the sidelines.

With the day passing and his two friends were outside practicing with the ghosts, the clock chimed nine and the group had last minute dinner – apparently the cafeteria ghosts delivered pizza? No, Arisu wasn’t going to question it, he gave up on that the moment he moved into Ramshackle the very first night – and it wasn’t even that long ago. After having food and Arisu’s guidance to their rooms; the group managed to clear off another bed so they weren’t squished together on a singular bed anymore. Arisu wished Ace and Deuce a good night before going to his room and drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

The rule of three suggests that a trio of events is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. First two dreams were painting the roses and the aftermath of the Queen of Hearts outright executing the cards because they were trying to fix a small mistake. In some way, that mirrored the students of Heartslabyul who got collared because of small mistakes; tough love was needed in some cases, sure, but…it was more of the tough than anything else. 

And now tonight, he found himself in a courtroom as an audience member. He looked down at the sight before him and recognized the trial scene; this was where Alice was telling the Queen off! He felt his heart stop in his chest as he watched her go off on the Queen; calling her a tyrant who does what she wants – the Cheshire Cat was of no help, but then again, when was that cat any good (except in Madness Returns where he just gave harsh advice). The verdict was final with the Queen shouting her famous line and the Cards were cheering.

“What the hell is wrong with all of you!” Arisu demanded. “She’s right, the Queen of Hearts is a tyrant!”

Why didn’t anyone stop her before she got this bad? He understood that order had to be maintained but there were most certainly other ways to maintain order without going around mindlessly executing people for one small thing or another.

“Arisu.” Ace shook his shoulder. “Come on, wake up.”

Arisu groaned and threw his covers over his head. “Five more minutes, Ace…”

“What five minutes? You slept through the entire morning!” 

What! That got Arisu up and rushing to get dressed; “What the hell, why didn’t anyone wake me up sooner?!”

“We tried, even the ghosts had a hard time waking you up.” Ace took Arisu’s shoulders and made him turn around so they were eye to eye. “Arisu, what’s wrong?”

“No…it’s…I had another Alice dream.” He sighed.

Ace sighed and laid a hand on his chin, “Okay…we’re still repeating the past if this is how things look.” He hummed. “Maybe the duel is what we need, I mean the whole mess started because nobody would stand up for themselves right?”

“Yeah, it worked so well for Alice.” Arisu snapped.

“She escaped with her head.” He reminded. “We keep fighting back and everything will turn out fine in the end.”

Why did it sounded easier said than done? With a sigh, Arisu got dressed into a T-shirt and jeans today, it wasn’t anything special – he was going to smack whoever thought it was a good idea to give him a pink sparkling turtle printed shirt. Wait, would that cause for grounds of expulsion if he slapped the headmaster? Probably. The rule of three; he overslept, and now all he had that was clean was this turtle shirt…the duel was going to flop. With a sigh, he followed Deuce, Ace, and Grim to the Heartslabyul dormitory; each step closer to the garden felt like another step closer to the chopping block.

Just give up. That’s what Riddle wanted to tell them the most as Ace and Deuce stood before him; he didn’t think they were serious when they challenged him and he thought they’d rather hide out at the old dorm their mortal friend resided. They had guts; he will give them that, what he’s not going to let slide is the fact they were only thirty minutes before teatime. He shrugged; it won’t take him that long to defeat them in time. He just took his place in the garden and held his scepter in hand; the two first-years did the same and got into stance – weak, one strong wind spell would be enough to send them flying; they’re not remotely serious about this duel at all.

The moment the headmaster threw the hand mirror was when it began. The bold and reckless flare from the fire and wind spells joining as a fire tornado just made the prefect take a calm step to the side and let the blast hit the hedge behind him. Those two better pray a rose bush wasn’t hit. Narrowing his eyes, he flicked his wrist and summoned rose vines from under the duo and sent them flying only to have them crash land on their backs – Arisu may not be a medical professional, but he was pretty certain he heard something break, if not then those two must have insane luck. 

And insane luck they had, Ace and Deuce got up on shaky legs and shook off the impact – they did wince with each movement though, that…had to be sign to call it quits right? Wrong. Combining wind and one of Deuce’s cauldrons they tried another launch attack, another swift dodge from Riddle before shooting vines at the two; striking Ace in the face. The first year ended up with a bloody nose after that attack. With Riddle focused on Ace, Deuce decided to come in hot with a water-based spell, a tidal wave spell to knock the prefect on his back. Child’s play. Riddle smirked and froze the wave in place by turning it into ice, if he was feeling merciless, he would have sent the ice back to the first year, but he was feeling kind and just shattered it.

“As much fun as this is, we’re going to have to end the duel here.” Riddle smirked and aimed his scepter at the two “[Off with your heads!]” he shouted

“Are you being serious right now?!” Ace demanded as he tugged on the collar around his neck.

Deuce was more taken by surprised than anything. “We couldn’t even do anything!” 

It was almost as if Riddle just treated it as a sick dance recital. Arisu just felt his jaw hanging as Grim was trying to make sense of what had just happened. Each dodge was swift and his spellcasting was fluid, the duel was just child’s play to him! The Headmaster wasn’t hardly phased, he praised Riddle’s ability (wasn’t he also the one who told Ace to challenge the young prefect? Why would he suggest such an inane idea when he knew the results were going to end this way?)

Riddle scoffed. “I’m surprised that you went and challenged me with your skill level, aren’t you the least bit embarrassed?” he shook his head in disappointment “I knew it. Anyone who breaks the rules will always amount to nothing. It is as Mother said.”

“That’s enough.” Arisu walked over and got between him and the challengers. “Prefect Rosehearts, I respect your position of dorm master, but there comes a point where it gets too much. I know you’re upholding the traditions set by the Queen of Hearts, however, even you have to admit there’s some rules that are far too ridiculous to follow!”

“No one will follow rules that are lenient! What sort of lessons have you been given that you can’t even understand something so simple as this? You grew up with the heir to the Valley of Thorns!” He crossed his arms. “Oh…wait…I forgot, you were born and raised by mortal parents who can’t even use magic, I’m sure that you didn’t receive a decent education before you stepped foot into this school. How pathetic, truly pathetic.”

"If you're looking for something pathetic you might want to try looking in a mirror, Prefect Rosehearts. You play at being a just king but you're nothing more than an angry toddler throwing a fit cause he didn't get his way" Arisu said with a hand pressed to his chest to stem the bleeding from the puncture wound Riddle's heel had left in its wake. "You are not worthy of the crown you wear, so called Red Ruler... when in truth you are nothing more than a Crimson Tyrant!" the blonde said his other hand darting out and snatching the tiny crown perched precariously on Riddle's head off before chucking away over the nearby hedges into the heart of the rose garden. 

Riddle's cheeks were almost the same color as his hair now as he stared mouth agape in the direction that his crown had been flung before slowly turning back to glare at Arisu with murderous intent. "How dare you... HOW DARE YOU TOUCH ME SO CAUSALLY YOU INSIGNIFICANT WHELP?!" Riddle shrieked his hand pulled back to strike the blonde who had the sense to take a few steps back before rebutting the redhead's words. 

"If I'm so insignificant why is your face so red? I'd thought it'd take a bit more than just removing your crown to reveal your true colors Prefect Rosehearts" Arisu said not caring that he was no longer deescalating the situation, he had been holding back his thoughts about the prefect for days and it was all coming out now whether he liked it or not.

Riddle poised himself for attack and Arisu closed his eyes readying himself for the strike; the strike did happen but not in the way anyone was expecting; opening his eyes, he saw Ace standing there in front of Riddle; fire was in his crimson eyes as he stared at the prefect holding his face. The garden was deathly silent; Ace had just punched their prefect in the face – hopefully it wasn’t too bad of a punch. Arisu took a step toward his friend and reached for his shoulder, to which Ace shrugged him off and silently telling him to back away.

“Don’t ever insult Arisu or his family in front of me ever again.” Ace said in a deadly tone. “I don’t care about this duel anymore, I’m sick of you.” He kept his gaze on him. “You had terrible parents that were horrible to you and treated you nothing but a trophy, but you know god damn well where a line has to be drawn! You’re just as horrible as they are to your own dorm mates!”

A domino effect was triggered; Ace’s outburst got a good number of the Heartslabyul students to stand up against their dorm head, that in turn got Riddle to lose it completely and decapitate any and all who opposed him – heck somewhere along the line the young prefect lost himself and the rose trees were floating; he actively tried to skewer Ace on the spot! And he would have succeeded had it not been for Trey’s unique magic changing the spells for a short amount of time; this is what people would call ‘too close for comfort.’ And…things were just going from bad to worse from here. A dark aura was surrounding Riddle – no…that’s not completely right; before everyone was Riddle but he was wearing a tattered red and black dress, a laced veil was covering his right eye that was glowing red, white roses on the dress were stained with ink, ink even covered his arms and a black crown rested on his head.

“Ah~ How could this happen?! How could I let a student go into Overblot while I’m here?!” Crowley was holding onto his chest.

“I’m sorry, did you say Overblot?” Arisu choked out.

Ace looked at Arisu concerned; “I’m afraid to ask but…”

“Ace…we’ll talk later, right now…if Riddle stays like this he could die.” Arisu looked at him.

“You are going to have to fight him.” Crowley warned. “It’ll be dangerous.”

“It’ll be a risk we have to take.” 

“Very well, I’ll evacuate the other students…please be careful.” Crowley turned and led the students to safety.

Famous last words ever heard, Arisu was behind Ace and Deuce once more; Grim was on the front lines with Trey, Cater, and their two friends. This wasn’t going to be an easy fight, but they had no other choice in the matter.

*

There were two things one had to keep in mind when fighting someone who Overblots; one is that the victim will never remember this and when they do, they’re going to get hit with a wave of guilt, the second is that you also had to fight for your own life as well as the victim’s. The game was weakening the victim enough to get them to come around by any means and it wasn’t an easy one. The four ‘cards’ were casting what they know while also doing their best to take cover and dodge Riddle’s attacks – which usually was in the form of a tree coming down on them, as for Arisu…given he didn’t have much magic in him, he was looking around the abandoned party trying to find something to use as defense and as a weapon against Riddle. The problem with that, anything that could be used wouldn’t do much good; silver tray, teapot, he had some doubt he’d find a croquet mallet nearby since the ones they use here are flamingos (and he wasn’t about to start using a bird to knock sense into someone). 

A gentle tap came to his shoulder, he turned around and say Che’nya standing behind him and holding out a metal baseball bat. “Your school store had this on sale.” He grinned. “It’s no vorpal blade, but it’s ready for service.”

Arisu took it and sighed, it was a crude method, but there wasn’t really time to be a beggar in this case. He returned to his friends’ side and stayed a way back to assess the situation; Riddle was focused on the ‘cards’ with his attacks - well, he was actually going after Trey more than the others. There was no rest coming from him, he was just using spells after spell without rest, this was bad on so many levels; his friends couldn’t stand against Riddle forever like this. He knew there were words between the two being exchanged but…the only thing he could really hear was his heart throbbing; he kept trying to calm himself down, Riddle had to have some kind of weakness…if he could find the weak point and get to it the young prefect will be saved and…they’ll figure out the next obstacle later.

Being caught up in analyzing the opponent, he had failed to realize another attack was being made and the target was him. Arisu gasped out as he felt himself being lifted in the air by vines and yanked towards Riddle. He was now faced to face with the crazed prefect, golden eyes were meeting with the one glowing red eye and one grey eye and his face was being held harshly by the inky grip that he had. 

“MaGicLesS mOrTaLs ArE bLaNk SlAtEs! I’lL pRoVe To YoU tHaT tHe QuEeN’s WaY iS tHe RiGhT wAy!”

As a great duo that once fought the devil in a rock-off would say; “Fuck!” This was bad on so many levels, was Riddle seriously about to use him against his friends like this?! No…No Riddle himself wouldn’t do this, he really had to get through to him somehow! He struggled in the vines that tightened their hold on him, bruising his arms and legs in the process and searched his head through anything he could use to reach to him. Please, don’t do this, I know you’re in there!

“Prefect Rosehearts, there’s no need to go through the extremes!” Arisu pleaded. “Just put me down and we can talk!” he gasped out when he felt Riddle’s nails dig into his face.

“I aM tHe RuLeS hErE! i’M aLwAyS rIgHt AnD i HaVe YoU tO sHoW fOr It, AlICE!

“The rules aren’t always right!”

Silence. That was never good. Riddle removed his hands from Arisu’s face and dropped him on the ground, in any other case someone might take it as a blessing but just as he had dropped him, a new vine came and wrapped around the boy’s neck before pulling him up. Arisu gasped out and grabbed the vines and tried to get the pressure off him, it wasn’t a traditional noose that would be properly tied so he was stuck writhing in the air trying to breathe and stay conscious. Unfortunately, his efforts where in vain as another vine came and wrapped around his wrists, pulling his hands up above his head while two more vines wrapped around his ankles, spreading his legs.

“TrAiToR! ALl Of YoU aRe TrAiToRs To tHe QuEeN!”

Arisu let out a small choked sound of protest at this making Riddle abruptly pause in his angry rant to gaze down at him. The redhead was silent for a long moment as he inspected the other boy whose lips were beginning to turn blue from oxygen deprivation. He leaned in, giving a hum of appreciation at what he saw and licking his own lips as he continued to stare at his prize. The vine around the first year's neck loosened ever so slightly, just enough to allow air.

Arisu could hardly see much; his vision would shift between the rose garden with Riddle's lecherous face almost pressed against his and…a ferry and a man staring down at him. It would repeat like this a few times before he just saw nothing but darkness. He wasn’t sure when it happened but he found himself waking up with Cater above him; he winced and tried to sit up, everything was hurting so much – he was going to feel the bruises on his limbs for a while. 

Cater helped him up, “Are you alright, Arisu?” 

“I saw Charon.” He coughed. “Do you realize how close to death you have to be when you start seeing other peoples’ gods!? How the hell do you think I feel?”

“Fair point.” Cater turned to the fight. “Going head on isn’t getting us anywhere, any ideas?”

Arisu shook his head. “I just know he has to have some form of weakness but…It’s not going to do us any good if we can’t even get close enough.”

“The only things I can see are the crown or the glowing eye behind the veil.” Cater pointed out. “We have a fifty-fifty chance.”

“Didn’t you hear me? It won’t do any good if none of us can get close enough.”

His eyes lit up; “We can’t get close enough, but you can!” he grinned, “Look; hear me out, if you can convince him that you’re truly on his side he’ll let you approach and you can get the crown for us to smash and you can just punch him in the glowing eye.”

“That’s an insane plan, what the hell makes you think that’ll work!?” Arisu demanded.

“Please Arisu, as your senior, trust me on this.” Cater squeezed his shoulder.

Straightening himself up, he made his way over to Riddle; he saw the vines ready to strike him again and he held his hands up in a surrender motion. A confuse tilt of the head from Riddle and halting the vines long enough was all Arisu needed; he got on his knees and rested his right hand over his heart, lowering his head to him in complete submission – and praying to every single deity that he could think of that this insane plan worked and he didn’t die on the spot!

“You win, Prefect!” Arisu called. He didn’t struggle when the vines picked him up and pulled him close to the Queen before him. “You’ve made your point clear; I was in the wrong when I challenged you and…I wish to formally apologize for my transgression.” He winced as the vines tightened around him a little.

SwEaR iT tHeN, sWeAr YoUr LoYaLtY tO tHe QuEeN oF hEaRtS!

Arisu took one of his hands into his and placed a kiss to it. “I swear my loyalty to you, Queen of Hearts.” 

Pleased with his actions, Riddle eased his grip on him and gently ran his fingers through the mortal’s golden hair in silent praise. The redhead turned his hand that had received the kiss over and gently held Arisu's chin before guiding it up and forward so their lips could touch. The blonde watched as Riddle's eyes fluttered shut during their lip lock and carefully ever so carefully moved his hand up to touch the tyrant's cheek. When the second-year made no action towards disallowing the motion he moved it up a little further into Riddle's blood-red locks before abruptly grabbing the crown that rested atop them and hurling it towards the ground where the Cards were waiting below. Not giving Riddle the chance to react as he muttered "Forgive me" before rearing back to punch the redhead in that glowing red eye of his.

Chapter Text

Where was he now? He was just facing off against Riddle just moments ago. Instead of the rose garden of Heartslabyul, he found himself standing in the entrance hall of someone’s house. Everything was dark and bleak, it made his heart feel heavy with each passing second that he was here. Walking further in, he heard a few things; one was the sound of chains, another was a celebration, and a third was his own heart. Deciding to check out the celebration first, he found himself in a foyer where a small birthday party was; the banner read “Happy Birthday Riddle”. Curious, he went up to the scene for a better look at the setup; at the table was a young Riddle and beside him was a beautiful woman – at least, Arisu assumed she was beautiful; she was dressed in a form-fitting red dress and her hair was done up with some curls, the only thing is her face was obscured from him. 

It was simple enough, there was the best wishes from the mother and Riddle smiling at that. But the smile fell, what was said next was pretty muffled to his ears but…he could read lip to a certain degree (He could get away with cheating in tests if someone mouthed the answer to him, he just couldn’t really eavesdrop on someone completely). What he got out of the conversation was his mother chastising him for wanting a tart with strawberries – something with that much sugar would be poison to the body. Okay fine, too much sugar could be bad for someone but…it doesn’t hurt to have it every now and again. What the hell?!

“I’ve always wanted to eat tarts filled with red strawberries. Just like the ones displayed on the shop window of the bakery that we pass by.”

Arisu turned around where the voice was, no-one was behind him but the sound of chains returned. Returning to the scene before him, he just saw the place blocked off with them. Letting a soft sigh, he ventured further into the house; up the stairs and into a room where he saw Riddle at a desk with books; once more he couldn’t quite hear what was being said, and lip reading didn’t provide much in terms of information. It just looked like the mother left him with an insane number of books to study through and proceeded to leave for whatever reason. The kid was eight, what the hell was wrong with this woman!?

I was always surrounded by lessons I had to finish. If it was possible, they would have extended my lessons longer. But, something like that was “normal” for me.”

“Riddle…” Arisu held his heart and looked down.

Unlike before the chains didn’t cover this room, it…actually got a little brighter, and the sound of someone tapping on the window was heard. In the tree beside the study was a familiar duo; one with light purple hair and one with green hair. Che’nya and Trey, it was refreshing to see them, and them being here made things easier to hear.

Hey, hey~ Let’s play together~!” Che’nya called.

“Who are you?” Riddle looked at them. “Wait…did you seriously climb up here?”

“Duh~ We always see you in the window and now we want you to play!”

“You still hadn’t told me who you were.”

Che’nya laughed. “I’m Che’nya and this one’s Trey!” he pointed to his friend. “Come on, let’s play croquet together!”

Riddle shook his head. “I…can’t, I’m doing self-study right now.”

“Self-study? Grandad told me that what you want to study is up to you, so you can just do it whenever~”

Trey shook his head at his friend’s logic before turning to Riddle. “It’s just for a bit, please?”

Riddle contemplated for a while before nodding. “If it’s only for a while…I guess it’s okay.”

“Playing with Trey and Che’nya was very fun, we played a lot of things I didn’t know how to play. The both of them taught me a lot. During my one hour of free time, I always snuck out of my room without my mother’s knowledge.”

His room? Arisu felt his breath hitched a bit, he wanted to explore more but…he couldn’t really move. In most cases, a person’s room was like their sanctuary; in this case, it was a prison if anything else. With the scene ending, the room shifted form; it was a prison cell and Riddle was at a table, chains were connected to him as he sat before a flickering candle and a cracked mirror. Wordlessly, Arisu moved to the chair across from him and sat before him; unlike the prefect back at the school, the Riddle before him was tired. 

“Why are you here?” Riddle’s voice was just as lethargic as he looked.

A small shrug. “Does anyone need a reason to help a friend?” Arisu looked around.

“A friend? An interesting word to describe someone you hardly know.” 

“You hardly knew Trey and Che’nya and you three became friends.” He reminded. “And…Ace and Deuce are my friends too; we’ve been through a lot these past few days.”

Riddle just hummed. “You still haven’t told me why you’re here…what are you hoping to achieve?”

“I’ll be honest, when I enter someone’s soul…I never get this; I just get a black room with a table, a candle, and a mirror.” Arisu admitted. “This is out of my wheelhouse, but I know I just want to help you.” 

“Idiot, you were knocking on death’s door earlier.” Riddle scoffed. “You know where the door is, leave.”

Arisu slammed his hand on the table, bringing Riddle back to him. “Like hell I’m leaving you! What do I have to say to get it through your head, I’m here because we’re friends, we care about you damn it! Trey even joined to help knock you back to your senses, and I’m here because…you’re hurting and I want to relieve you of that.”

A soft laugh. “A foolish mortal to the end, Arisu” He leaned forward. “So…How can you help me?”

“Haven’t really thought about that.” Arisu smiled gently, his eyes moved to the candle between them, the flame was a little stronger and brighter but it was still weak. “Fire is considered a cleansing element, I think…I’m here to help you clear up.” He nodded to the room. “This.”

“And fire is also a destructive element.” Riddle reminded. “What are you hoping will happen if I do this?”

“No idea, but isn’t being a Great Magician all about taking risks?”

“Riddle! Arisu!” 

Arisu opened his honeyed eyes, he was back in the rose garden. What the hell had happened? He wanted to move from where he was laying on the ground but there was something holding him down, he looked to where the weight was and found the young prefect holding onto him like his life depended on it. Okay, seriously what had happened? 

“Arisu, how many fingers am I holding?” Ace held up two fingers.

“Four? Ace what happened?”

“Close enough.” Ace helped him onto his feet. “The short version; you and Riddle both lost conscious, what the hell happened between there?!”

Arisu shook his head. “Honestly, I wish I could tell you.” He turned to Riddle who was being helped up by Trey. “Prefect Rosehearts, are you okay?”

Before he could say anything, Riddle felt his eyes brimming with tears that were threatening to flood when he saw the state of the garden – the only flowers that appeared to have stayed standing were Sainfoins and Frangipanis. That wasn’t the only thing that got Riddle worried; he saw the bruising on Arisu’s neck. Oh god…oh god what had happened?! What did he do to him!?

Riddle gently reached for the bruise, letting his fingers brush against it. “A-Arisu…your neck-”

He gently moved his hand away. “Hey, it’s fine…I’m still standing and breathing.” 

“I’m so sorry…I…I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

The floodgates were opened and everything was coming out; every desire that would otherwise go against the Queen of Hearts’ rules, every apology, the only time they halted was when Riddle ended up using Arisu to cry on. The mortal in question just held him and looked to the others in a silent conversation before turning to Trey and nodding at him; he just nodded and went to Riddle’s side and laying a hand on his shoulder, silently beckoning him to rise. 

“You have a lot to make up for.” Trey said sternly.

Ace huffed, “I’ll say! We almost died because of you!”

“Ace-!” Arisu started.

“No, he’s right…I almost killed you!” Riddle looked at him. 

“The vines weren’t wrapped like a proper noose, I only lost consciousness!” he winced when Trey swatted his head.

“Keep quiet.” Ace told him before going back to Riddle. “My birthday’s not for a while and Arisu’s isn’t until November…we’re going to have a redo of the party; except you’re providing the tarts and after I may or may not forgive you.”

Arisu looked at him with an annoyed look. “Ace, if I were to open a dictionary and went to the word ‘jackass’ I’d find your picture.”

“Outsiders, keep quiet.” Ace dismissed him. “You can ask Arisu to help make the tart, Trey’s not allowed to help. You got all that?”

Riddle raised an eyebrow. “Arisu, I think you got your terminology mixed up; I think if we turn to the word ‘confusing’ we’d find Trappola’s picture.” He shook his head. “I agree to your terms, Ace.”

“After you get back from the infirmary.” Trey ordered. “You two suffered the most.” He looked down at Arisu. “There is no getting out of this either, I don’t care what you say; you were almost hung.”

Arisu huffed, “Alright, mom.” He smirked when Trey stuttered for a response. 

The infirmary visit was on another level altogether; both were laying on the bed while the medic, Dr. Crane, was looking them over. Riddle had priority first since he went into Overblot, his magic channels were shot and he would have to refrain from using magic for a while and had to come in every day to get those healed up, he was fine – physically at least. Emotionally and mentally, he was still a wreck and he was going to be coming in for healing in those fields. Riddle agreed – only if Arisu or Trey were with him during sessions with the counselor, he wasn’t going through it alone, for now…he agreed to spending today on bedrest. 

Arisu had a little more care going on; he was going through some breathing treatment as Dr. Crane was healing his airpipes. The bruises were going to be there for a while, but it wasn’t anything too serious at least, the important thing was that they were working on making sure he was still able to breathe. Like Riddle, he was going into counseling daily and was going to spend today on bedrest. The two spent that night together in silence; a few times, Riddle would wake up and call to Arisu to make sure he was still with them in the land of the living – thankfully, he was, and even assured Riddle that come morning, he would still be here. 

After the third time of Riddle calling to him, Arisu finally got up from his bed and went over to Riddle’s before climbing in. It wasn’t a comfortable fit, but they did their best to make it work. Riddle had gotten up for a little bit before returning with his phone, he handed it to Arisu and told him to pull up videos from MagiCam to watch; they were going to need something to help them fall asleep. With a smile, Arisu just pulled up a video of a Let’s Player’s run of the game Kindergarten; it was a comedy horror and the two found themselves snickering or laughing at moments of the game – it was actually so stupid that it was enjoyable.

“I think this is the first time I’ve seen you so relaxed.” Arisu said softly.

“I can count a handful of times I’ve let myself really relax.” Riddle whispered. His world always revolved around rules. His mother’s rules more specifically. And that without them, nothing in his world would make sense. But he had switched upholding his mother’s rules for upholding the rules set by her majesty, The Queen of Hearts. 

And he hadn’t realized how much stress he was putting on everyone, including himself. 

Until he Overblotted.

Arisu gently touched his shoulder to bring him back. “Prefect Rosehearts?”

“Please, address me by name, Arisu.” Riddle looked up at him. “We’re on equal grounds now.”

“Riddle.” Arisu corrected. “Can I ask you something?” he heard a small hum. “Upon first meeting, you’ve made it clear you wanted my head on a silver platter; may I ask, what it was I did that warranted that rage?”

"Your presence triggered something in me, something unexpected and I was unable to take the time to properly analyze what that something was. Because I never had the time to figure out what you had triggered in me, I started to lose my mind one might say” He sighed. “I had nothing to rely on but the rules I had so diligently studied and those provided me with no answers on how to proceed with solving the mystery you caused just by existing" Riddle said turning his face away as he spoke so Arisu wouldn't catch how his cheeks had begun to darken with a blush.

"Okay so I like didn't understand any of what you just said, might repeating that in normal English maybe?" Arisu said trying to sound lighthearted even though he was a bit perplexed by Riddle's monologue.

Riddle huffed and looked at him. “Right, you’re but a common mortal, how Malleus managed to handle you I’ll never know.” He turned his phone off and set it aside. “I was hit with various feelings that I was unable to figure out and lashed out thinking if I kept a distance from you it would help with them, thinking that I wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore.”

Arisu blinked at him. “I…think this is where I stop questioning the subject…”

"Right then, I'm going to go to sleep now. Good night" Riddle said squeezing his eyes shut and turning over onto his side and waiting for Arisu to get up. "I said good night" he said turning his head and upper torso to look at the blonde who hadn't moved an inch.

"I heard you, but I’m too comfy to get up. Good night to you too" Arisu said turning onto his side facing away from the redhead. 

Riddle let out a small huff but didn't say anything more on the matter trying to keep his back from pressing against Arisu's but failing miserably. He thanked his lucky stars that the infirmary was a little chilly to combat the heat in his cheeks and the warmth of Arisu's skin pressed against his.

With the morning light shining, Vil, Leona, and Malleus entered the infirmary to collect Arisu, upon entering the room they were greeted to the delightful sight of seeing Arisu and Riddle in each other’s arms, still sleeping peacefully. Not even hesitating, they took a quick picture with their phones. The moment was interrupted when Doctor Crane came in and woke the two up for their wellbeing checkup; with the all clear, they got into a fresh change of clothes and went over towards the two seniors that were waiting for them. Malleus wasted no time in pulling his dear friend close into his arms, after what felt like an eternity, he finally let go of Arisu and backed off.

Riddle cleared his throat to get their attention; “Malleus, Leona, Vil.” He greeted. “Good morning.”

“Good morning to yourself, Rose.” Vil greeted. “We’re just here for the idiot so you may oversee your do-over party.”

“About that, I was actually wondering if you would like to attend?” 

“You three have fun, I’d rather not deal with that prissy shit.” Leona huffed. “You doin’ okay, runt?”

“Physically, I’m well.” Riddle assured him. “I…suppose a visit with Terra is needed…maybe some time with the hedgehogs later on.”

“It may be best, now then, you heard Dr. Crane; you’re cleared to leave the medical wing. We’ll see you this afternoon, Little Queen.” Malleus kissed his head.

With all said and done, the group parted ways; but before they did, Arisu piped up and mentioned that he was going to help Riddle make the tarts and introduce the prefect to the Carol Family style. Malleus just grinned at Riddle and gently shook his head as he left to get dressed up for the afternoon. Riddle just raised an eyebrow, what the hell were the two’s concerns when it came to making the tarts in question; he got his answer after Arisu took him to the kitchen to get them made.

Somewhere along the tart making line, Riddle was half convinced they weren’t making tarts anymore based off the recipe Arisu was giving him. Some were starting to look more like pies than they were of tarts, but he assured him that the ‘Carol Style Tarts’ were turning out the way they should be…he wasn’t certain what made their tarts special but he decided to go along with it. He agreed to the terms after all, and…making the tarts was actually fun – for Arisu especially, he made sure to give Riddle a heart attack each time; first was scooping the remaining meringue from the bowl and eating it in front of him, he got scolded for health reasons and Arisu was just laughing the entire time. It took a lot of assurance that the amount wouldn’t make him sick and that one small spoonful would be fine to get Riddle to try it. The expression was just priceless and he wished he had his phone to save that forever. Hours later, it was time for the party.

The damage was fixed – well, there were some pieces of the aftermath that was hidden away in the corner, but for the most part everything was back as normal; the roses were red, the tablecloths were white and pristine, and Riddle was frozen in place with Trey and Arisu at his side. 

“You’re stiff again.” Arisu poked him. “Relax, it’s a new day.”

Riddle looked at him, “I’m only stiffed because someone’s been eating raw meringue.”

“He what?” Trey looked over to Arisu with an incredulous look.

“It’s only a little bit.” Arisu defended with a grin.

“And raw filling.” Riddle shook his head. “You’re officially banned from the Heartslabyul kitchen until you learn basic health and safety.” He ignored Arisu’s protest and turned to the entrance of the garden where a familiar dragonborn faerie walked in alongside a familiar beautiful blond. He approached them and offered a small smile; “We were wondering when you two would show.”

Malleus had a small smile of his own. “You did invite us; it would be rude not to show up.” He walked into the garden with Riddle, there was the silence and a heavy air as soon as the prefect of Diasomnia had entered – he did have a reputation that left people scared of him after all. 

Something had caught Vil’s gaze as he looked over to a rose bush; there were still some white roses to be seen. “Hm? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t roses to be red during an unbirthday party?”

That question caused Cater to pale and turned to Ace and Deuce; “You two said you painted those!

“What are you blaming us for?!” Deuce cried

A soft chuckle came from Riddle. “Relax, I won’t get mad…of course it will be quicker if we painted them.” He looked to Ace. “Ah, I forgot…Arisu told me something last night and…I had Trey pick it up from the school store.” He watched as Trey came up with a bag. “He said you have an easier chance at painting roses with this?”

Ace was confused but took the contents out; a super-soaker water gun. He was kidding around when he said that back on their first day of painting! He just laughed and filled it with red paint, well, may as well see if using this would be effective or not. The good news, it was! The bad news; it resulted in an all-out paint war between the first years and their seniors – they ended up getting the whole dorm involved. 

Malleus and Vil were off to the side and watched with amusement, it was refreshing to see the Heartslabyul dorm delve into chaos once in a while instead of the harsh and strict ways like the past year had been. their thoughts were interrupted when a splash of red paint had hit their faces. The rest of the dorm went still and the air was tensed again. 

Malleus slowly blinked and turned to where the shot had come from; Ace and Deuce were pointing at Arisu who just had an impish grin on his face.

Of course, it would be Sunflower that would initiate this. Malleus smirked and sauntered over before picking up a can of near empty Red paint and pouring it over the blond. “We’re even.” He smirked.

“Like hell we are.” Arisu huffed and sprayed him with the red paint again. “Turning me into Carrie, huh?”

With those two at it, the war resumed with Malleus on the side of the seniors, while Vil excused himself to use their showers. The paint war had lasted until everyone had ran out paint from either the cans or water guns; with everyone cleaning any stray paint off the grounds and cleaning themselves up, the party had – well, it had started with the war, but the tea party portion could finally begin. 

There were some mixed reactions and a debate whether or not Arisu’s recipes were indeed tarts or pies, Arisu was of no help he claimed ‘they were tarts and everyone had to be blind to not see it’. Then there was one tart that Riddle served…it had oyster sauce in it; Trey was laughing in the background, in the end he finally got someone to fall for that prank.

“Ahh~ Even if they’re not Trey’s sweets, they’re still amazing~”

Riddle looked over at the surprise guest, his eyes widened a little. “Che’nya!? What are you doing here?”

The strange boy grinned at him. “Hm~? I came to celebrate your Unbirthday Party~!”

“It’s…a tradition exclusive to the Heartslabyul dorm…You’re not-”

“Yet you have those four~” He pointed to Arisu, Grim, Vil, and Malleus.

“What dorm is he from if he’s not in Heartslabyul?” Grim asked, not looking up from his tart.

Trey winced. “Che’nya’s not a student of our school, he’s actually a student from Royal Sword Academy, Night Raven College’s rival.”

Another chain reaction, Che’nya laughed as some of the Heartslabyul students gave chase before vanishing. He appeared behind Arisu for a brief second and whispered to him; “I’ll be back, Alice~” that resulted in Arisu getting tackled as Che’nya vanished afterwards. Riddle cleared his throat and shooed everyone off the boy before helping him up. 

“Are you alright?” he asked.

Malleus shook his head. “He’s not fragile, Prefect Rosehearts.” He assured. “Believe it or not, he’s actually pretty fit; he played in little leagues when he was a kid and now, he was on his school’s competitive bike riding team.”

“Whoa seriously?” Grim looked up at Arisu. “You have a lot of trophies in your room right! You’re so cool!”

“I do have medals from biking, yes.” He confirmed. “As for the little leagues, we’re usually a mix of silver and gold.”

“He’s the best second basemen and he always comes home with scraped legs because of his constant sliding.” Malleus chuckled. “You should have seen Lilia fretting over him.” He cleared his throat. “Ahem, anyway, you don’t have to fret over him much.”

Riddle crossed his arms. “It’s called being concerned for a friend, Malleus.” That got a collective confused glance from the group, Riddle just continued. “After all, isn’t that you said, Alice? Does anyone need a reason to help a friend?”

Arisu smiled at him, “I did say that.” 

“Well…since that punk from RSA is gone…” Ace lifted a plate up. “Let’s continue this party! We’re partying until we pass out in a sugar coma!” that got cheers from everyone – and surprisingly from Riddle. 

A successful party indeed. With all said and done, it was safe to say that things would start to go easy with Heartslabyul from here on.

Chapter Text

Another day of school, another day of class. Arisu had found himself adjusting to the life of Night Raven College; days after the Unbirthday Party, there were nights Arisu would wake up to someone pounding on the door to Ramshackle Dorm, upon opening the door he was greeted to a disheveled Riddle. He couldn’t really blame him for looking like that, after all, they were still visiting the school counselor and both had found they were still having nightmares from the Overblot episode. Nights like this, the two would sit up with a warm drink and just talk – they didn’t care what they were talking about, most of the time it was whatever came to mind at the time; for Arisu, he would talk about the bike trail he would ride down and enjoy the forest. For Riddle, he would talk about the hedgehogs back at the dorm and the little antics they would pull. It wouldn’t be for another week that they would be able to talk about the incident and cross pass it together. It was agreed that this would be met on neutral grounds and would go about this at their own pace (meeting ground was a picnic in the courtyard), and a teacher would supervise to make sure all went well (Mr. Trein would be at a distance watching over them), all that was left was to get through today’s lessons and to meet with Riddle to settle this.

Ace was talking to Grim about the in depths of the Great Seven as they trio escorted Arisu to the courtyard. “The Great Seven is made up of many magicians and witches, but the Queen didn’t use any special magic.” He started. “Nevertheless, the Queen of Hearts is a member of the Great Seven, isn’t that insane?”

“So cool!” Grim’s eyes were shining and his forked tail was swaying. “A magician who doesn’t need magic! Arisu! You have the makings of a Great Magician in no time!” he looked at his human and tilted his head. “Arisu?” he poked his cheek to get his attention. “Hey!!!”

“I heard you, Grim.” Arisu looked at him. “And I’m flattered you’re thinking high of me, but right now my mind’s kind of focusing on one thing right now…”

Ace and Deuce stopped in place and looked at him with a concerned look on their faces. Deuce walked up and took Arisu’s shoulder in his hand, there would be no fault if he wanted to duck out of this meeting and reschedule it – after all, it had to be on both parties’ terms to go through with this meeting. Arisu just smiled up at him and moved his hand off in a silent assurance that things would be fine. Of course, he won’t lie, he was actually nervous facing Riddle in the courtyard. The rest of the walk there was in silence – save for Grim’s purring as he kept nudging Arisu’s face (of course, Grim would just say he wasn’t purring in the least bit).

Upon arriving at the courtyard, Arisu handed Grim to Ace and smiled at them, assuring his friends he would be fine. He continued the journey to the picnic set up and settled down on the blanket before him, he was early so it gave him time to clear his head and to relax under the sun. The wait wouldn’t be long since the sound of footsteps came his way, opening his eyes he saw Riddle before him and Trey finishing the setup with snacks and beverages before leaving the two to their meeting. Like before, Arisu and Riddle agreed to approach this topic on their terms and Arisu was the one who broke the ice. 

“How are the hedgehogs?”

Riddle looked up at him. “They’re fine, I’m actually going to be tending to them after this.”

“You said that communication with the hedgehog was important to the game, right?”

“Yeah…communication with the hedgehog and flamingo.” Riddle looked at him. “You have been paying attention to croquet lessons after all.”

Arisu gave a light shrug. “Well…it’s a nobleperson’s sport, right?”

A light chuckle before a soft sigh. “How is your neck?” 

Arisu pulled his shirt down to show him the bruise, “It’s healing…another two weeks should do the trick in healing up.” He looked at him. “How are you sleeping?”

“I still have moments where I think you’re a ghost and this is just me being in denial. They’re few and far in between, so I’ve been sleeping well.” He reached up and gently traced his fingers over the bruise. “What about you?”

Arisu let him get close as he answered. “I still have moments as well, nightmares…I just get up, put some music on, and return to sleep.” He looked at him. “Phantom of the Opera is my go-to.”

Riddle nodded and retracted his hand from him. “I see, you…don’t really strike me as the type to listen to Broadway musicals, then again, I wouldn’t have pegged you as the type to be able to enter a person’s soul. I want to thank you for that inane idea of setting fire to one’s room by the way.”

“So, how are you feeling?”

“Lighter?” he tried. “I mean I’m still my normal self but…”

“You feel like extra weight was taken off you.” Arisu finished, Riddle just nodded at that. “You’re definitely more approachable now that you set fire to it all.”

A soft hum was his reply. “A meddlesome mortal such as yourself is going to get hurt in this world, I’m going to have to take care of you.” He laughed as Arisu just gently nudged him.

“You’ll have to fight Malleus and Lilia for that role in my life.” Arisu teased him.

Riddle chuckled. “Do you doubt my ability in watching after you?” 

Arisu shook his head and smiled. “So, where do we go from here?”

Riddle smiled a little at him. “We still have a full year of Night Raven College left after all and…you still need to strengthen your magic channels and keep your grades up.” His smile fell and a serious look graced his face. “I mean what I said Arisu, as long as I am the prefect of Heartslabyul, no-one will have failing marks under my careful watch, that includes you and that tanuki pet of yours.”

“I’m not even a member of your dorm.” Arisu reminded

“No, but you’re an honorary member and that still counts.” He crossed his arms. “The second your grades start to slip is the second we’re doing after school tutoring, do you understand?”

“Yes, Prefect Rosehearts!” Arisu chimed with a little salute. 

The rest of the meeting was spent enjoying the treats in silence and the only conversations they would have would be related to schoolwork and if they had any plans after the year was over; somewhere in talking about schoolwork related things, Riddle had offered to teach Arisu some basic spells and he actually agreed. The spark that Arisu could only conjure up turned into a small flame – it was progress at least, but he found he had an easier time with nature-based spells than he did with others; Riddle took note of that and was determined to help push him to the rest of the branches – on his own terms of course. The fun came to a halt when the bell from the clock tower chimed, their session for today was over, but they had agreed to meet up outside sessions and classes to work on magic lessons and for the occasional tea meeting just to relax among the rose gardens. They stood up and bid each other a good day before heading off to the rest of their classes that day.

*

His head was throbbing like hell and he was going to scream; whatever the Headmaster had called him, Ace, Grim, and Deuce for had better be important otherwise he was going to riot. Okay, Arisu was a patient person, but with classes being over, he just wanted to read something mindless for the day and relax without having stress piled on him – wasn’t that why he was in those sessions with Riddle, to keep emotional distress at bay? Straightening himself up, he approached the headmaster’s office with his friends and walked in; the man was there going over some files and muttering to himself. The group watched him for a while; his behaviors were strange to say the least; Idia’s mic was cut off when he was about to confirm Arisu’s identity, Crowley not following up on that claim the first night, making a false phone call, suggesting an inane idea for Ace and Deuce, and then there was hardly flinching when of the Three Heads nearly bit his head off…heck he hardly flinched when Lord Hades was a scarlet red after Idia tipped him off. Either he was one of those people who had a calm exterior but panics inside or there was more to the story.

“You wanted to see us, Headmaster?” Arisu called.

The headmaster had his cheerful smile as he set the files down. “Yes, I’ve heard back from our counselor that you and young Rosehearts are making quite the progress in your sessions with him.”

He nodded. “Yeah, Sir Terra’s been an amazing help and…our nightmares are lessening up.” 

“Splendid! The well-being of our students is our first and upmost priority!” He leaned back. “Now then, let’s talk about why you’re here.” His expression turned serious. “All four of you were involved in the incident that had happened in the Heartslabyul dorm, and now that our human is in the right state of mind for this conversation; I’ll be able to thoroughly explain it to you.”

“I love how you waited for what, weeks (?) to tell us the full situation.” Ace said dryly. “Instead of, you know, telling Deuce, Grim, and I earlier so we could just hand that information off to Arisu when he recovers.”

He waved a dismissive hand. “I figured it would be easier if all four of you were present, that way no information would be left out.” Ace dropped his shoulders at that. “Arisu already knows a little bit as is.”

Arisu nodded, “Lilia had talked about it a few times.”

Grim cleared his throat, “What exactly is blotting?” he sat on Arisu’s shoulder again. “How is it bad in the first place?”

“Think of it as a car.” Arisu said. “You know how you need oil changes? Skipping an oil change leads to the vehicle’s oil thinning over time and catching a buildup of metal, dirt, and other particles. Over time, the oil will become abrasive and wear down on vital engine parts.” He nodded. “Before anyone asks, my dad’s a mechanic and he own’s a shop in town.”

“The magical jewels on your pens aren’t just for show, they exist as an outlet for one’s magic. Of course, one other purpose it has is to accumulate blot that could directly affect the caster.” He looked to Arisu. “Unless you’re of the Three Families, then a familiar is there for you – they detect if a blot or ‘Corruption’ as Arisu pointed out is occurring. For the most part, a familiar is docile unless their masters are being threatened or are in the way of great harm.” Crowley explained. “There is also the flip side of the coin…”

Arisu looked at his friends; “Before you go into meltdown mode; this is a major rule for everyone – in the magical community or mortal community; take care of your body by eating, sleeping and resting properly. Now, that rule is often ignored, it’s vital to at least try and let the blot recede. He watched them sigh in relief.

“Young Carol is correct.” Crowley said. “The magician’s overall state and well-being actually plays a huge influence on their magical limit before experiencing Blot. Anger, sorrow, terror, confusion…experiencing constant negative energies like that makes it easier for Blot to accumulate.” He clapped his hands together and smiled bright. “That’s why we have people like Terra around to ensure nothing like this will ever happen again! He’s skilled in making students feel at ease, what happened with young Rosehearts was sudden and we weren’t expecting it to happen, but rest assure that such a thing will never happen again. Our students’ wellbeing is important after all~”

“I feel like visiting him should be mandatory.” Ace said raising an eyebrow.

“And it will be!” The headmaster assured. “Now then, we’re all on the same page now and it’s time for you four to scurry off to dinner now, remember what Arisu said about eating properly!” the four looked at each other and turned to leave. “Ah, before I forget, be mindful of the stairs in the west wing if you choose to go down there…the stairs might be rotted, we’ve had some students fall from there.”

Thanks for the warning?

The group just nodded and made their way out, Arisu led the way to the west wing; it was the closest to the dining hall – that is if he wanted to eat there, he enjoyed the cafeteria food but he was starting to crave for something else. He had overheard about another place but it was located in the Octavinelle’s dorm, he figured it couldn’t hurt to try there, of course he had heard from passing students talk about the prefect of the dorm. He would have to talk to Riddle about that before he headed off. 

Seeing the stairs, Arisu moved Grim off him and tenderly tried the stairs out. They didn’t creak or feel rotten. He looked at his friends before he jumped on each step and each was a similar result…they were sturdy and in perfect shape. Students fell from here and the cause was blamed on rotted steps, he looked up at his friends in silence; another thing to tack onto the list of bad feelings they were getting. It was settled, they were going to talk to Riddle, Trey, and Cater about this; the more people they had to confide in the easier this would be. The lounge could wait, Arisu could handle another dish at the cafeteria if it meant getting to the bottom of this. 

They didn’t really get far when a flash of teal pounced from the shadows and tilted Arisu’s head back so he was looking at the figure looming over him.

“Ahh~ This is the mysterious Damsel Fish who won Goldfish over?” he pinched his cheeks and his smile grew. “You’re so cute~ I’m jealous~”

“Oy! Let him go!” Ace ran over and pulled Arisu from the student. “Where’s your twin?”

The student kept the grin on his face. “Nice to see you too Crab~ And Jade’s around somewhere, does it matter~?”

“You two know each other?” Arisu asked.

“Yeah…we’re in the basketball club.” Ace’s eyes lit up. “Ah! I think there’s some clubs that allow late entry…but anyway, Arisu…meet Floyd.”

Floyd just waved at him. “You looked so trouble, I had to see what was wrong~”

“It’s nothing serious.” Arisu assured. “We were just talking about gym class; our bodies still ache from it and we were cursing out our teacher…he caught wind and we just got out from a scolding.”

“Floyd just raised an eyebrow and shrugged, “If you say so.” He walked by. “Well~ I’ll leave you alone for now,” his eyes lit up. “Ah, if you ever get tired of the cafeteria food, you could come down to the lounge, we’ll welcome you with open arms!”

Could today get any weirder? Actually, Arisu didn’t want the answer to that question.

Chapter Text

Ever since their picnic, Riddle had been beside Arisu’s side teaching him in magical arts; they would meet up in the Heartslabyul rose garden where he would teach him nature-based spells, all the while, Riddle was patient with him and even provided some tips and advice to help him make the flowers bloom with ease. This had been a somewhat normal occurrence, every afternoon they would meet after classes and would work on nature-based spells and would stop at exactly four for teatime – Riddle’s personal favorite moment between them; sitting in the roses with matcha green tea (it was Arisu’s insistence because of the health benefits it came with and he decided to humor him, to his surprise; it was sweet tasting naturally and he accepted that healthy and sweets went hand in hand.). Quiet afternoon with tea and some teacakes between them, days like this were worth keeping in their hearts. 

Of course, sometime after they began their lessons; Arisu had joined the Light Music Club, he had no problem with it at first as he expected Cater to bring him to Heartslabyul for their daily appointment together – that was a failure as Vil had stormed into the club and hijacked Arisu from the school for that photoshoot; Riddle would have to admit, seeing Arisu in that suit was quite a sight to see and he actually enjoyed it greatly. 

Since then, his meetings with the blond still continued and Arsiu’s magic had been flourishing perfectly; he was quite the gardener with his raw ability, and when it came to defense, he was able to conjure a wall of thorns. Arisu, though grateful, told Riddle that there was a slim chance of him actually using his newfound powers; though disappointed at the news, Riddle made it clear that he would still continue to teach his dear Alice and everything would turn out well in the end – even if it means Arisu is using his new powers to make his own garden back home.

Today was different however, Riddle was made aware that some students were falling from the stairs and when Arisu, Grim, and the A-Duece combo brought up what the headmaster had said about rotted steps and proving it to be false; he so desperately wanted to start the investigation on his own, but he knows damn well that Crowley would suspect something and would make things harder. 

He made up his mind and decided to change things up for the day; instead of magic lessons like usual, he instead brought Arisu inside the dorm and taught him how to dance – the waltz is a gentleman’s dance after all, and one must learn it if they ever hope to advance in society (one rare thing he was glad to learn from his family). 

Arisu was taken by surprised when Riddle brought this up; he was a stumbling mess when they started out and if Riddle had to be honest, he found it to be quite amusing to watch – even if he had to correct his posture and keep him from looking down at his feet every three seconds.

He wasn’t sure how long it had been before their afternoon teatime, but the moment they had sat down to enjoy their usual brew was when things had taken a sharp turn. Vil had come into the room; dressed in his dorm uniform – which, if Riddle also had to be honest here, was…too much for his taste; along, furisode kimono-like indigo robe which drags on the floor, and has high slits in the sleeves. The inner fabric red with a regal pattern displaying the Evil Queen's famed poison apple. An intricate golden design bearing the Pomefiore emblem is also printed on the right shoulder of his robe. But it didn’t stop there; beneath the slits of his sleeves, he wears a tighter, black long-sleeved garment. His sleeves form a pointed shape on the back of his hand and tie around his middle fingers. Riddle just inwardly shuddered, he was thankful that the Heartslabyul dorm uniform worked on practicality – even if Cater’s idea for a dorm uniform that Arisu wore was a bit feminine, it still held practicality in it.

“Vil.” Riddle greeted. “To what do I owe this surprise visit of yours.”

Vil bowed a little bit in greeting, “Hello Rose, I see you’re doing well still.” He stood up. “I’m actually here for your student.” He looked to Arisu.

“You’re not taking me to another photoshoot.” Arisu said bluntly.

“That’s not why I’m here.” Vil sat beside them. “I’m actually curious about you; you survived an Overblot attack, you’re a mortal with a very small spark of magic – it’s actually growing a little, my praise to Prefect Rosehearts for that, there’s so much potential in you that it’s killing me to sit and look at you.” He folded his fingers together. “And since Malleus told me to have you under my care, I intend to bring that beautiful gift of yours out; now talk and don’t leave anything out.”

“The first day I met Riddle face to face was around lunch time and upon meeting him, I saw a wall of ice around him, I was confused about it – which brought the conversation with you the night before the pre-party.” Arisu started. “I actually felt some kind of pain when I saw the ice barrier and the weak flame before it. When the day of the Unbirthday party happened – and failed because of a tart incident, I tried to go back and used my connection with Malleus to my advantage – I apologized on Ace’s behalf, and Riddle gave me the chance to perform a song.”

“That was when I noticed he was trying to do some kind of spell on me.” Riddle spoke up. “I won’t lie, I was rather upset when it happened and took it out on him.”

Vil sighed and took a break from typing on my phone. “I am going to pretend you didn’t just tell me you essentially attacked Riddle without meaning to.” He straightened up again. “It’s an understandable mistake, but try not to make that mistake again – not all mental shields will be as benign as Rosehearts’.” Vil turned back to his phone.

“About that, there was actually an executioner behind the ice wall.” Arisu winced. “It broke through the ice and nearly killed me – had you not pulled me from his room.”

“I’m sorry.” Vil looked up from his phone. “An executioner? As in, a full-body, living person executioner?” he watched Arisu nod. “Okay, that’s…” he covered his mouth in thought. “There should be no way that a mental shield would take on its own sentience like that.”

“Well, I don’t know what else to tell you.” Arisu shrugged. “That’s what I saw and that’s what nearly killed me.”

Vil frowned. “Right…we’re going to go back to that later. Now then, what happened after the Overblot?” Vil asked softly.

“I was able to enter and I…found myself in his house, most everything was this sickly grey, but…there were a few colored specs – probably the memories of meeting Trey and Che’nya, but…after the memories were shown and I was in Riddle’s room…there were chains everywhere like a lavished dungeon.” Arisu explained. “We talked and I convinced him to set fire to it with the candle provided – I figured because fire is a cleansing element, that it would help. A-and it did, Riddle confirmed that he felt lighter now and just looking at him he’s more approachable now.”

Vil nodded and set his phone aside. “I just want to make sure I’m understanding correctly; you tried to venture into Rosehearts’ soul rooms, twice, with both first attempts being failures that almost got you killed. You then were only able to successfully enter the soul room after he OB’d?” he watched as the first-year nodded “That would suggest that the event of overblotting forces them to take down their mental shields and make entering their soul room much easier at the cost of them becoming more physically aggressive in the real world.” He leaned forward. “Going to my previous question when we met; how long does this spell of yours last?”

“I would estimate a minute at least.” Arisu replied. “It tends to last longer the more I stare into a person’s eyes – I know how that sounds, but it just happens, I could be talking to someone and then bam; soul room just because I looked into their eyes the one time and I have no clue how to make that stop.”

“That’s going to be one of our lessons is getting that spell under control.” Vil finished up and looked at him. “Arisu, look in my eyes and tell me what you see.”

“Do I have to?” Arisu sighed before meeting his eyes with Vil’s “Okay, I see a castle throne room; there’s a candle on the table before the throne and it has a strong flame. You’re out in the open, there’s nothing blocking you nor am I seeing anything that needs to ‘clear up’ as far as I can see.”

“Hold up.” Riddle spoke up breaking their eye contact. “How are you able to see him clearly on the first try? I know Vil, he’s not that open with anything, there should be a barrier.”

“It’s likely due to the fact I’m willingly letting him inside.” Vil said. “I wonder…Arisu, was there anything in my hands; like a box or knife perhaps?”

Arisu nearly pushed away from the table “What the fuck!? Why those two things in particular!”

Vil shook his head, “Oh you precious first-year; you should understand by now that each of the dorm heads at this school shared a connection to one of the Great Seven however faint. Each of the Great Seven was also associated with one or two special items. For example, the Queen of Hearts with the crochet mallet and scepter or the Sea Witch with her shell necklace. The Beautiful Queen's items were a box and knife that were supposed to be used in the removal and preservation of the Fairest Princess's heart.” He laced his fingers together.

“Now come back to my room.” Vil ordered.

“Yes, my queen.” Arisu muttered as he looked back into those indigo eyes. “Okay, yeah you have a box and knife in hand.”

“Bloody or clean?” Vil watched Arisu’s eyes widen. “Answer me, Arisu, is there blood dripping from the box and knife, or are they clean?” his voice strained a little, as he balled his hands into fists.

The room was started to darken and the ground shook as walls prepared to rise; before Arisu could react, he flinched as though someone had struck him in the face. Both Vil and Riddle got up to check on him. He just looked up at them. 

“I was just kicked out.” He said softly. “Vil…”

“I’m sorry about that…it wasn’t intentional.” Vil sighed. “Please…tell me if you were able to see anything before that?”

“You were in the clear, both objects were cleaned.”  Arisu assured, he watched as his senior relaxed and nodded in approval.

“What just happened?” Riddle demanded.

“The mind is a fickle thing, but we now know what makes the mental shields so trigger happy; he doesn’t just visit a person, he becomes a part of it.” He saw the confused daze. “My guess is…the shields can take on another form, a guardian if you will.” He tapped the table in thought. “Of course, that now explains why Arisu met an executioner in your room, Riddle.”

Riddle looked at him. “Do you think…the Executioner showed because I was…teetering on the edge of Overblotting?”

“It’s possible.” Vil took his pen out and looked at the violet gem. “Though if that’s the case, I would have a stain on my pen showing I was on the verge myself.” He let the others see it was clear of any ink stains. “Of course, on the topic of pens; Arisu, how are you feeling?”

“I feel like I have a headache.” Arisu winced. “I doubt that’s normal…”

“Let me see your pen.” He held his hand out for the pen in question.

Arisu nodded and handed it to him; looking it over, Vil scowled as he saw a familiar stain in the corner of the gem. “Good, you do have a limit but we are going to have to do something about that ability of yours; you said this happens when you look in a person’s eyes? I know it’ll be hard but try to look anywhere but the eyes…at least until we can find something solid to work with.” He returned the pen and stood up. “Now then, I know you and Riddle have your routine, but we’re changing that; starting tomorrow, I want you to come straight to Pomefiore in the morning so I may check you and your pen over, we’ll work on control – and bring that mangy cat of yours as well, I’m sick of looking at that scruffy fur of his!”

“And after class, you will resume your lessons with me.” Riddle finished for Vil. “And like he said, bring Grim for once, that unruly cat needs to learn manners.” 

“Riddle, have you ever owned a cat? Good luck teaching Grim a damn thing!”

“Regardless, you’re going through with this.” Riddle said. “And I mean it too, your health is important to us.”

“Yes, Prefect Rosehearts.” Arisu sighed. “Prefect Schoenheit.”

*

Visiting Pomefiore was another experience altogether, Grim’s eyes always lit up every time they would visit the grand dorm – a beautiful castle that would tower over them, bright and elegant in every sense of the word. They never visited much of the dorm that wasn’t Vil’s room or the ‘beauty parlor’ where Rook would work on Grim’s fur and tending to him while Vil worked with the strange blonde and the unique magic he had.

They weren’t able to fully get him to stop staring into the eyes of others and Vil wasn’t about to use his magic to keep that from happening – but, they did find some alternative way and it took most of their mornings together up as well as the checkups, but in the end, they got something solid; condition Arisu to keep his eyes on other parts of the body or keep his gaze on something in the background. 

Healthwise, Arisu had been keeping up in his self-care, and during morning time they had been sharing breakfast time to time; alternating between the Pomefiore dorm and the dining hall – this had taken Arisu’s Heartslabyul friends by surprise (save for Riddle who would roll his eyes at the sight)

After school Vil and Riddle had decided to meet in an empty classroom to discuss some progress between them and their peculiar student. Riddle was at one of the desks when Vil had come in, there was a silent conversation between them before the prefect of Pomefiore spoke up.

“I do have some good news and some bad news; which would you like to hear first?” 

Riddle looked up at him, “Let’s get the bad news out of the way first; I have some disturbing news myself.”

“Right, the first is Grim may look beautiful now with his fur shining but he’s still crude as ever.” Vil scoffed. “Anyway, Arisu’s unique magic, though could help someone from OB’ing, isn’t a guaranteed way to tell if such a fate will happen.”

“Because of the mental block.” Riddle supplied. “That would make intervening near impossible in that case since Arisu’s not close to everyone – save for the idiot duo, Trey, Cater, and myself; he could look at us and prevent it happening to us but everyone else views him as a stranger.”

“You forgot the Diasomnia Quartet.” Vil teased lightly. 

Vil looked at him. “Alright, let’s hear from you now.”

Riddle shook his head; “Studies have improved greatly – if he keeps this up, I’m seeing him in the top 50 in the distant future.” He said with pride. “Onto the disturbing news though; Headmaster Crowley up and lied in students’ faces.” He saw the surprised reaction and continued on. “He had called Ace, Deuce, Grim, and Arisu to his office to discuss the Overblot incident and how to prepare themselves as well as how to avoid such a fate. However, after the meeting he said that the stairs in the west wing were rotted as students have been falling from there quite a bit. Arisu then proceeded to jump on each step – not a single break, creak, or indication they were rotted in the first place.”

“Has the headmaster done anything else similar?” Vil asked.

“Not to my knowledge, but we’re hoping to investigate when we can – preferably when he wouldn’t suspect a thing.” 

“I’ll keep an eye on my students then, you should do the same.” He sighed. “Onto good news though; the black stain on Arisu’s pen hasn’t returned.”

“Let’s keep it that way, though…I fear the pen might not always be accurate – especially since his power requires eye contact than a flick of the wand.” Riddle reminded. “I had our school’s healer look him over just in case and…well it’s as you said, Arisu is healthy as ever with no stains.”

“Wonderful to hear.” Vil turned to leave. “Riddle, I think from here on out we back off from our routines; I’m not saying you can’t have Arisu over for afternoon tea, but we did what we could in regards of teaching him – I still aim to bring his full potential out, he’s a little pet project just like Felmier is – but, Unique Magic can only go so far with him.” He folded his hands. “Therefore, I suggest we observe in the shadows and write what he needs to work on and see if we can’t ‘convince’ people to help him in that field.”

Riddle chuckled. “Willingly handing off your student to another teacher? Why Vil, it sounds as if you have a heart now.”

“Don’t get the wrong idea Riddle, I’m not too fond of the idea myself.” Vil turned to look at him. “But even I can admit there are things Arisu could be capable of that I am unable to teach; I trust your judgement from here on out, but don’t think I won’t send one of my own to him to carry on for me.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less of you, Vil.” Riddle walked up to him. “There’s a storm tomorrow morning, will you be fine getting from your dorm?”

“Always, take care my Rose, may our next meeting be a smooth one.” He kissed his cheek and walked out with him.

Chapter Text

“Ari-chan~ whatever happened to your original plan for dinner? You said you were going to take a break from the cafeteria?” Cater poked Arisu’s cheek.

“I was, but then I realized that I don’t know a damn thing about the place I wanted to visit so I decided to just scrap the new setting altogether.”

“The Monstro Lounge, right?” Cater brought up some pictures for him. “Great place, amazing food, underwater atmosphere.” He listed off. “Everything is high quality and their chefs are never the same…of course, that’s because most of the workers are from failed deals but those numbers are few and far in between.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well~ The prefect of Octavinelle is something else; shady, articulate, greedy as heck, I suppose in civilian terms he’s a savvy businessman, he can grant your deepest desires!” Cater grinned. “For a price of course, and if you fail to uphold your end of the deal…well, as I said the chefs and servers are never the same~” he patted his back. “Don’t be discouraged! Some of them are there of their own will to raise money for shopping! Cay-kun’s worked there for a few weeks to save up for the rose gold crown charm!” he showed off his cellphone charm. “Isn’t it cute~”

Arisu nodded and thought for a bit, working at the lounge did seem like a good idea and he could use the money to buy his own food as well as Grim’s tuna stash – sure he had some money wired from his family, but he still wanted to earn his own and he had his doubts that the Headmaster was going to pay him for the errands he sent him on. The flip side of the coin was that the prefect’s offer to make desires come true sounded too good to be such; there had to be something that worked in his favor rather than the client’s. He would have to check the place out at a later date, right now he wanted to be around his friends; there was never a boring day with them – heck, he and Riddle were getting closer now and he was eager to call the Heartslabyul Prefect a good friend! 

Trey and Cater were still in their own league, but like with Riddle, he found himself enjoying their company. Ace and Deuce…well, he’s been used to them since their first day together; there were times Ace would alternate between his name and the Alice nickname, but he found the nickname endearing and decided to let him keep calling him that. Heck, it was because of those two that’s going to make it impossible to leave for break; he wanted to be with them for a while longer even after the school term ended.

Him wishing that prompted Ace to stop talking with Deuce and giving a mischievous smile, he pounced and hugged him before saying that they had to show more love to keep Arisu with them forever. Deuce took some time convincing from Cater who had wasted no second in joining the hug pile. Riddle and Trey just scolded them for the act whereas Malleus just looked to the group and shook his head at the sight.

“You know, if you want him to stay, I can arrange something.” Malleus said with a grin. 

Arisu stuck his tongue out at him. “I’m not going through with the marriage plan.”

“You say that now, Sunflower.” Malleus grinned. “But one day, the wedding bells will ring.”

The commotion continued on for a few more minutes before Arisu ended the shenanigans by inviting the group to his dorm for a movie night – a little last minute, but after everything from today, they could use some mindless fun; the group agreed and would meet at Ramshackle.

The ghosts weren’t expecting guests, but they were fine with the movie night idea when Arisu invited them to join them. Renovations of the old dorm were coming along nicely; a new tv, lighting, furniture, and the kitchen had a brand new and modern look!

With a quick arrangement of cushions and blankets the group spent that night watching movies from Snakes on a Plane to the Mask of Zorro to even the cheesy musical that was Little Shop of Horrors. This went on until it was close to ten p.m. when curfew was about to take place; Arisu saw the Heartslabyul quintet off and wished them a good night before wishing Malleus a good night as well. He decided to do cleaning later and went upstairs with a tired Grim hanging off his shoulder. Sometime he had to wonder if owning a cat was this troublesome.

Paron took Grim off him and settled him in the cat bed so Arisu could climb into bed. Lately, the dreams hadn’t really been happening as much so he was grateful for that; except tonight where he had dreamt that he was with animals and watching a baby lion being held up for all to see. Aside from that dream, nothing really has been sparking and causing him to stress out…except Passe came in and informed him that it was going to be a storm today. Literally. A stormy morning was the perfect way to start things off. At least he had an umbrella for him and Grim to hide under while they rushed to their classes.

This. Was. Not. A. Storm!

Harsh winds blowing, heavy rainfall, the umbrella was useless and by the time he and Grim got into the school they looked like drowned rats. The only blessing they had was that their schoolwork was fine and dried, but that was just about it. With a sigh, he just changed his shoes and dragged himself to History class, beside him was a familiar lavender-haired boy from the tea party. He was too tired to deal with him, he hardly reacted at all.

“You don’t go to school here.” Arisu said in a blunt tone.

Che’nya grinned. “No, but you do~” he looked him over. “Hmm~ You two look like you’ve seen better days.” He snapped his fingers and dried them off. “There we go~”

Grim grinned and puffed his fur out. “You’re alright, weirdo! But, why are you here?”

“You expect me to be out in the rain?” He held his heart. “You’re so cruel.” His grin returned a few seconds later. “Ah, but as for why I’m here; I suppose you can say that I’m here to help you. You really think your encounter with an Overblot Riddle is the only trial you’re going to face? Sorry Alice~ a new law reigns in this Wonderland, you best be on your guard.” He bowed and vanished from sight.

“He’s so weird, what did he mean?” Grim looked at him.

“No idea.” Arisu continued to the classroom. “I know I’d rather get to class before-”

Ding. 
Dong.
Ding.

“Before what…Mr. Carol?” Mr. Trein’s cold voice rang out. “I do believe I’ve made it clear I don’t tolerate lateness of any sort, that include being one second late.” His cold gaze narrowed. “You and Grim are to stay after class.”

“Y-Yes sir.” The two said before dragging themselves to their seats.

The rest of the day was just going downhill from there.

*

Arisu sighed as he dragged himself to the mirror chamber; everything was going wrong today no matter how small. Alchemy ended with him getting caught in an accident – his once golden hair was now white and would be like this for a week at least (or until Master Crewel brews an antidote for this), gym class ended with a dodge ball to the face and he was sent to the infirmary with a bloody nose, lunch…well it was best he didn’t think about it. Right now, after a long day of classes and makeup work, he just wanted to get through dinner and just pass out at his dorm. He decided since the day was against him as is, he would just go to the mysterious Monstro Lounge, it couldn’t be that bad and he’d rather take his risk than face another cafeteria incident (one he’d refuse to remember).

Entering the mirror and entering the enchanted underwater dorm, Arisu felt himself stare in awe; the Octavinelle dorm being underwater was an amazing feeling. He swam to the entrance and felt himself magically dry off upon entering the dorm. This was starting to become his new favorite aesthetic! Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad after all, he just needed a new change of his routine and everything would come together in the end. He took in the dorm’s atmosphere as he followed a sign pointing the way to the Monstro Lounge, the closest to being underwater he’s experienced was at his local aquarium. Here, everything was so bright with the grey couches, light purple wallpaper, and the entire room being lit up with seaweed lamps and the octopi chandeliers! He took a quick picture and made his way down the hall to the Monstro Lounge.

It was different than the dorm’s lounge; for one, the atmosphere had an elegant feeling to it and the lighting was dimmed. It didn’t seem so busy at the moment; he was starting to worry that they were closed and he would be intruding, he was about to leave until he heard voices from another room. Arisu was taught not to eavesdrop but…just like Alice, he let curiosity get the best of him. He made his way over and pressed close to listen in to see what was being said.

“I've got to say, it's been a pleasure working with you; but it seems your payment is a bit overdue.” The first voice had a smooth tone to him, a grin was heard in his voice. 

The second was more fearful; “Please, just give me more time! I-I swear I’ll get the photograph!” they begged.

A soft hum from the first voice. “I could have mercy and give you just a tad more time to pay the fee.” He was relishing in the second student’s distress “Though, where would be the fun in that, after all I have more who want their dreams.” 

With a snap of his fingers the student was heard screaming before he was pulled towards the door. Arisu hurried away from the scene to avoid getting hit, he watched as a student was pulled by…an anemone on his head? He barely got to see much of the student before they were dragged to the kitchen. He turned to the room where they came from and saw three individuals walk out; he recognized Floyd – or…at least one of the two were Floyd, they were twins. The one in the center had slivery-blue, wavy hair under the fedora that the twins also wore, his silvery-blue eyes were behind a pair of silver glasses, he even had a beauty mark bellow his lips. In his hand was a black cane with a silver octopus handle. 

“You would think that people would learn, the bigger the wish is the bigger the payment is.” He sighed and shook his head; the sour mood died the moment he saw Arisu staring at them. With a grin he walked over to him, “Ah! Welcome, welcome, come on in!” he invited him over to a booth, “Put down your stuff and that violin*.” The twins took Arisu’s school bag and went to put it somewhere safe. “Are you lost? You need some food? How can I help you?” he snapped his fingers to call a server over.

Arisu reluctantly sat down and watched as someone came over with a basket of bread rolls and a menu; unlike the previous student, this one didn’t have an anemone on their head. They were definitely here on their free-will like Cater had said; he did say that the numbers of ‘failed contracts’ were few and far between. 

“You do look like you’ve had a horrible day so far.” The silver-head said. “Come now, what’s wrong?”

“Just one of those days.” Arisu assured him. “Uh…I might not have enough on hand for something extravagant.”

“Don’t worry about it, consider it a first-customer’s discount” he smiled. “Of course, this is a one-time offer so if I were you, I wouldn’t let this go to waste.”

“Right, I’ll go with lobster bisque?” Arisu smiled sheepishly. “And maybe chocolate strawberry brownies for dessert?”

“Coming right away, good sir.” He grinned and nodded to the server to get the order started. “So, what brings you to our little lounge?”

“I overheard some students talk about this place, I’ve been meaning to try the food here in case I got sick and tired of the cafeteria food.” Arisu explained as he grabbed one of the rolls. “…But I also heard some things about you, that you could grant any wish someone asks of you?”

“Oh, oh, oh, what's this? You've heard about me? Tell me the gist” He leaned on the cane and grinned at him. “They say that I can make dreams come true? Well, that's simply gossip spewed.” There was a glint in his eyes as he said that. “But, between you and me, if you wanna know the truth, then put the roll down and listen closely. I can make dreams reality”

“You can make dreams a reality?” Arisu repeated. “But you don’t do it for free, do you? There’s always a catch with spells like yours.” He was taken by surprise when the other placed a gloved hand over his mouth.

“Hush now, hush now keep it hush! I don't need the teachers making a fuss.” He pulled back and chuckled. “Oh, I haven't introduced myself, so here's my name and what I am about.” Taking off his hat and putting it over his chest before taking a bow, he promptly introduced himself.

“My name's Azul Ashengrotto; and for a simple, tiny fee, you can get anything you wish! From money to everlasting glory.” He stood up and brought forth a golden contract that floated before Arisu, he laid a hand on his shoulder and grinned down at him. “Just sing the contract with your name, stain the paper with black ink.” He chuckled when Arisu rejected the contract and the pen provided to him. “Ah, settle down…I wouldn’t make you sign a blank contract.”

“I don’t sign anything without reading the fine print.”

“Ah good, well As for the tiny fee...” Azul returned his hat on his head and tilted it down in a serious manner. “Offer me your power, your special skills.” He narrowed his eyes at the boy’s wide-eyed expression. “What did you think the fee was going to be?” he scoffed as the other sputtered a response out. “Don't act so shocked, one must entrust me their every whim; or else they will play the part.” He sat across from Arisu and folded his hands together. “After all, collateral must be given for a simple request; I don’t ask for much, just what is appropriate for every kind of wish. The bigger the wish, the greater the payment. I’m sure even you would understand.”

So, this is what Cater meant when he said there were some failed contracts. There were people who asked for something ridiculous and payed the price for it. Arisu kept his gaze on Azul, even after his food was brought to him; he didn’t want to take his eyes off the other – call it trust issues, but that calm expression was anything but settling. The twins had come up to Azul and one whispered something to him that caused his eyes to shine. He grinned at Arisu before standing up.

“Ah, pardon me, I have another customer to deal with.” He strode over to the entrance, and like before Arisu strained his hearing to listen in. “Welcome, welcome, come on in! Put down your stuff, put on a grin.” The twins once again took the school bag to put it somewhere as Azul guided the student to a booth – specifically the one Arisu was sitting at, he was going to make a show out of this. “Are you lost? You need some food? Oh, once again it's you!” his grin widened at the student.

Judging by the red and purple ribbon on the student's arm, Arisu was able to deduce he was from Pomefiore, the student just nodded at Azul. “Yeah, and I’m ending this contract! You were asking the impossible from me!”

Azul tilted his head at that. “Oh, oh, oh, what's this? You wanna talk? Well, tell me the gist.” He shoved the student in the seat across from Arisu. “You say you want out of the contract? You can't bring yourself to steal for me?” 

“Whoa what do you mean ‘steal for you!’ What the hell kind of contract did you make?!” Arisu demanded.

“I…I wanted to impress my fellow dormmates!” The student stammered out. “My dorm master was asking for impossible beauty and etiquette standards and Azul said he’d help me! I didn’t think the cost would be to steal from a museum!” 

Azul just tutted at him. “Oh honestly, you humans make me sick. You blindly sign to feed your greed while forgetting nothing's ever free.” He watched as the student tried protesting against it, and like with Arisu, he covered his mouth. “Hush now, hush now keep it hush, I don't want the teachers making a fuss.” He pulled away and held up the student’s contract, narrowing his eyes at him. “You should have read the contract clearly you had three days to fetch me that picture.”

“You’re asking someone to steal something from a museum!” Arisu yelled. “His life could be ruined if he had been caught, that was unfair of you to ask; Azul!” 

“I know it may seem cruel; I know I'm being cold.” Azul lifted Arisu’s chin in his hand so they were eye to eye. “But human minds are frail, so what's the harm in using them for me.” He chuckled and turned back to the student. “I've gotta say, it's been a pleasure working with you; but it seems your payment is a bit overdue.” His grin grew. “I could have mercy and give you just a tad more time to pay the fee, though, where would be the fun in that? After all I have more who want their dreams.”

“You…You’re a demon!” The Pomefiore student cried. “There’s no way anyone could do this! Just who the hell do you think you are!”

Azul chuckled and flashed a toothy grin at him, adjusting his glasses some. “It’s as I told our guest here; My name is Azul Ashengrotto and for a simple, tiny fee you can get anything you wish as long as you can pay the fee!” he brought up the contract and laid it for them to read. “Just sing the contract with your name, and be prepared to steal promptly, stain your heart with the memory with just the tiny fee.” He grabbed the Pomefiore student by the upper arm and narrowed his eyes at him. “Bring me that photograph; those before you, they never knew until the deal was sealed.” He pulled him from the booth and let go of him. “You failed your part, now you must impart me your every whim.” A wicked smile was on his face. “Your freedom will do perfectly” and just like the previous student, Azul snapped his fingers and an anemone appeared on the student’s head before dragging him off.

The twins mockingly waved the student off as they were forcefully pulled to the kitchen. Azul chuckled and looked back to Arisu with a sickening-sweet smile on his face “Now then, would you like a replacement for your food? I’m sure it’s cold by now.”

Arisu was frozen and pale; he just silently shook his head and just wolfed down the now cold bisque before taking the brownie to go. “I…should probably get going anyway. I have to write an essay for Mr. Crewel and…Yeah.”

“Of course, grades are important, Mr. Carol.” He chuckled. “Don’t look surprise, I was at the entrance ceremony chasing that unruly cat that followed you; you have quite a reputation about you, a curious one to say the least.” He held his chin and tilted his head back so they were eye to eye one more time. “Do keep me and the twins entertained, will you?” He let go and watched as he hurried out of the lounge, taking his bag from Floyd in the process.

Floyd grinned and returned to Azul’s side; “Damselfish is something else.”

“Indeed, he is.” Jade walked up. “Shall we keep our eye on him?”

“Most definitely, and see if you can’t get him to take a shift here…He deserves to pay for his own things without the headmaster’s interference.” Azul nodded. “Ah…one more thing, what’s this I hear about accidents happening on campus?”

“That…we’re still trying to figure out, as of now it’s just students falling down the stairs.” Jade said. “Not too far, everyone seems to lose their balance the second they reach the fourth step from the ground.”

“I see…any relations to the students?”

The twins shook their heads. Well, that was a dead end. If this kept up, they would be without potential staff members here at the lounge, perhaps this was something to bring to the Headmaster after all.

Chapter Text

With August gone, comes September. With the fall season here, it meant a prime time for seasonal sports like football – or if you’re in Twisted Wonderland, the seasonal sport is Magical Shift. That much was evident with the school decking out the halls with flags in the colors of respective dorms as well as the school’s colors; despite the cool season approaching, some florals were still growing bright – Orange Roses were still thriving along the gates and entrance of the school itself. 

Entering history class, Arisu was beside his friends once more; Ace, Deuce, and Grim and were talking about the upcoming event. It was going to be dorm versus dorm and everyone was on high spirits – even those who had strange accidents, nothing was breaking the mood! 

“Quiet down now, everyone.” Came Trein’s harsh voice. “I know it’s Magical Shift season but that’s no excuse to delve into chaos.” 

That got everyone to straighten up and get their notebooks and pencils out. Trein nodded in approval at the sight before going to the board and pulling up some images of a town in shambles; a burnt sign read ‘Chamberlain’, a high school prom in ashes and a body count, and a makeshift grave sight where a house once stood.

“How many of you are familiar with the town Chamberlain?” Trein asked. “No? Does the event of The Black Prom ring a bell?” he watched as a lot of students flinched or turn from the screen. “There we go; well, we’re going to be going into the history of the tragic girl behind it all.”

Ace hurried and raised his hand. “Actually sir!” he cried out. “I was wondering if we could talk about something else?”

“Oh? And what would this ‘something else’ be, Mr. Trappola?” Trein asked

“Well, someone said this weird phrase ‘The Queen’s Wrath’ and this is the first I think anyone has ever heard…maybe we could learn about that instead?”

There was silence and a contemplating look in Mr. Trein’s eyes; he hummed and took the image of the town down before taking a stick of chalk and writing on the board. Scion of the Seven, Progeny of Light, Queen’s Wrath. It was probably the draft from the window due to how old the school was, but there was a chill in the room when Trein turned to look at the students before him.

“The Queen’s Wrath, The King’s Gluttony, The Sea’s Greed, The Desert’s Lust, The Queen’s Envy, The God’s Sloth and Despair, and the Faerie’s Pride. These Seven Sins reflected the vices of the Great Seven, their vices were what drove them to their downfall.” Trein started out. “There’s been theories that say the sins have passed from magician to magician – some scholars believe the sins are what triggers Overblot; naturally, they are just theories and nothing had been proven.”

“What if someone claims someone has the Queen’s Wrath?” Deuce asked.

Trein lightly shrugged. “That brings us to the Seven Scions; those who are said to be direct descendants of the Great Seven.” He crossed his arms. “Now, if you’re familiar with the tale of Davy Jones and how he comes to shore every ten years, this is quite a similar story…The only difference is that once every one hundred years the Great Seven would be back – with the exception of Mistress Maleficent and Lord Hades, I don’t think that needs explaining.”

“Time out, teach.” Ruggie raised his hand. “Uh how the fuck did that happen? I seriously doubt someone went around fucking with Necromancy given the bad rep it’s had.”

“I regret to inform you, Mr. Bucchi, but that is exactly what happened; you may be familiar with the Fairy Godmother, she brought the members back and made it so they could return every one hundred years…reasons for this are…well, I’d rather not speak ill of an elder.” Trein cleared his throat. “Of course, we have the Progeny of Lights; unlike the Scions they are not descendants but share the light with the Benevolent Seven. Tragically, Progenies and Scions are fated to be against one another – a progeny could just be minding their own business with a book and a scion would feel…murderous intent upon seeing them.”

The room once again fell silent and the cold air had returned. Trein waited for a few minutes before uttering one phrase ‘Any other questions?’ History class that day had left a foreboding feeling in a lot of students’ hearts that day; it probably didn’t help that red columbines were in full bloom by the windows.

*
The topic of this meeting was on the upcoming Magical Shift tournament, dorms would be putting up their best players for the scouts to observe and offer a spot on some local teams for it; ideas for signs up were given by Azul, he seemed tamer here than he was back at the Monstro Lounge. Prefect Schoenheit mentioned something about a makeup tent for the Pomefiore players – there was so much to unpack from that sentence alone, it may be best to not question about it. When it came to what Ramshackle had in mind; Arisu had to bluntly remind everyone that by definition he only had five players – himself, Grim, and the Three Ghosts. If anything, he would do a face painting stall for the kids that would show up. The room just stared and went silent, he did have a point that his dorm was short by two members…there really wasn’t much to go off of on that.

“I…suppose being short two players would be a hinderance.” Crowley said. “Which is why I thought up of this solution; I was thinking about having Malleus Draconia, become a member of the Hall of Fame so as he should only make a special appearance.” Crowley smiled. “However, as Ramshackle is down two players, I may have him transfer over to help even the field.” 

Malleus shook his head. “While I wouldn’t be opposed to being on Arisu’s team, this is a horrible idea.” That sentence alone sparked similar responses from the others, not a whole lot of people were on board with the transfer.

“Transfer Draconia to Ramshackle to balance out the players? Fuck no.” Prefect Kingscholar snapped. “By that logic we may as well move Rook from Pomefiore over to Ignihyde so their team doesn’t suck!”

“I’m going to keep that comment in mind, you mangy cat.” Idia’s voice came from the tablet. “Do not underestimate my dorm.”

“On a similar note, why the fuck are you putting the lizard in the Hall of Fame?” Kingscholar demanded

“Well…ever since Draconia entered the school, all the dorms that have competed against Diasomnia have faced utter defeat without so much as scoring a point. They’ve always scored more than 100 points in any tournament, and 9% of those are scored by him alone.” Dire explained. “Which is why we can have him as an honorary Ramshackle player or in the Hall of Fame.”

“Absolutely not.” Arisu snapped. “If my dorm is going to compete, I’d rather have players who show dedication. I’m not just going to take another dorm’s powerhouse to compensate numbers; it would be an unfair advantage.” He crossed his arms. “If Malleus wants to join my dorm willingly then I won’t object, but he is not joining just because you told him to as the Headmaster.”

Dire just nodded. “I suppose the decision is up to the Savanaclaw dorm.” He turned to Kingscholar, “You have the greatest number of players who are aiming to be in the professional league and your dorm has never fallen behind third place in any of the tournaments ever since the school was founded. And yet…for the past two years, you have only managed to play in the first game against Diasomnia, not to mention, you’ve never won. You won’t be able to make an impression on the professional board this way, your team’s future is at stake, too.”

What the fuck? Arisu just stared at the headmaster with his jaw to the ground; Kingscholar was just as irritated from that. Arisu was held back by the hood, he looked up and saw Malleus shaking his head at him, silently telling him not to do anything stupid.

“The King of Beasts managed to become king because of effort and wisdom.” Leona shot a look to their mortal member in a silent warning before continuing. “Use your heads and think of a way to win against that monster, too! If you manage to win, the whole world might just praise you as well. Are you really going to let this chance get away?”

Vil hummed and nodded. “He does make great points sometimes; I was about to say the suggestion was nonsense as well. Excluding the people with talent is considered unconscious bias, I disagree with that notion – as well as I also disagree with the notion of sending Draconia to another team.”

“I agree with Vil-senpai’s and Arisu’s opinion. The whole point of Magical Shift is to show off your individual skills and wits, not to ride on the coat tails of someone else – having Draconia in Ramshackle would make people pity Arisu and his team and find them incapable of being able to play by their own merits.” Riddle crossed his arms. “Furthermore, running from a battle by having a powerful adversary set aside without trying is a disgrace.”

“I see…very well, next year he’ll be inducted as my condition for letting him compete this year.” Dire said firmly.

“Very well.” Malleus nodded. “I wish the rest of you luck this year.”

With the meeting coming to a close, Arisu just made his way back to his dorm as did most of the other prefects and the headmaster. The only people left in the Mirror Chamber were Leona, Vil, Riddle, and Malleus. The four stood there staring each other down in a silent conversation before Vil spoke up.

“Care to explain the hostile attitude just now?” he demanded. 

Leona scoffed. “The headmaster was being a stupid fuck, what more is there?”

“When hasn’t he said stupid stuff?” Riddle asked. “He convinced Ace and Deuce to challenge me for the role of prefect…” his gaze softened a little. “Wait…Leona, were the headmaster’s words indirectly related to Fare-”

A sharp growl came from the beastman. “Don’t…compare the now to him.”

Vil shook his head. “Leona, you know we think you two are completely different yet equal in power.” He spoke up. “Please, talk to us, we can’t help if you don’t talk to us.”

"I don't need help! I'm not some runty cub who needs to be saved from a stampede of wildebeest" Leona said talking a step back so he could lean against a nearby wall and glower at the other males.

"Leona, no man is an island. We do not believe that you need to be saved, we only want to keep you from going over the edge of no return. I care deeply for you, as do Vil and Riddle. You need to trust us" Malleus said staring intently at the beastman.

"Bullshit, you're just trying to deflect from the fact I was right and that I called you out for being a monster" Leona snapped trying to goad the Dragon-fae into making a move.

Riddle crossed his arms. “Very well, we’ll back off for now, but you need to do something about that aggression…take it from someone who’s been down that road, if you let this fester, you’ll enter a place of no return.”

"Pfft, that’s so like you. Running away with your tail between your legs small fry" Leona said now trying to take a go at Riddle who in the past would have been so easily provoked by the insult. However, the redhead merely took a deep breath even as his cheeks turned a bright red.

"That's enough Leona, you are starting to go a bit too far" Vil said taking a step towards the beastman with a deep frown. Malleus and Riddle followed suit slowly but surely closing the distance between them and the lion.

Leona stared resolutely at the approaching trio, before the lights in the hall began to flicker and the shadows on the walls twisted into something new. The shades of the three prefects contorted into hideous, hungry monsters and began to close in for the kill. The beastman's eyes went wide with growing terror as glowing green, violet, and slate eyes stared him down. Out of opinions he lunged at one of the monsters determined to escape with his life.

Riddle was frozen with fear as Leona leapt at him, claws out and teeth bared. He should have been able to cast a spell to protect himself but terror had turned his body to stone. Fortunately for the redhead, his compatriots did not suffer the same affliction as Malleus stepped in front of him, blocking the beastman's attack but suffering a bad slash to his arm before he was able to wrap his tail around Leona to restrain him.

"What in Great Seven was that for?" Vil said in a startled hiss before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a handkerchief to wrap Malleus's arm but the draconic-fae's wounds bleed right through fabric prompting him to remove the top layer of his ceremonial robe and the gold-clasped belt that went with it to use as a tourniquet for the other male's injuries. Behind Malleus, Riddle finally regained control of his limbs and fell backwards onto his rear with his mouth agape and his eyes still wide with fear.

Leona blinked a few times, as the lights returned so did his grip on reality and he gazed at the three other prefects with a guilty expression. Freeing himself from Malleus's grasp he turned on his heel and sprinted away from the scene without a single glance back. As soon as the beastman was out of view, the draconic-fae sunk to the ground and leaned his head against a nearby wall. Vil pulled out his phone and sent a quick message to Rook to alert the school nurse that some students were in need of medical aid asap before putting the phone away. He carefully sat down on the floor and wrapped an arm around Riddle and Malleus encouraging them to lean against him while they waited for help to arrive.

“Malleus.” Vil looked up the faerie.

The prince gently shushed him and smiled. “It’ll take a lot more than a scratch to take me down.” He took Vil’s hand into his. “I’m just in a slight state of shock.”

“Exactly why we’re going to see Dr. Crane.” Vil huffed. “Riddle?” he turned to the redhead.

“Physically, I’m fine.” He said softly. “Leona’s had moods before but he’d never attack like that…”

"But mentally and emotionally are you doing alright? I've never seen you freeze like that; you usually glare down adversity and act quickly" Vil said pressing on a little.

"I... I... I don’t know, all those other times before I was always processing emotions through a filter. I wasn't scared because nothing could be worse than failing my mother's expectations of me. But now... I feel unguarded and I'm not sure what to do" Riddle admitted turning his face to hide it against Vil's body.

A few minutes later help arrived, Malleus and Riddle were carted off to the infirmary with Vil being forced to also go despite his protests that he was fine.

Chapter Text

Arisu had made his way back to Ramshackle, he greeted the ghosts and Grim and told them that his first prefect meeting went well – after all, him showing was the only solid way of keeping Crowley to continue renovating the place, even it was little at a time. He relayed what was discussed and watched as Grim was going on about his next delusion of grandeur; he just kept quiet and watched him run around with excitement. Of course, he did gently remind him that until they get two players, they would most likely be running a face painting stall. It wasn’t as exciting, but doing this meant money and Grim was excited about that – more tuna and delicious food to buy if they did this! (“My human is such a genius coming up with this idea!”).

Smiling, Arisu took his sketchbook out and started out some sample ideas; he thought about doing simplified crests for each of the dorms and what would be affiliated with the Great Seven. Grim sat on the couch and watched like a typical cat, his forked tail swaying as he watched his human draw the Heartslabyul crest as well as some hedgehogs and flamingos. Speaking of that dorm, as on schedule, Ace and Deuce charged into Ramshackle and pounced Arisu from behind; unlike their usual cheerful selves, they were mostly in a panic state, it took a while to get Ace and Deuce to start talking like normal people but he finally got them to calm down.

“Guys, what’s wrong?” Arisu asked. “Forget to do the history assignment?”

“Who cares about the assignment! Prefect Rosehearts is in the infirmary!” Ace cried.

That was enough for Arisu to throw his sketchbook aside and run after his friends to the infirmary. It was one thing seeing Riddle in the infirmary, but it was another thing seeing Vil there holding him and seeing Malleus having his arm stitched up. Quietly, Arisu approached the trio and looked up at them in silent worry; Malleus used his good arm to reach out and took his hand into his, assuring his Sunflower that everything was fine. Ace and Deuce were beside Riddle, Grim was on top of the redhead and purring against him, Riddle smiled and shook his head as he petted Grim.

“What exactly happened?” Grim asked.

Vil just hummed. “We just had an…accident is all.” He assured. “I’m sorry, but this is between us.” 

Arisu looked over at Riddle. “We respect that, but…are you guys, okay?”

“We’ll be fine.” Malleus spoke up. “Physically at least, Little Queen might need more attention though.” He gently nudged Arisu to him. 

Riddle just shot a small scowl at Malleus before turning to Arisu and allowed him to sit beside him and Vil for the time being. “Aside from us, how are things on your end? Are you still going to do a face painting stall?”

Arisu shrugged. “It’s as I said, unless two players willingly join, I will be doing face painting.” He saw the shine in Ace’s and Deuce’s eyes. “…It looks like I’m going to join Magical shift after all.”

“Oh? Are you sure that’s a wise idea?” A new voice said. All eyes were on the newcomer, Che’nya was sitting in the window looking over at the group. “It would be in your best interest to just go back to your idea of face painting, it’s safer that way. Alice wouldn’t get hurt and her card royalty won’t have to worry about her safety.”

“Oy! Listen you RSA punk, if this is your version of threatening our friend you have another thing coming.” Ace was ready to pounce.

Che’nya laughed and grinned. “Threaten dear Alice? I would never!” he held up a bag. “But I did bring gifts for Alice and her friends!” he tossed it over to Deuce. “From your friendly Alchemi~”

Neck braces. The group stared at the neck braces inside the bag before turning to Che’nya who was chuckling at their reactions.

“Ah~ You’re confused?” his grin grew and his teeth were showing. “Someone is after opposing players, that someone will want you out of the picture.” He walked up to them and bowed down to look at Arisu in the eyes. “Now that you will be competing, you’re going to be a walking target. It’s not too late to stay as a face painter, Arisu…”

“I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.” Arisu said. “Thank you for the warning, Che’nya, we’ll keep it in mind.”

“Anything for the Queen’s beloved~” He stood and vanished. “I have classes to get to, tata~”

“Is that weirdo’s always like that?” Ace sighed. 

Riddle shook his head. “You have no idea.” He crossed his arms. “Che’nya has always been a strange one, but I can’t really blame him – he has a way of knowing when something is going to happen.” 

Upon saying that, two Heartslabyul students were brought into the infirmary, one looked like he had a terrible fall due to the scratches and bruises starting to form. In a morbid way, this just confirmed what Che’nya said about someone targeting players.

Riddle stood up and made his way over to the group; “Harlan, Tarrant.” He stopped before them; worry was in his eyes. “What on earth happened?” 

Tarrant looked away, “We don’t get it either, I was just talking with him and next thing I knew, I fell down the stairs.”

Harlan nodded. “He didn’t trip or slipped on anything! It was like his body just moved on its own.”

Arisu walked up behind Riddle and spoke up, “Is there anyone you can think of who might have a grudge against you?” the two students shook their heads. 

Riddle nodded. “I see, thank you for your cooperation, please take care you two.”

“We’ll be fine, Prefect Rosehearts.” Harlan said.  “Ah! Prefect, is…everything okay?”

“I’m fine, I’m actually here to ensure my friend is doing well.” Riddle took Arisu back to the group.

Since Malleus’ arm was fine, the small group left the infirmary to talk; the situation was clear enough, it was one thing for accidents to happen on the stairs but another when the headmaster lied about the cause, even more of a thing when students are still falling off the stairs and acting like they were being controlled. The plan between them was a simple one; one small group would start investigating the accidents, one person would stay behind in the infirmary in case other students came in, and one small group would interrogate the headmaster.

Arisu, Ace, Deuce, and Grim immediately started out; Vil left with Riddle towards the headmaster’s office, and Malleus stayed behind to watch over the new students. It was an unusual setup, but they made it work (even if Harlan and Tarrant were on edge by being around the Thorn Prince himself).

And just like with the Heartslabyul students, Arisu’s group were met with a similar story – except this time, they actually got to witness it. The problem being with a full class it was hard to see who was targeting at them and who was working on their cauldrons; what they didn’t have a problem seeing was the two Pomefiore students moving against their will like puppets and adding something to the cauldron that caused a nasty explosion; the end result being their faces got splashed with whatever the mixture was and left a nasty burn on their faces. In the midst of the panic, Divus used a silencing spell to keep the students quiet as he rushed over to the wounded students to assess the damage. He ordered the class to shape up and clean their stations before leaving and that class would be ending early. That…didn’t entirely help the case all that much, with everyone moving and putting things away and cleaning out their cauldrons; it was hard to get a good look at the lab stations to see if there was anything unusual or not. A dead end. Letting their shoulders drop, the group decided to head back to the Ramshackle dorm and try to figure out the next game plan (As well as get some game practice in, no sense in joining the tournament if they weren’t going to bring their a-game). So far, what they learned leading up to this was that the cause was being a controlling spell – that didn’t narrow the field as there were various forms of it.

Paron was by a corkboard with notecards pinned in place, it had what they knew so far; the victims were being controlled and each victim was a player for Magical Shift. He was playing with a pen in thought, there had to be more but what…

“Well, I have nothing!” Grim shouted. “I give up, quit without saving!” he flopped on the couch.

“Lazy cat.” Ace muttered. “We’re on the right track, we just need something to put us in the right direction.”

They didn’t have to wait long; as they were about to discuss their next move, Cater came bursting through the door. Trey had an accident on the stairs, a busted leg it looked like. Worried for their friend, the group left and followed Cater back to the Heartslabyul dorm to check on him; the good news was that Trey was doing alright, and it was a minor fracture. The bad news was that minor fracture or not, he was going to be on a crutch for a good month to heal, he’s one of Heartslabyul’s star players!

Star player. A light went on inside Ace’s head, he nudged Arisu and nodded in silent to him, they had the final piece they needed for this mystery. The previous incidents were just the warmups before the main show! The gesture didn’t go unnoticed by the dorm head, Riddle crossed his arms and demanded to know what Ace was scheming this time around. Deuce had to assure him that there weren’t any devious schemes going on, but they were on a mission by the headmaster to figure out the cause of the accidents. It seemed that Riddle was on the same page, after some of his dorm members were hurt, he had Cater do some searching of his own and came up with a list of potential victims for the culprit to go after. Everyone on the list, including Trey and Riddle, were star players. This was the lead they needed! It was time to begin their investigation yet again. And with teaming up for now, they could watch Riddle and keep him from getting attacked again.

Starting with Rook Hunt, Vil’s vice; the new group consisting of Riddle, Ace, Deuce, Cater, Grim, and Arisu went over to the hall of mirrors. Entering the Pomefiore mirror, they were greeted to the pristine palace-like dorm in all its splendor and beauty. They pulled themselves from the beauty and made their way into the dorm where they were greeted to a small tea party between Vil, Rook, and Epel.

Vil looked over and set his cup down before going over to the group. “I heard about what happened to Trey, is he alright?”

Riddle nodded. “He’s fine, it’s only a minor fracture.” He cleared his throat.

"I know that look, you're about to say something that’s going to make me get worried over you again" Vil said the corners of his mouth pulled down into a frown. 

"We think that the mystery assailant is going after the star players of various dorms" Riddle said with a sigh. "Which means you are in danger of an accident in that case"

Vil hummed and nodded. “Though it’s a high risk for someone to attack on another dorm’s grounds and get away with it, I suppose the smart thing would be if we stayed as a group.” He turned around. “I’ll get an overnight bag and then we’ll carry on the investigation.”

Before Vil could take a step, Rook immediately jumped to his feet and pulled Vil behind him before shooting an arrow through the window. There was a small growl in the distance before the sound of someone running off, narrowing his emerald eyes, he turned to the group.

“I’ll be accompanying you on the hunt, Roi du Roses.” 
 
“With that said.” Cater started off. “We should probably head off and talk to the other star players so they can be on their guard in case something happens.” He pulled up the list on his phone. “Let’s start with the Leech twins.”

That was probably one of the easier said than done moments; after helping Vil and Rook clean up the tea party setup, they started off on locating the twins. The thought made Riddle cringe and shuddered at the thought of running into them

“Ahh~ the Goldfish is here.” Floyd had pounced and held onto Riddle from behind. “And he’s brought a school with him.” His smile was a bit forced.

Sure enough, upon finding them in the courtyard of the school; Floyd had pounced the moment he saw Riddle. Despite seeing the twins before, he wouldn’t get over how tall they really were – heck, Ace, Epel, and Deuce were surprised at how tall and lanky they were. Cater had confirmed that they were skilled in tactician plays and that it was hard to get around them (Ace could confirm since Floyd was in the same basketball club as him). 

Riddle growled at the other holding him. “Unhand me, Floyd!” he struggled and shoved him off him before putting distance between them. “We’re here to ask you and your brother some questions!”

“Oh?” Jade tilted his head at that. “Whatever could be bothering you, Prefect Rosehearts?”

Vil walked up to them. “We’re looking into the accidents of the Magical Shift players; you two are prime candidates of being targeted by the culprit.”

“Interesting, let us assure you that we’re fine.” Jade assured. “Surely you know how twins work? Target one and the other retaliates.” He had a grin. “By the way, we’ll be stopping by your dorm with a ‘get well soon’ basket for Trey.”

“You stay away from him.” Riddle snapped. “We don’t need another saboteur on the prowl.”

“Goldfish~ you’re being mean now!” Floyd hugged Riddle again. “We would never hurt him!”

“I ALREADY TOLD YOU TO UNHAND ME ONCE, FLOYD!”

Arisu got between them. “Uh, thank you for helping. We’ll be on our way – think you could let us know if anything pops up?”

Floyd grinned at him and lifted his chin. “For Goldfish’s little Damselfish? Of course, We’ll keep our eyes open for you!”

What did they learn when it came to twins? If you go after one, the other will retaliate. Cater just crosses Jade and Floyd off the list of potential victims. The sun was already starting to set, it was silently agreed upon that they would get dinner and resume their investigation another time. In the shadows they were being watched by a scruffy blond with sharp blue eyes.

*
Classes were a blur, Leona hardly remembered them even happening (not like he cared, that’s why he had Ruggie around to remind him of the missed assignments and the like). His mind kept going back to this morning and how he had struck at Malleus; morally he should go check on him and own up to the Diasomnia prefect and his other two Queens, but physically he was unable to. Hell, he couldn’t even find the words to say and ‘Hey, sorry for attacking I thought you trio were monsters trying to kill me’ wasn’t going to fly in the slightest bit!

No, he would focus about it later. He had more important things, they just need to take out two players from each dorm to even the field; it was mostly defenders and bench warmers, and he gave the order to make sure they weren’t seriously injured. Everything would turn out fine, everything was going to turn out fine, everything will turn out fine.

“Leona-san.” Ruggie’s voice broke him back to the now.

“What?” Leona looked over at him and frowned, Ruggie had some paint on his clothes. “The hell happened to you?”

Ruggie shrugged. “Long story.” He walked over. “The Queens are teaming up, turns out the headmaster is finally paying attention to the accidents.”

“With or without the headmaster, I know Riddle and Vil wouldn’t get involved unless something happened.” He walked out of his room and into the halls with him. “Tell me the recent targets’ names.” 

“From Pomefiore we had the siblings Henrick and Gregory, and from Heartslabyul we have Harlan, Tarrant, and Trey.”

Leona froze a little. “What was that last name?”

“It wasn’t my fault!” Ruggie cried. “I was aiming for the Tweedles and Trey just got in the way!”

This was bad, this was really, really bad. Leona folded his hands and paced in the lobby; this was not how the plan was supposed to go, Trey wasn’t supposed to get hurt! Things weren’t going as plan, they needed to fix this! They had to fix this before it escalates!

“Look, Leona!” Ruggie rushed in front of him and held his shoulders. “I know this is a slip up, but there's still days before the MagiShift. We can still win the game-”

A sharp growl emitted from Leona. “The game will be theirs if that little Red Queen ever break loose.”

“Oh? What is this? You're afraid of Riddle now?”

“Watch your tongue, Ruggie.”

Ruggie shrugged. “Well, I don't see you doing anything. You complain all the time, letting me do the work. Some King of Beast, you are.”

There was a small sound of something cracking as Leona heard that. “King of Beast... Hey. Say it again.”

There was a blink of confusion. “What?”

“What you said earlier, Ruggie.” 

“Uh ‘Some King of Beast you are'?” Ruggie repeated with that same confusion dripping.

“That's it. Say it again. Out loud.” Leona demanded. “For everyone to hear.”

Ruggie just stared at him like he grew a second head. “Uh... 'King of Beast'.” 

That crack turned into a snap from within the lion. “Yes... Yes! Of course! Ha ha! I am Leona Kingscholar, the King of Beast of Savanaclaw.” He made his way to a nearby table and whistled sharply for the dorm. “I am Leona Kingscholar. The King of Beast of Savanaclaw! My name will be heard and fear across the academy! The King of Beast will lead us all to victory and finally dethrone the Master of All Evil!”

That got the rest of the students cheering for him. “Long live the king!” they cheered

“This is all hands on deck! Calling out to the pride and pack, I’m getting’ tired of the disrespect; we won’t stop ‘til we rule the school, it’s our time, we up next!” he raised his hand to the sky. “Our sail’s about to be set, they ain’t seen nothing yet.” He laid his hands on his hips. “Tell ‘em who’s in charge so they don’t forget.”

He stepped off the table and looked to the group on his left. “What’s my name? What’s my name? (Leona!)” he smirked. “Say it louder.” To the group on his right. “What’s my name? What’s my name? (Leona!) Feel the power! No one’s gonna stop us, soon the school will be ours! What’s my name? What’s my name? What’s it, what’s it, say it, say it loud!” 

The rest of the Savanaclaw started to chant Leona’s name; well, all except one student. Jack Howl was to the side, he shook his head and turned to walk out of the dorm, one of the others caught his movement and went up to him. Jack just told the other he was going to jog around their stadium as part of his warmup and the student just shrugged it off and went back to the group celebrating their prefect.

Chapter Text

With dinner being over and done with, instead of returning to his dorm, Arisu told everyone that he would take care of looking into their next potential target; Jack Howl, he was in the same year as him, it should be easy to talk to him. To say that everyone was in agreement with it was a damn lie, no-one was too keen in letting him out of their sights; however, Riddle had to remind everyone what Malleus had said; Arisu was a star player as a child in baseball and if that talent transferred over to Magical Shift, the culprit might target after him in no time, but at the same time the culprit may be out of luck if Arisu got his hands on something to swing. It took a lot of assuring from both Rook and Arisu that the he would be fine (“After all, he’s tougher than he looks.” He would say with a wink. A small observation point; Rook knows more than he lets on).

Arisu made his way through the mirror and found himself at the Savanaclaw dormitory; it was completely different than Octavinelle and Heartslabyul that was for certain. With the dorm looking like it was carved out from the mountain, the warm temperature around the place, the temperate trees, ginger flowers, bay trees, and hyacinths; he felt like he was in the Savana itself. It wasn’t the time to start sightseeing, he had a job to do and that was to check on Jack Howl. It took a while to find the whitehead with wolf ears, it was going to be a while to get used to seeing students with animal parts, especially when some of those students had a fluffy tail. Arisu sat on a bleacher and watched him jog around the arena, he waited before approaching him with a water bottle as he stopped to catch his breath.

“Who the hell are you?” He took the water bottle. 

“Arisu Carol, we share alchemy together.” Arisu smiled. “I’m the station across from you.”

“The flower boy Vil's hellbent in working with.” He nodded. “What do you want?”

“Well…there’s been attacks happening to star players for Magical Shift.”

“And what does this have to do with me?”

“Well…there’s a chance you may be a target and I want to offer my assistance to you.” Arisu held his hand out. “Protection, I mean.”

“You’re wasting your breath, kid.” He turned and walked off. “I’m not going to be targeted, just head back to your pack.” 

Well…that went well. Arisu sighed and started to head back to the mirror. The only problem was that he was blocked off by some of the other Savanaclaw students, this was bad on so many levels – he had his own reputation as an honorary Heartslabyul student and given that now was the time where dorms were going to be at each other’s neck. The end result was a three versus one fight; the fight was in their favors instead of Arisu’s, but he still held onto his own and gave it his all in the fight – thankfully, it was a brawn instead of magic fight. The fight itself didn’t last long until a sharp tone rang out, the three students froze and turned to the source; their Dorm Prefect.

Leona looked down at Arisu and smirked, the strange human of the Ramshackle dorm and adopted by the Heartslabyul dorm. Mortal student that lacks hardly a magical talent and yet is a student here while also surviving against an Overblot victim. This prey held his own against his students in a fist brawl; perhaps this kid had potential, and if Crowley’s hellbent in having this brat on the field he should extend a claw to him. 

“Not often you find prey willing to fight back.” Leona chuckled, he snapped his fingers and moved the crowd before approaching Arisu, holding his hand out to him. “On your feet, you have some serious guts kids.” He pulled him up and brushed his uniform off.

“Senpai.” He greeted. “Glad to see you’re doing well.” 

“Likewise, runt.” He watched him. “Normally, fighting would risk disqualification in Magical Shift, but I won’t say a damn thing if you don’t.”

“Honestly, I’m more concerned about the well-being of the other players.” 

“Figured.” Ruggie walked over and nudged him. “Were you able to get the final two players for your team?

“Actually-”

Leona scoffed. “That’s what I figured, listen…the Headmaster’s going to throw you in another team if you don’t have your players. Let’s just save him the trouble, join our team in the Magical Shift tournament.”

Arisu just stared in disbelief. “Never put words in my mouth again, I have my team already and even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t join another team.”

“Are we going to have a problem?” Leona demanded with a scowl, watching him take a step back. “You got a bone to pick?” he grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close. “You’ve come so far, why now are you pulling on my dick? I’d normally claw your face off.” He placed his claws by the boy’s face. “And everyone here can watch.” He shoved him to the ground. “But I’m feeling nice, here’s some advice, listen up beeyotch!”

He moved back to Ruggie and smirked at him. “I like looking hot, buying stuff they cannot.” He pointed to the other students. “I like drinking hard, maxing bro’s credit card.”

“Senpai did you just admit to identity theft?” Arisu asked.

His question went unanswered as Ruggie came up to him and hovered over him. “I like skippin’ gym, scaring you.” He nodded to the mirror “Screwin’ them.” He smirked and got closer. “I like killer clothes, kickin’ nerds in the nose.” He pushed Arisu to the side with his foot before going back to Leona’s side. “If you lack the balls, you can go play dolls, let your mommy fix you a snack.” The other Savannaclaw students went ‘whoa’ at that.

Leona knelt down beside him and held his arm in his hand; “Or you could come smoke, pound some rum and coke-” “I’m not of drinking age!?” “In my Porsche with the quarterbacks.”

Ruggie grabbed his other arm and pulled Arisu up with Leona before they wrapped an arm around his shoulders, grinning at him as they walked out to the entrance of the dorm with him. “Herbivore what you waitin’ for? Welcome to my candy store, you just gotta prove you’re not a loser anymore and step into my candy store!” they let go of him and moved to present the dorm to Arisu.

Arisu shook his head, “You’re not going to strongarm me into joining you.” He said albeit a bit coldly.

That took both Leona and Ruggie by surprise, even the students that were outside with this going on just stared at the mortal in disbelief.

Leona chuckled and sauntered up to him. “Playing hardball huh? You are tougher than you look.”

Arisu smirked at him. “Wow Leona, you're so smart a stand-up bro.” he poked him in the chest. “I'll think about your offer, let you know - but I prefer my chances with Ramshackle. Leona, be a doll and spare the lecture.”

Leona grabbed his arm. “I’m offering you to be a star player!”

“I think I’d rather just leave here.” He ignored Leona’s growl.

“Alright, you said you have your missing two players?” He saw the boy nod. “Who?”

Arisu moved from Leona’s grasp. “If you must know, Ace Trappola and Deuce Spade.”

The familiar snicker from the hyena brought Arisu’s attention to Ruggie who was making a heart with his hands. “Guys fall.” He flipped the heart into a spade. “At your feet, pay the check – help you cheat.”

“I’m not cheating.” Arisu defended.

Ruggie just brushed him off. “All you have to do is say goodbye to the cards.” He got in Arisu’s face. “Those freaks are not your friends; I can tell in the end if they had your shot, they would leave you to rot.” He backed off and held his hands up with a shrug. “’Course, if you don’t care, fine, go braid their hair maybe Sesame Street is on.” He smirked at him. “Or forget those creeps, and get in my jeep-”

Arisu looked to the mentioned jeep in the distance. “Senpai where’d you get a jeep?”

Leona walked up to him and grinned. “You can join our team.” the other dorm members held the human’s shoulders; “Or you can bitch and moan.”

Another student patted his back. “You can live the dream, or you can die alone!”

Leona held Arisu’s face in his hand. “You can fly with eagles or if you prefer keep on testing me and end up like them.” He smirked down at him. “What will it be, Prey?”

Arisu stared up at him, “What do you mean ‘end up like them’?”

“Tick. Tock. Prey.” Leona tightened his hold on his chin. “Are you joining us in Magical Shift or not?”

“I already said I wasn’t, I have a team as is.” 

“Fine.” He pulled away. “Throw him out.” He ordered.

The three Savanaclaw students grabbed Arisu and picked him up before they unceremoniously threw him threw the mirror, out of the Savanaclaw dorm and into the hall of mirrors. Ruggie sighed and shook his head; shame, the mortal had some potential, well, since he wasn’t going to join them, he was basically free game now to target after. 

This was going to leave some bruises. Arisu stood up and brushed himself off as his group showed up from the cafeteria. He reported that Jack turned down the offer of protection and that Leona offered him a spot on the Savanaclaw team; he turned them down and he was thrown out of the dorm – literally. Almost instantly, Cater, Riddle, and Rook turned to the mirror that led to the dorm. Arisu shook his head and assured them he was going to be fine, starting a fight wasn’t going to do anyone any good. With the time of day, it was probably best to return to the dorms and continue their investigation first thing in the morning after breakfast.

Reluctantly agreeing, the Heartslabyul students wished him a goodnight before leaving him and Grim in the hall with the two Pomefiore students. Epel just thanked him and told him he looked forward to help more in the morning, Rook was the same except he gave some unsolicited beauty advice before parting ways (“Invest in a face mask, I recommend coating your face with milk to help keep your face glowing”). Once at Ramshackle, Arisu and Grim settled in for bed. It was actually a long day as is, they weren’t sure if they would be able to get any sleep.

Okay, Grim was able to sleep with no problem; Arisu however, couldn’t get a wink of sleep. His time at Savanaclaw revealed something that could be a break in the case; if he tested Leona’s patience he would end up like ‘them’…what the hell did Leona know? He was a person of interest worth watching out for, and now he was probably losing sleep over this. Throwing off his covers, he grabbed a jacket from his closet and made his way out of the dorm; outside the dorm, the ghostly trio were in the graveyard and practicing their routine for the tournament – they didn’t need sleep so they had all the time out there. The evening air was pretty cold, fall was here after all and that meant Halloween would be approaching. Did this school celebrate Halloween? He hoped so, he wanted to keep some traditions up. 

“Who goes there?”

Arisu returned to the now and was met with the sight of fireflies surrounding someone; a tall figure with black hair, piercing green eyes and horns. Smiling, Arisu walked over to him; he knew Malleus’ methods of getting around – one that constantly infuriated Sebek, so any time he saw fireflies he knew that the prince was nearby.

Upon seeing the familiar mortal, Malleus raised an eyebrow at him; “Sunflower? You’re still staying at Ramshackle?” he looked at the old dorm. “I would have thought the headmaster would have gave you an offer to stay at the other dorms for a spell.”

“I actually find the place charming; the ghosts are good company.” Arisu looked up at him. “What are you doing out and about this late?”

“I could be asking you the same question, unlike myself you need the rest.” He laid a hand on his shoulder. “But…I also know you well enough to know something is bothering you that you can’t sleep. What’s wrong, Arius?”

Arisu lowered his gaze a little. “I…had an altercation with Leona and his dorm.”

"An altercation? Did he hurt you, sunflower?" Malleus said with clear concern in his voice. Without waiting for Arisu to answer his question, the fae began fussing over the human checking for any possible injuries he might have gotten from his encounter with the lion beastman.

"I'm okay Malleus! He didn't lay a finger; well okay, he didn't leave any marks on me" Arisu said reassuringly reaching up to pat Malleus's shoulder and get him to step back and stop worrying over him. "But I appreciate the concern"

"Of course, I'm concerned about you, the wildcat hasn't been showing the best judgement as of late. Who knows what he might do to you while you are alone with one another?" Malleus replied with a frown.

“When you said he hasn’t been showing the best judgement as of late, does that have anything to do with the scratch you had from earlier?”

A soft sigh. “We honestly don’t know what’s going on in his mind right now, but…when we talked to him earlier, he looked as though he saw a ghost before he lashed out.” Malleus lifted his chin so they were eye to eye. “What happened at his dorm?”

“Well, I was following up on the investigation.” He started out. “I went to check on Jack Howl, a fellow first-year, after talking to him I sort of got into a fist fight with some of the Savanaclaw students. Leona came and broke the fight up and gave me an offer to join his team for Magical Shift, I turned him down and he tried to persuade me, I still turned him down and he had some of his dorm members throw me out – literally, throw me out through the mirror.”

“And thus, you escaped with bruises only.” Malleus shook his head. “Reports were the same on my end, everyone saying they were being controlled somehow; aside from that, nothing new has popped up.” He nodded back to the dorm. “We will continue this talk in the morning, head onto bed.”

“I’m not tired though.” He saw Malleus’ eyes glows. “Fine, fine. You win.” Arisu huffed and made his way back into the dorm for a good night’s rest.

Chapter Text

Just when he thought he was over these dreams, it had to happen again. He found himself among a crowd of hyenas – heck, he himself was a hyena. He’s had some weird dreams in his life, but this had to be the weirdest out there so far…that is what he would say if he weren’t going about it like the Alice dreams. That means the previous dream where he was watching a baboon show off a lion cub was just as similar; something at Night Raven was repeating the past again.

He hated being right; before him on top of a rock was Scarr himself; chest puffed out with pride as he was with the hyenas. Promising them a life of grandeur if they followed him, their plan was to assassinate the king and the prince.

“It’s great that we’ll soon be connected. With a king who’ll be all-time adored!” The hyenas cheered. 

“Ever heard of the saying if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” Just like Alice, his voice was unheard.

Scarr was just soaking up the praise he rightfully deserved. “Meticulous planning, tenacity spanning, decades of denial is simply while I’ll be king undisputed.” His teeth were shown. “Respected, saluted, and seen for the wonder I am! Yes, my teeth and ambitions are bared, be prepared!”

The hyenas cheered even more. “Yes, our teeth and ambitions are bared, be prepared!”

Why hadn’t he tried the diplomatic route in talking to the current king? Yeah, it’s not the easiest method but…it was better than just assassination as the first tactic!

“Arisu!”

He woke up to something jumping on him, he blinked awake and saw Grim on his chest. “Morning Grim.” He muttered.

“Finally! You’re awake!” He jumped off and went back to floating. “Come on~ The others are here for breakfast! Rook’s cooking for us.”

“I’m sorry, what?” He got out of bed before changing into a fresh uniform. “When the hell did everyone get here?”

“Well not everyone is here, Riddle said that Ace and Deuce are feeding the flamingos, and that Vil’s meeting with Crewel to discuss some project.” He watched him.

“That doesn’t answer my question of why or when they showed up.” 

Arisu got his shoes on and started down the stairs with Grim flying after him. Upon arriving in the dorm’s lounge, he saw everyone set up at the coffee table; Riddle and Cater were on the couch, Epel was just lounging on the ground, making sure he was staring Rook in the eyes and he slouched every time. Rook was on a chair and just shaking his head at the first-year. The table had a small buffet of food; there was enough left for Grim and Arisu to have something.

Riddle looked over and got up before going over to him. “Your tie is crooked.” He got close and started to adjust it. “Rule-breaking starts with unruly clothes; your dormmates will not follow you if you so much look improper.” He pulled back and nodded in approval. “There we go.”

“Thanks.” Arisu smiled went to sit beside Epel. “When did you guys get here?”

“We got here around five thirty a.m.” Rook explained. “We figured eating in a dorm would be a change of pace…and to catch you up to speed.”

“What do you mean?” Arisu paused in grabbing a French Toast and a small bowl of fruit. “And what the hell were you guys doing waking up at that ungodly hour?!”

“Breakfast in the dining hall starts at six a.m. sharp.” Riddle said sternly. “And goes on until seven thirty, classes begin at eight thirty giving students an hour to get to class and review their work before lecture begins. You should know this; you’re always at the dining hall at six forty-five, are you not?”

“It’s not like I wanted to be up at that time.” Arisu grumbled as he ate. “I haven’t really been sleeping well in the past.” Eyes were on him. “No, this was before the OB incident…”

“Talk to us, cher.” Rook said softly. “What has you troubled?”

“Long story short; weird dreams that are showing the past. I already talked to Ace – still wondering why he has a book on dream meanings, remind me to ask him that later – and he said that they’re more of warnings that the present is repeating the past.” Arisu explained. 

“We’ll be talking about that at a later date.” Riddle reminded. “For now, let’s focus on the task at hand; another accident happened last night.”

That got Arisu frozen in place. “What? Who was attacked?”

Cater set his plate down for a few seconds and took his phone out before pulling up the information needed. “Jamil Viper, second year student and vice-head of Scarabia.” He started off. “Part of the same basketball club that Ace is in; according to painting witnesses, he was in the cafeteria late at night cooking before he had an accident with a knife – only his hand got cut.”

“Guess we should talk to him after breakfast.” Epel said.

*
“Hey! You were the guy that was attacked, what happened! Tell us everything!” Grim demanded as he got into the student’s face.

“Grim!” Arisu pulled the strange cat away. “Sorry about him, Jamil, we’re trying to solve these strange accidents and we wanted to know if you knew anything?”

Jamil let out an irritated sigh and shook his head before laying a hand on the blonde’s shoulder. “Let me assure you now, I’m fine, Arisu, I’m not going to let this affect my performances as both vice-dorm head, on the basketball team, nor on the fields of Magical Shift. Now stop fussing, you’re like Kalim.”

“I believe I’m within my rights to worry about you.” Arisu looked up at him. “You’re in the same club as Ace and I’m sure he’d be worried about you if he hears about this, please tell us what happened?”

Another sigh escaped Jamil’s lips. “Fine, I’m only doing this because I don’t want Ace tracking me down.” He crossed his arms. “Last night, I went to the kitchen to prepare some fried buns that Kalim asked me to make.” He shot a look at the heir who looked away. “Anyway, while chopping the ingredients, my hands suddenly felt as if they were out of my control and I got injured in the process.”

Kalim nodded and spoke up. “His knife skills are praised by top chefs! He wouldn’t make a blunder like this, and he wasn’t even tired from practice!”

Arisu nodded. “Was there anything about how you felt when you lost control?”

“Felt like I lost my awareness for a moment.” He laid a hand on his chin in thought. “I remember feeling the same sensation before…similar to someone’s unique magic.”

That got Kalim to start bragging about him; while Jamil took pride in his chef skills, this wasn’t the time to be bringing up anything about him. He covered his prefect’s mouth just as he was about to bring up his unique magic. After sometime, he finally let go of Kalim before talking, remaining calm. “Now’s not the time to brag about me.” He turned to the group. “In any case, the culprit probably used some kind of magic that makes one mimic the caster’s movements.”

“A puppet master spell?” Arisu asked. “But wouldn’t someone notice they were being controlled?”

“Not necessarily.” Riddle said. “When Trey fell down the stairs, it didn’t feel as someone was controlling him.”

Cater placed a hand on his chin. “If that’s the case, it’d be impossible to find the culprit.”

No…there was someone who had that kind of magic and it was what drove Arisu to go to the Monstro Lounge that day for dinner. During lunch, Grim had fought tooth and nail to get a deluxe meat sandwich only to have lost it to another student – that sparked another fight, it was a losing battle as the student walked off with the sandwich with a pep in his step. Thinking long and hard, he could make out the physical appearance perfectly; the same student from that day was also the same one who tried to talk him into joining Savanaclaw’s team for Magical Shift back at the dorm.

 Looking to Grim, the two had come to the same conclusion. After thanking Jamil for his time, the group left the cafeteria; Arisu and Grim shared their experience with the Savanaclaw student in general – Grim forcing to lose the deluxe meat sandwich and Arisu who was being persuaded to join another team (and possibly threatened to join.). Upon meeting up with Ruggie, they pulled him from the classroom to interrogate him; Of course, the hyena was in no mood to be cooperative, not only swiping the other boys' pens but then making a dash for the courtyard on the ground floor. Despite this complication at least one person seemed happy about this turn of events. A smile was drawn wide across Rook's face ever the enthusiastic for a good chase for worthy prey such as Ruggie. With Rook leading the chase and the others being close behind – picking up Ace and Deuce in the process, and doing whatever they could to either slow the hyena down or to corner him.

They ended up cornering him in the courtyard. Rook held his hand out to keep the others from approaching the hyena boy, though the hunt appeared to be theirs, Ruggie’s behavior was unsettling; he was letting out loud growls and whimpers, his teeth were shown and he lowered his hindquarters, his tail was curled bellow the belly. 

Rook turned and had ordered the others to stay back. That was better in theory, in practice, Ace stormed over to the Hyena. That caused the boy to look at him with a vicious grin before letting out a shrill laugh – the laugh made Rook pale. He pulled Ace away from Ruggie 

“Run.” He ordered.

“What for, he’s just laughing?” Ace stared at him weird.

“You don’t know a thing about hyenas, do you?” Rook had worry in his voice. “He’s calling for help.”

The situation was now clear, but they were unable to get far before they were surrounded by Savanaclaw students. Ruggie’s shrill laughter turned into a soft chuckle before going over and started to juggle some of the stolen pens before them, taunting them with his collection.

“Y’know, even if I hadn’t called for help, can you even prove that I did it? There’s no proof that I’m the one who hurt the other players, right? Did anyone see me using magic? And do they have picture evidence? There’s none, right?”

Arisu looked at him, “We have an eye-witness! Rosalia was the one who told us about Jamil’s accident!”

“That old bat? Her eyes are probably faded and besides.” He smirked. “What good could a painting do? Last I checked, a painting’s word can’t and won’t hold up in serious accusations such as sabotage.” He tossed the pens to the group. “Here, take the pens back, we have places to be, bye-bye~” He left with the rest of his dorm mates.

Chapter Text

Vil was looking over some books with Crewel, after what happened at the Dorm Head meeting with Leona suddenly lashing out like that, he wanted to prevent another episode like that. Aside from Vil, Master Crewel was also concerned when he heard that the Lion had suddenly lashed out at those who he deemed friends. There were calming potions, yes, but for a breakdown like that…it would take more than just a calming potion. Each book just led to a dead end, and Crewel sighed and laid a hand on Vil’s shoulder, telling him to head on out and he would take over from here. Reluctantly, Vil agreed and walked out of the alchemy room and started to head towards the cafeteria where the others would be meeting later in the day.

Vil sighed and rubbed his eyes, morning was a dead end – so to speak, and with the accidents still accumulating the tension in the school was at its all high. His phone went off as he made it to the stairs, he looked down at the message that was sent from Riddle saying they had a break in the case; though wonderful news, Vil couldn’t help but to feel uneasy as he reached the third-floor stairwell and his suspicions were correct as he felt someone collide with him with unnecessary force that lifted him over the railing and left him dangling on the other side – and phone laying on the ground with a crack. He looked up to see who had the nerve to do such a thing and made eye-contact with a scuffy-looking caracal-beastman in the Savanaclaw dorm uniform.

"I've always wanted to do this, you prissy little pome-freaks need to learn your place on the food chain" the caracal-beastman said with a snicker. "You like to talk all high and mighty but look at you dangling off the edge of the stairwell begging for mercy. Pathetic." the boy stomped on one of Vil's hands making him yelp in pain and release his grip on the railing. "Long live the king, bitch." the caracal-beastman said stomping on Vil's other hand and making him let go on that side as well so he plummeted to the ground floor. 

The only thought in the blonde's mind as he fell was that at least he wasn't on the fourth or fifth floor when the Savanaclaw ruffian had made his move. The next thing he thought wasn't really a thought but just a very loud reaction to finally hitting the ground and feeling his bones shatter as he let out a shriek shook the very foundations of the school before his vision went black. 

When he came to, he found himself in the infirmary with not only his worried students by his side, but also Doctor Crane beside him going over some medical chart. One of his students – a wolf-beastman named Wolfram informed him of what happened, he was actually on his way back to the dorm for afternoon tea when Vil cried out and he ran to the scene. Vil had asked if he had saw where the caracal went but the answer was sadly no, the other question was if his phone was alright – it wasn’t, and he would have to get a new phone. Shaking his head, he told the student to go find Riddle, Rook, basically the investigative team and inform them of what happened; that was the last thing he said before the student rushed out, leaving only the sight of his red cloak flutter behind him. After that was out of the way, he told the rest of the students to be on their way.

As Doctor Crane did his usual evaluations, he had given Vil a glass with some medicine in it – it was actually a bone mending potion, the only down side was that while it would quicken the process of mending the broken bones, it would still be some time before Vil was completely healed and able to move around; a guardian angel was definitely watching over the prefect as the results could have been a lot worse for him. Vil just shook his head and drank the potion before settling himself in a comfortable setting, he was going to be here for a while and he may as well make himself as comfortable as he could. 

The feeling lasted for a moment when Leona had come bursting into the room with a panicked expression on his face, Vil just shot him a cold look and crossed his arms as he silently watched the lion approach him and sitting beside the bed.

“Vil…” he reached out for him. “Who did this to you?”

“Why not ask your students, Leona?” Vil’s voice held ice in it.

"I didn’t-" Leona began

"-Why are you here anyways? I'm surprised you found time in your schedule to come see a prissy pome-freak oh mighty king of beasts, apex predator of the food chain." Vil cut in, his tone venomous as he spoke the last part of that sentiment. 

Leona's heart ached and he pressed his head against the blonde's chest and began purring softly. As much as Vil was displeased with the beastman at the moment, he didn’t have it in him to reject this act of comfort. Though he might try to deny it, he was still feeling shaken from his fall and the familiar purr of the lion calmed his nerves like nothing else could as he reached down to pet Leona's head.

“Leona.” He gently scratched his ears. “Are you responsible for the accidents?” he felt him tensed. “Why? I won’t be mad; I just want to understand…help me understand.” 

“I can’t.” Leona muttered. “I want to, but…I just can’t…”

“Leona…” Vil stopped petting him. “I’m sorry, but if you’re not going to tell me, I suppose this makes us enemies.”

The lion moved from him and looked at him with surprise and hurt. His entire world just froze in place as he heard those words, he reached out for the blond who only just kept his hands away and a solemn expression on his face that didn’t change when his ears flattened at that. Neither of them had said a word to each other, they stayed before the other in complete silence that was broken when the first-year Ramshackle student ran in and went up to Vil. 

Though Leona wouldn’t say anything about it, he was actually seething to see his queen allow Arisu to approach him and to even pull him close to him. He didn’t remember returning to Savanaclaw, he didn’t care, he wanted someone’s head for what happened.

Leona stormed into the dorm common room, before he'd entered the sounds of chatting and snickering had been loud enough to be heard in the hallway. However, as he entered everyone went quiet and turned to look at him with fearful attentiveness. 

"Who pushed the Pomefiore student over the railing?" he said forcing his voice to remain level and dignified. 

There was soft mumbling among the masses of students before someone stepped forward from the crowd. 

"What's your name kid?" Leona said folding his arms and staring the boy down.

"Chara Hoplo, first year" the caracal-beastman said staring up at the lion, his expression one of boredom. 

"You want to explain to me why you decided to go against my orders and go after someone without my explicit instructions?" Leona said his tail starting to wag with annoyance. 

"Eh, I didn't think it'd be that big of a deal" Chara said with a shrug. "I just saw a prissy-ass pomefuck student and thought he needed to be knocked down a peg. You should have seen the face he made when I stepped on his hand, I wish I had taken a picture of it" the caracal went on chuckling and not realizing that Leona's mouth had twisted into a frown as he approached the first-year. 

"Well guess what? It is a big fucking deal" Leona growled as he grabbed Chara by the throat and lifted him off the ground. "You didn’t just pick any old prissy-ass pomefuck to try and knock them down a peg. You picked the Queen prissy-ass pomefuck himself, Vil Schoenheit." the lion snarled tightening his grip and starting to choke the caracal. "Do you have any idea how badly you've fucked up our masterplan kid? Do you?!" he went on activating King's Roar and starting to disintegrate the boy's throat.

Chara might have died as an example not to go behind the King's back had Ruggie not intervened to get the first-year released and carted off to the infirmary.

“Ruggie.” Leona called out to him. “Tomorrow at gym, kill him.”

His ears shot up after hearing that. “What?”

“Arisu Carol.” Leona narrowed his eyes. “Kill him.”

*
The rest of the day was tensed after that, and to say that classes the next day went by without problems would be lying. History and Alchemy started out fine, it was just reviewing last week’s lectures and doing a small quiz on the topic. With gym class, that was when things took a different turn; instead of being filled with just first years, due to Magical Shift, it would be every year together in one setting. Now Arisu was on pins and needles when it came to being on the broom and flying in the skies with Epel and Riddle. 

At first glance, being in the air meant the group should have an advantage to see if anyone – specifically, Ruggie, - was acting suspicious. Unfortunately, that was where things got on the shaky side of things – literally, he had a brief moment of losing control of his broom; he hardly got a chance to look around to see if the hyena was nearby to perform his special magic before he was thrown off the broom. 

They say when you’re falling, time seems to slow down; this was unfortunately the truth. Arisu closed his eyes and braced himself for impact, and it did come…in the form of landing into someone’s arm. Slowly, he opened his honeyed eyes and looked to see who had caught him; Azul Ashengrotto.

“I’ve heard of angels falling from heaven, but this is rather ridiculous.” Azul guided the broom down to the ground and let Arisu off. “I thought you were the better flier.”

“I usually am.” Arisu’s legs were shaking, he believed he would have fallen to his death earlier. His heart was racing, his breathing was short and rapid.

“Are you going to be okay?” He got off and approached him, the boy just nodded before he fell forward into him – he just passed out into his arm. “Arisu…?” no response. “Right, let’s get you to the infirmary.” Azul picked him up and left for the infirmary with the unconscious mortal in his arms.

When they got to the infirmary, Vil’s eyes widened in shock; he tried to move from his position but was held down by the doctor. Azul brought Arisu over and laid him on a cot beside Vil’s before sitting between them. He leaned back in the chair and looked around the room; in one part of the room was his student Calico with the Savanaclaw student (Chara, his mind finally supplied), Calico was currently teaching the beastman sign until his throat ‘grew back’ (Doctor Crane had said that regrowing anything was a nasty business and that patients were in for a very rough treatment. It’s a crude method, but it got the job done. Not like Azul would ever want to make a similar potion, seeing his tail split into legs was enough for him, thank you very much.)

“What happened to him?” Vil demanded.

“He fell off his broom.” Azul said simply. “I caught him, he was shaken up and he passed out in my arms, so I brought him here.”

“He fell off?” Vil repeated, his eyes went to the caracal student for a brief second before returning to Azul. “Somehow, I don’t buy it.” He let a soft sigh. “But I thank you for saving him in time.”

“I would feel awful if I had left him passed out on the fields.” Azul held his heart. “It would go against everything I stand for in helping unfortunate souls like him.”

“Cut the theatrics.” Vil snapped. “What do you want in exchange for helping him?”

Azul smirked. “Come now, Vil, this is completely free of charge.” He looked at the casts on his legs. “Besides, Jade and Floyd filled me in – actually, we’ve been following the news about the strange accidents and with what the twins have found out from your little group…well, we can’t really turn a blind eye.” He said simply. “Especially, since our favorite customer got mixed up in the mess no thanks to the Headmaster.”

“The point, Ashengrotto.”

“Fine, the is point is that we want in.” Azul said simply. “As you know, the three of us don’t take kindly to those who harm the ones we find interest in. Information for information, you tell us what you know and we tell you what we know.” He held his hand out. “Is it a deal, Prefect Schoenheit?”

“We will be meeting at Ramshackle.” Vil said simply. “Bring what you need, we will talk there.”

Azul just grinned at him. “As you wish, Vil.”

As they ‘sealed the deal’, Arisu awoke and sat up, he looked around confused before memories came flooding back to him; Vil and Azul filled him in on what he might have missed and told him that they would see him at the Ramshackle dorm. Azul had stood up and helped Arisu on his feet and guided him around the school, to the final classes and to help him collect his belongings so they could go to Ramshackle together. (“There’s no charge for this, I’m being a model student by helping those in need; what kind of senior would I be if I let a first-year stumble and hurt themselves?”). The Octavinelle Mafia were part of the group for the emergency meeting. 

Chapter Text

At Ramshackle, Arisu was brought up to speed by Ace who recounted what Jack had told them earlier; Ruggie’s unique magic is called ‘Laugh with me’ it makes people mimic whatever he’s doing; he controlled the person he wanted to control and made it look like an accident (And it was also how he managed to get Grim’s sandwich without looking suspicious). There were others from Savanaclaw that were most likely in on it as well, they acted as Ruggie’s wall. They had their culprit but they still needed something solid to nail him with.

“Something isn’t adding up!” Grim growled. “From what we’ve seen and been told, Savanaclaw is powerful as is, why resort to cheating and getting others out of the way!” he paced around. “Don’t most teams have ‘replacements’ in case something happened to the star player?”

Arisu’s eyes widened at that. “Grim…repeat what you said?”

Grim looked up and tilted his head. “Huh? I said don’t most teams have someone to stand in for others if something happened?”

Arisu fell quiet and turned to Trey who was on the recliner, crutches beside him, “Trey…who would take over for you and Tarrant?”

Trey blinked at that; “It would be the twins Deva and Dustan,”

Arisu turned to Rook. “Rook, the two Pomefiore students who were attacked, and if you were targeted, who would be the replacements?”

“For Henrick and Gregory it would be Wolfram and Raphael.” Rook replied. “For me, it would be Fynn.” He looked to Epel, “And in the case of Roi du Poison, Epel’s taking his place.”

“Damsel fish, you’re being weird.” Floyd hugged him from behind. “What are you trying to get at?”

“Everyone that’s been attacked are star players that would be inconvenienced, I think it’s safe to say that Savanaclaw’s trying to even the field by having underdog only players.”

“And why would they do that?” Ace asked.

“The ‘King of Beasts’ was considered an underdog for you guys, he rose to power and ruled the Savana, didn’t he?” Arisu challenged. “Who’s to say Leona’s not doing the same and taking the role of the King of Beasts?”

Ace paled at that, he got up and moved to Arisu’s side. “Arisu…is it happening again?” he watched the blond nod. “Talk to me, what happened this time in your dream?”

Ignoring the confused reactions of the others, Arisu turned his focus onto Ace before replying. “The ‘King of the Beasts’ was with the hyenas; they were planning to assassinate the current king and the prince so he could rule the Savana.”

“That makes zero sense, you just said he was taking out star players so the underdogs can play! I doubt he’s going to participate since he’s probably one of the stronger players!” Ace cried.

“You would be correct.” Vil spoke up. “Not to mention, he was in utter panic when he found out I got injured.” He rolled himself over. “But I think there’s more going on, if his behavior from before is anything to go off of.”

Azul hummed. “He was pretty hostile, strange enough when it comes to you, Riddle, and Malleus, Prefect Kingscholar tends to put you three on a pedestal.” He tapped his chin. “Yet, at the prefect meeting he was quite ready to rip someone’s face off when the Headmaster wanted to put Prefect Draconia in the Hall of Fame and keep him from playing this year.”

“Most of us were all opposed to the idea of both.” Riddle informed. “We said this year he could play for his dorm, and next year he would be moved to the Hall of Fame.” He looked to Malleus and Vil in silent conversation, both just nodded to him and encouraged him to go on. “After the meeting, we confronted Leona and asked what happened…I’ll spare the conversation detail but, upon pressing him for an explanation, he turned paled as if he saw a ghost and lashed at us.”

Malleus nodded and held his arm. “The attack went towards Riddle; I took the scratch.” He spoke. “We know something troubling is going on with him, with the accidents – while we did suspect Ruggie at first, we didn’t want to accuse him or the dorm for having a hand. The last thing we needed was for Leona to have another breakdown.” He crossed his arms. “Of course, had he told us the reason behind them, we might have planned something out without things escalating – one where he’d get his desires of the underdogs rising the ranks.”

“And now to bring the huge concern.” Vil crossed his arms. “It seems that some of Leona’s men went behind his back; case in point a student named Chara who caused my accident showed up with a missing throat.” He looked to Arisu. “And now, Arisu who was thrown off his broom…I’m not sure why he’s targeted though, if memory serves me, Malleus, you’ve bragged about his Little Leagues and bike racing accomplishments, neither of those will help much in Magical Shift.”

“It’s because I challenged their dorm.” Arisu admitted. “Prefect Kingscholar offered me a spot on the Savanaclaw team and I turned him down; he tried the intimidation tactic, said I could either join them or test his patience and ‘end up like them’.”

“Ah? Are you sure that’s it, Damsel Fish?” Floyd asked with a grin. “Damselfish has won the heart of Goldfishie.” He walked over and leaned on his shoulders. “It’s no secret that you two are usually attached at the hip after the Overblot incident and since Lionfish can be pretty jealous when it comes to his queens, he may see you as a threat.”

“Floyd’s right.” Jade leaned on Riddle’s shoulder. “You, a mortal boy, who is not only Malleus Draconia’s childhood friend, but also now Riddle’s…lover if you will, I’d say you’re seen as a threat to the pride Leona’s in charge of.” He tapped his chin. “Though, I have to wonder if this threat will pass on to the Snake Pit.”

“Enough.” Riddle shoved Jade off him. “Arisu and I aren’t lovers, we’re just friends. More importantly, Arisu’s a walking target now, and tomorrow is the Magical Shift tournament.”

Deuce looked at Riddle. “So, what the hell are we supposed to do now?” he demanded.

Malleus had a grin on his face, a familiar impish glee to it. “I may have an idea.” He clapped his hands together; “Vil, Riddle, and…Diamonds?” He looked at Cater. “You three come with me, the rest of you; either return to your dorms or stay with Arisu tonight.” He grabbed Vil’s chair and wheeled him out with Cater and Riddle following behind.

“You boys head to your dorm.” Rook held Arisu from the Octavinelle trio. “Monsieur Crab Apple and I will take care of Petite Lapin and his little friends~” He picked him up and carried him back to the couch he watched as Jack waited a while and was about to leave. “Ah, ah, non, not you, Jack. You no doubt will have a target on your head after revealing this kind of information; you’re to stay put with us!”

“Tch. I’m only staying because you’re a hunter and you would only track me down if I refuse.” Jack muttered.

“Glad we see eye to eye.” Rook smirked. “Now then! Let’s get something to eat, I’ll get a nice hearty dinner for you first-years~”

*
To say they were feeling vindictive was an understatement, the trio were downright pissed when they saw Leona walk into their lounge but they kept a pleasant smile on their faces. This lion caused the object of their curiosity to fall off his broom and almost gravely harmed him, Floyd was so close in wanting to squeeze him right there and then; the only thing keeping him from jumping across the table to do just that was that they had to remain professional in cases like this. 

Azul smiled bright at Leona and welcomed him to the lounge; “Whatever I can do for you today, Prefect Kingscholar?”

“The potion I asked for.” The lion snapped. “Do you have it, or not?”

“I did have it made.” Azul snapped his fingers, Jade left and returned with it. “Of course, I might not be so inclined to give it to you; I believe there’s rules at the tournament about using potions.” He played with the bottle. “We are honorable players after all, it would be an unfair advantage.”

A low growl. “We had a deal.”

A small tut. “No, we didn’t…a contract wasn’t sealed nor was a down payment placed for this.” Azul looked at him. “You know what’s strange? Earlier today one of our…better fliers in gym was thrown off his broom, the prefect at Heartslabyul nearly had a heart attack when he learned of this.”

“Maybe the idiot mortal should’ve stayed on the ground where he belongs.” He took his wallet out. “How much for the damn potion.”

“I never said the victim was mortal.” Azul smirked. “How did you know that it was Arisu that fell of his broom?”

“We’re done here.” He just slammed a few Madols on the table before taking the potion from Jade. “Good Night.”

“Of course, Leona.” Azul waved him off. “Oh, and word to the wise; if I see you or your pet hyena anywhere near Arisu again I will turn you into a throw rug and place you in the VIP lounge.” He chuckled when the other just flipped him off.

The trio waited until he was gone from the dorm before turning to face each other. Floyd looked ready to go after him, but Azul stopped him saying; “One should really read warning labels.” He had a wicked smirk on his face that brought delight to the twins. “Well, let’s head to bed, we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

Another night in the savanna, except unlike the first night where it was lively and splendid with the arrival of the prince it was desolate and barren. What the hell had happened? No, that was a stupid question, Arisu already had the answer to that and it was confirmed when he followed a set of hyenas into the lion den. The hyenas voiced their complaints and concerns about there being no food or water, what Scarr said was just downright insulting; just eat Zazu – a prisoner. 

Said Scarr certainly didn’t take kindly to being compared to his brother either, it was clear he only cared about the glory and not anything else. Just hearing him made his fur ruffle up – right, he almost forgot he was in hyena form again. What the hell happened? He was so hyped up to be king just moments ago, did he lose his drive even before he became king?

“Hey, wake up.” Jack shook Arisu’s shoulder hard. “If you don’t, the damn hunter will be up to drag you out.”

“I’m awake.” Arisu groaned and got up. “What time is it.”

“Frick if I know.” Jack turned around to give the boy some privacy to dress. “What did you do to get Octavinelle’s attention?”

Arisu just shrugged as he got into a pair of shorts and team jersey (he was still wondering how Ace and Deuce pulled this off in the short time span, he had his suspicions that the ghosts had a hand in this). “Heck if I know, I just went to the Monstro Lounger, saw Azul at work and…that was it.”

“There’s more to your story, did you do anything before the visit to the Monstro Lounge?”

“There is one thing I can think of, but it’s not my place to tell you as the other party member isn’t here.”

Jack just hummed. “You don’t have to say anything more, you already confirmed what I heard in the halls.” He turns so they were eye to eye. “You think the other Heartslabyul students were quiet? People talk, Flower Boy, and when people talk, those who are nearby listens; I know of your encounter with an Overblot student, you almost died.”

“Is this the part where you scold me?” Arisu challenged. “Because I was already chewed out by the victim for a reckless move that caused me to be nearly hung.” He flinched when Jack growled at him. “Why does it matter what I do? You said yourself when you were telling the others that you weren’t going to get involved.”

Jack scoffed. “I may not enjoy helping you or the others in this plot, frankly, I’d rather you do this without me – however, I can’t sit by and watch someone I looked up to resort to low measures.” He looked at him. “But I do want to know why you’re putting yourself on the line for someone in a world you have no business being in.”

Arisu had a faint smile, “As Zidane would say; do I need to have a reason for helping someone?” he crossed his arms. “I know we hadn’t saw each other as friends at the start but now? I’d save him again in a heartbeat, even if it wasn’t an OB episode.”

“Loyal to those you hardly know, are all mortals like this?” Jack nudged him. “You’re something else, Flower Boy.” He turned and walked out. “Now come on, there’s breakfast to be had and a plan to enact.”

Breakfast was quiet for the most part, probably because everyone’s minds were on the tournament and whatever Cater had planned out. Arisu wasn’t going to lie, he was actually nervous and he struggled to keep his nerves down long enough to actually eat something – it took multiple reassuring from Ace and Deuce that everything was going to be fine before he could actually get food to settle. With the stressful part over with, the group headed out to the stadium.

Well, technically, they stopped at a few stalls before they had to go to the stadium to meet up for the March of the players; it was a huge festival after all, and who were they to deny themselves some fun times before they had to go to their appropriate meeting place? Arisu had bought a Heartslabyul charm from one of the stalls and placed it on his phone – much to the delight of Ace and Deuce, they were certain that Riddle would approve (and he did), after all Cater patted Arisu’s back in approval as well. Of course, strange enough, Riddle was dressed in his alchemy robes today – classes weren’t happening today? He hardly had time to question it when the announcement was made for the players to meet at their respective tents before the March of the Players began.

Looking to his friends, they made their way to the meeting area at the stadium; inside the tent was similar, Arisu had broken from the group and made his way through the rest of the players to get to where Diasomnia’s members were; even though by definition the players would be safe in the tent, he still wanted to check up on the group. Lilia’s gaze on him lit up, the two boys beside him kept a neutral expression the entire time whereas Malleus just stood to the side honing in on where the Ramshackle group would meet, there was actually a student over there around Arisu’s height and with a robe over their face.

Before Arisu could question the strange sight before him, Lilia took him into his arms and lifted his chin so they were meeting eye to eye; a mischievous grin was on his face as he brushed a strand of hair from his face. “Look at you, ready to play your big match here. Your parents are going to be in for a surprise when they tune in.” he poked his nose. “Stay with us, Sunflower.”

“But what about the March of the Players? I can’t leave my team.” Arisu protested.

“Shh.” Lilia patted his hair. “Everything will be fine, Arisu, just be ready to follow us out the tent.”

That was the last thing ever spoken to him. The announcer came on the PA and called for the March of the Players; Ramshackle was called forth, Lilia kept Arisu in place as the Ramshackle students – including the mysterious student walked out of the tent. With them out the main tent, Malleus held open the back for the rest of the group to creep out and head to where Leona would no doubt be lurking around – the stadium; keeping to the shadows as they heard the commotion starting up and seeing the act before them on the scoreboard screen. The names of the students were displayed as they made their way through the stalls; Futuro, Deuce Spade, Grim, Ace Trappola, Paron, Arisu Carol, and Passe. Wait…Arisu did a double-take, the mysterious student was using his name? What the hell? He didn’t have time to think before they were able to see what else was going on.

From the looks of things, Ruggie had managed to make a stampede of crowd goers happen and trampled over Arisu. It dawned on the real Arisu, seeing Riddle in his alchemy robes, right…Cater had the ability to make clones! Teaming up with powerful magicians he probably made a Cater Clone look like Riddle and since (according to Lilia at least) Riddle and Arisu were the same height (except Riddle had an inch above Arisu, and that was without the heels).

Ruggie had dragged his now tired self to Leona’s side with a triumphant look on his face; the two cheered for the fall of Arisu and even Ruggie got the others to cheer ‘Long Live the King’. That was all anyone really needed to hear before they stepped forward.

“I feel like we’ve heard enough.” Riddle stood before Leona. “And if you try denying anything, we have your confession on tape.” 

Leona looked over and narrowed his eyes at the small crowd behind Riddle; the phone addicted Cater, the Octavinelle Mafia trio, The obnoxious hunter – Rook, the runty Eple, and the remainder of the Ramshackle team. His gaze turned cold when he saw Jack among them. “You couldn’t settle with the ‘mafia’ that you had to hijack one of my students as well?”

“Unlike some people, the majority of us refuse to stoop to your level.” Jack snapped.

“Fight all you want, it’s already too late to help that runt, Arisu!” he laughed some more.

“Pray tell, I am quite interested in that story.” Lilia came over with a grin on his face, his grin grew even more when Leona and Ruggie went paled as they saw Arisu walk over with the rest of the Diasomnia quartet.

“But…we…we saw you get trampled by the crowd-!” Ruggie cried

Malleus came up forward and stood beside Cater. “Surprised? As are we, we didn’t think anyone would fall for this bait and switch ploy, but alas, that seems to be case here.”

Leona growled as he honed in on Arisu. “You just can’t leave well enough alone, can you Prey.” He stalked over and grabbed the blond by the neck. “All you had to do was keep your head down and shut up, we could have it all in the end.” 

Arisu was coughing, dust was flying and his skin was feeling dried. Looking up at Leona, he saw a wicked smirk on his face as the boy silently asked what the hell was going on. 

“Surprised? This is my unique magic, King’s Roar, it turns everything I touch back into sand.” He chuckled when cracks started to form on Arisu’s body.

“Let him go right now!” Riddle aimed his wand at him “{Off with your head!}”

The collar stopped the spell for the time being, giving Jack enough time to rush over and get Arisu away from Leona, he held him close and to check for damages. Gasping out, Arisu was trying to assure him he was fine; there was an eerie calming silence between the two sides. Leona, collared and staring down the group. Riddle staring down Leona with the makeshift army behind him. The only sound between them was Arisu’s struggling breath and Malleus’ footsteps approaching them.

The draconic faerie knelt down and looked up at Leona with an acidic look. “For the longest time, the four of us were founded on the mutual respect for each other.” His sharp teeth were shown. “We were the Royal Quartet for a reason, Leona…You and I were the kings of this school, yet, you then sneak in the shadows like a common rat instead of putting your trust in us.” Streams of smoke were creeping out.

Lilia looked to him. “I won’t lie, we had lamented on the fact he could never become king, however…” He turned back to Leona. “You believe you can become king with the attitude you possess? Living a life full of sloth? Ha! Compared to our dignified king, this is truly laughable; you not only attacked students, but you also attacked someone who is not only dear to us, but also a childhood friend of Lord Malleus, you’ll never become a true king if you don’t rid that rotten heart of yours.”

The straw that broke the camel’s back. Leona lost it right there and then; the negative energy that filled him to the brim was enough for Lilia and Malleus to order an evacuation; the group had to leave – well, most of the group, Malleus stood his ground alongside Riddle, Malleus, Cater, and Jack. Ace and Deuce hurried to get those injured out of the stadium while Rook, Silver, Sebek, and Epel hurried off with the ghosts to get the teachers. Arisu and Ruggie however broke from the two cards and stood beside the group, Arisu may not be entirely strong in magic, but he said he’d back his cousin up regardless of things and Ruggie was determined to get Leona back to them.

Unlike Riddle with the tattered queen look, Leona had more of a tribal warrior appearance; His hair became a darker shade of brown and an ink-like veil with a drop of tears covering his left eyes which were glowing with yellow flame. Even his outfit changed into something more tribal, with black fur around his neck similar to a lion mane and golden fangs necklace. He also wore black corset-like underneath the orange and yellow sarong, all of those were held up by a golden belt with chains and black fur. The gray ripped-sarong acted like a tail and he was also wearing black pants with a similar pattern as his corset-like, with golden leg-bracelet and no shoes. Around his wrists, he also wore a golden bracelet and his hands were covered with ink, acting like his gloves.

His claws out, teeth shown; it wasn’t going to be an easy fight for one – especially given that he had sent the collar flying off. As he charged, Malleus was quick to summon a wall of thorns, to protect them and for them to spread apart so their spells wouldn’t interfere with one another – just as they had moved and spaced out the wall came crumbling down as sand particles.

If I cAn’T oVeRtUrN tHiS wOrLd, I’lL jUsT tUrN iT iNtO sAnD! aLl ThE tHiNgS I DiD, tHeY wErE mEaNiNgLeSs!

“Leona-senpai!” Arisu cried out. “Do you truly think turning everything to sand will fix your problems!”

Before he could blink, the lion pounced onto him, he was held into a death grip and looking up at Leona’s maniacal gaze. “Leona…Senpai whatever it is you’re planning…” he started off.

PrInCe. QuEeN. iT’s AlL tHe SaMe. A nEw KiNgDoM wIlL bE mAdE! gReAtEr ThAn WhAt My BrOtHeR hAs!

This was bad. One false move could have Arisu killed without a second’s notice. Malleus held his hand up to silently tell everyone to put their wands down, if they try attacking then Leona would snap even more so than what they’re dealing with now. This was now a matter of brains versus brawn and the players were Leona and Arisu.

YoU hAvE tHoSe AsSeTs FemInInE

Arisu felt his eyes widen, there was no way Leona was implying what he thinks he was implying! “Leona, don’t do something you’re going to regret!” he struggled to pull away from the crazed lion.

I hAvE tO mAkE yOu MiNe

“Or you could just let me go and we can pretend this never happened!” Arisu yelped as Leona pulled him close and tilted him back, exposing his neck to him.

SeX aPpEaL iN eVeRy GeNe

This was too much to watch, Riddle gritted his teeth and had sent a message to Cater to get a blunt object over to them, he didn’t care what it was, he wanted to beat some sense into this lion! It didn't take long for Cater to complete his task, returning a few minutes later with the requested object – a guitar. 

Leona's ears pricked up at the sounds of movement from the crowd of onlookers. With one hand he twisted Arisu around to face his friends before growling out "He HaS tO bE wItH mE" before gripping the boy's chin and adding "cOmE, sWeEt ArIsU, iT's WrItTeN uP aBoVe" as his nails lightly dug into the boy's skin.

"I'm not your sweet anything! And hell no! Why would I want to be someone as cowardly as you" Arisu snapped and was punished with nails digging deeper into his skin as he let out a pain-filled yelp. The blonde tried to pry off the arm that was wrapped around his waist only for the air to be knocked out of him by the lion tightening his grip.

"We'Ll ShOw ThE wOrLd OuR lOvE" Leona announced before turning Arisu back around to face him. His glinting green eyes warned the blonde not to try anything stupid as his hand left the boy's chin and moved to rearrange the younger male's arms to his liking. The beastman's left arm which that had been around his partner's waist moved down a little to rest at the center of his lower back, while Arisu's right had was made to rest upon it with his fingers gripping Leona's upper arm. The lion took hold of the blonde's left hand with his right and pulled him back.

"TeLl Me I'm AdOrEd" Leona demanded forcing Arisu to move with him in time to an imaginary two-step rhythm. "TeLl Me I'm AdOrEd" he repeated more forcefully only for the blonde to shake his head defiantly "Oh, ArI, yOu KnOw HoW i LoAtHe ExErTiOn..." the lion snarled forcing Arisu to twirl around and bend back into a dip. "OnE wAy Or AnOtHeR, yOu WiLl Be MiNe" he declared pulling the blonde back up so his face was pressed against him.

"I'll never be yours! And if you keep this up Malleus, Vil, nor Riddle will want to be yours!" Arisu replied stubbornly headbutting the lion's chest and making Leona lose his grip on him for a moment so the blonde began to tumble. It was only the beastman's quick reaction-time that allowed him to grab the front of Arisu's shirt before he made impact with the ground. The blonde yelped again in pain, as the older boy had slashed his chest when he made the save.

"YoU bElOnG tO mE" Leona said staring down at Arisu. "yOu AlL bElOnG tO mE" he added staring at the faces of dorm heads he was obsessed with for a long moment before returning his attention to his prey on the field.

His ears pricked up as someone approached, he looked over and started to growl as Cater started to approach with a broom in hand, the last thing Leona then sees is the broom going straight to this face without a chance to dodge.

Chapter Text

Every person and their souls were different. Like before with Riddle, Arisu had found himself in Leona’s room; if he had to describe it, he would say he was in the chamber with the life-sized wizard chess. In the distance he could see Leona sitting on a throne as the role of the king, the lion narrowed his eyes and kept the defenses up – it was effective to a degree, with each piece moved he was able to see scenes before him, similar to when he was in Riddle’s ‘home’.

“Ever since I was born, all I could ever see was an immovable rock in front of me”

Pawns – servants were whispering among themselves; praising the first prince while saying how frightening and difficult Leona is. Those three pawns were destroyed by a rook, Arisu had to shield himself from the pieces of the pawns.

If I were the first prince, I’m sure this is what they will say; “The first prince Leona is so prudent can use such strong magic. He’s completely different from his carefree younger brother” But since I was born second, this is all I get “Everything the second prince does is sloppy and the first prince is left to clean up after him”. No matter what I do, I can’t become number one.”

He wasn’t going to lie, constantly being compared to someone else had to be a pain in the ass – it happens in school, it happens in family, and it happens in the workplace. This doesn’t excuse his actions at the Magical Shift tournament though. Arisu shook his head and made his way further onto the board; another wall of defense around Leona but also a new scene revealed. This one made it a bit harder to sympathize with Leona – he still did since the older brother was hosting a party to show off the prince to the kingdom and scolding Leona for not showing up. The argument just ended with Leona storming out of the room without hearing him out.

“Why did I have to go through all of that just because I was born a few years younger? No matter how hard I studied, no matter how much I perfected my magic…From the day I was born until the day I die, my brother will always be looked up to.”

The rest, Arisu tuned out as he took advantage of the distracted king and made his way up to the throne. Leona narrowed his eyes at him and all Arisu said was “Check Mate.” The field shifted and they were presented with a table; a mirror showing an insecure Leona, a flickering flame in the center with dark smoke.

“What the fuck do you want?” Leona demanded.

“To talk?” Arisu said softly. “You’re a powerful magician, why listen to the siren’s call of sloth?”

Leona narrowed his eyes. “Right, you’re here to lecture me like my older brother.”

Slap

“Is it Savanaclaw’s hobby to put words in another person’s mouth?” Arisu scoffed. “Just talk to me, I want a better understanding.”

A sigh. “May as well humor you; nothing I’ve done got me noticed, why bother putting effort in something if people are just going to be condescending about it?” Leona leaned forward.

“I’m not leaving you in this dark chamber.” Arisu shook his head. “What kind of friend would I be if I left you?”

“Are you listening to yourself, what makes you think I want you as a friend?”

“Because I doubt your brother has connections to one of the Great Seven.” Arisu laughed. “Okay, but seriously…Having unlikely friends can help a whole lot; You can probably do things your brother could only dream about, and you’re off to a good start with Ruggie. Why not start there? And heck, you’re going to have a mortal friend who was able to hit you with a broom.”

Leona held his face where the guitar collided. “I’ll take your word in upstaging my brother in other ways, don’t mistake this as me being your friend, Prey.” He stood up and grabbed the candle from the table. “Alright, now get out of here, I’m not saving you.”

“Hey! Come on, wake up!” 

Leona groaned and woke up to an annoying tanuki jabbing at him. “Screw off already.” He sat up and held his head. “What happened…?”

“Kingscholar.” The headmaster approached him. “You went into Overblot after all those negative feelings consumed you, do you not remember?”

“I went berserk? You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He looked around. “Where’s the runt?” as if that were his cue, Arisu stirred in his arms. Wait…why the hell was this kid in his arms? Leona looked down at the human and just dropped him onto the ground.

Arisu yelped startled and moved to sit up. “…Leona did you just drop me?”

“You were the one holding onto me for dear life!” Leona snapped. “What the hell were you thinking?”

“Excuse me? You were the one who was possessive about me!”

“Ahem.” Crowley cleared his throat. “Right then, we do have another matter to discuss…your placement in the tournament, Kingscholar.”

*
Out in the first round, no surprise; they were faced off against the Savanaclaw team. Arisu sighed and laid on the infirmary bed with a small huff, it took a lot of convincing from not only him but others who were caught up in the mess to convince Crowley to let the team play and that they would get their revenge by defeating them. Grim was beside him and constantly apologizing, somewhere in the game Arisu had received a disc to the head courtesy of the grey cat. It wasn’t entirely a loss since before then, they were neck and neck in the scores as both Ramshackle and Savanaclaw gave it their all.

Until Savanaclaw lost to Diasomnia, to Leona and Ruggie – it wasn’t a surprise, they were silently relieved since they were relieved to be able to recover from the fight as well. Dealing with Overblot aftermath, sucks (And so did twisting a leg while running!). Arisu got a good laugh at least when Ruggie used Laugh with Me to make Leona smile. As of now, the three of them were watching the rest of the tournament on the TV provided for them, a few times they would yell at the screen whenever someone would make rookie mistakes or if there was an ‘unfair call’ from the refs. 

That evening when everything was said and done, they had some of their friends with them; Ace and Deuce came by with a get-well-soon gift from one of the stalls; they just got a stuffed rabbit and an assortment of sweets, Jack came by and sat between Arisu and Leona and gave them a small silent nod – the hidden well wishes were there in his silent gestures. The others were at the afterparty and would be checking in soon, it was fine if they took their time; the small group was just fine the way it was.

“I finally found you, uncle!” A child came running in before pouncing on Leona.

Leona groaned in pain and sighed. “Damn it…the annoying one is here.” 

The group got a good look at the new comer; short red hair with yellow tips, large brown eyes and a pair of lion ears. He was wearing a yellow tunic with a triangle pattern around the collar and brown pants, as well as a beaded necklace and bracelet.

“Uncle…Leona?” Jack asked

Leona just huffed; “This little furball’s Cheka, my brother’s son…he’s my nephew.”

Shut up. This little ball of energy is the reason Leona went through all this trouble? Okay, it was time for his own little revenge, Arisu just grinned at Leona; “He’s such a precious angel!”

“Shut it.” Leon turned back to Cheka. “If you’re here…” he sighed. “Alright, where’s your father?”

Cheka smiled and pointed to the door. “He’s outside! Hey, when are you coming home? Next week? The week after that? Ah! Did you read my letters?”

Leona winced. “Please stop shouting…I’ll be home on the holiday.” 

Seeing Leona trying to handle a kid was actually the most amusing thing ever. The group was slowly losing it until they were in full-blown laughter, it caught the attention of the little one who looked over at the group curiously.

“Are you Uncle Leona’s friends?”

Ace had a huge grin on his face; “Yep! We’re his best friends~ Right, Uncle Leona~?”

Ruggie was laughing as well. “Very best friends!”

Leona just growled at them, he let them have their fun for the time being; he wasn’t in the mood to deal with his brother but…he may as well get the visit out of the way. That would wait until he was certain that the group were out of the infirmary; it wouldn’t be long; the nurse would come in and make sure everyone was in decent health to send them back to their dorms. He tuned out whatever Cheka was talking about with the group of prey before honing on Arisu, he was the first to be on his feet and able to walk out of the room with his friends after wishing him a good night. Ruggie had to get a brace on before he was sent back to his dorm. The room was just him and Cheka before he turned back to the door.

“You can come in now, Farena.” Leona ordered.

Chapter Text

It was the most grotesque thing that anyone has ever seen; a green mask with hollowed red eyes and sharp fangs in an unnerving smile. Students left and right were trying to push their seats back – despite the said seats not being able to move – just to get away from the picture on the board. History of Magical Artifacts always sparked some kind of a reaction or another, and Mr. Trein would take in every reaction with a grin on his face; it was creeping close to Halloween day by day, so why not have a little fun in the lectures.

“Before you are one of many masks.” Trein said. “There are twelve types of masks similar to this particular one called The Unwanted, living masks that were once beautiful before they met a tragic fate and thus became what you’re seeing before you. These masks would fuse onto their wearers face as a new home and pass on their characteristics onto them.”

“Question!” Ruggie raised his hand. “You just called them The Unwanted, how would they fuse with a person?”

“Because come Halloween, everyone wants the grisliest of costumes.” Trein sighed. “This of course leads people into turning to drastic measures and stealing the masks for that purpose. Now, naturally you would assume that these masks would be found in realms such as ours, but surprisingly no.” he moved to the next slide, a small quaint town. “They managed to find their way into the mortal realm.”

All eyes were on Arisu, the blond just huffed and leaned on the desk before shaking his head at them. “They sure as hell weren’t in Sunnydale, I can tell you that right now.”

Silver yawned and nodded. “Can confirm, in all the years I’ve been there not once have there been a panic about evil masks.”

“And you boys would be correct.” Trein nodded. “Not unless Miss Beth had teleported to Sunnydale, which I highly doubt.” He looked at the clock as the bell began to ring. “Class is dismissed, those who have music with me next period, stay put in your desks; we will be going over the current assignment, everyone else may leave.”

With students shuffling out of the room, Ruggie watched as Arisu left towards the counselor’s office – he knew that it was around this time that the blond and Leona would be meeting with Terra; after magical shift, those two would meet and for the most part (according to Leona at least) things were going well. He wasn’t sure about how things were with that runty human, but he didn’t care – Leona was fine, and he was starting to rebuild with the Royal Quartet (well, they were able to sit in the same room to talk, that counts as something.) Now that he thought about it; Savanaclaw itself was starting to rebuild itself as well, they were still going to uphold the meticulous planning of the King of Beasts and their active lifestyle – they were on top of the food chain after all, they should keep their apex predator status. They still had some ways to go, but, with Leona’s improvement and with Ruggie running things for him, they’ll eventually get there. After all, Heartslabyul is less of a prison now after Riddle started to relax and if that strict dorm can get better, so can Savanaclaw (heck, Ruggie was certain that they’ll make their dorm even better than before!).

“Ruggie-san.” 

Returning to the now, Ruggie looked over and saw a familiar set of twins. His ears flattened and his eyes narrowed, Jade and Floyd, whenever those two approached anyone, it never ended well. 

“What is it?” Ruggie demanded.

Jade walked up and folded his hands. “Now, now, we only wish to talk.” He assured. “Actually, if you don’t mind, perhaps we can talk more in the lounge.”

“You’re writing the excuse note.” Ruggie growled

Following the twins out of the school and into the Octavinelle dorm where the lounge was located. It was moderately filled that day, not that it entirely mattered, the twins ushered him to the VIP lounge where Azul waited for them with a small spread laid out on the table. Ruggie looked at the prefect with a raised eyebrow before sitting across from him, he just grabbed the glass of water and leaned back, silently telling Azul to get to the point of this visit, to which Azul happily obliged. 

“Come now, Mr. Bucchi, we’re all friends here.” Azul said with a bright grin on his face. “Sure, you caused some students to be injured and you nearly killed someone in the process, but bygones be bygones after all!”

The hyena-boy’s ear twitch in annoyance, he let a soft laugh at that. “First off; you can spare the pleasantries, Ashengrotto, we’re not friends and have never been friends.” He leaned back. “As for the injuries, I’ve made sure to make the injuries mild at best.”

“Oh? How peculiar.” Jade tapped his chin. “Because Trey had a broken leg-”

“Twisted and sprained.” Ruggie snapped, correcting him.

“And yet, Vil and Arisu had dastardly incidents.” Azul mused. “Curious, I don’t know why you would bother with those two.”

Ruggie started to growl a little. “I only went after Arisu because Leona wanted him gone, he got a little close to Vil and Leona was feeling territorial.” He leaned back. “Not to mention, he was getting too close to what we were planning and we had to get rid of loose ends.”

“So, if Arisu was a loose end, what did that make Vil?”

“How the hell should I know! The orders were to incapacitate the star players but to leave the prefects of Heartslabyul, Pomefiore, and Diasomnia alone!” Ruggie stood up and made his way to the door.

Azul smirked. “Did you know this school has had a history of vice dorm heads betraying the dorm head?” his smirk grew when Ruggie paused in his steps. “I mean, Trey was the vice to the previous Heartslabyul dorm head before Young Riddle came into power.” He took a sip of water. “Funny how fate can work like that.”

“I didn’t go against Leona’s back.” Ruggie growled.

“No?” Jade moved before him and lifted his face so they were eye to say. “You wouldn’t betray Leona and take Savanaclaw as your own?”

The glossy look from Ruggie was clear. “No, I wouldn’t.”

“And you had nothing to do with Vil’s accident? Never told anyone to attack him?”

Ruggie shook his head. “Leona-san cares for his Royal Quartet, hurting them would hurt him and I don’t want him to be in that kind of heartache.”

“Then why did Leona lash out at them at the end of the meeting?” Jade rose an eyebrow.

Ruggie shook his head. “He didn’t say, the only thing I know is he came to the dorm looking as though he saw a ghost.”

Jade sighed and ended the spell. “I suppose that’s all, have a good day Ruggie.”

The hyena boy just flipped him off as he left the VIP lounge. The trio were left to their thoughts; that was a dead end that got them nowhere, with a sigh they decided to put their focus on more important things; Halloween week was creeping up on everyone and it was best to get the lounge to look the way they want it too and to get costumes for their dorm fit to par and after Halloween…well, it would be their favorite season of all time.

*
Laughter was what filled the grounds of the Ramshackle dorm, Arisu had invited his friends over to play in the leaves for a while until he had to head over to Savanaclaw for the one-on-one sessions; as it stood, Arisu’s schedule for the day was to play in the leaves with Ace, Deuce, Epel and Jack before he had to leave to be by Leona’s side. 

Leona was very different from Riddle. Whenever they were in the office, his silence was pretty revealing; he never really talked much during the group sessions but his body language had a lot to say when certain topics were brought up. He would let out a low growl when his family was brought up as well as flatten his ears and have a twitchy tail; advert his gaze from the others any time Arisu was brought up, holding silent concern in his eyes; a prideful smile when it came to sharing some accomplishments; when it came to one on ones with other students, Leona just kept quiet and let his partners do the talking and even then, he still let his body language talk for him. And it brought them to the now where Arisu was just killing time before he had to head out.

Ace moved over and sat beside him, he held his shoulder and gave a small assuring smile to him. “Nervous, Alice?”

“Am I that easy to read?” Arisu looked up at him. “You were with him last week; how did it go?”

A small shrug. “We mostly watched game shows.” He spoke. “We actually made a great team and he said he was surprised with how well I knew certain topics.”

“Are you guys talking about Leona-senpai?” Epel sat beside Arisu with Jack. “Well, I guess I should ask if you guys are talking about your sessions with him.”

“Yeah, I guess I’m just a little nervous how things will go between us.” Arisu laid back in the leaves so he was staring up at the sky. “You know he refuses to look at me and I have my doubts he’s going to talk to me.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Jack took his hand and pulled him back to sitting. “But you two do have to talk since this is your second time getting targeted…what the hell was that about?”

“Because I know no-one knows the meaning of subtlety and I don’t feel like dancing around.” Arisu looked over at Ace and Deuce. “You two tell him.”

The two looked at each other and nodded before turning back to Jack. “He’s cursed.” They said unanimously.

“What?!” Jack looked at Arisu. “What the hell kind of curse are you under?!”

“Perhaps it was a bad idea to let the cards say it.” Che’nya was laying in the leaves and batting at them. “Upon arriving and meeting Riddle face to face, his appearance had awoken the Queen’s Wrath.” He grinned at them. “Alice won that fated battle, but as for the Lion Prince, it’s another story altogether.”

“Will you stop talking in riddles, RSA punk?” Ace demanded.

Che’nya’s grin grew as he rolled on his back. “I can’t help it, Ace of Hearts, it’s the only way to get around the rules.” He purred. “Besides, this time he was targeted by the King’s Gluttony for Power.”

“Okay, this is where Arisu heads over to Savanaclaw and get through the day with Leona while we interrogate this damn cat!” Epel grumbled

Arisu stood up and brushed the leaves off him. “I only wish you boys luck; cats are cats, they’re near impossible to deal with – take a look at Grim.” He paused and looked around. “Where is that tanuki anyway?”

Jack huffed and crossed his arms, “He’s off getting tuna cans with Lilia; apparently he pulled the beggar’s game and the faerie took pity on him.”

“I’m not going to ask.” He started off from the dorm. “Have fun you boys.” He called.

The group watched him leave before they tried returning to the current discussion with Che’nya; that proved to be futile as when they turned around, the cat-boy was gone. Without a plan in mind, they decided to ask around their respective dorms and begin their own investigation (well, everyone went to their respective dorm except for Jack, he just left with Epel to the Pomefiore dorm.). While this was going on at the other dorms, Arisu was on the way to Savanaclaw; upon arrival, he met up with Ruggie who just silently led him to the prefect’s room.

A few knocks on the door and Arisu let himself in. Leona was sitting at a chess setup and playing a single game, he only looked up at the boy for a brief second before going back to his solo game. Arisu smiled and sat beside him, he took out his phone and just started to play his own game – candy crush, he was a sucker for the mindless stuff to dull the mind. The prefect just scoffed at the sight of the game, shaking his head. They sat like this in silence for a while before Leona finally decided to break the ice; he was a predator after all, he wasn’t going to hesitate around some kid that was low on the food chain.

“How are you holding up?” he finally asked.

Arisu looked up and shrugged, “Well…I now know why lions are called the King of the Savana; but I’m doing decent enough, what about you?”

Leona took a rook off the board. “So-so. Malleus told me what happened…how the fuck are you still sane after that?”

“The whole me being your queen, thing?” Arisu turned his phone off. “He was actually like that when we were kids; he said he couldn’t wait until we grew up so we could have this grand wedding.” He smiled a bit. “Malleus was always a weirdo, but I guess that makes me a weirdo since I grew up with him.”

“Yeah?” Leona turned and looked at him. “Listen, I want you to answer this next question honestly; aside from being Malleus’ childhood friend, what exactly is your relationship with Vil and Riddle?”

That got a small confused look from the boy. “I mean…Riddle and I are friends – yeah, we obviously didn’t start off as such but I’d like to think of us on friendly terms.” He replied. “As for Vil, he’s been teaching me how to use my Unique Magic; I can enter a person’s soul room through eye-contact.”

“So that’s how you were able to get through to me.” Leona chuckled. “Who’d have thought a magicless mortal like you would be able to pull that off.” He shook his head. “No, you’re not entirely magicless, there’s definitely a spark deep inside you – a seedling if I have to guess, one that the Dark Mirror couldn’t identify.” He nudged him. “Guess in time you’ll have your own dorm once that seedling grows, wonder where you’ll be assigned.”

Arisu laughed. “Well, if I have to be honest, I hope I get into Heartslabyul – probably a biased choice since I’ve only visited your dorm, Octavinelle and Heartslabyul.” He moved a queen’s piece on the board. “Though, to be honest, I don’t really care either way.”

“Weirdo.” Leona shook his head and took the queen with the bishop. “Your chess playing sucks.” He smirked when the boy stuck his tongue out. “We’re moving from this topic; Halloween is creeping up, what are you going to be doing?”

Arisu smiled and moved a pawn on the board. “I usually just make treats back home, so I’m probably going to be doing that here and make candied apples and spiders.” He smiled. “Actually, back in Sunnydale – a town where everyone knows their neighbors, my family’s famous for a treat station! Idia managed to ‘upgrade’ an Easy-bake oven one year and we would have that for us to use in our station along with a counter stove.” He grinned. “Plug those suckers in, and we have a station to make sweets!”

“Candied apples and spiders.” Leona repeated. “And they’re so good that your family’s famous for it.” A smirk. “Think you’ll be able to keep up with supplies? Halloween here lasts a full week, that’s how much the holiday is adored here.”

“God, I wish we had that back home.” Arisu whined. “Well, no, there’s this small town in Oregon that celebrates the holiday twice a year; they celebrate in the summer and call it ‘Summerween’.” He explained. “Speaking of, Leona, what do you do for the holiday back home?”

Leona shrugged and growled when he saw Arisu claim a king. “We tend to have this big bonfire event – a burning lion, there’s a lot of music, dancing, and drinking; kids would have their games and go home with a goodie bag.” He looked at him again. “Lasts until midnight.”

“Impressive.” Arisu smiled. “I’d like to come to the festivities someday.”

Leona looked away and flattened his ears. “What do you need for your treats?”

Arisu laughed. “Did you seriously deflect just like that?!” he held his side. 

Leona just glared at him, “Just give me your damn grocery list.”

“Alright; apples, caramel, jolly ranchers, almonds, pumpkins, just to name a few.” Arisu listed. “Oh! And don’t worry about things like sugar, flour, and the stuff, Headmaster Crowley rotates that stuff!”

This was supposed to be a one-on-one session between them, how the hell did Leona get to talking about dessert planning? With a sigh, Leona just reset the game and listened to Arisu plan out his treats and what made them popular with the town – the main thing was making a show out of it, the kids really enjoyed seeing the treats be made and always lined up to see the fresh batch made before they collected their treats and went off to the next house. Of course, it helped that as a small bonus that the house would be decorated with some props here and there; last year, Arisu’s family had a skeleton animatronic that would sing Puttin’ on the Ritz and this year would be a Michael Myers animatronic that would just move in the direction of the guest when people came up to get their goodies. Even though Arisu did his best to hide it, Leona noticed it off the bat; kid was homesick. Couldn’t blame him, from the sound of things, he was used to family traditions…Damn it.

Reluctantly, Leona asked Arisu how many people were usually on the dessert station (minimum of two), he was only doing this because he owed it to him after the OB episode and that was it. He just simply told the prey to get everything ready and that he would assist him in making things for the week. Arisu just blinked at him and exchanged numbers with him, assuring him that he would text when he had everything arranged for them to begin work – honestly, he was surprised that the slothful lion was going to help him, but he didn’t question it; the last thing he wanted was to upset him and have him change his mind last second. With that said and done, he played against Leona in chess, both were just as fiercely competitive and tactful as the other, and if Leona had to admit (he would never admit to anything), he was actually having fun in the game with the prey. It was assured that the rest of the afternoon would go without a problem.

Chapter Text

Pomefiore had to be perfect, it was one of the many special occasions that it would be dressed up for the upcoming Halloween week (and no, Pomefiore didn’t care that it was still weeks away, they wanted everything to be ready. Perfection took time after all). Rook nodded in approval as the streamers were up and gracing the walls like garland, some of the underlings were getting the lighting done and a stage for the costumes set up; they had their theme – vampires, what else would they need for a grand night like this?

“Hey, Rook?” Epel called out.

Of course! The beauty! Rook turned and looked over at Epel and Jack, scruffy looking from their time with Arisu, but nothing a quick brushing and uniform adjustment can’t fix. “Ah~ Monsieur Petite Apple and Monsieur Howl, wonderful timing, we could use some models to promote this place!”

“Uh we’d love to help.” Epel muttered. “But, we’re here to ask if you’ve seen Prefect Schoenheit lately?”

“Rio du Poison is currently with his lovers right now; I’m overseeing the Halloween preparations.” Rook’s expression turned serious. “Why, what’s wrong?”

“We were wondering if you could help us clear the air on some things.” Jack said. “We had a strange student saying they were surprised Arisu’s light dimming hadn’t gotten Vil to fuss about him, we were wondering if you could explain what that meant?”

Rook hummed and tapped his chin. “Well, the last time that phrase had been used it was to describe someone who was losing their way to the darkness and losing their heart in the process.” He started off. “But clearly, that’s not the case here; was there anything else that the student had said?”

“Something about Arisu waking up the Queen’s Wrath.” Epel mentioned.

“Didn’t you learn about this in history class?” Rook demanded, watching them nod. “Right then, let me put it in simpler terms then; it was to describe the inevitable feeling that the Queen’s descendants would get whenever they met an Alice – via direct descendant of Alice or someone who shared her fate; such as Petit Lapin stumbling into our world gave him the ‘Alice Role’ and that sparked the flare within Roi du Roses.” He explained. “Hmm now that I think about it, Miss Alice herself was a Maiden of Light…non, I doubt it’s anything to be concern about…” he shook his head. “Pardon, I don’t know how much of help I can be in this situation.”

“Thank you anyway, Rook.” Jack sighed. “We’ll take our leave, you’re clearly in the middle of something and I have to make sure the kid’s still standing after dealing with Leona.”

“Of course, cher.” Rook patted his head. “Tell Petite Lapin and Roi du Leon I said ‘hi’ now!”

“We will.” Epel turned to leave, only for the vice dorm head to grab him. “Damn it, Rook! I am not going through this photo op!”

“You don’t have a say in it.” Rook huffed. “I think I know the perfect theme, and I’m certain Roi du Poison will agree with me on it; come now, we have a costume to get you in.” He said dragging him off.

*
Leona walked along the stony ground that was the stadium, he huffed and scowled at the dried blood on the place; would it kill the headmaster to put the fake grass down? Sure, students would probably still scrape their knees and whatnot, but at least the pain would be lessened. He just shook his head; the headmaster wasn’t the brightest lightbulb in the box.

His ears pricked up as he heard the familiar sound of heels walking over to him; he kept his back to Riddle, he didn’t want any of the others to see him the way he was; tired, internally kicking himself – yeah, he was doing a lot better with Terra, but he still had problems with confrontation. It would have to come eventually, but he’d rather just stay silent until they made the first move of things. 

“Wildcat.” Malleus greeted. “I see you are faring well.” 

“How’s your shoulder?” Leona asked. “You looked a little pained back at Magical Shift.”

“Slept on the wrong wing.” Was all he said. “If you mean the scratch you inflicted upon me, it’s long past healed. How are you sleeping?”

Leona just gave a light shrug. “Getting my usual – if Ruggie doesn’t wake me up first…I know the Runt is here too and the Queen Bee; honestly, why do the three of you insist on wearing those damn heels?”

“I wear mine as they are fashioned after the ones the Queen of Hearts wore, not because I actually want to wear them or anything…” Riddle cleared his throat. “That aside, Leona…could you tell us what happened? I mean when you lashed out that night.”

A soft sigh. “Right…it’s going to sound rather stupid and you probably won’t buy it anyway.” He closed his eyes and took a breath. “When the lights went out for that brief moment of time, I didn’t see you as you were…in your place were these…phantoms.”

“Phantoms?” Vil took a step to him. “What did these phantoms look like?”

“Hyenas…they were monstrous looking…bright acid green eyes, contorted bodies.” He held his hair. “I…I don’t fucking know! I was cornered by them and…”

“Easy, Kitten.” Vil said softly, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Breathe with me now.” He instructed and guided Leona through the breathing exercise. “We’re here and not those beasts, it’s just us and nothing more.”

Leona gave a soft purr when he was relaxing a little bit; he started to lean into Vil’s gentle scratches and even moving his head under the blonde’s chin, rubbing against him all the while letting purrs of all kind emitting from him. Vil was gently moving them to the ground so that Leona could rest in his queen’s lap and exposing himself to the others as a sign of trust. Vil smiled and gently rubbed his stomach and softly saying things like ‘pretty kitty’ to him to get Leona into a more playful mood.

Riddle shook his head and covered his mouth to keep a laugh from emitting. “All we need now is laser pointer.” He let out a laugh when Leona glared at him. “Real talk, could you tell us everything about the accidents you caused?”

“Figured you’d ask.” Leona groaned. “As you’re familiar with the King of Beasts’ tale; he wasn’t born into kinghood and through tactical planning he took the throne from his brother; the underdog became a king.” He closed his eyes. “Same with me, born second and lost any and all rights to the throne; Magical Shift is the same as only the best of the best would be considered on the field dorm versus dorm…the earlier accidents were just to see the extent of Ruggie’s ability, when the Headmaster placed our Lizard on the field this year…no-one would have a chance on the field…second best wouldn’t have the chance to shine…it pissed me the hell off.”

“Then why was Arisu thrown off his broom?” Malleus demanded. “That action would have killed him, Leona.”

There was a growl from him. “He smelled of you three.” His tail was twitching. “Okay, Malleus I can understand why he’d have your scent – you two are friends, fine, whatever. But then he started to smell of Riddle and Vil.” His teeth were showing now. “Even now I want to just…rip his throat out!”

“I see…you were jealous.” Vil nodded. “Well, let me calm you down with this; Riddle and I are merely the boy’s teachers and seniors…though, I think Riddle is more on his friend side of the relationship, I don’t hold such feelings for him other than a student who interests me.”

“Humor me, the reason he’s fascinating to you is because of his freaky eye magic?” Leona asked. “What the fuck is that power anyway?”

“He can enter a person’s soul through direct eye contact.” Vil explained. “We’re trying to figure out more about it so he doesn’t get hurt.” He gently petted his head. “Especially considering he’s encountered a mental shield.”

“The only time he’s done this was…well…” he looked away. “Anyway, leading up to it, we never met eyes – never had, never will.”

A soft hum. “That’s a relief to hear.” Riddle nodded. “Vil had mentioned I had nearly killed him when he entered my soul room, but that’s another conversation for later; right now, we’re focusing on you…we know your brother visited you in the infirmary…are you okay?”

Leona’s tail was twitching. “We talked, that’s all you need to know.” He got up and stretched. “As for the rest of me; I’m okay physically, mentally I could use some quiet time, as a whole – I’m fine.”

“Brash as ever.” Malleus shook his head. “Well, perhaps you and Vil need a spa day – just a massage day, or one of those sensory deprivation tanks that humans are fond of.”

“What the fuck?” Leona looked at Malleus. “Why the fuck would I get into a tank like that?” he just watched the dragonborn shrug. “Humans are fucking weird.”

“Well, let’s get back to our dorms; we have Halloween preparations to get to.” Riddle walked up and hugged Leona for a brief moment. “We’re just glad to have you back to us.” He stepped back and glared at him. “But if you pull a stunt like that again I’m taking your head for real!”

Leona grinned at him. “You have to actually reach my neck in order to do that.” He started to walk off. “Come on, you don’t want to be late, do you?”

Chapter Text

The sun was shining, the autumn air was blowing, and the school was in a buzz. It could mean only one thing; Halloween was around the corner! It’s been a crazy two months of being at Night Raven College and little by little, Night Raven College was becoming a second home to him; he’s made quite the number of friends through strange circumstances, after the mess that was the Light Music Club he had started a last-minute club of his own – a bike racing club, it was a long process to try and get people to join, but the hard work paid off; he had a Savanaclaw student named Bjorn, Hiroshi from Pomefiore, and Omar and Adnan from Scarabia; he had his five riders (Well, Arisu counted himself as the fifth rider.)

Since then, he and his group had been pretty active with exercises and activities. It was never a dull day at this school, even now with students lining everywhere with jack-o-lanterns, and lacing the halls with streamers and fake cobwebs. Everyone was in the festive mindset at the school and it was showing vibrantly. With a smile and a pep in his step, he made his way to the school store; he was actually excited to see what Sam had came up with for the year!

Arriving at the shop, Arisu felt himself tilt his head in confusion at the sight; despite the strange appearance that the shop had with the many rugs covering the place as well as the jack o lanterns lying about; it looked feral. A part of him was wondering if Jason was lurking around ready to pop out with a machete. Well, Sam was a weirdo so it actually made the most sense that the strange shop would look the part during the season. He was about to come into the shop before he felt something pounce on him from behind.

“Grr! You’re now prey to the werewolf!” 

Arisu laughed and feigned fear. “Oh no! Please spare me, I’m nothing but skin and bone!”

“It gets lonely being the only werewolf, you shall rule the night with me.” The figure laughed and twirled Arisu so they were face to face, Kalim was sporting wolf ears and a bushy tail. “Haha! Hi Arisu, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing well.” Arisu smiled. “You’re looking amazing for the season!”

“Thank you!” Kalim looked him over. “Are…you and Grim not dressing up?” 

“We are.” Grim assured, climbing up and sitting on Arisu’s shoulder. “Arisu’s getting things for the costumes! Not sure what he’s going to do, but I trust him!” he grinned and swished his tail. “So, what’s with the school store? I know it’s time for Halloween, is it going to be like Sunnydale’s tradition?”

“I’m not sure what Sunnydale has.” Kalim tapped his chin in thought. “But we’re going to have a stamp rally! Night Raven College will be opening its gates to the general public; during Halloween Week, the visitors will be traversing to the seven locations at the school, get their cards stamped, and they will turn the cards to the front gate where they’ll receive a present of candy!”

“Really?” Arisu breathed out. “Wait, would our families be visiting as well?”

“It’s a possibility.” Kalim shrugged. “So…what does Sunnydale do for Halloween?”

“Well, there’s this club in town – it’s technically a bar, diner, and has a ball-room like space in the back.” Arisu explained. “Anyway, it starts the toy drive for charity around Halloween and it lasts throughout November and December for the holidays; the club hosts a Halloween party – and if it reaches compacity the secondary location is at the fire station. Trick or Treating starts around six, and generally speaking after getting candy people go to the aforementioned party.” 

Grim blinked. “Sounds like it’s the same here!”

“Except Halloween for us doesn’t last for a week.” Arisu thought for a bit. “There is a town in Oregon that celebrates it twice a year, once in the summer and once on Halloween night. But generally, the whole month of October runs haunted houses allover! The town next door to me does a haunted trail; last year they had a goat at an ‘undead petting zoo’ scene, they just put pet safe dye on it to make it look like a zombie.”

“Hey!” Kalim took Arisu’s hands into his. “Maybe next year we can go to Sunnydale to celebrate! I want to see your town’s festivities for this holiday!”

“I’m pretty certain we’d have to talk to the headmaster about that.”

“It’ll be fine! Actually…why should we wait for next year, let’s return to your world right away!” he gently squeezed his hand. “It’s only for a few hours, we can come right back after the festivities!” Kalim’s bright red eyes were shining bright. “We can spare the few hours; I’d really want to celebrate with you.”

Arisu thought about it, Kalim did have a point – it was only for a few hours, what harm would it do? 

“Am I interrupting here?” Jamil’s harsh voice came through. “Kalim, what are you up to this time?”

Kalim just had a sheepish smile. “Well, I was going to go to Sunnydale with Arisu for a few hours.”

“No, you’re not.” Jamil crossed his arms. “Did you get the approval from the Headmaster? I know damn well this kid is close with Diasomnia and the Prince of Thorns, you’re probably going to have to get the approval of Malleus as well.”

“I have a week to ask them, I can get the approval.” Kalim shrugged. “And I know you’ll come with us, right?”

Jamil scoffed. “Just worry about the nonexistent approval first and we’ll talk after.” He started off. “I have my club to get to, can you try getting your Halloween committee work done without problems?”

“Don’t worry too much!” Kalim patted his shoulder. “We’ll get the shop ready for the stamp rally in no time.”

“Uh huh.” Jamil moved his hand off him and turned to Arisu. “Ah, right…I haven’t had the chance to properly thank you for getting to Kalim at the Entrance Ceremony’s fire. You have my gratitude and I owe you a favor.”

Arisu blinked. “Oh uh…it was nothing, I mean…anyone would have done the same.” He cleared his throat. “Well, um…I’ll see you around then?” he just watched the other nod as he left. “Sorry Kalim, but I have my shopping to get to.”

“Of course!” Kalim hugged him once. “Happy Halloween!”

*
“Well, well, I was wondering when you would be showing up in my little shop again.” Sam leaned on the counter. “Don’t tell me, the headmaster filled the pantry with food you hated?”

Arisu laughed, it was a weird little ritual they had; he would enter the shop, Sam would make a quip about the Headmaster, and then they’d go about their business alongside some small talk if they ever had it. Granted, Arisu hardly ever visit the school store, but when he did, he had made up his mind in trying to challenge Sam and his “On Sale Today” line; the end result were personalized bike jerseys for his small team, movies that he had no desire in seeing in theaters, and a book from an author he didn’t really care for.

Shaking his head, Arisu took out his wallet and leaned on the counter. “Nah, I’m here for my own Halloween preparations; just need stuff for candied apples and almond spiders.” He smiled. “Maybe an airbrush so I can color my spiders the appropriate shades too.”

“Oh?” Sam rose an eyebrow. “So, your dorm is going to have a sweets station? Very nice, very nice.” Sam clapped his hands together. “I believe we still have fresh apples, almonds, and everything you need to make your dorm a major hit!” he grinned. “And as a bonus, I can slide in some materials for you to make your costume for this year no charge at all.”

Arisu smiled and nodded “And a package of water bottles?” he looked up at him. “I’m going to head over to the basketball court before I stop at my dorm.” He watched as Sam just nodded before going to the back and coming out with the wagon filled with Arisu’s items. “Thank you, Sam.” He paid for the items and left.

and speaking of which, Arisu came upon the Magical Shift club that Leona was in charge of and whistled sharply to get the players’ attention on him. The lion looked over and rose an eyebrow at him before nodding and silently letting him approach.

“Hey guys.” Arisu greeted. “Brought you some water!” he motioned to the wagon.

“You didn’t have to.” Leona walked over and took one from the package. “But…thank you.” 

One by one the rest of the club grabbed one and gave their thanks, Arisu just beamed at that. 

“Well, I was shopping for supplies and I figured why not?” he shrugged. “Besides, I was going to head to the Basketball club to drop some water off for them as well as meeting up with my bike team later today.”

Leona nodded. “Try not to linger long, out of the players there, Jamil is pretty stern – chances are he’ll chase you out.” 

“Thank you for the heads up, and Happy Halloween!”

“Same to you.” Leona ruffled his hair and went back to the group.

With all said and done, Arisu watched the Magical Shift group do drill plays for a while before he went off to the basketball court. Sitting to the side, he was able to watch the students play and warmup; Grim – even though he wasn’t a member, he was running with the others (mostly with Ace, and also mostly for trying to swipe at people to get the ball from them) all in all was having a good time with the rest of the team. His little fire ears perked up and looked over to Arisu, almost instantly, Grim ran over and pounced into his lap before rubbing against him and letting out a small purr (So much for the ‘Not a cat’ comment). 

Grim’s action got Ace’s attention, and sure enough the red head went over and sat beside Arisu before pulling him into a tight side hug; the three just laughed and caught up a little bit before Arisu nodded towards the water bottles he brought for the team. Ace hugged a little tighter before letting go and grabbing one with a cheerful ‘thank you’ and whistled for the rest of the team to come get a water bottle. Floyd was the first of the group to come over with the comment that dehydration wasn’t a joke, as well as pinching Arisu’s cheek and praising him for being a thoughtful damselfish.

Out of the entire court, Jamil was the last to have approached and took one of the bottles; his steel eyes narrowed at Arisu before heading off to the other side of the gym. The action didn’t go without notice, Ace just patted Arisu’s back and quietly assured him that Jamil was just serious when it came to the club’s activities and that the blond was just fine. Of course, despite that small reassurance from his friend, something deep down inside was telling him that there was more to the Scarabia’s vice-prefect’s behavior than just being serious about club meetings. With a shake of his head, Arisu just told everyone to have a good practice and that he would see them around. Grim stayed perched on his shoulder as they left the basketball court and made their way to Ramshackle where they would meet with the bike racing club and hopefully the lazy lion in treat and costume making!

At least, that was the idea; when the duo made it to Ramshackle, they were greeted with the place decked out with a giant dragon in the yard as well as seeing his group with Lilia and the two retainers decorating the place with glee. The sight of it was a shock to him that he ended up dropping the handle of the wagon and feeling his jaw hit the ground.

Chapter Text

“Sunflower, you’re home!” Lilia bounded up to him and hugged him. “Oh, I know you like to personalize your place for the holiday, but we couldn’t wait any longer! You understand, don’t you?”

Arisu looked at the dorm and then back at Lilia who was dressed up as a Long with beautiful teal scales – somehow, he knew that dragon would be what Diasomnia were going to be dressing as, he couldn’t help but to smile and giggle a little bit. 

“Yeah.” He nodded. “Uh…not to be disrespectful, Lilia, but…why my dorm? Couldn’t Diasomnia have this set up?”

“Oh, don’t worry about our dorm.” He patted his head. “We have our decoration set up as is!” he looked to the wagon beside the boy and grinned. “That’s quite the haul you have, Sunflower, so many sweets and fabric.”

“You should know I make goodie bags by now.” Arisu smiled. “If you’re done holding my team hostage, I’d like to get started.”

Lilia hummed and turned to the group still setting things up; he cheerfully bounded over to them. As Lilia had left them, the three ghosts appeared and welcomed Arisu home, both parties were surprised Arisu hadn’t noticed the subtle changes at first with the dorm – little by little Lilia and the ghosts had teamed up and started to decorate the old dorm; replacing the curtains with something more festive, bright lanterns, and the likes. 

Shortly after the ghosts had greeted Arisu; the four students came running over, each were dressed as their dorm related costumes. Omar and Adnan were dressed as werewolves – there was an enchantment on the ears and tail to make them move to reflect their emotions (It’s cheaper than those robotic cat ears, they claimed), yet it did have the Scarabia vibes; Hiroshi was sporting the vampire look – beautiful, elegant, fangs, and red contacts. Arisu wouldn’t have expected anything less from Pomefiore; and finally, Bjorn was all out in a pirate gear – eye patch, bandana, rugged coat and cutlass. Savanaclaw was going wild.

“Ahoy Captain.” Bjorn greeted. “Sorry ‘bout messin’ with your dorm like this, but Lilia talked us into helping them.”

Arisu chuckled. “I’m just sad I can’t have Malleus or Lilia return home to pick up one of my animatronics – Mom’s using Pinhead for this year, and I was hoping to prop Freddy by the entrance; they move when people walk by them.” He gave a dramatic sigh. “I guess this year I have to go without surprising people with such.”

“I swear, I keep forgetting you’re from the human realm.” Adnan groaned. “Anyway! What are you going to do for costumes?”

“It’s a secret~” Arisu teased. “You’ll see when it’s done.” 

Omar just laughed. “Well, to make it up for us taking over your dorm; we got you an amazing pumpkin for carving!”

Hiroshi just smiled and nodded.

“Well, thanks guys.” Arisu smiled as he looked at the dorm. “Let’s see…if memory serves me from what Lilia would tell me about this time of year; stamp rally?” The group nodded. “Right, well then it’s a good thing I’m doing treat bags as well.” He quickly hugged them and picked up the handle of the wagon. “And with that said, you boys continue what you’re doing Grim and I are going to be busy!” 

“Oh!” Bjorn snapped his fingers. “Before I forget, Prefect Kingscholar’s going to be late in helping you; he’s actually decorating the dorm as we speak…we’re not part of the rally, we just want to make our dorm amazing, ya know?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Arisu smiled. “Grim and I will be fine.”

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and the saying was true. With the snacks done and put away, and the sewing machine now quiet; it was around dinner time when the costumes were done – Arisu grinned and did a twirl in the mirror; a black dress that stopped above the knees with a bit of an open front and laces along the ends, the top had ruffles running down the chest area, and a little crescent moon sitting between his chest. A short orange shawl with a thin black exterior that had little stars (and a cute little pumpkin in the center) that was held with a red bow with dark red stripes, small black bat wings, black/orange gloves with winged pumpkins on the wrists, orange and purple stockings and tall boots with orange laces. And resting on top of his head was a dark purple witch hat with an orange inside and another pumpkin on the rim. 

“Are you done?” Grim groaned. “Come on…dinner time! If I don’t eat, I’ll perish!”

Arisu laughed and added the purple star and a quick red drop under his eye before picking Grim up. “I’m ready now.” He quickly adjusted Grim’s wizard hat. “Come on kitty, let’s get you fed so you don’t parish.”

“I’m not a cat!” He hissed.

On the way to the dining hall, the two decided to visit where the others had setup their ‘stamp post’ – they had the list from Lilia and had stopped at the botanical garden first; to think that this was the place that he and Grim were suckered into helping Ace and Deuce pick chestnuts to make an apology tart, now it was a graveyard. It was a simple setup but the details were there and the garden was a wonderful place for such! Grim was growling and arching up as he tried to challenge a fake skeleton cat before him; he went as far as to slap it off the headstone and huff before returning to Arisu’s shoulder, grumbling about how he showed that spineless creature who was boss. Organized yet disorganized at the same time; a rustic graveyard, a neat arrangement of tombstones and skeletal arrangements, pumpkins with a ghastly grin, Heartslabyul definitely had their cards in a row.

The alchemy classroom was the next on the list as it was next door to the garden (actually, the only reason it was a few doors down was because one door led to the botanical garden, one that led to the storage room, and one to the classroom itself). Both took a chance to just take a peek through the window of the chemical storage and saw it looked more like a mad scientist lab than usual – somewhere in their hearts were screaming that this had Octavinelle’s dorm’s name all over it. A shake of the head and a sigh from Arisu, somehow, he shouldn’t be surprised; Azul was pretty shady to begin with and a mad scientist lab definitely screamed ‘Hey, I have a shady business at this school but you can totally trust me!’. Grim just huffed and urged him to hurry along before they missed dinner altogether. 

Arriving at the cafeteria, Arisu and grim made their way to their usual table – which had grown quite a bit over the two months; they had the Diasomnia Quartet (as Cater dubbed them), the Savanaclaw Trio (another name Cater came up with) The Peacocks (“Cater, do we need to have a talk?”), and of course the royal card court. All eyes were on him and Cater had pounced first; begging for Arisu to stand up and pose for the camera – no harm in that, he did a twirl here and there and tilted his hat down with a grin. Lilia was just cooing over how precious Arisu looked and making comments about sending pictures home – this just got Silver to groan and muttering under his breath about ‘Dad is doing it again.’ 

Taking time to look at the table, Arisu couldn’t help but to laugh and smile – his friends were definitely playing the part of their dorms’ theme; Heartslabyul were skeletons, he already knew about Diasomnia’s dragon appearance, Savanaclaw’s pirates and Pomefiore’s vampires. And in the center of it all was a handsome witch with a grey cat; it was an interesting setup but it was a charming one all the same.

“Seriously, how the hell did you pull off this last-minute?” Riddle demanded. “Sewing spell?”

Arisu shook his head. “Actually, Futuro did the sewing while I made the treats for Halloween night.” He explained. “I have quite the selection; almond spiders with caramel legs, shrunken head cider, and poisoned apples.” 

Epel nearly choked on his food. “I’m sorry what was that last one?”

“Poisoned Apples.” Arisu repeated. “They’re actually candied apples – granny smiths with the sweet exterior and black food coloring to give the ominous look.”

“Ramshackle’s going hard this year.” Jack grinned.

Lilia patted Arisu’s back. “Mhm! The Carol family’s Halloween always has a dessert station for the local children!” he praised. “Last year they made pumpkin spiced cookies and they were divine!” 

“Yeah well, treats are one thing.” Leona spoke up. “Don’ get me wrong, Ramshackle’s dragon setup is something – especially with you bragging about a moving dragon; that’s pretty damn impressive.” He leaned forward. “However, my dorm’s setup in the coliseum takes the cake – the only thing we used our budget for was for the tools to make it.”

Arisu raised an eyebrow at that. “What the hell did you do?”

Leona just answered by showing a picture of the setup to everyone at the table; jaws had hit the ground and all that Jack, Ruggie, and Leona had said were ‘That’s right, all handmade.’ The rest of the Royal Quartet just stared and glared at their other member; they weren’t surprised that the dorm went with pirates – but to go and build everything by hand?! Savanaclaw was definitely something else. The same was said when Cater was showing the other dorms; Ignihyde had commandeered the library into Pumpkin Hollow with a lot of magical engineering – well more on the engineering side; it had a movie studio feel to it. And then there was Pomefiore, the dorm that took the Mirror chamber as their own and …there wasn’t much change to it save for the ‘No Picture’ sign; after remembering the theme of the dorm, it dawned on them that the gothic room was fitting for the vampire aesthetic. 

“Question?” Arisu spoke up. “Uh…what about Scarabia?”

Ace blinked at him. “You…You saw it didn’t you? When you were at Sam’s getting your things?”

“That feral look was…oh…right they’re werewolves this year, a feral hut makes sense for the aesthetic.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Well, in any case, we’re ready for the event!”

Riddle chuckled. “Patience, Alice.” He scolded lightly. “Tomorrow is the start of the event; guests will be showing up, which means you are to be up bright and early for breakfast and to have your station ready.” He crossed his arms. “This is your first huge event with us and while here I forbid you from doing anything half-assed!”

“Well said, Riddle.” Vil agreed. “Are you sure you have enough spiders and treats, Arisu?”

“I bought out the entire store of their apples.” Arisu pointed out. “And all their almonds and other goodies.” He looked to Lilia’s direction and had a sheepish smile on his face. “I’m…sorry I put it on your tab…” he relaxed as Lilia just waved it off like no big deal.

“I’m not convinced.” Vil sighed. “Rook.”

Rook grinned. “Don’t worry, I’ll be popping by to check on Petit Lapin’s little dessert station.”

*

“Mom look! The dragon is moving!” 

Arisu smiled as a boy no older than nine pointed at the moving dragon at the archway; since the movements were random it always brought delightful scares (Earlier the dragon moved right at a guest with its mouth opened and caused them to jump into their friend’s arms).

“Happy Halloween, my pretty~” Arisu greeted with a creepy witch voice. “Can I interest you in some sweets?” he nodded to the table.

The mother looked at them and tilted her head; “I recognize the candied apples…what’s in those little bags?”

He held one up. “Almond spiders, no-one’s allergic right?” the headshakes were confirmed. “Alright; help yourself to a treat.”

“Do you control the dragon?” The boy asked.

“Alas, the witch has no hold over a majestic dragon.” Lilia appeared hanging upside down. “No, no, no, we.” He pointed to him and Malleus. “Control the witch.”

It was only ten in the morning and the school’s been abuzz with guests from all over! Little ones were in costumes and playing the role of a wicked witch teaming up with dragons was a lot of fun – almost like a little Haunted House setting! When it got to twelve noon, Arisu was shooed from his dessert station to make a lunch trip. The best thing about it all was that Grim and Arisu got to walk around the school with a pep in their step as they took in the holiday and seeing more guests walking around and pointing things out. The guests were probably the best thing about the event; seeing everyone of Twisted Wonderland visiting the school and looking with eyes shining bright.

“Alice!” Ace pounced and hugged him. “How are you holding up?” he patted his back.

Arisu laughed. “I had to run inside to get more spiders.” He smiled. “I’m on lunch break.”

“Awesome, you’re with Floyd, Jamil and I.” Ace linked arms with Arisu while Floyd did the same. “Come on, Jamil! We have food to get to!”

The Vice-dorm head sighed and put his phone away. The group was making their way over to the cafeteria while having small talk about whatever came to mind – well, they were mostly talking about the visitors from Twisted Wonderland as a whole and them visiting the remote island that the school was located on. If Arisu had to be entirely honest, with how big the place was it was hard to imagine that they were on an island. Alongside that, with how famous Vil was and the number of internet followers he had visitors would increase – of course, on the topic of such, Arisu had pointed out about Che’nya’s visit earlier. And it wasn’t just Che’nya popping up and swiping a candied apple while wishing the boy a Happy Halloween, there was another RSA student that had showed up before taking one of the poisoned apples – he did his best to describe him; black sailor hat, yellow sweater, and an innocently cute face.

Jamil just hummed and told him it sounded like Niege LeBlanche, but he couldn’t say for a hundred percent certain if it was the boy in question or someone dressing as him for Halloween. That was neither here nor there, they had more important things to get to; getting some food for the day – at least that was the original plan, they were sidetracked by leading a small child to the entrance to turn in her stamp card and to get a goodie bag from Jade. She had double the treats when she recognized ‘The Witch’ and thanked Arisu again for the candied apple earlier. A wholesome start to Halloween Week if they do say so themselves.

The next day was where things got…weird to say the least. When he came out in his new costume for the day, there were…more people than usual and some of those people left an odd feeling in him. Malleus and Lilia must have felt something similar since they took over the dessert stand and just told Arisu to resume his day as normal as he could – their serious tones were enough to get the point across. Taking Grim in his arms, Arisu made his way around the school with the uneasiness never leaving him once. His fury companion looked up at him confused and tilted his head in silent question about what that was all about, to which Arisu had no answer. They just finally decided on settling by meeting up with the bike club and do climbing exercises – one of their favorites, it was running up and down the stairs to get used to the incline and decline when it came to riding. And with Arisu’s goose gostume it was going to be even more fun.

“Hey! Ari!” Grim batted his arm and pointed to a figure stalking the halls. “Look! It’s that weirdo from the unbirthday party!”

Arisu blinked and looked over and saw a familiar purple haired student, his eyes lit up as he ran over to him “Che’nya!” He called. “Hey! Che’nya!”

Pausing in his steps, his ears perked up as Arisu ran up to him; once close enough, he turned and showed his teeth and…claws. Arisu paused and took a step back, when Che’nya got a better look at the strange person before him, he instantly relaxed with a soft sigh.

“Oh, it’s just Alice.” Che’nya smiled a little bit at him, his tail was still twitching though and his ears were still flattened. “How are you enjoying your first Halloween here?”

“It’s definitely something, Twisted Wonderland sure knows how to party.” Arisu admitted. “Well, I guess I should say Night Raven College sure knows how to party since I don’t know much of what goes on outside of school.”

Che’nya hummed. “Yeah? I’m glad you’re having fun, Alice.” He turned to leave. “Sorry for this, Alice, I have to meet with the Queen so I can’t play with you right now.”

“Is this about the current stream of guests we have here at school?” he watched Che’nya pause in place. “It is, isn’t it?” he sighed. “I’m sorry, I’ve noticed it too.”

Grim growled. “What’s going on!” he demanded. “Is this your school’s doing, weirdo!”

“Please, if RSA wanted to mess with this school, we’d go after that giant moon your Headmaster is so fond of – last year we painted a face on it and the entire place went into pandemonium with people thinking they were going to die.” Che’nya looked away. “Guess going the Zelda route was a bad idea…but no, what’s happening here is not us.” He motioned for them to follow him. “Come on, let’s talk to the Queen.”

Making their way through the halls and avoiding running into people; they’ve learned the following: Leona had an exhausted Ruggie beside him who was quick to hide behind the lion when people wanted a picture with them (That resulted in both of them trying to use the other as a human shield), the library was…well, if Idia’s orange hair and a smug Azul and Jade mummies were anything to go off of, something is going to happen there later on. And down a different hall were Trey and Rook leading someone to the Mirror Chamber – that one person had Che’nya in a relaxed state. 

Arriving through the Heartslabyul mirror, Che’nya went to the tea garden where Riddle was. Like the rest of the school; the dorm went all out on decorating their own set up just for their own pleasures. They were still sticking with the grave trending and there were some little skeletons in the rose trees. 

“Halloween crowd got to you, Che’nya?” Riddle asked. “What’s wrong?”

Che’nya sat down across from him, and let Arisu and Grim sit beside him. “Have you seen Magicam? Night Raven College is trending like crazy; congratulations by the way, this may be your most successful year yet!” he laced his fingers. “However, I can’t bring myself to be happy about the attention you’re receiving since the guests we have here are…Well, it is a time of hiding one’s true self after all.”

“I respect your judgement.” Riddle started off. “Believe me, Che’nya, I do – you always led Trey and I to the best places for festivities back home during this time when we were children and kept us from interacting with disguised…” Riddle paused. “Alchemi, are some of our guests’ ghouls in disguise?” he watched the cat slow blink and slow nod. “Alright, before any of us does anything we’re going to regret, this may just be a case of ghosts and ghouls just wanting to celebrate.”

“What does that have to do with the weirdo trying to attack earlier when Arisu approached?” Grim demanded. “He looked ready to claw him!”

“Huh, curious.” Riddle laid a hand on his chin. “Perhaps your insistence of you not being a cat is holding some value.” He straightened up. “Right, let me put this briefly; cats are incredibly sensitive to the other side – ghosts, vampires, ghouls, you name it and they’re going to identify it in a snap.” He added the snap for emphasis. “And since this is a time of year where we hide ourselves from such, they too hide themselves to blend with humans.”

“In some morbid way, this goes double for faeries.” Arisu said softly. “Lilia and Malleus were ready to jump over the dessert table and shooed me away from my station.” He played with a small spoon. “I think it’s safe to assume it’s the same for the beast people over at Savanaclaw…though that explains why Leona and Ruggie were trying to use each other as shields.”

Riddle let a soft laugh out. “In any case, we’ll wait for them to make the first move and we’ll act accordingly.” He cleared his throat. “On another note, Che’nya, will you be staying?”

“And be around the ghouls?” Che’nya stared at him. “No thank you, I think I’ll stay at RSA until the party begins.” He stood up. “I’ll see you on Halloween night.” He said, vanishing from sight.

Chapter Text

Like yesterday, Arisu was shooed from the dessert station that morning. With nothing much to do, he threw on an orange shirt that said ‘Laziest Costume Ever’ and a set of devil horns to go with school uniform and went off to class. Classes and clubs were short due to the Halloween Week, but it gave him something to do while he killed time before he and his friend group would hang around at some of the stamp rally locations or just find some place to goof off. 

Such was the afternoon today; Arisu had introduced his group to a game of Ultimate Frisbee, to them it was like Magical Shift without the brooms and magic, and the result was chaotic with a lot of tackling to the ground and rolling in the leaves. Their actions didn’t go without notice; two guests for the event had approached the group, one was underneath a dark umbrella while the other was out in the open.

Silver got up and brushed himself off before going over to the two students, after a brief exchange the group learned the two were guests at the school and were doing the stamp rally, they were actually making their way to Sam’s shop when they saw the group playing in the leaves and were curious as to what was going on. Arisu came up and told them that they were just having some fun and playing a few rounds of Ultimate Frisbee; he invited the two to play, but the guest with the umbrella declined while his friend agreed. The umbrella guest held both his card and his friend’s while the other went to play. 

Ruggie and Leona were stiff, but they didn’t say much and just instead resumed playing; it wasn’t until Riddle announced that it was time to head off to lunch that the group decided to break, they thanked their new player for the fun and the two guests just smiled and thanked them for the brief entertainment as they went on their way. Once the students were in the cafeteria, Leona broke the news that they were actually in the presence of a vampire and a werewolf.  Lunch that afternoon was rather quiet and tense. 

Sometime after Riddle and Arisu finished eating, the redhead took his hand and led him to the botanical garden; Cater and Deuce were just getting off for their break, Harlan and Tarrant would be coming in soon. Before they did show up, Riddle just took Arisu around and showed off some places that were going to be unveiled for the night before Halloween, telling him about their ultimate scare to get guests going – it was inspired by the haunted houses from Arisu’s home where the scares were a plenty, and the laughter mixed in with the screams of fright. The blonde laughed and smiled up at him, the plan sounded solid and he was excited to see it at work.

“This is what we were going to do; since we’re grave diggers, we have some open graves here and there and some of the Heartslabyul students are going to be in them and cry out to the guests to save them from being buried alive.” Riddle explained. “While we bury them and maybe advance to the guests to make it seem like we’re going to bury them too.”

“And this won’t interfere with the stamp rally?” Arisu challenged.

Riddle nudged him. “Come now, you know we wouldn’t do anything that would disrupt the plans. No, the guests will get their stamps before coming in to the haunted garden to experience the haunt itself.”

Arisu smiled. “It’s creative at least, then again I’ve been to a good number of haunts back home – state wide, it’s always an experience. I think Lilia still has some pictures of those days.”

“They sound like quite the place.” Riddle took his hand into his. “Next year, on a weekend mind you, I refuse to let you goof off on a school day, we’ll go to one of these famous haunts.”

A soft laugh. “You’re the second person to have asked that!” he smiled. “I wouldn’t mind either way, I think it would be fun sharing the haunted house experience with you. Next year it is – opening weekend, that’s going to be really fun!”

“Very well then, opening weekend next year it is.” 

The moment between them was interrupted by the sound of heels on the tiled floors. Riddle sighed with a brief annoyance as he took his wand out and made his way over to the sound, Arisu followed behind as he was curious – and concerned – for why Riddle was the way he was; the answer was just ‘I told Tarrant to forgo the heels with the Grave Keeper costume and he disobeys my orders regardless’. A typical rule breaker it appeared to be.

“Show yourself, Tarrant, let’s get your punishment over and done with so we can go about the festivities without issues.”

I’m ThE oNlY oNe WhO iS rIgHt

The voice made Arisu and Riddle freeze in their tracks; from the shadows a single glowing orb of red light appeared at eye-level. The sound of clicking heels only continued, and even got louder as the orb grew bigger. Out of the darkness stepped an eerily familiar figure: Riddle? Arisu looked from the figure to the boy beside him and back against with bewilderment. The two looked identical except for the fact the figure from the shadows was dripping with ink with a maddened look in his eye. If the blonde had to describe what he was seeing he'd say it was like looking into a mirror into the past, the past of the overblot. 

"Those who stand against me will all perish" the Riddle copy said stepping closer towards the pair as an axe manifested in its hands. "Though you... you I might spare" the fake said staring at Arisu with a lecherous grin. "After all you were a decent kisser, Disobedient Alice, that you are" the inky being said as it got closer and closer to the pair. 

"You stay away from him you cretin!" Riddle said stepping in front of Arisu protectively. 

"Why? You liked being kissed by him, didn’t you? You dream about It every night after all" the Riddle clone said tilting its head to the side. 

"What I like or don’t like isn't in question! I said stay away from him or I swear I'll burn you to ashes!" Riddle said grabbing his magic pen and holding it at the ready.

The overblot clone gave a shrill laugh and a crazed smile as he started to advance towards the duo; Riddle kept his word and shot a fireball spell at the being – a cry came from the creature as Riddle grabbed Arisu’s hand and ran from the garden. Neither of them looked back, even more so when they ended up barreling into Tarrant and Harlan – which in turn knocked into Leona and Ruggie. The jumble of students was quite the sight for the guests that were coming up the way. 

Leona was the first to untangle himself and brushed himself off, he turned to the guests and shot a grin. “And here you see two easily jumpy students. Halloween excitement can cause the nerves to skyrocket.”  He helped Riddle and Arisu up. “Sorry about that folks, let me get my younger classmates to a place they can calm down.”

Tarrant got up and laughed. “Come along everyone, we have graves to get you fitted into.” He led the group into the garden. 

Once they were safe and away from everyone else, Leona and Ruggie let go of the two boys and stared them down; seeing Riddle looking like he was ready to panic and Arisu trying not to break down, it actually hurt seeing them like that. Upon asking what the hell happened, his feelings had changed from concern over the Queen and Prey, and now panicking over the guests and the other students in the garden. Ruggie had immediately rushed over and went to investigate the garden; the guests were a little confused but made their way out and went to the Octavinelle’s set up. 

Tarrant and Harlan just stared at Ruggie and demanded to know what the hell was going on. The hyena told them what Riddle and Arisu told them; they had saw an overblot mirror of Riddle and that it had tried to make an attack on them. That got the two to move around the garden to see if the ‘Mirror’ was still around. No, the only evidence that something happened here was the singed floor from Riddle’s fire attack. With nothing else to do, Ruggie left the two Heartslabyul students and went back to where Leona was.

The sight of Leona holding onto Riddle and Arisu in his arms was a warm sight, he grinned and took a quick picture of them before going up and sitting before them as he let the group know what was discovered. The two’s account was proven to be true – to an extent; Ruggie confirmed that something had indeed happened in the garden if the fire spell was anything to go off of, after all, Riddle wouldn’t blindly cast spells without repercussions. With all said and done, Leona just told Ruggie to do whatever while he got the two to Ramshackle where ‘The damn lizard’ was. It wasn’t that the lion was terrible with comforting people; he was actually pretty damn good at calming Riddle with his purring, but with Arisu? He was still working on getting close with him, plus, Malleus was better suited in taking care of the ‘Sunflower’ than he would. 

Arriving at Ramshackle, Leona shook his head at the sight of everyone taking selfies with Malleus – after asking. Leona’s sharp hearing only caught Malleus agreeing only if they accepted a treat that ‘Sunflower’ made; of course, the dumb lizard would pull a stunt like this, why would he think anything different. With a scoff, the lion made his way over to the faerie and cleared his throat.

“Hey Lizard.” He called, ignoring the shocked reactions from nearby guests. “I have a job for you.”

Malleus looked over and his eyes flashed, glowing a bright green as he wordlessly walked over and took Arisu from the lion. “What happened?” he asked.

Leona spoke low, making sure no-one else heard. “They saw a ghost from the past – an overblot ghost.” He watched Malleus stare wide-eye. “According to Arisu, the ghost was that of Riddle’s Overblot form.”

“And needless to say, they were shaken up from the encounter.” Malleus finished. “Leona, when the event ends tonight, we’ll talk – The Royal Quartet will be at the wishing well along with the Sunflower.”

“Why the fuck are we bringing Vil into this?”

“Because he’s been starting to work with Arisu on his unique magic – you’ve already witnessed it firsthand.” Malleus hissed. “If we have to use it, we need to know the extent of the usage without harming him.”

Leona just growled at that but huffed. “Fine, and what are we going to do about the two?”

“Well obviously Sebek and Silver are going to be watching over them at Ramshackle.” Malleus crossed his arms. “We’ll take it from here, Wild Cat.” He placed a quick kiss on his cheek. “We’ll see you later tonight.”

*

The rest of the day went on as normal – well, as normal as it could be without the looming threat of a possible hostile ghost lurking around the halls. Leona had his own encounter, it wasn’t as stressful as what Riddle had to go through, if anything having the Mirror Ghost laying on his bed just pissed him off and as true cat fashion, didn’t want to move – even after he was forced off. It was more or less having an annoying housecat than a threat; one that just followed him to the meeting spot and laying under the tree while Leona waited for the rest of the group to show. 

Vil was the first to arrive, he was unnerved at seeing the ghost by the tree at first and only relaxed slightly when Leona told him to ignore the nuisance. Vil sighed and talked to Leona about it; the lion just shrugged and said he felt something cold and uneasy when he went to his dorm – that and the others were stressed and tensed about the feeling, he followed the cold trail to his room where he found the Mirror Ghost laying in his bed; the good news was that the dorm was at ease (in a sense, everyone was still on edge; but for the most part, the figure wasn’t posing as a threat so it just made things easier with them.)

 Just as they were getting into it, Malleus had approached the group with Riddle and Arisu (and Grim who was there for emotional support; the sight of the other overblot ghost caused Arisu to tense up again and the dragon arching down and getting ready to breath fire at the apparition. Vil quickly put a stop to that and told the trio what Leona had confided in him. 

It helped relax the group for a brief moment until the sound of heels on the cobblestones made their way over and a familiar inky redhead made his way over to the group; apologizing for being so late to the meeting, and patting Arisu on the head before taking his place beside the inky lion. This was going to be a long night.

“Right then.” Vil sat on the wishing well and sighed. “I had Rook take over my shift while I went ahead to look into the matter as you described; now before anyone gets hysterical about the limited knowledge, keep in mind that I have my ways.” He looked towards Arisu and Grim, narrowing his eyes. “And no, I will not disclose any information regarding that; I don’t entirely trust you two with that part.” He just watched them nod. “Regarding our…guests, calling them ghosts is both spot on and false; the more appropriate term for them would be shadows as they will only latch onto Riddle and Leona respectively.”

“Fuck, I already had to fight the bastard to get out of my room.” Leona groaned. “Wait, don’t tell me, they’ll fuck off after Halloween is over?”

Vil walked over and slapped him upside the head. “Language.” He scolded. “And no, as I just said earlier; they’re more like shadows.” He tapped his chin in thought. “Ink from an overblot is curious – not only can it corrupt the user, but it can also corrupt nearby objects and manifest into the shadow.”

“Would a rose count?” Arisu asked.

“Yes, if a rose is in contact.” Vil confirmed. “We’ll come back to that later.” His hand started to glow as he waved it, covering Riddle and Leona in a soft glow; there were blotches around them with Leona’s still looking like fresh ink and Riddle’s still fading away. “As you can see here; you’re both still healing from your encounters, you’re still resonating ink.”

“Which means they’re unintentionally calling the ghosts of the past towards them.” Malleus finished. “Is it safe to assume that once they recover that the shadows will fade?”

“Possible.” Vil said. “Given that they’re a part of the two, it’s also likely that they’ll remain and follow them like the shadows they are.” He shrugged. “As I said, the ink from a blot can manifest into a shadow but only if the residue lands on a nearby object; in this case, a stray rose got hit with Riddle’s ink…not sure what Leona’s could be.”

“Guitar.” Leona supplied. “The fucking twink slapped me in the face with one.” He growled as he was slapped again.

“Then when you two are completely healed; and I don’t mean physically, I do mean your mental health.” Vil narrowed his eyes. “You boys are still seeing Sir Terra and Doctor Crane about your current state, I hope.”

Leona just growled and Riddle just nodded. Vil sighed, “We’ll talk about that later.” He cleared his throat. “Now then, any questions?”

“Just one.” Riddle said. “Is it possible for Arisu to enter a Shadow’s room?”

“I’d advise against it.” Vil said. “But…if they’re a part of you they should have a room and a candle…” he sighed. “Arisu, make eye contact with one of them.”

There was some hesitance from the blonde and it took a lot of nerve to walk up to ‘Riddle’; he took a breath and locked eyes with him. What he saw next was…well, if he had to describe it, it was like respawning after dying in Bendy and the Ink Machine; it was just a swirl of inky mess, and the shapes and figures inside were contorting in painful ways. 

The only one that stood out in the mess were Riddle and Leona; while Leona was chasing off the writhing ink creatures, the Phantom Riddle stood off to the side seemingly uninterested in the suffering going on in the inky puddle before him. That was until a singular, elegantly-formed arm forced its way out of the chaos of half-formed bodies prompting the ink-covered redhead into action. The Phantom Riddle grabbed the hand at the end of the arm and pulled, drawing a tall figure out from the ink pool with the action. Ink dripped off the tall figure in fast-moving rivets until the excess was gone receiving the being's features. 

He was clothed in a long skirt of indigo, the train of it turning black with golden stars embodied on the fabric. The skirt was torn to the hip on one side revealing an interior of dark red and exposed that his legs were covered in high black stiletto boots with a pattern of golden peacock feathers wrapping his thighs and calves. Going higher one would see a golden corset with spikes at the base and a bodice of black with more golden detailing on the shoulders to match the corset. At his clavicle was an amulet of golden shaped like a bloom with a singular red gem polished to a shine and a stiff white collar around his neck.

His shoulders were covered with the same indigo material that made up his skirt and connected back to the train that trailed behind him. Ink covered most of his arms, all the way to his fingers which were capped with golden claws like a beast. Arisu's gaze finally reached the male's face which was framed by a long translucent veil down his back. The veil was held in place by a thick golden crown and a halo of golden carved to resemble peacock feathers down to having little blue stones embedded at the tips to resemble the eyespot of a real feather. But it was the face that held his attention captive, it was Vil's face staring cruelly back at him as the Phantom Riddle clung to his side cooing and kissing at the figure affectionately

Feeling a headache coming on, Arisu broke eye contact and backed away from ‘Riddle’; the shadow’s grin grew at the sight of the boy’s paled expression and had even approached him, cradling his face into his hand in an affectionate way. The real Riddle pulled Arisu away from him and held him close; Malleus approached and unfurled his wings to shield the two boys from the Shadows and looked over at Vil in silent question.

Vil sighed. “He overused his power.” He explained. “Arisu, what was it you saw?”

“An inky hellhole.” Arisu said with a shaky voice. “I now know how Alison Angel feels on a bad day.” He looked up at Vil with worry and concern. “Vil…I saw you in there…”

Vil took his pen out and handed it to Arisu. “Look at the gem, there’s not a speck of ink on it, are you sure you saw me in there?”

“I’m not lying! I know what I saw and I saw you in there!”

Leona looked over at Vil and snarled a little; “Now who’s talking about being hostile?” he challenged.

Vil rolled his eyes. “Again, there’s no speck of ink on my pen, if there was then we’d be in concerning territories.” He crossed his arms. “In any case, as I stated, these beings are nothing but shadows and should just be ignored while you’re on the path to recovery. Nothing more, nothing less.”

"As to be expected of you weak-willed mortals. So quick to turn on one another when the going gets tough." the Phantom Riddle said with a cackle. "My with such easily riled tempers I don't think it well take long for my beautiful beloved to manifest in this world as well" he added licking his lips lewdly. 

"Silence specter! Your words are poison!" Vil hissed rounding on the overblot ghost with his arm raised to strike. However, his hand never met its intended target, being stopped in place by Leona's fist wrapping around his wrist and forcing it back down to his side.

"Easy Queen-Bee, you really want to get in a fight with a ghost? I don't think so, it ain’t fucking worth it" the lion-beastman said with a shake of his head. Vil reluctantly grumbled his agreement with Leona's statement and turned his back on the inky redheaded ghost. 

"What a pity, I was so hoping you'd go through with your strike. I wonder if you hit as hard as he does. Alas I suppose I may never know" Phantom Riddle said with an overly dramatic sigh. 

"It's all too much fucking effort anyways" the Phantom Leona said finally speaking for the first time. He'd stood silently by the other ghost's side, occasionally nodding off before waking up with a start. "Why are we even here? Sooner or later they'll all crack anyways. Why don’t we just lay back and relax?" he said resting his chin on top of Phantom Riddle's head.

"What's the fun in just waiting around my pretty Tomcat? I do so hate boredom and waiting can incur such terrible boredom after all" Phantom Riddle replied reaching up to scratch behind the other ghost's ears to make him purr like a housecat.

Malleus sighed. “It may not be much, but I think Sunflower and I can make some charms to keep the specter pests away and at bay so no-one is tempted and that you two can heal with no problems.”

“They just have to heal and those ghosts will go away, right?” Grim asked. 

“It’s hard to say.” Vil said softly. “But, hopefully that’s the case, I will have to look more into this mess. For now, we’ll go with the charms. Can you have them made by the Halloween Party?”

“For you Beautiful, we’ll have them made the day before.” Malleus promised.

Chapter Text

Halloween night was here and it was going to be a wonderful night, Rook and Vil were going to make sure of that; of course, they did have the teachers around to make sure no-one was doing anything questionable, but aside from that they were going to send off this night with a bang. The two looked over their collaboration with Scarabia and nodded in approval, two themes joined together as one in perfect harmony – Kalim always outdid himself when it came to a party setting; and the huge grin he had on was enough to show his pride. The setup was perfect and all that was left was to wait for the party goers to arrive.

And arrive they did. It was a menagerie of costumes; some students and guests from the outside were going for classics while others went all-out. Of course, before their wonderful party had begun; Malleus had given Riddle and Leona their protection charms: amber stone filled with black salt and the petals of aloe plants held on silver chains, it did their job and the specters had yet to show up and crash the party. When the charms were given, they were able to put on their parade for the guests; grave diggers, mummies, werewolves, vampires, pirates, dragons, and pumpkin knights, and in the middle of the ship was a goose.

Arisu was wearing a bedazzled white corset top that’s been decked out in feathers and had wings attached to the arms and a feathered tutu – add in orange leggings and shoes along with a feathered headband that held his medium-long blond hair back. He did stand out, but he was representing Ramshackle – and Grim was wearing his adorable magician hat as they waved and tossed candy to the guests.

When the parade was over, Arisu had bounded over to the vice dorm head of Pomefiore, each step made the tutu bounce. “Good evening, Rook.” Arisu smiled.

“Bonsoir Petite Lapin.” Rook took his hand into his and kissed it. “Quite the costume you have on tonight, cher.”

Arisu’s smile grew, “Idia tried to talk me out of it.”

“I’m glad you didn’t.” he smiled. “Are you going to try for the costume contest later tonight?”

“May as well.” Arisu shrugged. “Put me down, I’m going to go dance.”

Rook chuckled and watched as Arisu joined the hoard of dancers by the stage where Kalim was on the DJ equipment; Idia was beside him and was sporting his pumpkin head and the two were able to make a legendary playlist – and turning the party into Pumpkin Hollow. Arisu was dancing in the sea of guests without a care in the world; this is what the doctor ordered, a time of fun and a time to put any worries aside – no finals preparation (even if finals were nearing, it was best to just have a night of carefreeness), no stress about someone OB’ing (okay, the Phantom OBs were still a concern, but they weren’t in sight so that meant everything was fine), no more restless nights. He was just lost to the music and the liveliness of the party – heck, even Grim was on the dancefloor, he definitely needed this dance too (and to dance off the pounds from the tuna cans he wolfs down constantly).

After a few songs in, Arisu made his way to the snack bar – he had helped with the treats earlier (Even with Leona-senpai’s reluctant help); he was proud of his creations in the candied apple department and even smiled when he saw some students eating some as part of their break from dancing. He settled with a slice of pumpkin roll and leaned on the wall, watching the rest of the party in action.

“Alice?! Okay, I could look past the witch costume, but…what the hell are you wearing?”

Arisu looked over to whoever said that, his eyes lit up as he saw Ace before him only to have his eyes widened when he got a better look at his friend’s costume; he was in a black leather vest showing off his chest, tight black pants, boots with a slight heel, leather wings, fawn horns on his head and a black mask that showed his red eyes. The only thing that gave him away was a hint of the familiar red heart he would have painted over his eye and that fiery red hair of his. 

“I’m a goose, isn’t that obvious?” Arisu grinned

“Yeah right, you’re a swan.”

“They may be of the same family, but they’re still totally different!” He huffed.

“Same difference.” Ace held his hand out. “Come on, let’s go find Deuce, he’s going to lose it when he sees you like that!” 

That led to being brought to the dancefloor again where they did indeed find Deuce dancing in something similar – he was a black swan (except the only difference is his feathers were just wings and he didn’t have much noticeable features, he really looked more like a fallen angel). The duo shook their heads and just continued to hang out with him after he had a moment where he thought his friend was a girl as well. Grim showed up sometime and climbed up on Deuce’s shoulder to catch his breath (“You guys do the dancing; I’m going to relax”). The music had cut to a halt for everyone to turn at the DJ where Idia and Kalim bowed their heads and snapped their fingers before turning the volume up when Bloody Tears came on, it got everyone to immediately get into an outer ring and to start the pit; it was a chance to showcase a lot of different costumes until the two changed their songs again.

Malleus had dragged a familiar goose to the center and spun him around. Arisu nearly lost his footing a few times since he was taken by surprise by being brought into a dance out of the blue like this – he just shrugged it off and continued to dance with the Prince of Thorns, after their brief dance he tried to return to Ace and Deuce only to be halted by a familiar twin (it took a while to realize the twin with the sharp smile was Floyd); said Floyd was in a grass-skirt and a seashell bra. Now don’t get Arisu wrong, he was fine with any and all costumes tonight, but…this was definitely out there. Looking to the crowd; most of Octavinelle’s students were still in their mummy gear, he didn’t get to take in the sight long before Floyd held him and danced with him, taking over the dance so Arisu didn’t have to do the hard work.

Ace and Deuce just gave a silent ‘why’ gesture to Floyd who just flashed a grin at them and spun Arisu hard enough that he went stumbling into their arms, he gave a few shakes of the hips before returning to the crowd. Arisu stood up and straightened himself out before taking Grim from Deuce and shooing his two friends to the dance floor where they were joined by Jamil (who was dressed as a snake charmer) and were in sync with each other – heh, perhaps he could try talking the three into starting a boyband group. Arisu giggled to himself at the thought.

“It’s really lively, isn’t it?”

Arisu turned and smiled at the person beside him; Riddle was in a red vest and had a headband with ears on. He raised an eyebrow but said nothing much to it. “Yeah, you can say that again.”

Riddle looked at him and had a light pink – it was from the stage lights, nothing more – before turning back to the group. “I have to ask, do mortal schools have something like this?”

“Eh, depending on where you’re from.” Arisu shrugged. “Small town and for some reason the DJ always play Cotton-eyed joe, strawberry wine, or some other country songs to go along with today’s playlist. The dancing varies.” Riddle just hummed at the answer, and Arisu had an idea. He grinned when he saw the center cleared up and he took the prefect’s hand into his. “Riddle! Come dance with me!” 

He didn’t give the red-head much to react before he pulled him to the center and got him dancing; just as they were getting into the upbeat fun, the song changed from Bloody Tears to a slower song and the lights dimmed so that the only light available were on Riddle and Arisu. Both were frozen for a while before Riddle cleared his throat and bowed at the waist, holding his hand to the other, Arisu took it and the two were led in a dance. It was a smooth jazz style and the song was actually being performed live – by the Leech twins which brought on a brighter blush from the two of them.

“There you see him,
Sitting there across the way
He don’t got a lot to say
But there’s something about him.
And you don’t know why but you’re dying to try
You wanna kiss the boy.”

Riddle was going to collar someone; he was going to collar those twins on the spot. Arisu was in the same boat, he was just freaking out on the inside at what the twins were up to. Something told them they weren’t going to let up until they did comply to the song; they would worry about that later, for the time being they just wanted to enjoy the dance together – even if it was weird that they were put on the spot like this. It’s just in the good fun of Halloween, something they could laugh off at a later date.

“Yes, you want him
Look at him, you know you do
It’s possible he wants you too
There’s one way to ask him
It don’t take a word, not a single word
Go on and kiss the boy (kiss the boy)”

“Let’s just go with a quick peck and they’ll end this.” Riddle quietly pleaded, Arisu was just in silent agreement and the two did just that. Quick or not, it did get the cheers from the room before the regular dancing resumed, both Arisu and Riddle were just a red mess when they parted from the group. 

When the calm started to settle, Vil came on stage in a peacock style suit; the coat tails fanned out to display the colorful feathers he had. He thanked everyone for a wonderful dance and that the costume contest was about to begin; it was a quick judge since it was mostly Pomefiore students and Arisu up on the stage – the goose was the winner of the night upon Rook’s insistence showing off how carefully crafted the costume was. Vil just rolled with it, it was decent for a first-year, it could use some work in his personal opinion, the final dance came and the night drew to a close

*
“Thank you for getting us back safe!” Grim purred.

Leona huffed and just set Arisu on the bed, he only took the boy’s shoes off and decided to have him get out of the costume himself when he woke up. He looked over at Grim who was kneading his bed on the cat tree and crossed his arms.

“It was just a final favor I owed him.” He grumbled.

Grim shrugged and laid down. “Yeah, yeah, I know.” He curled up and closed his eyes. “Happy Halloween Kingscholar-senpai.”

“Happy Halloween, Tanuki.” He made his way downstairs where Rook was; both seniors wanted to make sure that Arisu got back to Ramshackle without any problem and that was true, but there was another reason and being professional predators, they were going to look into something.

“They’re out like a light, hurry up and set those cameras up.” Leona ordered.

Rook sighed, “I didn’t want to have to resort to this…but it must be done.” He made his way upstairs. “Don’t let anyone barge in.” 

A small hum was all Leona gave as he stationed by the entrance in the lounge; during the little investigation of Magical Shift, Rook had stayed over at the dorm and had heard sounds from Arisu’s room, it happened a few times and when he came to investigate, he just saw Arisu standing in front a mirror with a dazed expression on his face. Sleepwalking it appeared to be. Now, why was Leona here? Because he was the reason behind the accidents during the Magical Shift Tournament preparations, so it was because of that is why he was here with Rook to look into the sleepwalking antics of the boy.

Rook had come down and gave a thumbs up as they walked out of the dorm; there wasn’t much for them to do tonight, it was time they had to get some rest of their own, especially since finals were creeping close.

Chapter Text

The autumn season was a blessing and a curse; it was making way for winter to arrive and that it was the start of new life. After all; nature was like a phoenix, dies in the cold and then when spring comes it rises again with rebirth. And this type of mentality is what happens when you grow up around the faeries, Arisu shook his head and clutched his coat tighter around him and Grim as they made their way to class. Even though Halloween was long over and it was only the second week of November, they were still coming down from their holiday high – and were still helping Diasomnia take down the decorations at their dorm, they were pretty certain that they were still missing some things and that there was probably a plastic skeleton hanging around somewhere in the dorm. 

That was that and this is this. As they reached their first class of the day, Arisu shrugged his coat off and just tossed it onto the desk before getting settled. Shortly after his arrival did Ace and Deuce enter and flop beside him with Ace on his right and Deuce on his left, Sebek was next and he took his spot behind Arisu and was between Epel and Jack. The first-year group were there – along with some of the older classmen as the years were mixed together. They had time before the bell would ring and during that time the small group would talk about whatever came to mind; Arisu and Sebek had brought up that around this time was deer hunting season back in Minnesota where Sunnydale was located, actually it’s been around since October but that was because of bowhunting season. Deuce had looked like he wanted to faint before Arisu had to confirm that because deer population is way too damn high and if they didn’t hunt that they would eat themselves out of their habitat.

That was the last thing anyone had managed to get out before the bell chimed and last-minute students were rushing in before Master Crewel walked into the room. He shrugged his own coat off and carefully hung it up on the nearby coat rod. Pointer in hand, he began the lesson of the day – a topic on poisonous plants and their identifying features and their after effects. With the topic of poison out of the way and with some time left over; Master Crewel began to announce that there was an event tomorrow; Happy Beans Day. Arisu had a small grin on his face as the teacher announced that teams were going to be given out; he was rather excited for this day.

“Hey.” Grim prodded at Ace’s arm. “What’s Happy Beans Day?”

Crewel looked over. “I should have expected the cat to be the ignorant one.” He shook his head. “Allow me to educate you; Happy Beans Day traditionally is held on February – however, this year, this school is doing thing a little earlier than expected.” His eyes narrowed slightly. “Anyway, the story goes A long time ago, there was a place in this land called “Happiness Valley”. There’s a reason the place was named “happiness”. The naturally rich, fertile soil…And there was a magic harp with a beautiful voice. The magic harp’s song brought happiness to all the people, animals… and plants that lived in the valley.”

There was a small groan from Sebek, he slowly raised his hand and sighed. “Crewel-sensei, can I be excused?”

“Are you sick?” Crewel asked, watching him shake his head. “No? Then stay put, pup!” he scolded. “Now where was I? Ah right; however, a jealous giant monster came to the valley and stole the harp away. But the instant it was taken, the plants and people began to wither away. Then, a farmer just happened to get his hands on some magic beans. Those beans were the magic “Happy Bean”! The beanstalk that grew from the Happy Bean grew up into the sky and to the giant’s home overnight. The farmer climbed up the beanstalk to recover the glorious harp, when the farmer returned, he cut down the beanstalk to get rid of the giant chasing him. And with that, Happiness Valley returned to its natural richness with the magic harp’s song–so the story goes. Taking back that which has been taken. Taking it back in full, in fact.”

Epel looked at Sebek. “Why were you insistent on leaving during the story?”

Sebek glared over to Arisu. “Because growing up, I’ve had to listen to that story over and over again every night!” he whapped the blond on the head when he saw that devious grin on his face. “Wipe that smirk off your face, human!” 

The rambunctious attitude died down when Crewel had slapped the desk with his pointer stick, silencing the classroom. “Before anything else, Arisu, Mr. Vargas wishes to have a word with you.” He watched the boy get up and Grim getting ready to follow him. “Ah, Ah, Ah! Grim! Stay!” he ordered. “Don’t worry about him missing the team assignment, he’ll get his role from Vargas.”

Grim’s ears flattened but just accepted it; Arisu had left the classroom and the rest of the class went by as normal; Crewel called up each class number and handed them their roles Giant or Farmer for the event. Grim was sitting on Deuce’s shoulder as he joined with Epel on the side, Sebek was with Ace and the four just proceeded to smack talk the other. It was going to be a capture the flag event and the spirits were high and pumping.

*

It was a ridiculous idea, but after reading the concept on paper it actually made the headmaster laugh so hard that he had to show Ashton it. At first, Ashton was hesitant about the headmaster interfering with a tradition that Night Raven College had for the longest time, but when he learned that it was a student that came up with the idea, he decided to read it over for once – like the headmaster, he was laughing so hard. It ended up as a little game of Telephone to the other teachers and they had discussed about it with the mastermind behind it all.

“If we’re going to go through with this.” Crowley started out. “It would be wise to give you your own team, thus I propose not only we have another student of this school, but I’m going to send out an invitation to our rival school. I do hope this won’t cause an inconvenience in your plans?”

The mastermind just shook their head and welcomed the idea, grinning at the thought of the chaos that would come with the arrival of an RSA student being a hinderance to both the Giants and the Farmers.

“And since you’re not using beans or capturing equipment, I’ve made sure to get everything your team would need.” Sam held up a box and opened it, showing a set of paintball guns and the balls needed. “Don’t worry, consider it on the house as a little gift for providing us entertainment.”

Grabbing one of the guns and a paint ball, they loaded it up and checked to make sure it was a good-sized weight and everything before shooting the ball into the wall. Swift and without a problem, a few more balls in and the multiple shootings went perfectly well.

“I can see the complaints this is going to cause.” Trein shook his head. “Yet, I’m actually looking forward for this, a few of the troublemakers need a good paintball to the stomach every once in a while.”

“And if Crewel were here, he’d say that wouldn’t be needed as he has his pointer.” Vargas shook his head. “So, headmaster, who are you getting from RSA?”

Crowley looked up. “Looking at their top stars in the athletic department, there’s one student whose nickname is The Captain.” He folded his hands. “He sounds quite promising and will be a perfect addition to the event.” 

“Tomorrow is going to be quite eventful.” Ashton chuckled. “You’re a crazy kid, but I guess that comes with being a student here.” He ruffled the student’s hair. “Better get a good meal and rest, you and your team are going to need it!”

Chapter Text

The rest of the day went by in a blur and it was the new day – the day of the competition. Everyone was gathered in the sports field as Vargas had the teams in two separate groups; Giants and Farmers, and the quest for the golden harp! Vargas was pumped and was getting everyone hyped up as he was explaining the rules; if a farmer gets caught by a giant they are out, likewise, if a giant gets hit by a farmer’s bean they were out.

“And one more thing before I send you boys out!” Vargas called. “There’s another team lurking on the grounds of this school; they are not on your side; they’re known as highwaymen.” He explained. “For those of you who don’t know what a highwayman is, they were people who would rob you on the side of the road.” He clapped his hands. “If you get hit by them, you won’t be out of the game, but you will be out of supplies!”

Ensuring everyone had their supplies, the teams were off with students running to their starting area. Already deep in the forest were the free for all team, the Highwaymen; the leader of the group was giving a brief rundown on who was who as well as which person was the easy target – though one knew already who was who, the other was actually a new addition to the team. Simple terms; beware The Royal Quartet, even if they are on opposing teams – if you go after one, the other three will come after shortly. And just go all out crazy with students who stand out like a sore thumb – in this case, those with oddly colored hair or beastmen. With the briefing over the trio parted ways and slunk in the shadows just as the whistle was blown from the sports field.

And the teams were off! The students ran to their starting area. Cater looked at his assigned starting point on his communicator. A-6 was the Ramshackle Dorm, right? Looking up to the old dorm. He saw Deuce and Grim standing there as well.

"Hey, guys!" Cater waved as he jogged toward them. "You're starting point is here too?" Deuce and Grim nodded. "Great. Since this is my third year of playing this, my great strategy is just to stick together. We only have limited ammunition, but we can get more at the supply point."

"But what about the other team that Mister Vargas mentioned?" Deuce asked. "He said that they can rob us."

"This is actually a new thing," Cater said as he opened his communicator, looking at the map for the important points. "There weren’t any highwaymen in my previous years. We’ll be fine if we watch out for them as well."

Grim’s ears were flattened as he sat on Deuce’s shoulder; “It’s still not fair that Arisu isn’t on our team!” he growled. “He said that he wasn’t assigned on the farmer’s team!”

Deuce patted his head. “Well, it may be for the best.” He reasoned. “After all, with his cute doe-eyed look he could get most of the others to show mercy and his team might win.”

“Ah…wouldn’t be so sure of that, Deucey.” Cater mused. “Remember what Malleus said? Sunflower looks tougher than he appears to be…he may lure the others into a false sense of security before going feral.”

With that said, they continued down the path they were on until the three of them were in the woods behind campus, which had the closest supply point. They were on the alert and strained their hearing to ensure that they weren’t hearing anything off. Nothing, just the cawing of the ravens, with a heavy sigh of relief, Cater patted Deuce’s back and told him he could get to the box. Surprised, Deuce agreed and made his way over to it while Cater quietly took Grim to a hiding spot nearby so they could watch over the scene from the shadows.

Unfortunately for them, just as they entered the wood behind campus, Ace was waiting there! Not a problem for Deuce though! The two friends, now temporary enemy, ran at each other, slingshot armed and trying their best to land a hint. Their chase brought them further into the forest, and while it was a perfect chance for Cater to take all the supplies, the moment he got out of his hiding spot, more members of the Giants’ Team had arrived. No one was able to make a move as there were screams.

Shortly after both sides looked to where the screams were coming from; they saw the trio return. Deuce immediately hid behind someone from the Giant team while Ace was using Sebek as a human shield as he kept backing away. “WE HAVE NOTHING FOR YOU TO STEAL!” He cried.

That was when they saw it. A girl in dark green camo clothing, long brown hair and jade green eyes. She had a smirk as she advanced with a paintball gun in hand and aimed it at Ace and Sebek. “So? I’m still going to shoot you two.” She said before unleashing a wave of paintballs onto them. 

She paused when she saw the supply box being surrounded by Cater and the Giants. “Oh! This makes everything better for me!” 

“Claire…please…” One student begged. “T-The game’s just started-!”

“You make it sound like that’s supposed to mean something.”

Screams had filled the forest that morning.

*
He wouldn’t deny it, he was pretty hungry right now. It was lunch time and the wind that blew his wavy reddish-hair wasn’t helping him either, especially since the wind carried a spicy scent; this was too easy, the scent was a little homing beacon for all to flock to. With a soft chuckle and glee filling his coal eye, he made his way up the steps and into the building where his prey was in wait. Several farmers sitting there with some cooking ingredients and a grill. 

"Hey, guys!" Kalim waved at approaching teammates with food in his hand. "Do you guys want some shawarma?"

"Don't mind if I do!" Grim just straight up joined in the feast. Cater and Jade turned at each other.

"This is uh..." Cater rubbed the back of his neck, clearly not knowing how should he react.

"Yeah..." Jade stepped back. "I need to leave for a bit, you stay here and think of something. The faster we can complete our objective the better."

He really didn't have any choice as Jade ran out and Cater joined in with Kalim, but politely refusing the delicious food. It was honestly really weird for Cater. Riddle would throw a fit if he knows that Cater was having a snack in a middle of a war.

Wars weren’t snack hour, that was for sure – especially with such a strong scent in the air, amplified as the shawarma cooked and lured various members of the farmer team into one area. Something didn’t feel quite… right. Not that it wasn’t in Kalim’s character – it certainly was – but the smell acting like a beacon towards the area was almost too convenient. Kalim wasn’t the type for traps, but-

“We found you, farmer team!”

Jamil came into view with various other members of the giant team; well, that made a bit more sense. So, it was all a ploy, then, to gather up one team and then take them out so they couldn’t capture the harp. Certainly not a bad idea, even if Scarabia’s vice hadn’t considered who else he could lure with a scent that strong. 

“I knew this would happen…” Cater muttered, Grim standing near him in shock, “That kind of intense scent is just calling ‘I’m over here’~!”

“Shawarma… kebabs, with the whole roasting spices and the meat, is the type of food you can smell even from a long distance.” Jamil remarked, clearly rather pleased with himself, “That’s why I went through the trouble of getting it picked out for Kalim, but… I didn’t think it’d be this good.”

“It’s a great plan, to be sure!”

There was a pause. Everyone in the area looked over, but Jonah seemed to be paying more attention to the kebabs than he was to the teams. There was confusion, several seeming to be attempting to figure out if he was on their team or not. Yet, they came up empty. Whose team did that guy belong to anyway?

“You aren’t…” Jamil started, confused, giving Cater and Grim a chance to slowly slip away from the scene.

“On your team? Oh, no, of course not. I’m just here for some of these.” He pointed towards the shawarma, “I’m not even from your school, actually. But…” Jonah pulled something out- a paintball gun. The realization dawned on the garden dwellers at once, but even if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t have made any difference. There was no turning back anyway.

“…I’ll still take you out. For my team.”

Shouts erupted as the paintball gun fired with reckless abandon, pelting everyone in sight faster than they could retaliate- only two figures slipping away in all the chaos, just managing to sneak out amidst everything. It wouldn’t make much difference, the screeches of casualties filling the air as the gardens were colored by various paintballs. An eerie silence fell over the gardens afterwards, the air creepily still as the smell of spices mixed with the harsh, chemical scent of the paintballs that had attacked both farmers and giants alike just moments ago. Looking down at the shawarma, Jonah noticed that it hadn’t been hit by the paintball assault. Still hot, too.

“I’ll be taking these for my team.”

Picking up the kebabs- one for each team member, plus himself- Jonah started leaving the gardens to find the rest of his team, only a few words left behind for the remains of the teams left behind in botanical gardens.

“Happy Beans Day~”

Chapter Text

Azul scowled when he looked at the chart; the number of Farmers and Giants were dwindling, he was still miffed that his team and theirs were always coated in paint. Whoever the Highwaymen team were, they were definitely a force to be reckon with; they were thieves, yet they never took anything from either the farmers or the giants, they just appeared and shot them repeatedly and then vanish.

Actually, now that he thought about it more, he found the pattern to be beneficial in a sense; if the giants were hit the camouflage would be rendered useless making it easier for the farmer team to attack and vice versa. They were just marking everyone, but for what reason? Azul looked to Jack, the only reason they had yet to be attacked was because of the wolf’s powerful nose, but even then…the numbers stood with three giants and two farmers. The odds weren’t looking too good for the farmers, which was good. However, that still didn’t stop the burning question that pestered him ‘what the hell were the highwaymen team doing? What did they gain from marking everyone?’

“Roi du Fort.” Rook approached him. 

“Rook, whatever can I do for you?” Azul looked up at him.

“I have the unfortunate news that some of our own were taken out by your righthand man.” Rook chuckled. “Of course, that was before we were shot from behind by one of the highwaymen, nothing was taken fortunately.” He sighed. “Ahh Jade-kun is quite the shooter with that bean shooter L of his.”

Azul’s eyes lit up. “I see…Rook, do you have an idea where Jade would set up to attack this coliseum from?”

The remaining Farmer team was before the gates of the coliseum; Cater was knelt down as he petted Grim on the head with a smile. The plan was simple; Jade was going to lure Azula way from the group, Cater was going to take the remaining farmers to tackle on the giants while Grim went for the harp. 

The plan was so simple, Jade had appeared at the sniping location that was the front of the school and circled the area a while to get a good vantage point for a good shot. As he wandered, he had found an ipod with a song loaded up into it and next to a sign that said ‘Play Me’; was this Azul’s way of mocking the Farmer’s team? Did he figure their plan out already?

“Fufu, so you are here, Jade.” Azul sauntered up to him. “The best vantage point as Rook had said.” His soft blue eyes landed on the Ipod. “What do you have there? A victory song?” he taunted.

Jade stared at him confused. “You…didn’t leave this here?”

Now it was Azul’s turn to be confused. “No, we didn’t leave that.” He picked up the note and looked at the penmanship, his eyes widening a little. “Jade…play the song.”

It was a cover of a song; three people were singing it. The first voice belonged to a girl “Ari’s got a quick hand; he’ll look around the room won’t tell you his plan he’s got a rolled cigarette.” Claire’s voice no doubt, Claire being one of their very few female students. “Hangin’ out his mouth he’s a cowboy kid.”

Another voice, a boy they weren’t familiar with. “Yeah, he found a six-shooter gun; in the headmaster’s closet in a box of fun things and I don’ even know what. But he’s comin’ for you, yeah he’s comin’ for you.”

The color drained from both Octavinelle member’s faces. Azul had finally pieced everything together; Rendering the camouflage uniforms useless, thinning the numbers, leaving this taunting message at the front of the school. The two decided to team up for now and hurry to the coliseum before the final piece was set in place.

Claire and Jonah were relaxing before the group; they weren’t doing much and their paintball guns were to the side. Everyone was on edge as the two highwaymen hadn’t made their attempts to shoot anyone – not that it would make much sense, everyone was already here! 

“DON’T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE HARP!” Azul cried

All eyes were on the tired prefect and vice prefect, the pieces slowly coming together.

“But we have the two cornered!” Cater pointed to the two highwaymen.

“There’s a third!” Jade cried.

“A…Third…?” Jack choked out.

That’s when it happened, someone whistling a tune before it changed to words. “All the other kids with the pumped-up kicks, better run, better run, outrun my gun.” Cater and Grim felt color drain from their faces, they knew the voice. “All the other kids with the pumped-up kicks, better run, better run, faster than my bullet.” The familiar blond hair emerging from the shadows, a devious glint in those golden eyes.

“A…ri…su.” Was all that came from Grim, watching as his human was armed with three paintball guns; two on his leg belts, and one in his hands. 

The final looks of him before the coliseum was erupted into chaos.

*

“The victor of this year’s Happy Beans Day is…THE HIGHWAYMEN!”

The groans of frustration and screams about a rematch were ringing through.

“Hey, I told you there was a team of thieves.” Ashton reminded, watching everyone settle in disgruntled acknowledgement. “Special thanks to the mastermind of introducing the Highwaymen aspect to Arisu Carol.” He patted his back. “Thanks for the entertainment, kiddo”

“ARISU YOU TRAITOR!” Ruggie growled, watching as Arisu just gave the middle finger.

“And the MVPs for the Highwaymen team were Claire and Jonah; you two get the prize for this year.”

Jonah bowed a little. “Thank you, Mr. Vargas, it was an honor being a part of this year.” Jonah flashed a grin at the others. “Hopefully, we get this again next year!”

“A’right, everyone’s had a long day; head on back to your dorms and relax.” Vargas called.

*
“Hey Arisu.” Grim watched his human. “Did you really come up with that idea?”

Arisu nodded and got into clean pajamas for the night. “Yeah, I’m more surprised the headmaster had agreed to it.” He laid on the bed and smiled.

Grim laughed and laid next to him. “Well, it was fun all the same!” he curled up and purred. “You’re one crazy mortal and I’m glad for that.”

“You’re just saying that because I’m the only one of us who will do crazy stuff without Riddle coming for my head.” He smirked

The cat growled. “Shut up and go to sleep.”

Arisu chuckled. “Good night to you too, Grim.”

Chapter Text

It was official; if this kept up then Arisu would be able to travel around the world without worrying about finances or proper documents. He found himself sitting on a small raft in the middle of a storm, despite the harsh winds and choppy waves, he was sitting steady. Before him he saw a ship get hit by lightning and the crew were scattering to get into lifeboats; there was one who went back to save a dog – thankfully the good boy made it out alright. The sailor however, he was hit by some debris as he was diving into the water. Arisu was close to diving into the water to try and save him – phantom appearance be damned; he wasn’t going to let someone drown.

Thankfully, he didn’t have to; he saw a mermaid save him and take him to shore. He was alive thanks to her, and it was love at first sight for her. Arisu smiled and laid back on the raft to watch the scene before him; she was singing to him and helped him come to, and just in time as someone came to collect the sailor – no, to collect the prince. A mermaid falling in love with a prince; it was actually sweet. 

Waking up, Arisu stretched and made his way down to the kitchen; Grim was sitting on the coffee table in the lounge looking over a notebook and muttering to himself, the ghosts were out and about doing their own thing, and Arisu was starting the morning with studying and have a cinnamon roll for breakfast; there was no point in going to the cafeteria since everyone and their brother is bound to be hold up in their rooms and studying like crazy – finals were around the corner after all and the tension was high. Though a studious one, Arisu wasn’t too worried about it; far from it actually, he took amazing notes and would attend after school tutoring sessions with Riddle, Trey, and Cater – among others that were there as well; it made studying all the easier whenever testing days were creeping around the corner.

Setting his plate on the table, Arisu grabbed a can of tuna from the cupboard and opened it – Grim’s nose twitched, but he remained in the lounge and stayed there even after his human brought the food and set it by him. “So, for the application for this problem… If 2 choices remain, I simply…” he continued to mutter into his notes. Seeing Grim not jumping at the tuna first chance he got was a sight to beheld. Arisu grinned and took a quick picture before uploading it to Magicam and captioning it as ‘The end of the world is here’ – he giggled quietly and turned his phone off before going back to his own breakfast. The moment of quiet was short lived, the main door was heard opening and a set of footsteps made their way to the kitchen; Arisu looked up to see Rook, Leona, and Riddle staring down at him, he may be feeling good this morning but he certainly wasn’t awake for whatever Rook was selling today.

“I’m not sharing my cinnamon roll stash.” Arisu warned. “They’re what’s keeping me sane for finals.”

Rook shook his head and sat across from him. “We’re not here for that, Petite Lapin, we’re here for you.”

“What do you mean?” he took a bite of his roll.

“He means about you sleepwalking, Arisu.” Riddle spoke up. “I knew you were having problems with dreams, but sleepwalking?” He nodded to Rook who brought up a replay of last night’s events; Arisu getting out of bed and walking up to a mirror with a dazed expression on his face.

Arisu wasn’t entirely amused that they had to breach his privacy like this, but…the sleepwalking part was concerning to him. He just looked up at his seniors with a silent confused look on his face; how long has this been going on? 

Taking in the confused look, Riddle sighed and closed his eyes; “Interrupted sleep.” He said abruptly. “Stress, anxiety, changes in sleep environment or different sleep settings.” He listed. “To name a few reasons why one would sleepwalk.” He laid a hand on his chin; “Of course, self-treatment is going to be difficult; Terra is the best in the field so talking to a professional has been in place…I don’t entirely trust Grim enough to be responsible in leading you back to bed, so we’ll have to ask the ghosts to do this.”

“The fuck? When did you become an expert in this?” Leona demanded.

“My parents are semi-famous healers.” Riddle sighed. “There is a small number of things I’m grateful for in that family and that’s being able to try and help where needed.” He looked at the blond before them. “A part of me is tempted to have you stay with us at Heartslabyul but if we do that that might worsen the condition.”

“You said stress might be a factor.” Rook reminded. “Perhaps previous cases were due to stress; him, Monsieur Heart and Monsieur Spade were on the verge of expulsion – yes, cher, I’m aware of what happened; it’s impossible to get anything by me.” He looked at Arisu. “Then there was the incident at the Unbirthday Party, Magical Shift had to be stressful as well given that friends were getting hurt…and now here we are with finals.”

“Relaxing before bed can help a lot too.” Riddle brought up. “So; this is what I propose as Arisu’s seniors-”

“Excuse me? When did you become my sleep doctor?” Arisu demanded. “Look, it has been a stressful year so far, I’m not going to lie; but when finals are over, we can go back to a normal cycle and we won’t have to worry about anything!”

“He’s right, after finals we’ll be working on preparing for break.” Leona pointed out. “Let’s just have the ghosts guide him back to bed for the finals week and then when everything is said and done, he’ll be back to normal.”

Riddle crossed his arms with a small huff. “Very well.” He looked to the lounge. “Your stray’s been pretty quiet lately…”

“Yeah, he’s been studying…which is a surprise.” Arisu finished off the role and put the empty plate into the sink before getting a glass of juice. “Let’s go collect him and head on to class.”

*
The saying went ‘It’s easier said than done’ for a reason; arriving at the school was the easiest part of the whole ordeal, the moment everyone was in their assigned classes for the first day of finals was another story all together. The entire week had something for everyone; there were stories from the second-years that Ruggie just started howling with laughter during the history final and he was a few seconds away from going entirely feral – everyone nearly had a heart attack when he started laughing; Mr. Trein hardly batted an eyelash at it and just stared at the hyena boy and calmly stating that at least one Savanaclaw student loses it around this time. 

The same thing had happened over at alchemy where a third-year stood and held an apple in hand before loudly declaring that everyone was going to pass before taking a bite out of it – the attempt to recreate the Queen’s Apple was foiled, Master Crewel had at least one student trying a stunt like this and would give a recipe for a calming potion instead so the student would be in a tranquil state and have a clear head to work with. Heck, it was why he had those bottles out for students to take a drink from and go through the rest of finals without the unneeded stress. 

As for the first years; Jack, Epel, Ace, Deuce, Grim, and Arisu; things were a different story. When they had their history finals, Arisu and Epel stared their teacher in the eyes as they took their I-pods out and started up their music to work with; when offered about the extra credit by performing the current song playing on the playlist, they went for it – Epel had Jose Cuervo playing and he added his own dance number to it; Arisu’s song was a little on the ‘risky’ side with Madness of Duke Venomania. The look of death in their eyes as they just did it without fear was enough to let the other students know how done they were with finals.

It went even to alchemy and hearing those fateful words from Master Crewel were the bells of sweet relief. “Time is up, you dogs.” He said sternly. “Put your pens down obediently, and pass your answer sheets forward. That concludes all of the written exams for this class.”

“Oh, thank the heavens above!” Jack threw his arms in the air. 

“Salvation is here at least!” Epel hugged Arisu.

“Sit!” Crewel snapped. “It’s still too early to celebrate, all the bad boys that will get failing marks will be taking remedial classes over Christmas break.” He pointed the pointer at the class. “I will whip you into shape, so be ready.” He stood straight. “Class dismissed.”

No need to tell them that twice; everyone just barreled out of the classroom and hurried out. The fresh wave of freedom was gracing everyone as they made their way to the dining hall to get something to eat – after a long and stressful week of finals, most everyone neglected the basic diet and switched up for something equally unhealthy as staying up all night. With the group together at the usual table – actually, the usual table grew lately; before it was just the Heartslabyul quintet, Grim, and Arisu, then they added Jack, Epel, and Rook to their ranks, and now…Leona and Ruggie were with them. The table was growing and it was something else.

Arisu just shrugged and brought out a Tupperware box; “Well, since I’ve made more than I need; why don’t we have celebratory cinnamon rolls.” He offered.

“Alice-chan is so considerate~” Ace hugged him and took one. “Finally, some food!”

Leona ruffled Arisu’s hair. “See? Finals are over, you’ll be getting a good night’s rest in no time.” He grinned and took one. “Take a page from his book, herbivore, listening to your seniors is beneficial to your health.”

“Whatever you say.” Ace sighed and ate his cinnamon roll. “What the hell is everyone going to do now? I mean, we’re freed to whatever we want and I’m going to be playing basketball until I drop.”

Riddle shook his head, “I’m going to be taking Arisu on hedgehog duty before Leona drags him off to get a well-needed nap.”

Ace fell silent and looked at his friend. “Arisu…what happened this time?” he took out a familiar book

“Good question; I was on a raft in a storm.” Arisu shrugged. “Out on the ocean blue.”

“Oh good, something else; To dream of an ocean represents powerful uncertainty in your life. Confrontation with negative situations or negative emotions. Your biggest struggles or most baffling challenges.’ Right, that’s not foreboding at all.” Ace huffed and put the book away.

Deuce just stared at him, “Why do you even have that dream book to begin with?”

Ace had a defeated look in his eyes, “Because this saved my life when it came to extra credit assignments; just write down what each symbol in dreams mean and get fifty extra credit points.”

Riddle pinched the bridge of his nose after hearing that. “I’m not going to ask…if I don’t ask, I’ll stay in blissful ignorance.” Trey just rubbed his back and nodded in silent agreement, Cater just gave a thumbs up as well.

“Ignorance is bliss, so they say. “Malleus agreed as he sat beside Riddle. “Of course, ignorance is quite deadly should there be a venomous snake lurking in the roses.”

“Thanks for ruining the mood, dumb lizard.” Leona growled.

Malleus just shrugged and looked over at Arisu. “Are you sleeping well, Sunflower?”

“He was sleepwalking again.” Rook confirmed.

“Again?” Malleus turned to Arisu, narrowing his eyes. “If memory serves me right; this would be the…seventh time now?”

“Seventh?!” Vil turned to Arisu. “Alright, talk.”

Arisu fell silent for a brief minute before letting his shoulders drop. “Lately, I’ve been having dreams; they would be of the past – the first set of dreams were of the Queen of the Hearts, and the second set were that of the King of Beasts.”

“And now you have an ocean-based dream.” Ace finished. “Is this his freaky eye magic again?”

“They sound more like oracle visions.” Vil informed. “But if the first sets were of two of the Great Seven.” 

“Ursula wasn’t there last night.” Arisu brought up. “It was a storm and I was on a raft.”

Vil just hummed and let the topic drop there for the time being, there was a silent agreement before everyone went about their usual conversation pieces before they would part for the rest of the day; Deuce went to the track-meet, Ace went to play a few rounds of basketball, and Arisu was led to Heartslabyul with his small group; he waved the others off who went to do their own things.

Chapter Text

Upon arriving at Heartslabyul, Arisu was at ease when he was with the hedgehogs – it was relaxing and he always giggled whenever he would watch them eat. Quiet and lazy afternoons like this were needed after everything that’s been happening at the school, and Arisu was ready to just pass out asleep while holding the little blue hedgehog in his hands – he was definitely going to get a pet hedgehog when he returned home, Shiro could use a friend.

The thought of returning home brought Arisu back to full consciousness, he sat up and looked over to Riddle in silent concern; winter break was coming up and…he didn’t really want him to return to that prison – even if it was only for break. It would have to be something to talk about at a later date; tension in the school was high enough as is and there was really no need to bring it up now and cause more sleepless nights. 

“Ah~ Freedom at last~” All eyes were on the new comer, Che’nya had made another appearance as he was laying on his back and using Trey’s lap as a pillow. The strange boy smiled up at the others. “No doubt everyone will go back to a healthier lifestyle; no more instant noodles and three in the morning stress studying.”

Riddle looked over at him and sighed; “Trey, we’ve talked about this; you can’t just keep feeding strays.” He crossed his arms. “Che’nya, what are you doing here?”

Che’nya grinned at Riddle. “I’m just here to see how your Alice is, Riddle~ Finals may be over but that doesn’t mean he should start celebrating soon.” He got up and poked Riddle’s nose. “After all, test scores have yet to be announced and they could make or break a student.” He stood up and stretched. “I have to go now, bye bye~!”

“Is he always like that?” Cater asked

“You have no idea.” Trey said with a sigh. “There’s more to him than being a cryptic case, but…as a familiar cat would say ‘The Cheshire Cat knows all but doesn’t tell all’ and it sadly applies here.” He looked over at the dozing boy nearby. “We should get Arisu to a bed.”

“’m fine.” Arisu muttered.

“We know you are.” Riddle gently removed the hedgehog from his arms. “But, surely just laying on a bed is much more comfortable than the ground.” He smiled as Arisu just whined a little. “Thank you, for helping out Ari…” a tired thumbs up was all he got.

*
It’s been a week since the finals; Arisu was walking with an extra pep in his step, he’s been getting a goodnight’s rest and there hasn’t been a case of stress hitting him since finals. He was able to relax more and the cases of sleepwalking had diminished greatly! Earlier today he got to watch a brief show of Ace and Grim going at it again, the odd thing about the particular show was that they swore they were going to use magic but they immediately stopped themselves before parting from the fight, it was a strange sight to behold but…Arisu wasn’t going to worry about it – perhaps after being scolded by a teacher one too many times finally caught up to them. It was hopeful thinking at least. 

Alchemy was the only other class he had to go through to get his final test papers from Master Crewel. Tension was hanging as the teacher walked in with the test scores in hands. He turned to the students and narrowed his eyesas everyone was still talking with friends. “Alright, you dogs. It’s time for class to begin. Sit obediently at your desks and I’ll start distributing your test papers.”

Epel folded his hands together and took a breath; “I’ve accepted my fate since day one.”

Grim was sitting on the desk, arched and ready to pounce. “Test results, come to papa!”

“Grim, stop fussing!” Crewel ordered. “Stay, boy, stay!” he watched as the creature huffed and sat upright. “I’ll start calling your seat numbers, so come up here and get them. Number 1!”

The funny thing about this was that it was supposed to be the most stressful of times and most students would be walking forward like they were on death row. Lately, everyone’s been holding their head high and proud with a confident air around them; Arisu shook his head, either this was a false bravado or people were realizing that going down a drastic route wasn’t the way to go about it. He went up and collected his test score and took a breath before looking at it before grinning to himself; 90!

“92 points!” Ace jumped from his desk and punched the air. “Celebration at Arisu’s!”

“Nice job, Ace!” Arisu showed his friend his paper. “You actually got two points more than me.” 

“88 points!? To think that the day I would get over 80 would come…” Deuce leaned forward and hugged Arisu. “Alice is our lucky charm, no-one else can have him!”

Epel shook his head. “79…and as I said, I’ve accepted my fate ages ago.” He looked at Deuce. “You mind letting him go?”

“No!” Grim pounced and climbed under Arisu’s chin, he placed his test scores on top of the boy’s “Look Ari! I got 85 points!”

Master Crewel had to chuckle at the antics of the friends, they had studied pretty well this year – yet compared to the quiz they had…strange enough everyone in first year scored an average of 90 in alchemy and history. It was a little suspicious but what could be done? Everyone studied hard, there shouldn’t be anything to be concerned about. He called attention to everyone and began the lecture of the day.

With class over for the day; everyone was gathered in the halls and looking over the top 50; the expressions started from worried and some were turning into a relieved expression, others were freaking out whenever they came across number 13 and the begging started – only to finally thank whatever deity they were praying to that they finally found their name. Arisu looked at the board and stared in disbelief; number 13 on the board was his name, now he was just confused why students were having a meltdown seeing his name on the board. Even Ace was paling when he saw Arisu’s name on the 13th slot, he looked at him and had a nervous smile.

“Wow! Number thirteen on the board!” Ace praised.

Arisu shrugged. “I mean…I wasn’t expecting that high on the list, but…Riddle, Trey, and Cater’s been amazing tutors after school.” 

Grim was sitting tense on his shoulder. “Well…you know what they say about the number thirteen, you’re really lucky!” 

“Come on, you guys did pretty good too.” Arisu moved back to the board. “I’m sure your names are on here somewhere.” 

“10, 20…none!” Grim was starting to panic. “48, 49, 50…none! My name’s not here!”

“Mine’s not here, too.” Deuce was paling.

“This is bad!” Grim held his face. “If I’m not in the top fifty, I’ll be breaching the contract!”

“Contract?” Arisu repeated with Ace and Deuce. 

“What contract?” Arisu demanded. 

“You…You signed a deal with him too, Grim-!?” Ace choked out.

“Ace, that look on your face…” Deuce was another shade of white.

“What the hell did you three do!?” Arisu cried, he watched as they stuttered out a reply and paled ever so slightly when he saw anemones on their heads. “Oh my god, you guys didn’t…tell me you didn’t meet with the school’s mafia!”

It wasn’t just them, there were other students who were in the same boat; Arisu watched as everyone who had one of those anemones on their heads being pulled away from the halls. He held his forehead and sighed, what the hell did his friends get into this time?! He looked up and saw Epel and Jack approaching him, he gave them the brief rundown before taking his phone out and sending a quick message to Riddle ‘Ace, Deuce, and Grim did something stupid again; shouldn’t take me too long to get them out of trouble’. With all having been said and done, the three turned and walked after the group, silently following them to get more information about the current situation. 

No wonder everyone was walking with a confident air when it came to collecting their test scores; so many people made a deal with Azul Ashengrotto to pass the finals! It probably wouldn’t really be much to go off of, but Arisu was going to get those idiots out of the prefect’s grasps; his plan on doing so…he would figure something out when he got to that bridge. For now, he just led the charge into Octavinelle where he was still in awe at how the place was completely submerged underwater and one could still breathe under it, but now was not the time to enjoy the scenery.

Coming to the Monstro Lounge, the anemone students were standing before a stage where Azul Ashengrotto stood with the twins beside him. He grinned at the students and tipped his fedora to the students in greeting before speaking out to them. “Well, well, if it isn’t the unfortunate students who couldn’t make it to the Top 50. Welcome to Mostro Lounge, I know that you all are already familiar with me, but let me introduce myself once again; I am Azul Ashengrotto. I am Octavinelle Dorm’s Prefect as well as Mostro Lounge’s manager. And now…Starting today, I will be your Master.”

“What did he say?” Jack hissed to Arsiu.

Epel stared with his jaw to the ground. “He…He can’t be serious.”

“You lost a bet against me.” Azul continued. “And according to our contract, all of you.” He pointed to the anemone crowd. “Will be working under me as my servants until the day you graduate.”

“Wait right there!” A student cried. “This is a scam you know!”

Azul looked over at him. “Ah? You’re Ace Trappola, a first year.” He sauntered over. “My, what a rude accusation. I believe that I gave you the perfect test notes just like I promised in our contract. You should have scored more than 90 points if I remember correctly.”

Ace flinched a little. “Well…Yeah, I got 92 points.”

“What wonderful news! I’m happy to have been of help to you.”

Grim growled, he was on Ace’s shoulder. Ace continued “How was I supposed to know you would give the same notes to everyone here!”

“I second the argument” Deuce chimed in. “Even if we received the notes, there’s no way all of us could place in the top 50!”

“If everyone got more than 90 points, getting 85 points and below is just like failing, yanno!”

Azul just humed. “I believe there’s this thing called client confidentiality…there was a little stipulation written on page 127 of our contract under the fine print; In place of my giving you the test notes, you are to surrender to me the one thing that you hold on to proudly; if you manage to be in the top 50 you get to keep your magic and I will be giving you the test notes until your graduation. However, if you did not make it to the top 50 you will be working with absolute submission under me as my servant.” He recited

“That’s-!” a student from Pomefiore choked out.

“A lock of your hair was part of the collateral too, correct?” he watched the student flinch. “In other words, whether I return your magic or not, it is completely up to me.”

“This…This can’t be legal!” Ace cried.

Azul chuckled darkly. “You’re locked up and I’ve got the key, you know that you must obey me, darling.” He grabbed Ace by the tie. “You say “Stop!” Are you kidding me? Won’t you cut it out, you’re the one cruel to me.” He smirked and moved back to the stage, making sure to gesture to everyone with an anemone on their heads. “These wishes feel the same, oh can’t you taste the irony, everyone wants that one thing - it feels so mechanical.” A snap of the fingers forced everyone to their knees. “They're bowing at my feet; here comes the next to go, welcome to the show!”

There was such thing as being cocky, Arisu huffed and took advantage of the stunned silence from the students. “You’re definitely the ‘king’, Prefect.”

Eyes were on him now, and Azul’s smirk had yet to fade. “Oh my? Is that ‘lucky 13’ I see with us?” he chuckled. “Mr. Carol, it’s wonderful to see you in our lounge again, though I must say…hearing you call me ‘king’ is something new, not that I’m complaining one bit of course.” 

“Don’t flatter yourself.” Arisu snapped.

Azul smirked and got off the stage once more and made his way over, taking Arisu by the chin in his gloved hand. “Oh Arisu, I don’t seem to have even a single wish that’s new; still the same thing and it comes without a warning, warning. All I seem to have is just this single wish for you it’s the only thing left that I can do.” He held Arisu’s hand and swung him from side to side. “Left side, right side” he tilted him back. “Let me see you show your fangs!” he pulled him up and held his uniform’s tie, giving it a few gentle tugs. “Pa! Pa! Pa! Your collar's tightening.” He let go and spun him before swinging him again. “Left side, right side.” Another tilt to the back. “Let me see you show your fangs.” He let go of him and let him stumble into his friends. “Haha, you are King.” He gave a mock bow.

Arisu shoved him away and putting some distance between them caused Azul to laugh at his expression. “Acting oh so innocent; you are my sin, my darling darling - laughing out so cool again, all of the pain is blown to bits.” He straightened himself up and gave a light shrug. “You see, my dear, I’d die for you; I feel these bitter feelings fading Lo-lo-love Lu-la-la-la, I hate, I hate this ache, I’m breaking down breaking down.” He noticed the blond wasn’t reacting as much, lowered his head slightly and tilting his fedora with a scowl, if this was the game he was going to play, so be it; “Always seem to have only a single wish that’s new Still the same thing and you can’t pick up my warning, warning. All I seem to have is just this single wish for you, there’s only just one thing to do, brace yourself for all my love’s attack now.”

Azul straightened up and snapped his fingers. “The rest of you get to work.” He ordered, watching as the anemones dragged the students, he turned to Arisu. “As for you, let’s head into the V.I.P lounge to chat.” He turned to Epel and Jack. “Your friends can help the others while we attend…business.”

Chapter Text

Arisu kept his head high as he was escorted to his seat across from Azul who had a little dinner set-up; the ‘charming’ smile he had didn’t really match the mood he was setting between them; the intent was clear in his eyes ‘Drop your guard around me’. That wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

“How nostalgic; lobster bisque, chocolate strawberry brownie, and a glass of water – Your first order when you came to our lounge after having a miserable day.” Azul held his chest. “It broke my heart seeing you in such a disarray that I absolutely had to help you.” He smiled ‘sweetly’ “And now here you are, looking for my assistance yet again.” His smile fell. “Of course, the last few times I was generous in not charging back then, that changes now; no more freebies, Mr. Carol, I have a business to run after all.”

“I wouldn’t ask for anything less.” Arisu took the glass and took a sip from it. “When we first met, you told me you could grant any wish from money to everlasting glory.” He watched as the grin return to his face. “Could you really grant my wish, no matter what it is?”

Azul chuckled softly. “My dear, sweet, child; that’s what I do, it’s what I live for, to help unfortunate students like yourself.” He folded his hands together. “Poor souls with no-one else to turn to.” He snapped his fingers and the twins moved a piece of the wall off to show a one-way glass that looked into the lounge; he was going to make a show out of this, Arisu had challenged him and now he was going to let him witness whatever he aimed to do to any unfortunate soul who had the misfortune of being near the scene at the wrong time. 

“I admit that in the past I’ve been a nasty, they weren’t kidding when they called me well…a witch.” He stood up and made his way over to Arisu’s seat. “But you’ll find that now and days, I’ve mended all my ways; repented, seen the light and made a switch. True? Yes~.” Standing beside Arisu’s side, he lifted his chin up so they were eye to eye. “And I fortunately know a little magic, it’s a talent that I’ve always had possessed.” He placed his gloved thumb over the boy’s lips. “And dear ‘Alice’, please don’t laugh I’ve used it on behalf on the miserable, the lonely, and depressed.” He pulled back and looked out the glass to where the anemone students were. “Pathetic.”

The urge to bit down on his thumb was tempting, it was so very tempting. Azul had caught the small glare that Arisu had and moved his hand from his face before guiding him over to the window and pointing to the students before them; “Poor unfortunate souls in pain, in need.” He pointed to one student. “This one wanted perfect locks.” He pointed to another. “That one wants to get good grades, and do I help them?” He snapped his fingers; the first student had luscious auburn hair that shone in the dim light of the lounge and the other student had a graduation cap on. “Yes, indeed.” He turned so he was leaning on the glass; “Those poor unfortunate souls so sad, so true.” He leaned back and laid his hand over his forehead, “They come flocking to me crying ‘Spells, Azul please!’ and I help them?” he straightened up and grinned at Arisu. “Yes, I do.”

Azul’s smile fell as he turned back to the glass with a heavy sigh “Now it’s happened once or twice, someone couldn’t pay the price…and I’m afraid I had to rake them across the coals.” He snapped his fingers and the two students from earlier were forcefully pulled away from their current positions by the anemones on their heads. He led Arisu back to the table and sat across from him, crossing one leg over the other. “Yes, I’ve had the odd complaint, but on the whole, I’ve been a saint to those poor unfortunate souls!” He grinned at him. “Come now, sit, enjoy your meal as we discuss what you could ever ask of me~”

Arisu took the soup and had a few spoonsful of it. “My request is that you release not only my friends; Ace, Deuce, and Grim, but also the other students you have enslaved under you.”

“Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.” Azul shook his head. “Arisu, I want you to think about your request; you’re asking me to let go 225 students who signed a deal with me – willingly might I add – they’re not doing anything that goes against labor standards and they knew what the terms were before signing.” He laced his fingers together and leaned forward a little bit. “How would you pay for such a high demand? Could you even pay it to begin with?”

A small nod. “I know the price of your high-paying wishes, you want me to steal some picture from a museum.” 

Azul hummed. “Well, now that you say it like this.” His eyes lit up. “Ah! I know just the perfect deal just for you, actually, I’m feeling generous in giving you two options to choose from; before that…Jade, Floyd, if you could kindly stream this deal to the unfortunate students – after all, a high-stakes deal should have witnesses to testify if…complications happen.”

The twins’ grins grew as they carried out the order; on the stage, a screen came down and a live feed from the lounge was played on a projector, the students paused for a brief moment and looked up at the screen to see the mortal sitting with Azul in the VIP lounge. Most were confused and worried, but when it came to Arisu’s trio of misfits, Jack, and Epel, they were staring with wide-eye horror; what the hell was Azul playing!?

Azul leaned back and smiled; “Now then, I would recommend you take the first offer – I’m going to give you three days to retrieve a picture from the Atlantica museum; now, I know you’re worried that I’m asking you to commit art theft and I can assure you that’s not the case at all.” He adjusted his glasses. “The photo is of Prince Riel's visit to the museum about ten years ago, it’s located at the entrance so hardly anyone will notice it missing. Bring that picture to me by the sunset of the third day and I will set everyone free.”

Arisu paused and lowered the spoon into the bowl. “And if I don’t?” he asked. 

“Then you pay the price, Ramshackle’s looking better with the renovations our dear headmaster has been doing to the place and…well, a growing business does need to expand after all.”

There was the sound of a commotion happening outside the VIP room, Arisu turned and looked through the glass to see Ace trying to storm over to where he was; he stared with his jaw hitting the floor as Floyd was quick to get in front of him, with a grin he kicked Ace to the ground and kept him pinned with his foot. Glaring, he returned to Azul’s condescending smirk, forcing himself to keep a level-head.

“What’s the second offer?” 

“Hmm.” The smirk widened. “You are asking me to let go 225 employees, something of equal value must be given in exchange if the little scavenger hunt isn’t up your alley; I’m not asking much, Arisu, what I want as equal payment is…you.”

He nearly dropped the bowl, Arisu hurried and placed it back on the table “W-What?!”

“You heard me, Mr. Carol; in exchange for 225 unfortunate souls, you are to surrender everything of you to me; you will belong to Octavinelle until graduation – body, mind, and soul. It’s fitting after all, your free will for theirs.”

From the one-way glass, Arisu was able to see that it was Jack’s turn to try and storm the VIP lounge – that went as well as Ace’s attempt, except it was Jade who got to him and pinned him to a table, making sure to slam the wolf’s head into the table. If this kept up, his friends were going to be the reason for a bar fight happening and that was probably going to spell trouble far worse than what they’re currently in.

“Prefect Ashengrotto, where am I to stay if I lose my dorm? Heck, how the hell am I supposed to swim down to the museum – in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have gills to help breathe underwater!”

Azul laughed and stood up yet again, “You have your brains.” He tapped his forehead, before grabbing Arisu’s face into his hands again. “Your handsome face.” He took his arm into his “And don’t underestimate the importance of.” He pulled him close so he could dip him back, his hand moving down to hold Arisu’s bottom. “Body language~ Ha!” 

"You're definitely one for idle chatter" Azul crooned his hand enjoying one more squeeze of Arisu's rear before moving to rest on his waist. His other hand still held one of Arisu's captive as he took a small step forward bumping his hip against Arisu's as he sang "I think a boy who shuts up is a bore" forcing the other boy to take a step back to keep his balance in the process. 

"Yet down here it's much preferred for lads to say a lot of words. And after all dear," Azul said a playful glint in his eye as he continued his song "Isn't that what idle prattle's for?" Arisu desperately wanted to pull away from Azul's invasive touches and give him a punch right in that smug face of his for good measure. Alas he could not and forced his body to cooperative with Azul's nudges even unclenching his fist to set it on the other boy's shoulder as the words "Come on, we're all that impressed with conversation" slipped from Azul's lips.

"True gentlemen embrace it when they can" Azul went on, guiding Arisu into a turn as he sang so the boy's back would remain to the one-way glass and the scene of his friends being beaten by Floyd and Jade. "Cause I'll dote and swoon and fawn" with this he dipped Arisu so suddenly the other male let out a cute gasp in surprise before adding "On a boy who's not withdrawn" the glint only glowing bright as he continued.

The urge to punch Azul was only building in Arisu's gut but he suppressed it, as he felt his cheeks turning pink with embarrassment at the girly noise he'd let out when dipped. "It's he who lets his tongue loose gets my hand, come on you poor unfortunate soul" Azul's singing was beginning to speed up with excitement. "Go ahead, don't be droll" he sang out pulling Arisu up from the dip so fast it was a miracle their faces didn’t touch. "I'm a very busy person and I haven’t got all day; it won’t cost much" he warbled sweetly. "Just your soul" he finished holding Arisu against his chest. “You poor unfortunate soul, it’s sad but true.”

Finally letting him go, Arisu stumbled backwards; just as he was about to make some retort or another two golden contracts were summoned and floated before him. Azul snapped his fingers and brought out a feathered pen; “If you want to cross the bridge, my sweet, you’ve got to pay the toll; take a gulp, take a breath, go ahead and sign the scroll!” He turned to the camera set up that was still sending this feed to the main floor of the lounge. “Pay attention boys, I’ve got him now.” He said with a wicked smirk, he turned back to Arisu and motioned to the contracts. “The boss is on a roll!”

“This poor unfortunate soul!” Azul laughed as Arisu grabbed the pen and one of the contracts before signing his name. Once that was done, the contract glowed and returned to Azul’s hands, he looked it over and felt his eyes widen a bit. “My, my dear…you certainly are full of surprises tonight.” He cooed as he read the conditions with a devilish grin on his face.

I hereby sign over my own freedom for the freedom of the 225 students of the failed contracts.
Arisu Carol.

Chapter Text

Ace couldn’t sleep; how could he knowing that Arisu just offered himself up on a silver platter for him and the others!? Lying in bed, he just stared up at the ceiling and let out a sigh, since sleep wasn’t going to come to him, he was just going to get up and take a walk – damn the curfew, he deserved to have an evening walk after everything that had happened that day. He wasn’t the only one who was fretting either, Deuce was by the mirror and was about to go through – no doubt he was going to make his way over to Ramshackle to check on their friend; they could care less about the time of night it was, if Riddle could go over to Arisu in the dead of night, so could they. Ace said nothing as he just followed wordlessly to the old dorm, once there it wasn’t hard to go in as the headmaster hadn’t made any progress on repairing the old rusted lock on the door (heck, it was still sitting on the floor in the entrance hall despite Arisu’s constant claims of “I’ll pick the old lock up later”). The ghosts were around, but they didn’t do anything to stop them from going up to the boy’s room.

Both Ace and Deuce heaved a sigh of relief when they saw Arisu laying there peacefully and asleep while Grim was sleeping soundly in a nearby cat bed. There wasn’t anything odd about the scene before them, Arisu was sound asleep and wasn’t showing any signs of ‘waking’ up; they can at least relax knowing he wasn’t going to be sleepwalking again. Deuce walked up and carefully pulled the blanket up and over their friend’s shoulders before leaving with Ace. Sleep was going to come easily now that they know their strange friend was doing fine – at least fine enough to be able to sleep without any problems. 

“What brings you two out here this late?” A calm voice asked.

Both nearly jumped out of their skins, having to stop themselves from screaming and waking up Grim and Arisu. They had only just walked out of the threshold of Ramshackle and they were already discovered by a third-party; turning to the owner of the voice, they were able to settle their nerves after seeing a familiar horned figure with glowing green eyes. Malleus. It took them a while to remember that he enjoyed walking around the old dorm. 

Ace huffed and crossed his arms. “Do you have to lurk around here at three in the morning?”

“I could be asking you the same thing.” Malleus walked up to them and turned his gaze to the opened door, he frowned and closed it. “Honestly, it’s colder now, must you raise the heating bill of this place?”

“We were just making sure that Arisu was sleeping.” Deuce explained. “I know finals are over and he should be resting without stress, but we were worried about him.”

“How very noble of you, he’s definitely lucky to have friends like you.” Malleus looked to the dorm. “Safe to assume he is sleeping fine then?”

“Yeah.” Ace nodded. “And with that, we’ll be on our way.”

He waited until they took a few steps from the dorm before speaking. “Dead man tells no tales.” He watched as they stopped and looked at him confused. “That’s what pirates would always say, but the reality is that they do indeed tell tales if you’re skilled in the art of necromancy.” He narrowed his eyes at them. “You know that stress is the main suspect in Arisu’s sleepwalking, why did you sign the contract with Prefect Ashengrotto?” The two just flinched and looked away from him, Malleus just shook his head at their silence and made his way up to them before holding their shoulders tightly; “Go back to your dorm, I’m going to see if I can’t fix this mess of yours.”

Deuce looked up from him. “Don’t…we got him into this mess, we’re going to get him out of it.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“We’ll think of something.” Ace said.

Malleus nodded and walked them to the gate. “Your comradery is admirable, for your sakes I hope you’re successful.”

“You’re not upset with us?” Deuce asked.

Malleus narrowed his eyes again at them. “Oh, I am upset with you – you’re adding unnecessary stress to him, if he starts sleepwalking again, Riddle is going to murder you.” He gave a light shove forward. “And I’ll happily bring you back to life and murder you myself.” 

That scared the two into complete silence, both stared at Malleus with wide eyes before they were running from the dorm and were on their way back to Heartslabyul – they were now certain that they weren’t going to get any sleep after that threat from the Diasomnia dorm prefect.

*
Morning at Savanaclaw was always a rough one; Arisu had to get up early with grim and dress in what Leona had insisted (read as threatened) him to wear for magical shift practice. A dull brown tank-top with a split on top of the chest and bottom, bound by gold ribbon. The top is shaped to reveal brown fabric held by gold string at the center, while on the sides of the torso is a band of red with black ribbon stitching and a thin split at the bottom. His shorts were A pair of orange shorts with a black tiger stripes pattern. The leg cuffs are tattered. A thick brown buckle belt hangs asymmetrically at the waist.

What he wore made no difference in how he performed on the field; he was still playing just as rough as the other students of Savanaclaw getting tackled and also scraping his knees whenever he would dodge from oncoming students on brooms. This would continue until Leona had called for the students to wash up and to get dressed for class – even in his lazy state at times, he had his moments of seriousness.

Washed up and dressed in their uniforms, the group headed to the cafeteria where they would break and meet at their usual tables. Leona, Ruggie, Jack, Grim and Arisu got their food and went to their usual spot where the others would be meeting as time ticked on. The first set to arrive were the Diasomnia Quartet and the Queen’s Cards, shortly after were the Peacock Trio (Seriously Cater, we need to talk about your use of nicknames). With everyone here, they just began to enjoy their breakfast without any problems – to an extent, the tension in the air was still there.

“That reminds me.” Ruggie looked over at Arisu, trying to break the tension among them. “So, in May we’re having another tournament – it’s actually bigger than the intra-dorm tournament!” his tail was swaying. “The Interschool Competition; our rival Royal Sword Academy will be over.”

“Oh?” Arisu paused from his pancakes. “That’ll be something, I wonder if Che’nya will be over.”

Riddle covered his mouth. “If you say his name, he’ll-”

“Show up?” Che’nya asked, seated between Arisu and Ace. “Good morning, Riddle~”

“You really need to stop coming here unauthorized.” Riddle sighed. “Che’nya, why are you here?”

Che’nya grinned at him, his pink ears twitched as he swiped a strawberry off his friend’s plate and took a bite. “Mmm~ You know why I’m here, My Queen, just here for Alice’s daily check-in!” he watched as all eyes were on him, some of the others were ready to vault across the table. “What? I can’t visit a dear friend of Riddle’s?” He waved his hand dismissively. “Well, in any case; Alice is sporting gold today, what’s the occasion?”

“It’s part of the contract I signed.” Arisu explained. “I’m working at Octavinelle for a while.”

“Oh my, I should have seen this coming with your soft-hearted nature.” Che’nya sighed. “It can’t be helped.” He took another strawberry and sighed. “Poor Alice, enslaved by the mafia, however will she ever get out?”

“Okay, first off; this was entirely of my own free-will.” He sighed. “I know signing away my freedom to them wasn’t the smartest of moves, but I didn’t want to take the chance of trying the alternative deal and lose Ramshackle.” He looked up at the cat-boy. “Second off; they’re being reasonable with demands and I’m only working at the lounge.”

“For now.” Che’nya grinned. “Arisu, your contract is the most exploitable one the prefect’s written up.” He put the fruit in the boy’s mouth. “Imagine what Mr. Ashengrotto could ask you to do for him? Would it really stop at just taking drink orders?” His grin grew as he held up his wrist to show the golden bangle. “What will you do then? You can’t deny his wishes, you’re incapable to deny his wishes.” He hummed and let him go before standing. “Well, I trust you’ll figure something out; you always do in the curious of situations, Alice~” he bowed before vanishing from the group.

Leona looked at Arisu; “What’s the terms of the deal? Word. For. Word.”

“In exchange for the freedom of the 225 students ‘employed’ by Azul Ashengrotto, I am to take their place and surrender up my freedom until graduation.” He folded his hands together. “My entire being for the others, to clarify.”

Leona held his forehead. “You have my condolences, prey.” He sighed and looked to Vil. “Take over before I beat this kid.”

Vil nodded. “Gladly.” He turned to Arisu. “Epel told me that you were offered a tough choice; what was the second option you were given?”

“The impossible task of retrieving a photo of Prince Riel from the Atlantica museum.” Arisu looked up at him. “And yes, I know it’s an impossible task; I’ve seen other students given the same three-day deadline to get it and none have succeeded.”

“And the collateral for it?”

“My dorm would have been on the line.” Arisu said before downing a glass of orange juice. “I’m not going to do the impossible.”

Lilia tsked at him. “Sunflower, I’m disappointed that you picked the easy way out.” He crossed his arms. “I’ve helped raised you better than that.”

“Then please, oh wise and mighty Diasomnia Vice-Prefect, tell us how Arisu was going to be able to pull it off!” Ace yelled.

“Settle down now child.” He folded his hands. “Tell me, what is it about the three days that made it impossible? There had to be something blocking the way, correct? Given the likelihood that everyone who was given the task were first-years like yourself, they wouldn’t be able to brew a water-breathing potion.”

Riddle nodded. “If they were to ask their seniors for help it would set some red flags off and problems would cause further down the line.” He looked to Arisu. “Such as if he were to ask us for such, we would have asked him why he needed it and when he told us, we would no doubt be going after our own students for signing their souls away for something that could have easily been solved through hard work and study.”

“Which brings to number two; in Arisu’s case, he’s garnered quite the attention from Night Raven College – especially with his track record of handling us. I don’t think that Takoyaki is going to let Arisu after that picture so easily.” Came a cold chilling voice.

Riddle scowled. “Malleus, why is he here?” he pointed to the phantom leaning over Arisu, holding him in his inky arms

The Phantom chuckled and kissed Arisu’s cheek. “I am but a shadow after all.” He reminded. “You thought those cute little charms would keep Tom Cat and I away? Please, don’t make me laugh.” He shook his head. “Really, I’m just here to see the cute little rabbit; I’m rather upset that low-class squid got to him through cheap means…and I suppose I can offer my hand to help you lowly peasants.”

“We don’t need your help!” Riddle snapped. “We’re perfectly capable with Lilia’s assistance.”

“Very well.” He shrugged. “I wish you the best of luck then.” He faded before them, leaving the cold air staying.

Riddle sighed. “Okay, is there another way to keep the phantoms away?”

Leona scoffed. “If I knew that I would have kept that fleabag off the field sooner.” He growled.

Vil sighed. “We’ll worry about this later, right now I believe we should end the conversation here. No doubt the appearance of that Phantom is going to get Octavinelle’s attention.”

Chapter Text

For the most part, classes had started out fine; Alchemy was going through a list of herbs that had alternate names (i.e. Eye of Newt was actually mustard seed), chaos had delved as some students were making fun of Hamlet and recreating the scenes of the witches but switching out the lines here and there. 

Divus so desperately wanted to scold them, he really did, but even the strict alchemy teacher had his moments where he just completely lost it and started laughing and letting today be the rare fun day. 

But that all changed the moment the group arrived in History class with Mr. Trein. The mafia trio wouldn't be following the script they'd planned out. Arisu was in class for less than ten minutes before the classroom door was being kicked open by Floyd wearing his classic sharp-toothed grin as he strode over to Arisu's seat. Without a word he scooped the boy up before trotting over to a nearby window and kicking it open before jumping out with his prey in tow into the trees outside with a scream of surprise leaving the first year's mouth. 

Ace and Deuce could do little more than try to scrabble to their feet and hurry towards the window to see the pair disappear into the thick branches before professor Trein was scolding them to get back to their seats. Both first years stared at how calm their teacher was acting and reluctantly returned to their seats. They didn’t absorb anything that was said during the lesson, their minds filled with worry over Arisu's fate.

Floyd had let out a chuckle at the scream that that slipped from Arisu's lips and couldn't resist teasing him about it as he jumped again. This time the leap bringing them down onto the ground before the eel boy began walking across campus towards the Lounge where Azul and Jade were already waiting. Once inside, Floyd dropped Arisu onto the couch in Azul's office before sitting beside him.

"Why aren’t you three in class?" Arisu said irritably and got a patronizing laugh from Azul in answer. 

"Oh, when I said I have a contract on almost everyone in this school I meant it. Even our dear teachers are not safe from my deal making. And before you fuss, I said I'd let the students who made contracts with me go, you never asked for any of the teachers to be freed" Azul said once he had finished laughing.

Arisu wanted so badly to sulk like a child and give Azul and the twins some trouble. Alas the contract prevented him from such liberties, and he wanted to try and see if there were any weaknesses he could play on from the trio. He straightened up and crossed his arms, keeping a calm and neutral expression on his face before speaking to them. “Alright, so whatever could be so important that you had to kidnap me from class?”

“Ah right.” Azul cleared his throat. “I’ve heard a little interesting story from some of the Pomefiore underlings that have worked for me earlier in the year.” He walked up to him and lifted his chin in his hands. “He said you and Prefect Schoenheit would meet and talk before staring in each other’s eyes for a long time, in some cases he would let you sleep in his bed. I’m quite curious about the reason why.”

Arisu had a light blush remembering some of the times mentioned. He looked back at Azul and winced a little; he was underwater and before a dark cavern lined with pearls, he broke eye contact – not wanting to go further in. 

“It’s nothing serious, just magic work.” Arisu muttered.

“Magic lessons that require eye-contact?” Azul brought him back so they were eye to eye. “If that’s so, then show us.”

“I can’t tell you much…I just see a cavern lined with pearls.”

Azul raised an eyebrow at that. “What do you mean? Is it my eyes that remind you of them?” he frowned, “No…that doesn’t make sense…” 

“I told you I can’t do much of a read.” Arisu said. “I…can see a person’s soul through eye-contact, it’s not really a unique magic it just…happens.”

Azul brought him close. “You know I could do something about that, right? We can rid the old contract, make a new that surrenders that gift so you won’t be burdened.”

Arisu pulled away. “Yeah no, I’m not going to magic my way out of this.”

A small hum. “Very well, I’ll let you go now; see you after class, Arisu.”

*
Riddle wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, but even he had to admit that playing Azul’s game was the only way to get Arisu back to them without the strings attached. He was with Trey, Rook, and Cater in tracking him down; they found him in the music room with Mr. Trein, working on one of the side projects that wasn’t due for another few months in time.

With the song over and getting a passing mark, Azul made his way over to the four with a wicked smirk. “Did you enjoy the show? I’ll be honest, this assignment was rather difficult.”

Riddle narrowed his eyes at him, he couldn’t afford to lose his temper around him now, he moved to the hall with him. “We wish to discuss business with you.”

“Is that right?” Azul smirked at him. “And what business would that be, Prefect Rosehearts?”

“Business about Arisu’s well-being, he is an honorary Heartslabyul student, therefore, it is my duty as Prefect to ensure his good health.”

Azul just hummed. “I suppose so, what about him do you wish to know about?”

Cater jumped in and crossed his arms; “We know you purposely made the contract exploitable to do whatever you want to him, what are you hoping to get out of it other than his connections to the Valley of the Thorns?”

“Who said I wanted those connections?” Azul’s smirk grew. “Is that what you think this is all about? I won’t lie, it is a nice added bonus, but no…Arisu fascinates me; faced against you when you overblotted and lived to tell the tale and warmed your cold heart to boot why wouldn’t I be interested in him?” He approached them again. “His value is worth more than you could ever imagine, I have my doubts you four could appreciate him like I do.”

“You’re wrong.” Trey snapped. “We’ve been by his side since that day and it’s never going to change; Arisu is our friend and we’re willing to help him in any way we can.”

“Such as stealing that picture from the Atlatnica Museum for you.” Rook placed a hand on his hip. “The other half of our group were hoping to catch you at the lounge for this, but I suppose as long as the contract is signed it doesn’t matter who goes to collect it now does it?”

Azul couldn’t stop himself from staring at the group in surprise. “My, I would expect this from Mr. Trappola and Mr. Spades, but from the esteemed Rook Hunt and Riddle Rosehearts?” he chuckled. “Very well, meet me at the lounge tonight at six; we’ll discuss the details of the deal there.” He turned and walked off. 

Chapter Text

The wait was the most excruciating moment of their lives. Once at Monstro Lounge, the group was led to the VIP lounge where Azul was seated at the desk, Arisu was by his side – upon seeing his friends, he left Azul’s side and rushed over to them; he didn’t get far before the chains reappeared and Azul harshly tugged him back to his side where the blond landed on his ass, wincing in pain at the impact. Ace and Deuce immediately went to charge at the Octavinelle prefect but were held back by Jack and Trey; Grim was held back by the ribbon and was trying to fight free from Cater’s grasp, Azul just chuckled darkly at the display before him.

“Isn’t that adorable, Arisu, they’re willing to try and fight for you.” Azul smiled. “But no, instead this group had something else in mind that has more class than a fist fight; care to repeat what you’re offering, Prefect Rosehearts?”

Riddle nodded and crossed his legs. “We wish to make a deal with you, we’ll get you the picture for Arisu’s freedom.”

“Admirable, but what do we get out of the deal should you fail?” Azul’s grin widened some. “What is your offer? 

Riddle folded his hands together. “Should we fail to bring you the picture in the timeframe of three days, you can have ‘Off with your Head’.”

“My, my, my such an offer coming from you.” Azul chuckled. “But how will I know you’ll keep your word? Afraid for something like this collateral must be paid.”

Riddle closed his eyes and took a deep breath “Then I’ll give you myself as our collateral.” 

“What the- Prefect, don’t.” Ace begged.

Azul chuckled and took out a golden contract before sliding it over to Riddle; “You know what to do, Mr. Rosehearts.” He smirked. “I must say, it will be nice having you alongside us, Floyd gets pretty lone after all.

Riddle took the feathered pen and signed on the line, the moment the contract glowed; he was coated in a light golden glow as well before Azul snatched the contract up 

{It’s a Deal} A pleasure doing business with you.” He took out a crate of potions for the group. “Here, some breathing potions to help on your trip; remember, you have until the sun sets on the third day to bring that picture of Prince Riel to me or else you, Arisu, and your power are mine for good.”

The group got up and left the lounge, Arisu looked to Azul who just nodded – letting him go catch up to his friends. They walked in silence for some time, making their way to the hall of mirrors and solemnly returning to their dorms. All except Arisu and Riddle who stood in the empty halls and looking at each other in silent conversation. Arisu approached him and held onto him in a tight hug, to which Riddle returned it and rubbed his back, whispering to him that everything will be fine.

That wasn’t the point, Arisu was still kicking himself that Riddle got involved into this mess as well, he looked up at Riddle and gave a faint smile before returning to the Octavinelle mirror. Azul had made it clear that tonight he was going to spend the night so he could be up and early for the morning rush – for all the coffee addicts of the school that needed their caffein fix.

Looking at the trio before him, Arisu just followed them to one of their guest rooms and turned in for the night; wishing Azul and the twins sweet dreams before heading to the bed. This was going to be a long three-days, he had some faith in his friends though since some of them were higher grades and could probably brew the water breathing potion needed for this task.

First, he was on a raft, now he was deep in the ocean blue; how the hell was he still breathing? No, if Arisu tried asking that he wouldn’t enjoy the answer given to him. He swam around for a while and smiling at the fishes that would come by, but the further he went the less there were but instead a mermaid following a set of eels into a dark cave. He followed them into the cave where the mermaid was before the sea witch herself; memories flooded back to him, he was watching the deal between Ursula and Princess Ariel!

“I’ll make you a potion that can turn you into a human for three whole days; and the Prince absolutely has to fall in love with you.” Ursula explained. “As for the payment, it’s very simple, what I want from you is your voice.” 

No. No, it was Ariel’s voice that brought the prince back to consciousness! If she loses her voice, she’ll be at a disadvantage, “Ariel no!” he cried, swimming up to her. He was still a phantom and an onlooker of the past. He was there forced to watch helplessly as she signed her voice away to the sea witch. Was this how his friends felt when he signed his own freedom away for them?

“Why didn’t anyone tell us that Damselfish sleepwalks!” Floyd complained.

“I’ve heard the tales that Arisu struggled with sleeping, but I never imagined it would escalate to this.” Azul mused. “I suppose that would have to be another thing to worry about.”

Arisu groaned as he sat up in bed, he looked around and saw he was in the Octavinelle’s guest room; memories of last night came rushing through to him, right he was here to deal with the coffee addicted students. Rubbing his eyes, he got up and got dressed and ready to start the day before classes began – maybe he could pick up something strong as well to kick him awake for the day.

It was a quick shift from the morning crowd and Azul had left him alone to head to his own classes. Going through Alchemy, History, and Gym was a blur that even the notes he took looked like they were written in another language, he didn’t remember what it was in the first two classes that they were covering; that was going to have to be a thing he would talk to Riddle about later that day.

Riddle…Arisu looked over to the redhead next to him at lunch and felt his chest tighten up a little bit. The redhead who sold himself to the trio as collateral just to get him out of the mafia’s grasps. Riddle had looked over at him and gently squeezed his shoulder with a soft smile of his own.

Leona sighed and leaned forward, making sure his voice is low. “Alright, we don’t have time to fuck around, what is your plan first and foremost?”

“I have the potions brewed.” Vil said. “So, we don’t have to worry much about that aspect.” He folded his hands. “But it would look strange if the entire table got up and left for the museum, while safety in numbers is a thing we should consider, in a case like this it will be our downfall; I propose we have groups and scatter little by little.”

“Then let’s go already, what are we waiting for?” Ace was about to get up but a harsh tug from Ruggie kept him in place. “What the hell, hyena?”

“Idiot, use your head.” Ruggie looked at him tiredly. “Why would Azul want a picture that is specifically under water?” he watched Ace stare at him. “Let me spell it out to you; Azul is from the ocean itself, get it? And he’s friends with Floyd and Jade, all three are from the ocean.”

Still nothing. Ruggie just sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Fine, the first group will be me, Ace, Deuce, and Sebek.” He got up. “Before I do leave though.” He held up three wallets. “I’m going to go shopping.” He bolted.

Ace, Deuce, and Sebek checked their pockets before paling and chasing after Ruggie for their belongings.

Riddle shook his head. “That’s one way to do it I suppose.” He dabbed his mouth with a napkin. “Arisu and I will be in the lounge after school, we’ll meet at Leona’s dorm when we come back.”

*
It wasn’t long before Azul had called Arisu into the VIP lounge, and he tried his best to keep a neutral expression as Azul played with the two contracts lazily; he set the contracts down and held his hand out in a silent invitation to approach, to which the blond complied, once close enough Azul had pulled him close and made the blond sit on his lap; with his size, it was easy to rest his chin on his golden locks. 

“We have some things to discuss.” Azul finally said. “Your performance on the floor today was pretty abysmal to say the least, I know you’re worried about your friends, but they’re of no concern to you now.” He played with his hair. “But I can’t really have you slack off while you’re with us, so…” He smirked and sat upright. “Therefor, you’re going to be with me working as a taste tester for any and new recipes for our little lounge.” 

Arisu looked up at him; “Why do I have a feeling there’s a catch to this request?”

Azul smiled down at him and tapped his nose. “Clever boy, you’re learning.” He chuckled. “I’m going to be the one feeding the new dishes to you.”

“And what is stopping from me from getting out of this chair and bolting?”

“Do you really want to test my patience, Arisu? I really don’t want to have to keep pulling you back here with the chains, it gets tiresome after a while.” He narrowed his eyes at the boy. “Believe me, there are worse punishments I could inflict on you for disobeying me.” He moved his hand down and gave a harsh squeeze on his legs. “I could always remove these; Sam probably has a nice bone saw I could use to get the job done.” He watched as Arisu stared at him with wide eyes, paling in horror at the implication of the threat as he trembled in the prefect’s arms. 

“Please don’t!” Arisu begged. “I’ll…I’ll let you feed the new dishes to me.” The narrowed eye look didn’t change. “I promise I’ll behave from here on out.” Azul was pleased with that answer.

The room was incredibly tensed as they had lunch together, even after trying various new dishes Azul would still hold him close. It was this action that made Arisu put the pieces together; he saw a familiar blank stain on the prefect’s pen and felt his heart sank. This explained the sudden threat, but at the same time it was worrying on so many levels. He tried to bring attention to it, all that eared was another warning squeeze to his legs before he fell silent and just stayed in his arms until he was finally let go after work had ended for the time being. 

Leaving the lounge and the dorm, Arisu stepped through the mirror and yawned, it was already sunset - time did indeed fly, and after being busy for so long in keeping Azul in a good mood while working at the lounge serving drinks, he wasn’t surprised that to him it felt like it should have still been morning. He shook his head and went to the mirror chamber to meet up with his friends; hopefully they were able to get it on the first day.

Chapter Text

They didn’t. The first day was a flop and there were two more days of the deal left and if they weren’t successful…they didn’t really want to think about it. Quietly, they regrouped with the others at Savanaclaw – it was agreed that would be their base of operations for the duration period to plan and figure something out, even if Leona was against it but…as long as they stayed in the lounge, he could care less what they were doing. 

Leona was actually more annoyed that the group decided to dive head first into Coral Sea and wasted precious time there – still, he had to admire their tenacity and their ambition for going with a bold move first instead of planning out alternative moves. He shrugged and went back to exchanging notes with Lilia, they were listening in on the group while working on dispelling a curse.

Ruggie handed everyone a can of soda, “I hope this showed you why going to Coral Sea was a stupid move, I mean…come on, you had to have figured this wasn’t going to be a simple walk in and walk out type of scenario.” 

“How were we supposed to know they were mermaids!” Ace demanded.

“Uh, you could have asked.” Leona said simply. “We would have told you if you’d just ask.”

Ruggie started laughing. “You have to be extra careful before making a move, you know~” he sat beside them. “You know, the Leech Brothers are pretty famous for being Azul’s lackeys and for being a hinderance to people who made deals with them…’course, there’s also a rumor that says they’ll do whatever they can so you don’t fulfill the conditions of the contract – guess it’s true considering they’re honed in on Alice and…well this part is also a rumor, but supposedly Floyd has a thing for Riddle…well in terms of lust I mean.”

Riddle shuddered. “Don’t ever say that again! It’s bad enough I’ve had to deal with that damn eel hanging off me before he went to harass you!”

“Whatever you say.” Ruggie shrugged. “But…seriously, they’re going to do whatever they can to keep Arisu in their chains.”

“Ahh!!! What are we going to do! Those damn cheaters are going to keep Arisu and Riddle forever and we’re going to lose them!” Grim cried

Arisu cleared his throat. “Will you stop acting like we’re going to die, Grim? You’re worse than Hades when it comes to being dramatic.” He shook his head. “Anyway…we better do something at least, because we have bigger things to worry about.”

“What do you mean?” Ace asked.

“Yesterday, Azul decided to have me in his company…I was close enough to see his pen and there was a black stain on it.”

The room went dead quiet, eyes were widened in surprise and horror. Screw the museum plot, they had to figure out how to keep Azul from going insane; so far all they knew was that a magician had to take care of their body, and Azul was the healthiest so far – at least to their knowledge. 

“…The confiscated magic is kept inside the contract, and Azul can use it anytime.” Leona spoke up. “If he’s using too much high-caliber magic that’s causing the stain…”

“But the contract’s unbreakable.” Grim whined. 

“Idiot, all magic has a weakness.” Leona huffed. “Riddle’s magic isn’t invincible; remember how easily I destroyed that collar?” he crossed his arms. “Fire is weak to water, water is weak to lightning, light magic is weak to dark magic…” he made a motion with his hands. “So…what would a contract’s weakness be?”

“A high paying lawyer?” Epel muttered.

Leona pinched the bridge of his nose. “Okay, I am not in the mood to deal with this; you’ve exceeded your welcome here, get the fuck out of my dorm.”

Most everyone reluctantly left the Savanaclaw dorm, even though it was for another reason it was agreed that the group should get what rest they could get before they tried their new plan later that day. Leona watched them leave and turned back to Ruggie, he grabbed another can of soda and cracked it open, taking a huge gulp before wiping his mouth dry. He wasn’t going to lie, he figured that having Ruggie on the field underwater would give them some kind of advantage; they’ve both seen the twins in their mer forms when they were swimming for gym class one day, they would have been prepared. 

The eels were craftier than they had thought, getting the picture wasn’t going to be easy and a second team were getting ready to group up – the group text message was anything to go off of, it would be Rook, Vil, Epel, and Cater. Ruggie knew that Epel was pretty feral for being a Pomefiore student and with Rook’s…ability, it would be easy to have those two keep the eels distracted for Vil and Cater to get in and get out. Heck, Vil had even shown that he was willing to do anything to get what he want – the crazy prefect once scaled Savanaclaw to get at Leona for crying out loud!

Still, the two would stay behind and plan in the shadows until they had something stronger to work with.

*
Arisu and Riddle were with Floyd in the mirror chamber talking about yesterday and what the blond saw on Azul’s pen, the two were concerned but had assured him that they would look into the matter when they came back from their errand run and told them to return to Azul’s side. They left before he could get a word out; operation ‘stall the twins for the museum group’ was a flop – that much was evident when Trey had come into the chamber looking disheveled, Riddle had tried to ask his friend what had happened only for the greenhead to deflect the question and just said he would wait for the team to come back from the ocean depths.

The only thing he could think of as of now was to keep Azul from going into the Monstro Lounge during lunch while Ace’s group went to hunt down the contract. Arriving at the cafeteria, Arisu and Riddle sat before Azul and leaned forward so they would be eye to eye.

Azul smirked at them and just took a drink of water, he could see it in those beautiful honey eyes that Arisu had a lot to say but no idea where to start; out of the corner of his eyes he was able to see Ace, Deuce, Grim, and Jack walk out of the room. Those four were up to something and without the twins he would have to handle this alone.

Standing up he put his tray away and led the two off; making sure to follow the group at a distance away from them. “What could be troubling you, dear Alice?” he asked.

“Azul, I saw the ink stain on your pen.” Arisu said bluntly.

“A small stain, nothing you need to worry your little head about.” He patted his head. “I’m keeping a proper sleep schedule, a healthy diet, and watching my magic usage, give it another day or so and it’ll fade on its own in no time.”

“That may be true, but…” Riddle’s eyes widened a little. “Azul, please tell me you don’t still have everyone’s powers!”

Azul chuckled. “I believe Arisu’s contract states that he would trade up his freedom for the freedom of other students; like with the teachers, there’s absolutely nothing in that contract that says I have to return everyone’s powers and abilities.” He smirked at him. “Really now, you should know better when you’re making deals that you have to be specific in your terms.” 

This went on until they were back at the dorm and Azul snapped his fingers to change from school uniform to his dorm attire – mafia attire and all. He grabbed his cane and made his way to the lounge with Arisu trailing behind him. The rest of their walk went in silence, pass the doors of the lounge and into the VIP room where the prefect went up to the safe and took out the contracts; he smirked and went through them before the boy.

“Wind magic – courtesy of Ace; Summoning – Deuce; Fire breath – Grim; Off with your Head – Riddle, and of course, my personal favorite; your entire being, of course, you won’t be alone – especially since you’ll have Riddle at your side as well.” He set the two specific ones on the table and set the rest back into the safe, locking it. 

Turning back to the two, he pulled them close to him, “I could do whatever I wish to you and you’ll be unable to stop me.” He pulled back and pushed his frames up. “Starting now, we have to cover the twins’ shift here, I hope that won’t be a problem.” 

There wasn’t much to say, Arisu just narrowed his eyes as Riddle scowled at him as they followed Azul out of the VIP room. They didn’t get far, Azul held them close as they stood outside the door; in a few minutes they heard screaming from inside, Azul started to laugh as he returned with Arisu, he chuckled at the sight before him; everyone was shuddering and recovering from being hit by lightning.

Chapter Text

“My, my, you’re shaking as if you got hit by lightning, how unsightly.” He chuckled

“You knew we were here?” Jack growled

“Your fluffy tail from under the table, you should really learn to curl it up if you’re going to try an obvious hiding spot.” Azul smirked. “I hate to tell you but it sends out electric shocks if someone other than me touches it, how unfortunate.” He looked over at Arisu and Riddle. “And you had these darling boys try to distract me too, have them go against his master.”

Arisu backed up and tried to get to his friends, but Azul brought forth the chains again and pulled him back. “I suppose, I’ve been lenient on how much freedom I’ve been giving you, Alice.” He took out a bottle from his pocket and smirked. “Suppose we better fix that.”

“Whatever it is you’re planning.” Deuce was ready to punch him.

“I’m sorry, but who’s the master here?” Azul smirked. “I believe he signed himself to me and not you, interfering from you will just make this worse.” Azul turned back to Arisu and held the vial out. “You know what to do, drink up.”

“No…I don’t trust the contents.”

“There’s no room for arguing, drink it willingly or I force it down your throat.”

Arisu shook his head and kept his mouth closed. With a sigh, Azul grabbed his chin and forced him to open his mouth as he took the cork off the bottle with his teeth and dropping it to the side. As he was about to pour the contents inside the blonde’s mouth, he paused as a better idea formed into his mind; using his tongue to keep the potion from going down his own mouth, he drank the potion and pressed his lips to Arisu’s. Stubbornly, Arisu tried to keep his mouth shut but Azul's free arm wrapping around his waist and pulling him roughly against the other male's chest knocked the air out of him. For the briefest of moments his lips parted, unfortunately that was more than enough time for the potion to pass from Azul's mouth to his. 

Arisu recoiled at the taste of the potion, not because it tasted disgusting like he had expected it to but, because it instead tasted like lemonade – his favorite. He didn’t have much time to think about how nice it felt on his tongue before he felt his knees buckling under him. Arisu's legs felt all weird and tingly like they'd fallen asleep.

"What was that?" Arisu said panic bubbling in his stomach as he frantically flailed about in Azul's grip much like a fish that had been caught on a hook. 

"Calm down nothing in that bottle is going to hurt you" Azul said adjusting his grip on the blonde. "It's just a little brew I made to keep you from trying to run away from me" he added moving his hand down from Arisu's face to his lower half which was already covered in a thin coat of blue and yellow scales that grew in number with each passing moment.

Staring in horror, Arisu started to thrash in his arms; he knew nothing he did would stop whatever it was that was happening, but the small voice in his brain was telling him to get away and to escape. Azul chuckled at the sight and tightened his hold on him. "Didn’t you ever hear the story of the little merprincess and the potion she took to gain legs? Well, I created a similar brew just for you. Only instead of bestowing a pair of boring legs, you're getting a beautiful tail instead" Azul kept his grip on him, a grin formed on his face as the boy’s legs joined together and the scales continued to coat over them, not only that but seeing the Heartslabyul trio and the Savanaclaw’s wolf were watching helplessly as their friend slowly lost his legs and flailing helplessly in the Octavinelle prefect’s arms.

To add onto the change, Arisu suddenly felt lightheaded and dizzy like he couldn’t breathe...Wait he didn’t have lungs anymore thanks to the potion he'd been forced to consume! Weakly he gripped at Azul's jacket and tried to beg him to do something even though he could not speak. The second-year only nodded at him with a grin and kissed his head before carrying him to the main floor as he strode down the longue hallway.

"If you don’t want your friend to die of asphyxiation I'd advise not getting in my way" Azul said as Jack tried to get up and block his path. 

Jack growled but remained where he was, watching as Azul strolled over to the tank in the lounge; it was more than just show - the twins tended to play around in there and freak out any newcomers that were visiting their little establishment for the first time. There were various ways to get in, and Azul went with the easiest way; he went up to the diving platform that was settled above it and gently lowered Arisu into the water below.

Once submerged, Arisu gasped and started to flail again; he couldn’t swim in his new tail, it was near impossible to. He was able to breathe, but mobility was limited, he just struggled and thrashed as he sank to the bottom of the tank where he was laying helplessly before everyone on the other side. Ace was the first to rush up and rest his hand on the glass, prompting the mer to do the same. 

Both held an expression of pain in their eyes; Ace was kicking himself for putting Arisu in this situation, if he hadn’t signed the deal for good grades…Arisu wouldn’t be in this tank and at the mercy of Octavinelle. Deuce came up next and was the same as Ace, his blue eyes showed pain but also fury – he was going to kick Azul’s ass one way or another after this. Deuce and Jack had to hold Grim away from Azul as he returned to surface level with a smirk.

Riddle walked up to the tank and stared at Arisu, he laid his hand on the glass as well, taking Arisu’s hand into his – so to say. He didn’t turn to face the dorm head of Octavinelle who had a similar vial before him. Wordlessly, he took it and nodded to the top of the tank, escorted up before glaring up at the prefect.

“We’ll get him out, mark my words.” Riddle snarled

“Whatever helps you sleep at night.” Azul smirked. “Start drinking.” He turned down to the first years on the ground. “So, you four know, you do know you don’t have time to dillydally around.”

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” Vil demanded.

The students who were in charge of trying to steal the contracts had their heads down low as they had explained the events of what had happened; to say that Vil was pissed off was an understatement. This was bad on every level; they weren’t anywhere close to the goal and the second day was almost over – heck, even his team had hell trying to handle the eels. There was something they were missing in this deal; diving head on was a bad idea, divide and conquer could only work for a limited amount of time.

“Let’s sleep at Ramshackle tonight.” Malleus proposed. “Perhaps a change in sleeping routine can help us in the long run.”

Leona looked at Malleus. “Alright, what the fuck are you planning this time, Lizard?” he demanded.

"If you do not wish to join us now, that's fine, I know you'll show up eventually Wildcat" Malleus said with a shrug barely sparing a glance Leona's way as his eyes focused on the ground before him as he walked.

"What the fuck are you talking about now?!" Leona said irritably, not comforted by the answer Malleus had given. "I only meant to lightly poke fun at that sleep walking habit you've acquired" the fae-prince replied his eyes darting to the side to meet the lion-beastman's pair. 

"I don’t fucking sleep walk" Leona said before he received three sharp smacks to his backside by Vil who'd finished chewing out the first years and was now walking beside his fellow dorm heads. 

"Language, and yes you do" Vil said fiddling with his phone to pull up a video taken the night before of the beastman sleepwalking cross-campus. 

"Pssh, doesn't prove anything" Leona said folding his arms but subconsciously extending his furry tail towards Malleus who curled his own, scaly tail around the lion's tail reassuringly. 

"If you say so Kitten" Vil said with a shrug before repocketing his phone and reaching for the other male's waist so he could wrap his arm around him as they walked.

*
Why was he here again? Arisu wasn’t at Ramshackle anymore, so there was really no need to be here. Perhaps he figured that the events that had happened was nothing more than a bad dream, even though he knew deep inside that it wasn’t the case; Arisu and Riddle had been forced to trade his legs for a tail and remain helpless at Azul’s mercy. There was still the unlikely glimmer of hope he would see the boy in bed sleeping soundly and nestled deep into the covers, and taking a breath of air, Leona opened the door to the main hall of the old dorm.

Quiet. No surprise, it was midnight? Already his chest was clenching and he felt his eyes water, he immediately wiped them dry – he couldn’t afford to lose his composure now…not until he saw the boy’s bedroom. Any ghost he saw lingering, he made sure to greet them as he made his way up the stairs and down the halls before he came to Arisu’s room. With a shaky hand, he reached out and opened it; his heart broke when he saw it was completely empty.

He wasn’t disappointed, he knew this would be the case. Shaking his head, he decided to look around; among Arisu’s belongings, Leona was certain that he could find something that belonged to the previous residents of the dorm so many years ago, an old spell book perhaps? Surely students of the past had something that could help them out today. Nothing. He turned out the desk, old bookcase, everything he could get his hand on before he finally collapsed on the bed with a huff. Turning to the past was of no use and it was pissing him off. Grabbing Arisu’s pillow, he held it close and took in the blonde’s scent to help him sleep that night. Damn prey was more trouble than he was worth, he better have a way to make this up to him!

“I was wondering whom had the gall to enter the old dorm while the prefect was out.” A cold voice spoke out. “Imagine mine surprise when I’ve learned it was Night Raven’s own Leona Kingscholar creeping around at night.”

“What the fuck do you want, Lizard?” Leona demanded.

“I told you, we were going to spend the night here at the old dorm, the others are paired off and are sleeping in the other rooms.” He sat on the windowsill. “This room was meant to stay off-limits, what were you doing?”

He shrugged. “Figured I could find something in here that could help us out.” He turned on his back. “Sad to say, nothing.”

Malleus just hummed. “Did you know that gargoyles watch over the dorm?” He walked over to the window and opened it before sitting on the sill and looked up slightly. “You can see one of them from here if you look close enough.”

“What are you going on about now?” Leona demanded

“Gargoyles look as if they’re monstrous beings made of stone at first glance, however, they’re actually a rain gutter made to protect the buildings from torrential rain. Curious, they’re scary at first glance, but they are very important beings that help keep the house standing.” He turned and saw the redhead stare at him. “There are times when what we see is the opposite of what they really are.” He stood up and went to the door. “I don’t have any qualms about you staying in Arisu’s room, if anything, I believe he trusts you enough to spend the night here in light of everything that’s been happening. Have a good night, Wildcat.”

The day Malleus would ever stop being cryptic is the day that hell itself would freeze over. Riddle decided to let the topic go and lay back down on the bed, he closed his eyes and thought about the day; there had to be something he could have done to prevent Arisu from being in a tank for who knows how long.

The contracts could only be handled by one person else they get shocked, there would be no need for a safe. But the shock they’ve received was a basic security spell designed to stun the thief for a period of time until someone came and neutralize the actual threat.

The contracts weren’t invincible and Azul was bluffing to discourage them from trying that again, the safe was indeed needed for the contracts else people would have their powers back and the two twinks would have their freedom back as well. His green eyes lit up and a grin formed, he had the perfect idea to share with everyone when they woke up, for now, he just closed his eyes and let sleep take over him, he would get his queen and the blond back to them one way or another, they were going to ‘win’ this deal and they would have their friends back.

This was weird. Leona was in a boat watching over a loving couple surrounded by fireflies and a crab performing a love song – Kiss the Girl; he was watching Ariel and Prince Eric about to share a kiss on the lagoon before the eels knocked their boat over. He knew full well of the deal the princess of Atlantica had made, she was about to fulfill her end of the deal had the eels not interfere. The museum group would have been successful had the twins not interfere either.

Before he could blink, he found himself under water as well; before him Urusla with King Triton; he watched the exchange between them and the Sea Witch was offering to let Ariel go for a price – the power of the seven seas the King had. 

Upon awaking up, he had felt his heart had sank, in some weird way, he was watching the exchange Arisu and Azul had gone through; Azul would free the students he had enslaved for Arisu’s own freedom. Was that Azul’s game from the beginning? Another thing, this dream…was this the same stuff that Arisu had been going through since his time here? He knew the boy was dreaming about the past, but after what he had saw in last night’s dream was more than dreaming about the past. This would have to be tacked for later, he would talk to Arisu and the others about this at a later date with Vil.

Right now, he had a plan to go over with the others before they could do anything crazy – right after he cleaned this room, nothing a quick cleaning spell couldn’t fix. Nodding in approval of the order the room was in, he started out to the dorm’s lounge.

Chapter Text

While Leona had a headache inducing morning from the dream, over at Octavinelle; Azul was having a stressful night, sometime in the night Ace and Deuce had snuck into the lounge and stayed by the tank Arisu was in. He nearly used Riddle’s unique magic right there and then, instead he just had the twins drag off their sleeping forms back to their respective dorm. 

This wasn’t what he was anticipating in the slightest, those two Heartslabyul students were the ones who foolishly signed a deal and dragged the blond into this and yet Arisu was still going over to their sides – he should be yelling at them, shunning them, avoiding them because he had to sign away his freedom for them! So why? Why was he still trying to run back to their side? 

If that wasn’t enough to cause a headache; the stone was getting darker again, it was most likely due to the stress those two idiot humans were putting him through. No matter, today was the final day, when the sun had set, he would win this deal and he would make sure that Ace and Deuce were barred from entering Monstro Lounge or the Octavinelle dorm for good.

That wasn’t the only thing that got Azul to act up; when he and the twins had arrived at the lounge to check on their guest, they were greeted to something horrifying. Arisu and Riddle were laying in the tank, floating on their backs and being belly-up. 

Panic had set into the trio dropped whatever they had on their person (mostly the cane that Azul took with him) and rushed to the tank; it wouldn’t take long to change into their mer-form, and while Azul was against doing this, he was going to make an exception to the rule – they weren’t going to lose their darlings, they wouldn’t let that happen under their watch. 

Once in the water and shifting into their forms, they immediately swam over to the two and pulled on their arms to bring him upright – this earned a heart attack from what happened next; the boys’ eyes snapped opened and he struggled in their grasps, they immediately let Riddle and Arisu go and they landed on the soft sand on the ground looking up at the three with wide eyes.

“What the hell!” Arisu cried out.

“You’re alive!” Azul sighed in relief as he held onto him. “Don’t you ever scare us like that again!”

“What the hell are you going on about?” Riddle struggled in Floyd’s grasps. “And would you unhand us already!”

Arisu blinked and moved out of his arms, he looked up to take in the appearance of the three and rubbed at his eyes; of course, they were mers. It made all the more sense why they would want to steal something from an underwater museum, still…seeing two eels and an octopus, he was starting to feel like Princess Ariel the more he stayed with these three. 

“What do you mean ‘don’t scare you like that again’? We were only sleeping?” Arisu asked

Azul looked at him in pure disbelief; “Arisu, you and Riddle were sleeping with your stomach up! We thought you were dead!”

It finally dawned on him and what the situation was; since Arisu was part fish now and when a fish went belly-up…his gaze softened and he reached out to the trio, he still struggled with swimming but he still tried to make his way to them. 

Once close enough, he allowed them to curl around him and fret about his health; he waited until they were settled before trying to clear the air that he usually slept on his back or stomach since if he tried any other position, he would end up contorting himself in his sleep. 

It dawned on the trio that sleeping on one’s back was a human thing and Arisu was going off of his human habits. With the misunderstanding out of the way, the group backed off and left the tank; Arisu just waved a silent goodbye to them knowing they still had today of the deal to get through – he didn’t mind it so much, he got to practice swimming in a tail and even though he found himself laying on the sand more often than not, he still got to enjoy it.

Riddle looked over at him and played with his golden hair. “Are you doing alright?”

“I’m able to sleep fine, are you?” Arisu looked up at him.

“I could do well without Floyd trying to latch onto me.” He huffed. “But I’m fine, head onto bed now.” He smiled and watched him sleep.

A few times Azul would come by to check on the two and make sure they weren’t going to die; once he was relieved, he would sit beside them and do some work for the lounge. Watching the two was relaxing in a way, Riddle was an excellent teacher for Arisu – turned out the blond was a weak swimmer, but aside that, he was getting the hang of swimming with Riddle.

Of course, he did have his own tinge of jealousy. When Azul had finished with his work, he took a drink of a breathing potion returning underwater while remaining in his human form; he swam up to the boys and took Arisu’s hands into his and joined Riddle in helping the boy swim like a mer. 

He gave a gentle assuring squeeze before pulling him along, watching the tail move with each movement; he frowned and stopped him in place before scolding him about what he was doing wrong.

“You need to move your body side to side.” Azul moved and took the boy’s tail into his hand. “Your tail sways like this.” He started to make his tail sway sideways. “And move your body accordingly.”

“Easy for you to say!” Arisu grumbled as he tried again but ended up sinking to the sand. “Azul, help!”

Azul sighed. “Arisu, I’m an octopus, not an eel.” He picked him up again. “I can only help you as much as I am able to.” He put a hand on Arisu's stomach to support him and with the other he took hold of the boy's back fin. 

Keeping his grip firm, he gently pushed the large fin to the right, and instinctively Arisu's tail moved to match the angle. Azul pulled the fin gently to the left and again the rest of Arisu's body followed suit.

It took thirty minutes before the boy was able to swim on his own and keep floating, but he would still have to relax on the sand to catch his breath as it was taxing on his new body to swim in ways he hasn’t swam before. Both Azul and Riddle were pleased that Arisu was able to swim on his own without help and Azul had left the tank to manage the lounge – as in, relax in the VIP room working on some paperwork for the lounge while the students working there took care of potential customers. 

*

Leona was grinning at everyone; “Gentlemen, thank you for showing up.” He greeted. “As you know, today is the final day of the deal and before anyone start up saying it’s hopeless; it’s not.” His tail was swaying with glee. “Everyone says that if it’s a party you want, Scarabia is the place to be; but what everyone fails to remember is that Savanaclaw is the definition of the phrase ‘Party Animals.’ We’re going to hold a party at the Monstro Lounge.”

Deuce raised his hand. “Senpai, no disrespect, but what good is a party going to do?”

“Do I honestly have to spell it out?” Leona groaned. “Look kid, trust me – I staged an entire dorm wide sabotage, so trust me when I say this party is going to do good. What I want is everyone to find feral party animals in their dorms, invite them to the lounge, tell them a party is going to be happening there after that, get to the mirror and to the museum, asap.” 

“I still don’t get it.” Ace said.

“Then let me put it to you this way; go through with the plan or I will sauté and eat you!” he growled. “Now then, who’s inviting who?”

Trey cleared his throat. “I can invite Che’nya, I know RSA is our rival, but Che’nya is the most chaotic person I know and knowing him he’ll bring his group of friends.”

Epel grinned. “I’ll be bringing Claire and Hiroshi; I know Hiroshi will get the rest of the bike club involved and Claire would want an excuse to dance on the tables.”

“The crazier the better.” Leona agreed, ignoring Vil’s scowl. “Come on, keep it going; chaotic partiers, we’re going to run that bastard ragged.”

“Time out.” Jack spoke up. “If you’re organizing the party, and we’re going to storm the museum as a huge group…”

Ruggie shrugged. “I’m actually going to be overseeing the party itself, Leona’s just planning this.”

Lilia’s eyes lit up and he began laughing. “Ahahaha! Leona, you’re such a sly devil!” he cracked his knuckles. “Malleus and I will bring the entirety of Diasomnia over.” He grinned at the lion. “Oh, I knew you were special when Malleus fell for you." He turned to Sebek and patted his head. "Sebek, you behave now at the museum, we’ll handle things here.” He assured.

Silver nodded. “I’ll keep an eye on him, Leona…I hope this plan of yours works out.”

“It will.” Leona smirked. “Trust me, it will.”

Chapter Text

Opening hours of the lounge was probably the only good thing about being in the tank; there were students who would get a seat by the tank and see how Arisu and Riddle were doing, even the anemone students from contracts before the finals would come over and see how the two were doing – as well as delivering them food so they could keep their strengths up. 

Today however was a little different; Riddle watched as Tarrant, Harlan, Deva and Duncan, would walk in with Che’nya following behind with a pep in his step. If it were anyone else with his students, he wouldn’t have batted an eyelash, but seeing Che’nya here was enough to tell him that something was going to happen – something that was bound to break a lot of rules. Che’nya just waved at him and bounded over before sitting and posing like a cat watching an aquarium. 

“Hey Riddle.” Che’nya greeted.

“Alright, cut to the chase, what are you doing here?” Riddle demanded.

“I was invited for a party, and I invited my friends; the Lost Boys.”

Sure enough, a group of RSA students came walking int alongside the Savanaclaw students; after the Savanaclaw dorm was the bike riding club that grinned and gave Arisu a thumbs up before they took their places. 

“What party?” Riddle demanded.

Che’nya just shrugged. “We were just told to come here.” He grinned. “I’d suggest getting Alice ready for the eye-catching event.” He moved from the tank and went to his group.

Arisu shook his head. “You don’t think…Azul’s going to go insane right?”

“Honestly, Arisu, he is teetering on the edge.” Riddle sighed. “But we have to get out of this tank first before anyone does anything stupid.” He pointed to Claire walking in. “If she’s anything to go off of, that something stupid is going to happen fast.”

Scarabia, Diasomnia, a handful of Ignihyde students were coming in. The entire lounge was filled and it wasn’t until Claire had kicked up the song Bartender that got the rest of the students going rowdy; the poor anemone students were definitely overwhelmed and had gotten Azul out of the lounge to assist the situation.

As Azul had left his office, Arisu could have sworn he saw Leona and Ruggie – no, he definitely saw them; he saw Ruggie ‘bump’ into Azul and sometime after the prefect got into a panicked state. He had a bad feeling about this. 

He hated being right. He absolutely hated being right about things; the moment he saw Leona strut out of the office with Ruggie close behind him was when he knew things were going to head south – even more so when he saw Azul storm out after them. Hearts were racing, the ‘stupid thing’ did happen and it was in the form of a lion and a hyena.

“Incoming.” Called Adnan as he dropped two bottles into the pool. “Come on, captain! We can’t really be a bike team if you’re in the tank!”

Arisu and Riddle looked at each other and swam up to the surface with the bottles in hand. Beside Adnan was Hiroshi who just grinned at them.

“Well, hurry up and drink it; you have your weird…whatever it is you do to help people. Can’t do that with a fin, can you?” he signed.

“Don’t you dare let us sink.” Riddle warned as he and Arisu drank the potion

The students held their arms to keep them above water as the potion did its work in reverting the fins back into legs. When that was done, they pulled the two out of the tank and helped them back to the ground before shoving a bag into their arms and urging him to hurry up and get dressed.

Neither Riddle nor Arisu needed to be told twice about it, the bike club uniforms weren’t the most ideal attire to wear at the moment, but there wasn’t time to be a choosing beggar, not when there was a chance that Azul might completely lose it!

*

And lose it he did, there was a feral look in his eyes as he ended up taking abilities and powers left and right from his own dorm as well as from those unfortunate enough to have tried bolting from the lounge and dorm to get out– the sinking reality of the contracts being there to keep a balance was hitting hard.

Riddle ran up to Leona and Ruggie who had a paled expression on their faces and demanded to know what the hell had happened; he didn’t like the answer, the good news was that both boys were freed and Riddle would have his magic back (as well as others). The bad news was what happened before them after Leona destroyed the contracts.

The rest of the group had shown up as well as the twins; Jade and Floyd were trying to get Azul to back off in forcing magic from others as it would cause serious harm to him – there was ink manifesting with each ability he would steal from other students and it wasn’t long before it happened; Azul was in his octopus form; in some morbid way, it looked like a fit and flare dress with the tentacles acting as the ruffles of the dress. Ink covered his arms as the sleeves, and his eyes were white-out, save for the one glowing blue eye.

It wasn’t going to be an easy battle as when the attacking group – the first years, and the Pomefiore heads tried to fight him alongside with the twins, he would just heal himself and strike at them with his inky shadow that held a trident in its hands. 

Riddle looked over to where Arisu was standing and motioned him over, to which he silently obeyed and was now with, Trey, Cater, Silver, Malleus, Lilia, Leona, and Ruggie behind some coral; they were going to need a plan and they needed one fast unless they wanted to lose the Octavinelle prefect to madness – he may have been shady as hell, but that’s still no excuse to just leave him in this state.

They knew they needed to hit the glowing eye for Arisu to do his strange soul walking ability, but they were afraid to send him out in case Azul turned that crazed rage onto him like Leona and Riddle had done. Ideas were flung around from Rook using his hunting skills to Riddle distracting him with Off with Your Head. Finally, Arisu just said he had an idea and for them to trust him. They weren’t in agreement, but they knew they couldn’t really say much on the matter; they weren’t going to take his freedom again.

Arisu stood up and made his way to the battle, picking up a shell in the process. He gave a sharp whistle and waved an arm to get Azul’s attention; eyes were on him and Azul had a feral smile as he swam towards him, Ace rushed over and shove the blond out of the way before shooting a wind spell at Azul to push him back. Bad move. The mer used one of his tentacles to grab Ace by the neck and hold him in the air. 

“Let him go, Azul!” Arisu cried.

hIs LiFe Is NoW tHe PrIzE wHiCh YoU mUsT EaRn!

“Don’t throw your life away for my sake!” Ace cried. “We fought so hard to free you!” he gasped when Azul tightened his grip a little bit.

YoU tRy My PaTiEnCe, MaKe YoUr ChOiCe!

While Arisu wanted to curse at him for putting his friend in harm’s way like this, he kept a cool head and made his way over to him. He may not know why Azul was the way he is – that’s what the upcoming journey into the soul was for – but, he was going to help and this was the only way he could go about it.

“Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known?” he got close enough and rested his free hand on his pale face. “Great Seven gave me courage to show you, you are not alone.” He kissed his lips which took Azul off guard enough to drop Ace to the ground, the stunned expression was all Arisu needed to introduce the shell he was holding to Azul’s glowing eye.

Chapter Text

He was underwater again. Arisu was outside of an underwater cave, no doubt Azul was hiding out in there; he started to enter it and he was greeted to a hall of pearls on the walls, each pearl showed a memory and depending on how bright it was showed how fond he was of that particular memory. It wasn’t the only thing in the cave he noticed; there was a soft melody coming from deep in the cave, he had to strain his hearing for it.

Shamed into solitude, shunned by the multitude; I learned to listen – in my dark, I heard music. “The only place I really fit in was inside my octopus pot.”

The pearl beside him was dull and Arisu watched as a group of mermaids were bullying the octo-mer, if this weren’t a memory, he would have smacked those kids. Arisu shook his head and pulled back, he swam further into the hall and watched as each memory was filled with resentment for them.

I long to teach the world; Rise up and reach the world, No one would listen…I alone could hear the music I was different from the other mermaids because I had a lot of legs with suckers on them. I was introverted and couldn’t speak out either. Bad with academics and physical education, too. I was …always alone. A trashy idiotic octopus.

The hall started to get lighter and he saw it, two familiar twins swimming up to the octopus pot where Azul was hiding out in. Not only that, but by middle school, Azul had gained his unique power and was ‘helping’ others and stealing their talents in the process, a little revenge ploy.

All those that bullied me for what I looked like…And then, all of their weak points, their worries that I thoroughly observed…I held tightly to all of them!” There was a small laugh. “If I probe their weaknesses, I could steal even the fins of someone who’s proud of their swimming. If I probe their worries, I could even steal someone’s beautiful voice. As long as I have this contract, I am invincible! I’m no longer a trashy, lonely octopus. I will control everything using my power. All of those people that made fun of me will bow down to me.”

Revenge was a nasty cloud, Arisu shook his head and continued further down, the shine beside him got so bright he held his hand over his eyes to shield them from the blinding light and the beautiful song had returned as he observed the memory before him; it was when they officially met at the lounge and Arisu had caught his attention that day on.

Then, at last, a voice in the gloom; seemed to cry ‘I hear you! I hear your fears, your torment and your tears!’ He saw my loneliness, shared in my emptiness… “I knew he could read souls; he saw mine…I had to keep him close by me!”

He wasn’t really trying when they had first met, it was an automatic thing – heck, he couldn’t see anything in Azul’s room that day, it was just a dark room with a candle, he couldn’t see anything and it worried him. But it appeared that Azul still wanted to be by him to heal. He had spent enough time down memory lane; he ignored the rest of the pearls and made his way to the end of the hall where it was an alchemy lab. Before him was the table and candle where he took his seat before Azul who was hiding out in a small cave, all that could be seen were those silvery-blue eyes of his. 

“Soul mending.” Azul chuckled. “A skill that is said to be near impossible to master.” 

“Then you know why I’m here.” Arisu said softly. “Azul…”

“Shh.” He came from hiding and appeared before him. “You’re probably the rare person who hasn’t recoiled in disgust at the sight of me…your heart is too golden for that, Arisu.” He sat down and leaned on the table. “How long have you been able to do this?”

“For as long as I can remember.” He laced his fingers together. “But now it’s my turn to be confused; why help us? Riddle was cold around you; Leona was ready to murder you; and me? I enslaved you and took your legs.”

“I’m not repeating my reasoning, I just don’t want anyone to suffer.”

“Suffering is a part of life, Arisu; by helping me, you’re inevitably going to make others suffer.” He tilted his head. “Who’s to say I won’t do this again to the next batch of first years?”

Arisu looked up at him. “You won’t.” he said. “I can’t really explain it, but I have a feeling you’re not going to try this again.” He leaned forward. “Azul, what is it you’re hoping to get out of me aside from healing?”

“You know what they say, Success is the best form of revenge.” He took his hand. “If I were to have you by me, it would make everything easier – I could be beside the most powerful and famous Draconia Family, perhaps even gain their favors by being beside you. You and I would have made an incredible pair with my brain and your charm! Think about it! Everyone would look up to me as the octopus who did the impossible! No one would look down upon me anymore! I would show those carefree mers that I’m more than just…just a crybaby…no one would leave me. You won’t leave me!”

“It’s true, being successful is the best form of revenge…but using others for your own personal gain will make people leave you.” He shook his head. “You have a successful lounge, why not expand on that – create a chain business with it! You may not be known as the octopus that cured an ancient curse, but you would be known for the best tasting food in both the magical community and among the mortal realm!”

Azul looked at him and chuckled, “You’re willing to let me run free in your world? I could take advantage of humans.” He thought for a bit. “Hm…but what could humans offer me? Of course, I could have them give up their skills or their own business.”

“I take it back!”

Azul laughed. “Sorry darling, but no take backs.” He picked the candle up. “I’ll take over your world starting with Sunnydale, you’re not getting rid of me that easy.” He grinned. “For real though; I’ll consider your alternative method…start swimming.”

Chapter Text

Azul opened his eyes to see the twins over him. “Jade…Floyd…” he winced in pain as he looked around. “W-what had happened.”

Jade helped him up. “You overblotted…don’t you remember?”

“You were draining everyone’s magic, you looked so lame.” Floyd huffed.

Azul’s eyes widened. “W-Where’s Arisu? What happened to him?!”

“Present!” Arisu was sitting on the ground. “You didn’t do anything to me, I actually approached you.” He was playing with another shell. “So…I have to confess; you got Grim to score 80 points, that’s an impressive feat, I hadn’t been able to praise you for that because…well…obvious reasons.”

“What are you-” Azul started, but Ace interrupted him.

“It’s true, we all got high marks because of your notes for one night.” Ace grinned. “Studying from you was easier than the after-school sessions with Prefect Rosehearts!”

Azul was just frozen in place from the praise; the only thing that snapped him back to normal was the twins at their usual antics, poking fun of the tears welling up and snapping Azul back to his normal self. Arisu couldn’t help but to chuckle at the sight of it all.

“That reminds me.” Epel came forward with the picture. “Here’s the picture you wanted us to take; we brought it back before sunset, it’s our win and Arisu is free again!”

Leona walked over and took it, he looked it over. “What’s so special about this picture?”

Floyd snatched it from his hands. “Ahh! This was the picture we took when we were on the field trip!” he pointed to two twins. “Look! Look! Here’s Jade and I! and behind us hiding away is…Baby Azul!” he pointed to the small chubby octopus mer.

That got a lot of reactions. Azul was hiding in his jacket as the picture was passed around – even saying how much he was trying to get rid of any final existing pictures of his past. Arisu couldn’t help but to crack a smile at that, he cleared his throat and asked Jade and Floyd if they still had his belongings in the dorm – they did, and they went to get his things. With his wallet back in hand, he took out a small picture and handed it to Azul.

“Here, it’s only fair.” Arisu smiled at him.

Azul took it and looked down before his disdain and embarrassed look changed completely to shock. “Shut up!” he looked back at Arisu. “There is no way this is you as a child!” Arisu just nodded at him. “Well then, since you gave this to me, it’s only fair that I share it with everyone.”

“Wait what?!” Arisu paled. “Oh no you don’t!”

Azul went up to the group and handed the picture out. “Who wants to see the darling Alice live up to his name?”

“Azul you bastard! Give that back!” Arisu tried pouncing but it was too late, the twins took the picture first and grinned before handing it around.

“Damselfish really is Alice!”

“Shut up, that’s nowhere near Alice in Wonderland-!”

“Ahh the Victorian style outfit says otherwise.” Rook chuckled. “Well, a gentleman version of the story – Red and black, going for the Queen of Hearts style, were we?”

“I just liked the color scheme back then!”

Riddle looked it over and grinned; “Well Arisu, if you wanted to be in the Queen’s court that badly, you could have just asked.”

Ace just stared down at it; “I fail to see the attraction – What the hell is going on with your mouth?”

“They’re called ‘braces’ asshole!” Arisu had a pink face.

“Yeah, I can see that! Holy shit, Trey would’ve had a field day with you if you met back then!”

Trey winced. “I can only hope your dental practice is better than in this picture.”

Arisu blew a raspberry at them. “Go fuck yourself.”

Azul just snickered at him. “And I thought I was bad…”

“Go back to your octopus pot, I regret sharing my past with you.”

“I can destroy that picture for a price.”

“Nope!” Arisu shook his head. “Not happening, unlike some people I embrace my past!" that just earned a slap to the head.

Riddle chuckled and turned serious before walking up to Azul, holding the picture in hand. “It’s true, we all have a past we’d like to forget, but…” he held it to him. “Destroying them altogether is not the way to do it, those who fail to learn from their past are doomed to repeat it.”

Azul took it from Riddle and looked down at it. “Let me be rid of this, I’ll return it to the museum at once.”

“No altering it?”

“You have my solemn word, Riddle.”

Riddle nodded and shook his hand before leaving with the group, he took Arisu back to the old dorm that was Ramshackle.

*

Waking up at Ramshackle was a foreign feeling for him since he’s spent the three days at Octavinelle and one night in a tank. Finding himself in bed was a relaxing feeling, it took some time before he could drag himself out of the comfortable confines and drag himself downstairs where breakfast awaited him – instant noodles, he wasn’t in the mood to cook anything today. 

After everything that had happened to him these past three days; he deserved to be lazy and he deserved to take it easy. Grim was still doing everything in his power to make it up to Arisu, it wasn’t much, but he was teaming up with Ace and Deuce who did the heavy work while he was the brains behind the genius – unfortunately, the first idea was what Arisu walked in on and he already felt his soul leaving his body; the three were in the kitchen and were trying to make breakfast.

Now, Ace wasn’t a bad cook and neither was Deuce. They actually made amazing things whenever they would come over unannounced and would make lunch or dinner in return of their sudden visits and they would enjoy it while watching whatever movie they could find in Arisu’s library and relax alongside the ghosts. 

No, the reason Arisu felt his soul leaving his body was because of the grand idea they were concocting; breakfast in bed consisting of sweets – pancakes, French toast, scones, and a tart. At least the first two and the tart were the easiest to make. The scone however…it was painful to watch as they argued over the recipe before them. It was going to be a long morning. 

The trio looked over and smiled when they saw their friend up and about, Ace had come over to him first and asked how his legs were and if he was still having trouble getting use them – This was a common conversation he’s had and it would always take a while for Arisu to assure him that he was walking fine and that one day of having a fin wasn’t going to make him suddenly lose the ability to walk. 

But Ace was concerned for him and that was enough for him to go through the same conversation. With a smile, Arisu lent a hand in the kitchen to help with their breakfast shenanigans; fortunately, the kitchen didn’t catch fire with their arguing and breakfast between the four turned out better than expected. 

With no classes going on today, they decided to host a movie marathon and went through whatever was on a streaming service or what DVDs Arisu had on his person; they were having fun making snide remarks and various commentaries – Horror was not safe from these four. Ironically enough, Arisu hated most horror movies and the only reason he was able to enjoy the ones with his friends was because of the crude humor that came from them. 

Their fun came to a halt when the door was heard being opened, Arisu set his plate down and went to greet whoever decided to visit; he smiled when he saw it was Riddle but paled slightly when he saw the twins at the door. Crap. What did Jade and Floyd want this time?

“Damselfish~” Floyd picked him up and held him close. “You’re looking healthy, come on~ Jade and I have a gift for your friends!”

“What kind of gift are you talking about?” Ace walked over with Deuce. “And put him down!”

Jade smiled and gently pried Arisu from his brother’s arms and set him down by Riddle. “Well…I doubt any one of you had the proper chance to visit the Atlantica museum, so we’re taking you there for a personal tour – and to return the picture.” 

Riddle crossed his arms and looked away. “They could be quite convincing in this set of events.” He sighed. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to, Arisu, they’re not going to force you to come with.”

Arisu shrugged a little. “I don’t mind going.” He assured. “We’re not trading our legs, are we?”

“Absolutely not.” Riddle shot a look to the twins before turning to Arisu with a quiet look; it was a look the blond knew all so well ‘we need to talk at once’, it was the same look he would give whenever someone’s grades were starting to drop. 

After cleaning up the kitchen and the lounge area, the four friends left with Riddle and the twins towards the Mirror Chamber where the rest of the group were meeting up; there was one off thing about the group – Trey didn’t have his signature fedora and when asked about it, he just turned away and muttered to not worry about. They were going to worry about this at a later date. Once everyone had drank the breathing potion, everyone passed through the mirror and into Coral Sea.

Cater was right, it was ‘extremely photogenic’ Arisu’s eyes lit up as he began straying from the group and exploring what he could before Riddle and Trey gently led him back to the group, lightly scolding him about staying with the others and to not get lost. He had a light pink on his face as he followed the group into the museum – the guards there looked them over and muttered to each other about them being the special tour group that afternoon – Azul, you sneaky octopus, what the hell were you telling security? Is a question Arisu wanted to ask the most given the current situation, the only thing that was stopping him was seeing that Azul was still in human form; he actually wanted to see the octopus form more.

“Welcome to the Atlantica Museum, gentlemen.” Azul smiled. “Today, I and the twins will be your tour guides for the full day.” 

The twins, now in their mer form – a set of eels, swam over and pulled Arisu and Riddle from the group before spinning them around and letting them stumble into the arms of Trey and Rook. After recovering, the group followed the twins into the museum to see everything they had to offer – well, most of the group. Epel, Arisu, and Riddle were still with Azul at the entrance of the museum with the other photographs; the Pomefiore student harshly insisted that he held onto the picture so they could return it, Arisu was there because he was more or less concerned for the other, and Riddle was there because he didn’t entirely trust Azul alone with Arisu.

Azul rolled his eyes at Riddle as he took the picture from Epel. “I’m not going to destroy the picture.” He assured as he went to the wall and placed it back.

“That’s not why I’m here and you know it.” Riddle snapped.

“Why am I not surprised?” Azul huffed and took a step away from the picture. “Out of everyone in your motley crew, you’re the most protective of Arisu.”

“I’m stopping both of you here.” Arisu scolded. “I’m not having you two fight about me; I’m perfectly fine and while I appreciate the concerns…”

“Now it’s my turn to stop you.” Epel said. “You need to stop trying to take on heavy burdens alone – you didn’t need to sign your freedom away, you’re resourceful and could have found a way to take that picture instead…why did you sign yourself away?”

“I can answer that.” Azul spoke up. “It’s the same reason he’d look at Riddle and Leona with pain in his eyes – he can do more than see inside your soul room; he’s a soul mender, he’ll do what he can to help clear it up.”

“Yeah, I’m still learning from Vil – well, we’re doing what we can with what resources are available to us.” Arisu shook his head. “I’m going to start working on it during break with Lilia and Malleus.”

“Wise decision.” Azul adjusted his glasses. “But we shall worry about that at another date, you boys are here for a relaxing day.” He smiled and led them through the halls. 

The Museum trip was actually fun; especially with seeing how mers perceived human things in the past – such as the golden fork that the mermaid princess used as a comb. It was entertaining to say the least and it cracked a few smiles here and there, what got a lot of attention was some of the jewelry on display that came from the Titanic itself – where they managed to get some of these things, Arisu would never know and he was frankly too afraid to ask. Actually, a lot of interesting human things on display would come from shipwrecks from years gone by (still wondering why they would bother, but again he was too afraid to ask – he knew he wouldn’t like the answer they gave him).

“And here is the skull of Christopher Moody, a lot of humans keep confusing him with William Moody – but they were both ruthless pirates and one was just blood-thirsty.” Floyd shrugged. “The pirate flag he had was cool though.” He pointed to the red flag with a golden jolly roger, an hourglass with black wings, and a white silhouette of an arm holding a dagger.

“…Okay, I know god damn well Moody was hanged, where did you get the skull?” Trey demanded

Jade thought for a bit. “Let’s see…this was back in 1722 I want to say someone from Coral Sea went up in a human disguise and decided to go scavenging, I know that once upon a time they brought the head back when it had flesh and hair and-”

“Okay, that’s enough of that horror show!” Arisu cried, as he covered his ears

“Ari can’t handle horror.” Grim said with his ears flattened.

Trey shook his head. “Do try to refrain from giving more facts like that, Jade.”

“He’s not Jade, I am.” Floyd pointed to himself. “He’s Floyd.”

Riddle took his wand out in a threatening manner. “Oh no you don’t, we are not playing guess the twin!”

“Ahh~ You’re no fun Goldfish~” Floyd pouted. “Fiiine~ We’ll continue the tour then.”

The rest of the tour lasted until sunset and with everyone being guided to the mirror so they could return to Night Raven College. The twins willed themselves back to human and got dressed with the spare uniforms they’ve brought and the others were exchanging pictures with each other as Azul casted a quick dry spell on everyone – it was getting colder and colder now in the season; it would look pretty bad if everyone had gotten sick after this trip. With all said and done, everyone started out of the chamber and went to the hall of mirrors to return to their respective dorm.

Chapter Text

Arisu smiled and covered Grim up with a small blanket, quietly wishing him sweet dreams. He sat on the bed and kicked off his shoes before laying on his back; finally, soft bed again! He was about to settle for the night had it not been a…wait…was his mirror glowing? Getting up, Arisu went up to it – he wasn’t sleepwalking or dreaming, he was wide awake as far as he could tell.

“…Hey…-me?” the voice called. 

Arisu stumbled back a little and looked around, where did the voice come from? “Hello? Is anyone there?”

The voice returned; it was much clearer now – a little on the high-pitched side “Is someone…Is someone there?”

A voice from the mirror? Arisu approached and reached out to the mirror. “I’m here…who are you?”

Nothing. The glow vanished as did the voice.

Shaking his head, he returned to his bed and closed his eyes; he would have to bring this up to his group when they met up for breakfast the next morning

The rest of the night had seemed to be uneventful; Grim was in dreamland gushing about his tuna cans, that dream was short lived when he felt Arisu kicking him. He growled and just moved to another part of the bed and tried to get some sleep there, that also didn’t help either – no matter where he went to lay down, Arisu’s thrashing and kicking just kept waking him up. 

Having being fed up with his human’s thrashing, Grim got up and walked up to Arisu’s face, ready to slap him awake. Halting his actions, he looked down at Arisu, the boy was sweating and moving around – his human was sick! His ears flattened and he laid beside his head, purring gently in his attempt to help ease his pain.

It wasn’t working, he got up and nuzzled his human once. “Hang in there, Ari, I’m going to get Vil!” he jumped off the bed and hurried out of the bedroom and out of the old dorm.

Running down Main Street and into the school corridor, Grim dashed into the Pomefiore mirror and hurried up the cobblestoned path, pushing open the doors to enter the dark palace. It was creepy and he was freaked out, but he had to get Vil for Arisu’s sake.

SLAM!

And there went the bedroom door. Vil growled and sat up, ripping the eye mask off his face as he turned to see who the culprit was; heaven and hell help the poor student who decided it was a good idea to barge in like this in the dead of night!

“Vil!” Grim pounced and grabbed his nightshirt in his paws. “Please! I need your help!”

He grabbed the creature by the scruff of the neck and stared into those fearful blue eyes. “What could be so important that you had to come destroying my door at three in the morning?” his voice cold as ice.

“Arisu is sick!” Grim whimpered. “Please, he’s burning up and looked to be in pain!”

Vil groaned and dropped Grim on the bed before getting up and grabbing his robe. “Fine, I’ll look him over but if it turns out to be nothing more than a cold, I am going to skin you alive.” 

*

This was definitely not a cold. Vil looked down at Arisu who was paler than death itself, he helped the boy sit up before he moved him to the bathroom where he immediately turned on the hot shower and hot sink water to steam the room up. Sitting on the ground, he held the boy close and started to rub his back in order to sooth him.

Grim was pacing beside them and looking up at Vil with worry in his eyes, Vil just shushed the cat and told him he wasn’t going to leave the poor boy alone – he did have the strange cat use his phone to call Doctor Crane to let him know of a possible patient; that was probably a bad move as the damn cat had to call the rest of the Royal Quartet in the process. Vil just sighed, it wasn’t avoidable.

“Vil?” Arisu looked up at him, he was tired.

“Hush, Alice.” Vil said. “Grim is getting some assistance for us.” He kissed his head. “Keep your focus on me; what are you going to be doing for break?”

Arisu moved so he was in a better position. “I’m taking Riddle back to Sunnydale; we’re going to drive around town and to the town next door to see Christmas lights, watch a few movies, play trivia games.” He started to move to get out of his grip.

“Hey, hey.” He let go and gave him space. “I know you’re uncomfortable right now, but I need you to put focus on me – I’m your focal point, eyes here.” He pointed to his face. “What else are you going to do?”

There was no answer from the first-year. Arisu just moved away and made it to the toilet instead, Vil just winced at the sight of him; this was going to be a long night and morning for the both of them.

*
“You weren’t kidding when you said this was serious.” Doctor Crane said, looking over Arisu. “When did the symptoms start?” 

“I can’t give a solid time.” Vil said. “But I want to say between 2:30 and 3 in the morning.” He sat beside the medical cot, looking down at Arisu. “The more concerning part is what came out of him before we showed up.” He held up a vile, courtesy of the ghosts of Ramshackle. 

Doctor Crane looked at the contents. “Is that…ink?” he felt his eyes widen.

Vil just nodded. “My guess is this is from the overblot victims.” He explained. “He started to recover a little after expelling this earlier, but I suspect there’s more lingering inside him.”

“You may be right.” Crane turned back to Arisu who was able to sleep peacefully. “I will handle things here, Vil, you should get some sleep as well.”

“Very well.” Vil pushed one of the other beds over and laid down on it. “I’ll be here making sure Arisu sleeps through the night.”

*
“Ink poisoning?” Arisu repeated.

When morning came, Vil had gently informed him of what happened last night; Arisu knew he wasn’t feeling well, but he didn’t know it was bad to the extent of it being labeled as poisoning. Sometime last night, Crane had taken some of his blood to do some work on him and see if there were any lingering residual ink inside of him. There was, and treatment wasn’t going to be easy on him; Vil had to get some herbs from the botanical garden to get started as soon as possible.

“Treatment isn’t going to be pretty.” Vil warned. “It’s also why I have Leona, Jack, Floyd and Malleus here.” He pointed to the two sitting beside him. “You’re going to be in a lot of pain, and will have to be restrained by not only the restraints provided by Doctor Crane, but also by these power houses.”

Floyd looked over at Arisu and gently patted his head. “It’s okay, Damselfish, I won’t squeeze you too hard!” he assured him. “Vil’s a master when it comes to poison, it’ll be quick and easy!”

“Don’t give him false hope.” Malleus huffed. “I know the treatment Vil speaks of, when he says it’ll be painful, he means it will be painful, the fires of hell won’t compare.”

Arisu gulped and nodded. “I still put my trust in your hands, senpai.”

“Good.” Vil kissed his head. “Bear with me, Alice.”

Vil moved and got a few bowls ready filled with medicinal fluids made with the herbs and returned to Arisu’s side with one. He kissed his head again before taking a scalpel and making a small incision on the boy’s body before relaxing himself, that was the easy part.

The hard part was using a spell to hold the fluid in his hand and push it into Arisu’s body; it caused a shock and made him start to move in discomfort at first, the boys immediately held him down. The pain started when vil used his other hand and forced the tainted fluid out of him.

Arisu threw his head and screamed. The process continued over and over and his screams were getting louder and louder that most – if not all of Night Raven College heard him. This lasted until Vil ran out of the medicinal fluid; the ink he collected so far from the boy was sickening to look at, but he figured this is what was needed to see if there was anything he could do to make something – an antidote would be far out there, at least something to destroy it from the system. 

“Easy now, Sunflower.” Malleus kissed his cheek. “It’s over now.” He assured him. “It’s over.”

“I’ll make sure you get your assignments, Flower Boy.” Jack promised him. “Just get some rest, okay?”

Arisu nodded and whined before trying to hide in the blanket provided for him. 

Vil looked over from where he was putting the ink in various vials. “I’ll be taking this home to work on during break.” He announced. “If we’re lucky, we can keep him from getting hurt any further.”

“We put our trust in your hands, Beautiful.” Malleus said. “I know you’ll do it.” He kissed his cheek. “I’ll see you in class.”

Chapter Text

Arisu had lost count on how many people had came in with flowers alone, he smiled the gesture as he worked on his assignments from the medical wing. He wouldn’t say he was cured completely, he was far from it, but he would say that he was actually doing a lot better than he was earlier that day and from last night. Even now as he was working on homework, his team from the bike racing club was beside him in an impromptu study party.

They talked about their upcoming break, everyone was in high spirits for the most part – well, everyone except Omar and Adnan who were to the side with an annoyed huff. Upon asking them what the matter was, they said that they would be in Scarabia during the break because their dorm master was going to be hosting a winter training camp – they didn’t do so well in terms of finals and magical shift so this was just to improve everything before they could think about returning home for the holidays.

“That…I’m sorry, I know I’ve only had a handful encounters with your dorm head but…that doesn’t really sound like him.” Arisu said.

“Look, don’t worry about it.” Omar said. “Dorm master Kalim tends to be…” he tapped his chin in thought. “Let’s see, think of him like Jekyll and Hyde without the murderous tendency; he’ll be sunshine and rainbows one minute and in the next he’ll switch on a snap.” He snapped his fingers. “And become strict and harsh – similar to Riddle…er no offense.”

But the times he’s met Kalim and saw his room it didn’t really match what Omar had said. If anything, Kalim’s room was an open garden that was always festive and lively, welcoming and all! Was there something going on under the surface? He shook his head, no, Omar was right, he shouldn’t worry about it. He got up from the bed and just walked back and forth in the room – he didn’t want to stay in bed the whole day, but he wasn’t entirely in the clear to be leaving the medical wing. But damn it, he still wanted to move around! He felt like he was going to start scaling the walls if this kept up.

Hiroshi got up and gently tapped his shoulders. “Is something bothering you?” he signed.

“Yes and no.” Arisu answered. “It’s…difficult to explain, I mean, I usually talk about this stuff with Vil.”

“Well, we can try to help.” Hiroshi smiled. “Come on, tell us what’s wrong.”

Arisu smiled back and returned to the group. “Okay, so this is going to be a long story; since my time here I’ve been having dreams regarding the Great Seven and their past, it wasn’t until after Riddle’s OB that it showed the dreams were a warning letting me know that unless something is done that history was doomed to repeat itself.” He sighed. “We’ve tried changing the course to prevent the OB’s but…well, in terms of Leona and Azul, it failed.”

“Okay, if memory serves me right – especially from the gossip of the mill.” Bjorn paced around. “You guys tried the switch technique on Leona since he was after Malleus, he still OB’ed…what did you with Azul?”

“Well, Leona and Ruggie thought the grand idea would be distract and then destroy the contracts.” Arisu crossed his arms. “You saw how well that worked out.”

“Maybe you guys are going about it wrong.” Adnan said. “Maybe the moment the first dream happens you should confront the individual and warn them as soon as possible.” 

Hiroshi shook his head. “Doubt it’ll work, it won’t do much if he doesn’t know who the intended individual is.” He signed

“Hiroshi’s right.” Arisu said. “I mean, yeah, the first three should be easy to identify but…” he shook his head. “If it happens again during break, what the hell am I going to do?”

Omar tapped his chin. “Maybe it won’t happen, well what about last night? I mean, something agitated your system pretty bad?”

“And that brings me to this; I think there’s something going on with the mirror in my dorm; someone was trying to make contact with me – yes, I was wide awake for this too.” Arisu said. “I feel like I should recognize the voice, but…it was pretty distant so I couldn’t make it out.”

“Well.” Adnan laid a hand on his shoulder. “While we’re in our dorm, we’ll look into this stuff for you.” He grinned. “So, you just go and relax during break we’ll handle things here.”

Hiroshi rose his hand and grinned. “My family has a huge library; I’ll look into the Great Seven’s history for you too!”

“And I’ll talk to mom, she’s kind of an oracle and maybe she’ll give some insight.” Bjorn smiled. 

“What would I do without my bike team.” Arisu smiled. “Alright, when we meet again, we’ll talk about our progress; we’re meeting in Afterglow!”

“What’s happening in Afternoon?” Hiroshi asked

“I’m putting together something for Ruggie for Christmas…speaking of I should get the gifts handed out before I leave for break.”

“Not without the doctor’s approval you’re not.” Omar pointed to the bed. “Bed. Now.”

“You’re not my mom.” Arisu pouted.

Chapter Text

From rose mazes to the savanna; and now from the ocean to the desert. On the one hand; the change in weather was welcomed, on the other hand he was starting to find these dreams to be tedious. He was fine with them since they didn’t disrupt sleep but…at the same time they were deeply concerning him and wanted nothing more to do with them. His thoughts on the situation changed when he heard horses nearby, following the sound he came upon two figures talking about something; the taller was scolding the smaller person before they followed after a gold stream of light. Like everything else, Arisu followed them and the light – logically the horses would be long gone as he tried to catch up to them, but with each step as he ran, he felt like he was on air and was catching up in a way he couldn’t understand. Well, this would be surprising if he wasn’t breathing underwater just fine when he was staying with Octavinelle’s mafia leaders; so maybe he achieved super speed in the dream world now.

The group stopped and the sand dune had two glowing eyes before taking the form of a tiger’s head; “Who disturbs my slumber?” it demanded. The smaller person was shoved before the tiger, when they introduced themselves, the Tiger warned them that only the Diamond in the Rough could enter; not heeding the warning, the person stepped into the mouth of the tiger and met a grisly end. They were buried alive.

Arisu woke up with a groan; that certainly had escalated, unlike the past that would build up to tension, this one jumped right into the grisly details. 

With a tired sigh, he grabbed his phone and looked at the date; fatigue left him and a wave of excitement graced him, he threw the covers off and hurried over to his small work station on the desk. It took some time, but he finally got the gifts for the friends he had made here at Night Raven College; even though most everyone would be going home for the holiday break, Arisu couldn’t help but to smile at the thought that this was his first time celebrating with everyone. Cater had sent an invite to everyone for a pajama party on a video call sometime around the 24th or 25th; Arisu had done something similar except they were all going to the Afterglow for a potluck – this confused a lot of people, but Arisu just grinned and said to show up with a dish from home (that kept raising more questions, but eventually the group dropped it since it looked like Che’nya was giving him lessons on how to be cryptic)

Tightening the ribbon around the final gift, Arisu smiled at his hard work; Christmas break was around the corner and he wanted to make sure his friends had something amazing to open when they got home. All he had to do was to deliver the gifts to their respective recipients; starting with his furry roommate; making his way downstairs to the kitchen where Grim was talking with the ghosts about the break and flattening his ears when it got to the topic of family, Arisu tapped his back and smiled at him before handing a gift to him.

Grim ignored it, saying something about how he was probably going to be stuck at the school alone for the break while Arisu was having some feast back home with his family. Arisu just looked at him and said ‘What do you mean? You’re coming with me, you’re my partner, aren’t you?’ that was enough for Grim to change from a moody state into a cheerful one, he pounced and started rubbing under the boy’s chin, causing him to laugh. 

Arisu had to set him down so he could open his present; he was greeted to a small sweater that was a dark green and had neat writing stitched on saying ‘I’m on the Naughty List!’ he stared before laughing and putting it, claiming it was the best gift he’d received from a mere mortal. 

Arisu petted him and wished the ghosts a ‘happy holidays’ since they were going off to see families as well, with all said and done, he went to the lounge and took the wagon out with him to start handing out gifts. They started off with Diasomnia and handed the presents to the quartet; Malleus with a Furby, Silver with a handmade quilt, and a Christmas card for Lilia and Sebek – they were appreciative of it and thanked him, saying that they would bring their gifts over to Sunnydale when they show up for Christmas Day.

Pomefiore was next and luck had to be shining on him; Arisu had caught Vil as he was making sure everyone was packed; he was giving the dorm’s farewell speech and told everyone to stay healthy and to take proper care of themselves – just because it was the break, it wasn’t an excuse to be lazy. 

Arisu smiled and waited until the students started to file out before he could catch Epel and hand him his present; the fellow first-year smiled and hugged him before grabbing something from his bag and teasing him ‘Don’t open until Christmas’ he would warn. Arisu laughed and put the small present into his bag before going up to Vil and Rook and handing them their presents. Vil smiled and patted his head, Rook just kissed his cheek in thanks and wished him well. 

Even though Arisu wasn’t entirely close to Kalim, he still saw him as a friend and stopped at Scarabia for a brief moment to drop his gift off; it wasn’t much, but he remembered that the prefect kept hijacking his iPod and made a note to comment on the songs he enjoyed – so he made a mix CD for him; the two hugged and parted ways for Arisu to head over to the Octavinelle Dorm.

He was pounced on in an instant when he stepped through the threshold of the lounge; Floyd had picked him up and held him close; it was an awkward exchange; but after everything they’ve been through together, Arisu decided to get them something simple. 

When asked what they were planning to do; the trio said they were going to stay at the school, but they were going to see friends and their students off at the Mirror Chamber to make sure everyone got home safely. Turned out even the mafia had a heart. Arisu just smiled at that and wished them well – and promised pictures of Sunnydale for them (they would have begged to go home with him, but when they learned about how cold it got there – Minnesota boy – they immediately backed off; cold weather was their kryptonite).

Savannaclaw was somewhat similar when it came to delivering gifts; of course, with Ruggie’s gift, Arisu had to get Leona’s help on this and surprisingly the dorm head went along with it. The end result when Ruggie saw the contents of the card he was laughing so hard (After learning from Rook, he knew the hyena boy was actually excited this time) and it took a while to calm down before he hugged him and ruffled his hair. 

Jack was silent and humble in his thanks and Leona started out with a grin until he saw Arisu with two other gifts for him – correction, for his brother and Cheka. This kid and his damn kind heart.

The final dorm was Heartslabyul and Arisu was quick to give his friends his gifts and hand written cards for the rest of the dorm (it was a miracle how he pulled that off); he smiled and talked with everyone as he made his way to the prefect’s room, Riddle was sitting on the bed as the blond came in, suitcase by his legs and Trey sitting beside him with Che’nya keeping him steady. 

This was the moment of truth; they were going to put the plan into action, it wasn’t the first plan in mind, but they were going to go with this. Sometime after Riddle had accepted Arisu (during and after those therapy sessions) they had agreed to ask Arisu about going with contingency plan 13 (the group refused to use letters, it would just imply that they had 26 plans); take Riddle over to Sunnydale for the duration of breaks. Was it running away? Probably, but at this point hardly any of the trio cared; they weren’t going to let Riddle in that gilded cage again – and with a carefully crafted lie, his mother won’t suspect a damn thing…hopefully.

“Hey guys.” Arisu greeted softly. “How are things here?”

“Things could be better, Alice.” Che’nya said. “Nerves are at a new height; and despite me assuring these two that your parents are fine with this arrangement, Riddle’s still looking at everything that could go wrong.” He ignored the look Riddle shot him.

Arisu nodded and smiled. “I don’t even have a MagiCam account so she wouldn’t be able to track us like that.” He started off. “Plus, I believe when it comes to visiting other realms one must abide by the rules of said realm; so, she can’t really storm into Sunnydale unless she wants to face consequences. Then there’s my mother who…well, the short version is get your will written out when going up against her.”

Che’nya looked at Riddle. “See? You’re going to be fine.”

Trey had a small nod of agreement. “We wouldn’t have asked him if Che’nya wasn’t positive about the outcome.” He rubbed his back. “You’re going to be safe in Sunnydale, Riddle.”

Riddle cleared his throat and nodded. “With that said, we should get to the Mirror Chamber and see everyone off.” He looked at Arisu with relief in his eyes. “Thank you again for this.” He added softly. 

“For a friend, anything.” Arisu hugged him once before leaving the dorm with the small group.

*

At the Mirror chamber, Crowley was letting everyone know the travel safety when returning home. Friends were hugging and letting the other know they would text them the moment they got home, Arisu had to assure Ace and Deuce that he would be keeping them updated but they weren’t having it; they wanted their Alice to come home with them – it took Riddle a while to get them off him (and that was with Trey and Che’nya helping). 

The Octavinelle Trio came and wished them well, Floyd was riling Riddle up the entire time until the prefect was red in the face and Arisu had to quickly defuse the situation; when questioned why they didn’t have their bags, they confirmed they weren’t returning home as they couldn’t stand the cold where they were from. That was understandable.

The Savannaclaw trio also came by; Leona had an annoyed look on his face but smiled as he ruffled Arisu’s hair wishing him a happy holiday before going through to return to the Afterglow, Ruggie was behind with a huge cooler and bags packed to the brim with ingredients and materials from the cafeteria; he smiled at Arisu and thanked him for his gift before hurrying off through the mirror; Arisu looked at the other and winked, if Ruggie was excited about his gift he was going to be in for a huge surprise on Christmas day. Ace and Deuce were in automatic agreement and assured him that they would bring something for the surprise.

“Ah, Mr. Carol.” Crowley called out. “Before you return home, I was wondering if you could do something for me?”

That was never a good sign. Everything bad happens whenever Crowley asked something of him.

“Of course, sir.” Arisu put on a false smile. “What is it?”

“Could you fuel the fireplace in the cafeteria and main hall?”

Wait that was it? Arisu raised an eyebrow at that and Crowley just continued with the request.

“They’re controlled by fairy-like creatures, and they’ve been living in the school’s fireplace for quite some time. If the fire sprites are gone, the school will perish from the harsh winter coldness every year.” He explained. “That is why, I would like to entrust you with this duty.”

Arisu was just quiet and looked to Riddle who gave a light shrug and spoke for the blond; “It’s just feeding the fireplace; it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.” He pointed out. “We’ll be in Sunnydale on time, and some of the remaining ghosts will take over as well.”

“Wonderful! Ah? Prefect Rosehearts, you’re not going home to the Rose Kingdom?” he saw the boy shook his head. “Very curious, well you have my number in case something happens – you know how old fireplaces can be in case something goes wrong, I doubt it’ll happen, we take care of them every spring to prevent out of control flames, but one can never be so sure.” He smiled. “You boys take care now!”

Chapter Text

With final goodbyes, Riddle and Arisu left their bags in the mirror chamber and went off to the Ramshackle Dorm; Getting the wood was as easy as it was said it would be, especially when the ghosts had helped out in chopping and collecting some of the fuel for the fire. After getting the wood they needed and informing the ghosts of everything that was happening, the three hurried off and went into the school – making sure to slip on any stray ice along the way.

“My, my, my, doing commoner’s work are we?” came a chilling voice.

Riddle sighed and ignored the phantom behind him. “Really? It’s been near two months now and you’re still here?”

“I am your shadow, dear Riddle.” The overblot phantom chuckled and went up to Arisu. “Let me take a good look at the darling rabbit.” He lifted Arisu’s chin in his hand before scowling. “I see your light is back shining bright as ever; how cruel you are, darling.”

Arisu pushed him off. “If you’re talking about the residual ink inside me from You, Leona, and Azul; Vil had already purged the majority of it from my system, I don’t know why you’re upset about but die mad about it!” he hissed. 

The phantom shook his head. “Oh, sweet little rabbit, you truly are naïve, aren’t you?” He walked beside him. “You saw the inside; you know we’re connected to the Sins of the Seven.” He played with his blond hair. “My Wrath, Tom Cat’s Gluttony, and now that Takoyaki’s greed…being a beautiful boy of light, you’re just going to face sin after sin and be tainted with drops of ink after ink.”

Arisu moved away from him. “What do you hope to gain from these visits?”

He crossed his arms. “Straight to the point, I love it.” He smirked. “Fine, I want you to back down; you’re quite an interfering little Progeny and it really pisses me off.” His eye glowed violently. “Go deliver your firewood, Alice, and then get out of Night Raven College – don’t even return here for the next year.”

As he vanished, the two just made their way into the cafeteria to toss the logs into the fire place. Riddle held Arisu close and rubbed his back, telling him to not take the phantom’s word at face value. He won’t lie, he didn’t want the boy to get involved in another fight against an Overblot victim.

After the moment of silence between them, Arisu and Grim were able to meet the sprites for the first time; Grim was excited that he could feel their warmth just by being near them whereas Arisu reached out with the intent to touch one out of curiosity – that was put to a stop when Riddle took his hand into his and gently scolded him saying he would get burnt if he did that. With all said and done, the trio were about to set off back to the mirror chamber – and they would have had it not been the sounds of activity in the kitchen; curious and a little hungry (they could bring something for the road home), they went to investigate the source.

They were definitely not expecting to see Scarabia students still here! Arisu’s gaze locked with one of the students – a member from his bike club; Omar, he was with the others rushing around the kitchen getting something made and the one barking orders about how certain foods should be prepared was…Jamil. This was actually the rare time that Jamil’s hardly seen with Kalim attached to the hip and it was rising some questions as well; weren’t they going home to celebrate the holidays? Or were they like the Octavinelle’s mafia and didn’t want to return home for some reason or another?

Their presence caught the attention of Jamil, he looked over and raised an eyebrow out of curiosity; strange sight to see, he was certain he heard from Kalim or Omar about Arisu’s home that was Sunnydale – how beautiful it was during the winter and traditions he had (honestly, he was amazed at what he had lined up; if the Halloween treat station was anything to go by, he wouldn’t be surprised if Arisu’s family turned their house into an ice palace). For someone who hyped up about the holidays at home, he was still in the school…and with Riddle Rosehearts no less. Very strange, very interesting to see. 

“What are you three still doing here?” Jamil asked

Riddle was the one who spoke up. “The Headmaster asked us to fuel the fireplace today, we’re assuming he also meant to come by when we can to keep said fireplace lit for the break.” He explained. “We agreed and we were actually on our way back to the Mirror Chamber.”

There was a glint in Jamil’s eyes. “I see…I can understand why the Headmaster would ask that of you, Prefect Rosehearts, but to ask Arisu and Grim? They must be quite the students to earn his trust like that.”

“Yes…they are remarkable students.” ‘At times’ went unspoken. “I daresay if these two were in Heartslabyul, they’d be the perfect student…well, save for Grim, he does have his merit.”

Jamil nodded, he said something under his breath before another glint came to his eyes; “If it’s not too much trouble to ask, would you like to help with cooking? When everything’s finished, you could take some food with you on the road home.”

Grim’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Whoa, really?!”

“Of course!” Jamil assured. “It would be very rude of us not to offer you something warm to eat on the way home, especially in this weather.”

Riddle nodded at that. “You do have a point; I’ll assist where I can alongside with Grim.”

Arisu stuck his tongue out and went over to the stove to get cider going. The kitchen was filled with the aroma of spices; the savory scent made their mouths water. There was never a dull day with Arisu around. The same could be said about Riddle; never would Jamil had imagined that the redhead was eager and quick to learn how to cook some traditional dishes, he found the behavior curious and a part of him held a bit of bitter feelings as he watched the young Rosehearts cooking alongside others. 

No, that would have to be for another day. 

Jamil smiled as Arisu sealed some Tupperware that had the food in and put them into a bag he had, things could work out in his favor – especially since this trio had the Headmaster’s favor, clearing his throat Jamil brought their attention back to him. He thanked them for their help, and Arisu was quick to assure him that it was no problem; of course, the blond was curious as to why Scarabia was staying at the school to which Jamil assured him that it wasn’t anything bad, it was dorm business; but he wasn’t too opposed if they could help deliver the food to the dorm – it’s always warm despite the winter weather.

“I’m sorry, but we have prior engagements in Sunnydale and we shouldn’t really keep anyone waiting.” Riddle said.

“I’m sure that the Prefect will be happy to see his friends again before you leave; You’ll come, won’t you?”

Arisu looked up at him. “It would be great to see him again!”

Riddle stared at him, “Arisu-!”

“That’s wonderful to hear!” Jamil clapped his hands together. “Come, let’s get the food to Scarabia.”

*
Riddle was to the side as he watched the banquet unfolded; he knew that Arisu was excited to show him and Grim Sunnydale around this time of year and was eager to get Riddle in on some of his family traditions, yet, both of them agreed to join Scarabia for tonight. Jamil had always been a weird one in his eyes, he knew the other was smarter and more talented than he lets on but never shows it, he hasn’t spoken to him much so he couldn’t really be sure if he was just silver-tongued and can persuade you into agreeing to something, or if there was something more going on beneath the surface.

Looking at the latest victim to the silver-tongue, he watched as Arisu was walking around and talking to some of the students of the dorm; Omar and Adnan, Riddle just decided to stay quiet and off to the side – Arisu could have another minute or two to be with his friends before they had to leave for Sunnydale.

Arisu had the same idea, except he was talking to the two about the latest dream; turned out the tiger head was the entrance to the fabled Cave of Wonders where the Sorcerer of the Desert had managed to get the magical lamb to rise into power.  The only down side was that there wasn’t really much to go off of on that, no-one could think of anyone in the dorm that would match the situation. Letting his shoulders drop, Arisu thanked them for their time and wished them well before returning to Riddle’s side.

“What’s the meaning of this, Jamil? I wasn’t told we’d be having guests.”

Riddle turned his gaze towards Kalim, the strange prefect of Scarabia; he had overheard the first-years saying how Kalim had a harsh reputation in the dorm as being just as harsh as the ‘Crimson Tyrant’, this surprised him since the dorm head meetings showed Kalim as more of a laidback person; he may not be close with the head of Scarabaia but then again; perhaps he was just harsh at the dorm but laidback outside?

Jamil cleared his throat. “There’s a reason for this, Kalim.”

“I believe I told you to tell me first if you were going to invite someone here! We could’ve prepared some more food and better music!”

Nope, he was definitely laidback here as well. Riddle just narrowed his eyes slightly at the other as he came bounding over before taking his hand and shaking it.

“Riddle! It’s wonderful to see you again! Why are you still here? Aren’t you heading off for the holidays as well?”

“Arsiu had felt the urge to visit his friends again before we had left for Sunnydale for break.” Riddle explained.

Kalim’s ruby eyes lit up. “Arisu’s here too!?” he looked and saw the blond beside Riddle, in an instant he took the boy’s hands into his and twirled him. “Ah, it’s always good to see you again!” he cheered. 

“It’s good to see you too, Kalim.” Arisu giggled. “I’m sorry for us showing up last-minute, it was…kind of a spur of the moment thing.”

“Oh, don’t you worry a thing!” he assured. “You’re always welcomed here.” 

“Thank you.” Arisu smiled. “Hey, can I ask something?” he watched him nod. “What brought on this training camp?”

Kalim blinked and looked down, his smile faltering. “Ah…well, we had the Magical Shift Tournament and tests recently, didn’t we? Our dorm didn’t place in any of those.” He forced a smile. “That’s why, I made a proposal; I’ll have the students undergo special lessons during this break!”

“It’s admirable you want the best for your students, we are the same in a sense.” Riddle spoke up. “What are the details of this study session?”

“We’re thinking of holding study sessions and magic practice every day starting at six am during the break.” Jamil explained calmly.

“Whoa!” Grim freaked out. “Six am every day!? That doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, holidays are for taking a break. You can just do your homework after you’ve rested enough – so Leona said!”

“I think what Grim means is while doing the work is important, taking breaks are just as needed.” Arisu spoke up. “Unless you want to be burned out and crash, self-care is vital as well.”

Kalim thought for a bit. “Ah…you do have a point, I guess.” He tapped his chin. “My dad does say ‘work with all you’ve got, and then play harder’, you know? Maybe being a little carefree is a good idea.” He snapped his fingers. “Alright! I’ve decided, Jamil! Let’s take a break like planned, we can send the students home tomorrow!”

There was a flash of something in Jamil’s eyes, Riddle narrowed his own at the vice prefect – what was that just now? He didn’t have time to think as Kalim had taken them on an impromptu tour of Scarabia and then finishing the night with dinner and dance. This would have to be something he’d talk to Arisu about later in private.

Chapter Text

Gold. Gold everywhere. Riddle knew that were dorms with a palace like feel to it but this? It beat out Pomefiore in terms of royalty aesthetic, of course it helped when your father donated to the school; Grim had asked about it and if Kalim was a prince like Leona – he wasn’t but he had relatives who were royalty, and that comment was enough for Arisu to whisper to him saying ‘in short, he is a prince’ causing Riddle to let out a laugh – he had to quickly assure the other prefect that Arisu was making him laugh with an inside joke between them; Kalim just smiled and said it was good that Riddle had such an amazing friend.

“Ah! That’s right, you guys were going to head to Sunnydale for the holidays.” He said with realization. “Perhaps in the summer you guys could come visit our hometown! I’ll welcome you gladly and show you everything there is to see!”

Grim climbed up onto his shoulder. “Do you live in a castle too?”

“Nah, I don’t.” He shook his head. “We only have about…a hundred servants.”

“Isn’t that a little much?” Grim choked. “I only have one and he’s mean.” He pointed to Arisu who just gave Grim the middle finger. “See?”

“Well, I’m from a big family with over thirty younger siblings; it’d be hard to look after them if we didn’t have that many servants.” He didn’t flinch when Arisu and Riddle choked on surprise. “Or was it forty? I stopped counting when they reached thirty, but I remember all their names and faces though!” he giggled.

It’s official, Kalim’s family are actually rabbits disguised as humans.

“So, what about Jamil?” Arisu asked. 

“His family’s been attending to our family for years.” Kalim smiled. “We’ve been at each other’s side since we were little.” He took his hands into his and smiled. “Come on! There’s something you and Riddle have to see!” he pulled him to a room and flicked the lights on.

Even more gold. No, it was more of a treasure room; the entire room was filled with not only gold, but various trinkets – Arisu swore he saw a diadem somewhere among the riches. Grim finally started floating around forgoing his lazy and lounging on someone’s shoulder to get a better look at everything; Riddle just stared and shook his head when Kalim said it was a few things that his father wanted him to bring to school. Royalty or not, one thing Riddle was positive about; Kalim was crazy rich. 

“There’s one I love the most among this pile of treasure.” Kalim looked around. “Huh? Where is it?” He sighed. “Sorry, it likes to move around on its own.” He left them to go look.

“Moving treasure…” Arisu sat down and shook his head. “I knew Pomefiore was lavish but…oh my god I think I’m a fish out of water.”

Grim finally landed and went up to a pile. “A big jewel and a shiny gold cup; there’s a lot so maybe stealing one or two won’t be too bad~”

Riddle grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. “You will do no such thing!”

Grim huffed and crossed his arms. “You’re more agitated than normal.” He pointed out. “What’s with you?”

“There’s a few things; one is that my shadow just up and threatened Arisu.” Riddle dropped Grim.

“He showed up when Azul had Arisu in his chains.” Grim pointed out. “…Is he a bad omen?”

“Hard to tell.” Riddle went to Arisu. “Arisu, we need to talk as well.”

Arisu looked up at him. “I think I know what you’re going to say…” he was about to say something before he felt a tap on his shoulder. “Kalim?” He turned and froze in place. this had to be a – no, it’s not a dream. If broom flying was a class here, why wouldn’t there be a flying carpet.

“There you are!” Kalim went up to the carpet. “I wish you’d stop flying off like that!” he smiled to the others. “Ta da! What do you think?”

Grim hesitantly approached it. “What is that?” he pawed it once and backed away, his fur was standing up. “Is it a cursed carpet?”

Kalim laughed. “Cursed? No, no, this is the legendary Magic Carpet from the Land of Hot Sands! I was told that this is a replica of the Magic Carpet that the King – the same one that the Sorcerer of the Desert served – used to fly in the sky!” his eyes lit up. “You know…the sun will set soon; I have an idea!” 

Riddle stared at him; “You’re not seriously going to try putting all of us onto that, are you?”

Kalim looked at them and held his hand out, “Riddle, Arisu…do you trust me?” he smiled when they nodded at him, and he took their hands into his as he took them away. “I can show you the world; shining, shimmering, splendid.” He turned them so they were face to face. “Tell me princes, now when did you last let your heart decide?” Letting go, he went behind Arisu and covered his eyes for a brief second “I can open your eyes.” He pulled away and held Riddle in a side hug. “Take you wonder by wonder; over sideways and under on a magic carpet ride” He let go and took them outside where they got onto the carpet and took to the skies.

Unlike with a magic broom where you had something to hold onto, flying on a carpet was another feeling and needless to say, Arisu felt himself latching onto the person nearest to him; Kalim. After they reached ‘cruising altitude’ Arisu was able to let go of him and apologize softly. Kalim just assured him that everything would be okay and that he wouldn’t let anyone fall. Being in the air was amazing, even though they were used to being on brooms this was still a wonderful feeling. The stars looked like diamonds!

Kalim smiled at them, it was definitely a whole new world to them. “A whole new world; a new fantastic point of view.” He looked down at the dorm bellow. “No one to tell us ‘no’, or where to go, or say we’re only dreaming.” 

Arisu moved a little bit to the edge and looked down; his eyes lit up at how the world looked from a bird’s eye view! “A whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew!” He’s been on a broomstick before, but he’s never been this high in the air before, he’s never seen the world like this before. “But when I’m way up here, it’s crystal clear, that now I’m in a whole new world with you!

“Unbelievable sights.” Riddle started off; he felt his heart race with excitement. “Indescribable feeling!” He started to stretch his arms out like a bird (Okay, technically, Arisu lifted his arms up and say ‘You are now Rose’, he would never get over Arisu’s antics). “Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky.” 

They flew like this around the dorm some more before they finally settle at cruising pace; everyone was relaxing and playing with the clouds here and there before Kalim made sure they had a wonderful flight. The group did, and they just stayed either laying on each other’s shoulders or in the case of Grim, he was curled up and purring.

“How often are you in the air?” Riddle asked.

Kalim thought for a bit, “I guess every other night?” he shook his head. “It actually helps clear my mind of any and all stress…” he looked at them. “Jamil tells me that I worry too much sometimes, kinda wish he’d take it a little bit easy too.” His smile didn’t falter.

Arisu laid a hand on his shoulder. “Maybe this break is what the doctor ordered. I mean, it’s a time of relaxing!”

“And here, you get a first-hand glimpse of Arisu’s magic to get people to agree with his ideas.” Riddle grinned when Arisu turned and stuck his tongue out at him. “You know it’s true, you’re a mortal siren; your voice and sweet doe eyes lure people in and then they can’t escape until they comply to your demands!” he laughed as the boy gave a gentle shove.

Kalim laughed and shook his head; “You two bounce off each other so well! This is proof that you two are good friends!” he smiled and started to glide them down to the dorm. “Come on, we have dinner to be had and then you guys can head home.”

*
“Kalim! You’re finally back.” Jamil sighed. “I see you took them on a magic carpet ride; anyway, I want to confirm something before dinner, can we talk alone?”

“Yeah!” Kalim turned to the trio. “You guys go wait at the lounge; we’ll be with you shortly.”

Dinner with the rest of the dorm was lively as ever – turned out Jamil had to take over on the training while Kalim was showing the three around. Granted they would wait until an announcement was over before the main course, but there was no rule about appetizers first as they just talked and made playful banter; Omar had made a small jab to Arisu saying ‘At least our dorm leader’s not making us run up and down the stairs for training’ to which Arisu would remind him ‘It’s to work on getting used to incline rides.’ 

That was when things turned to a rough start; Kalim had returned and…his expression was different; he looked strict (almost like Riddle on a good day when it came to dorm head duties), but that wasn’t it…normally when Arisu looked into a person’s eyes he could see their soul room; with Kalim, he couldn’t really see anything! No candle, no room, everything looked like it was covered in a shroud. Riddle looked at his friend and had the same expression; something was wrong here, but the question was how to approach it.

Bombshell hit; so much for agreeing to the sending the students home for the break. Instead, there’s five hours of studying and four hours of training then there’s defensive magic training…starting after dinner tonight. This was insane, even more so when Kalim turned to the three (Riddle, Arisu, and Grim) and said they would be participating as well. Riddle had tried to argue about it and was close to decapitating him but…that was put to a stop by Jamil who just said ‘Don’t try challenging him, it won’t end well for anyone’. One look at the other students; Riddle lowered his wand; he knew that one word from the prefect would get a mob going. 

“We’ll play along for now.” Riddle snapped at Kalim. “But mark my words, we’re leaving as soon as the first training session is over.”

There was a tense staring contest throughout the entire dinner hour; only breaking contact when they had to go outside to start magic training.

Chapter Text

By the time it was close to ten at night; Riddle was escorted to the spare room along with Arisu and Grim, there was something that was unsettling about the whole thing that he couldn’t quite place. He sat on the bed and retraced their steps; they left their suitcases in the mirror chamber as they were certain to return so they could go to Sunnydale for the holidays after they fed the fireplaces, they met Jamil and other Scarabia students and helped with the catering for lunch and dinner, as they were about to head out after bidding Jamil goodbye Riddle had felt himself agreeing to visit the dorm – okay, putting a tack there, that has to be important for later – Kalim was his usual bubbly self and even took them on a magic carpet ride, finally when it came to dinner he did a complete 180. 

There was more that had happened; after training Jamil had confirmed that the dorm head was under a lot of stress, blamed himself for ‘failing’ to help his students, and more. This was a Scarabia issue and Riddle was more than happy to not get involved in other dorms’ drama. Still…Jamil was something else, he was not only praising Arisu’s ability in the Overblot incidents but he was begging for his help; now, Riddle instantly put a stop to that and whispered to his friend to not get involved but…like before with the invite to the dorm, they ended up accepting before noticing. Arisu, he could understand with his tender heart, but himself? 

No, there was definitely something else going on. His thoughts were interrupted when Arisu sat on the bed with him and pulled him into a hug, saying softly ‘You’re doing the scowl when you’re overthinking again.’ This boy and his soft heart were going to be the end of everyone, it was official and it made Riddle chuckle at the thought. Speaking of who, he had been meaning to bring up the events around the boy; Arisu could enter souls, surely, he had seen something that could help them out in this mess.

“I’m calling Vil.” He said finally. “He needs to hear this.”

Grim’s ears perked up. “You’re calling for help? Finally! I wanna go to Sunnydale and see the Christmas lights!”

“Don’t worry, we’ll make it in time one way or another.” Arisu promised him. “Why are you calling Vil, Riddle?”

“It’s about your soul magic.” Riddle said softly. After a few rings, he got an answer; “Before you throw acid at my face for calling this late, hear me out, it’s about Arisu’s soul walking.”

Silence. Vil sighed and yawned; “Make this quick, what the hell is going on?” he demanded.

“Alright, Arisu.” Riddle looked at him. “Did you get a good look into their eyes?” he asked softly.

Grim looked up at him and tilted his head confused as Arisu tensed a little, the blonde nodded before replying; “Yeah, I didn’t get a good enough look though; but, Kalim had an open garden with lanterns lit and music going.” He started off. “The strange thing is, when he did the 180 in personality change his room was like…someone covering everything with a thick curtain.”

Vil hummed a bit. “I’ll be asking about why you’re still in school later; but what you described is interesting.” He started off. “Kalim is a very open person, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had welcomed you in with open arms. However, what you just described after with the curtain…I can assure you one thing, it’s not a mental block.” He gave a soft yawn. “You already know what I said about those causes; a block happens consciously or unconsciously put up a barrier to keep attacks from other magicians. Kalim is the exception to this rule as he is the most open-minded mage you’ll find at this school, figuratively and mentally…unfortunately, you know what this means.”

Riddle nodded. “He’s a prime target for magicians to take advantage of.” He finished.

“And Rose, the only other person who is the same in this case is our dear Alice.” Vil warned. “But that’s because of his inexperience in magic, but back to Kalim, it sounds like he’s unaware of what’s happening to him. Is there anything else you saw, Arisu?”

“Sort of.” Arisu sighed. “Jamil’s room was dark like a tomb, the candle took form of a torch, and…there’s snakes, at least I assume there’s snakes with the violent hissing in the room. I was only there for a few seconds, so no, I didn’t get to see anything.”

Vil tapped his finger on the bed. “Interesting mental block; it’s definitely a step above Kitten’s Sphynx guarded chessboard, and Ashengrotto’s underwater cavern. But going back to the now, you boys are still in the school, what exactly happened? I thought you boys would be with Arisu’s family watching Christmas lights?”

“It’s…a long story.” Riddle said.

Riddle told Vil the whole story about what had happened that day; from the headmaster’s request to Arisu’s impromptu – though now suspected ‘coercion’ to visit Scarabia, and being forced to be in the dorm for the winter training camp.

To say that Vil was surprised was an understatement; he was a little confused at the whole thing and a little concerned. There was a lot to unpack from the recount that it took Vil some time to process and try to piece things together; it was an odd circumstance to say the least and the only advice he could give would be ‘Get out of there when Kalim’s not in his weird ‘mood swing’. The only warning that Vil could give them was to make sure that Jamil wasn’t in earshot when they tell Kalim about them leaving.

The room was in silence for a while before they agreed to try and get some sleep; there was only one bed that Grim made fun of, proclaiming that he would have a nice chaise to himself while the dumb mortals fight over it. The fight never happened, it was for the one night and they would have their own beds when they got back to Arisu’s hometown and would be under a mountain of quilts even though the furnace is on.

“Grim’s probably going to be sleeping on top of the vents to hog the hot air.” Arisu had whispered to Riddle causing the prefect to laugh a little. 

“Even in questionable situations, you still manage to find something fun out of it.” Riddle whispered, making the jab at his friend. Grim was starting to wonder if having those two in the same bed was a good idea.

In a strange way, it probably was a good idea that Riddle was in the same bed as Arisu; he felt the boy get up and sat up slightly to watch him, assuming he just had to use the restroom – nope, he wasn’t going anywhere near the restroom that was attached to the dorm, instead the mortal was heading straight out into the halls. 

This woke him up in an instant as he rushed to wake Grim up and started to follow his friend out the dorm, he took Arisu’s hand into his and tried to lead him back to bed. That didn’t entirely work, Arisu just pulled away and continued down the halls. Both Riddle and Grim paled at the sight before following him and making sure that nothing got in the way that could hurt the boy. 

They only had one incident with one of the Scarabia hall monitors and that was when Riddle placed his pen under the student’s chin and harshly whispered to him; “Report this to your prefect if you wish, but so help me if you cause Arisu to become disoriented because of a forced wakeup call, I will make your life a living hell that you’ll wish you never met me.” Before turning and going back to following Grim and Arisu down the halls.

Upon leaving the dorm, they followed Arisu through the empty halls of the school and to the main street with the statues of the Great Seven; it didn’t take them long to realize that the boy was returning to Ramshackle. There was a bit of dread pooling in their stomachs, if Riddle hadn’t been on the receiving end of this mess back when he stayed the night here while Arisu was in a tank…that damn mirror is going to warrant another phone call to Vil later – not tonight, it was far too late for that. When the boy stopped in front of the mirror with a transfixed gaze, Riddle approached him and laid his hand on his shoulder as he gently called the boy’s name.

He wasn’t expecting this. Riddle looked around and found himself in a desert palace, it definitely was a better setup than the underwater show he had, but that’s not what he was surprised about; Grim was here to…this was on another level of weird.

“Riddle? Grim?” Arisu walked up to the two. “What are you doing in my dream?”

“That’s what we’d like to find out.” Grim huffed. “Where are we?”

“Aside the obvious desert palace?” Arisu shrugged. “No idea, but…you missed the Sultan and the Vizier, there’s a procession going on outside that’s taking their attention.”

Arisu led the boys to the balcony and fading through the royal figure and adviser; he explained that every night was something similar to this just in different settings. He leaned on the balcony railing and watched as a procession went on; though the Prince in question had a confident appearance while someone was drumming up how great he was, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know the Prince was just…well…overconfident. If Arisu had to be honest, he felt sorry for the idiot royal.

Waking up, the boys had found themselves in the bed at Ramshackle. The dream was one of the many things that they were most likely going to discuss when the friend group got together again; this was starting to get ridiculous to another level. They hardly had time to gather their thoughts before the sound of someone clearing their throat was heard, slowly they turned to the chair where Jamil was relaxing in with a relaxed and curious expression on his face.

“Did you have a good evening stroll?” Jamil asked.

Riddle looked at him. “Go ahead and scold us all you want, but this is strictly Heartslabyul business.” He crossed his arms. “Arisu is an honorary Heart and anything that happens to him is my business.”

Jamil just hummed. “If you say so, I honestly don’t care what happened but you’re still with our dorm for the duration of the training – Prefect’s orders. You’re just lucky I was able to talk him into starting late while I come collect you.” He stood up. “Come on, get up, we’re marching to an oasis today.”

Chapter Text

“Now then, let’s begin marching towards the East Oasis!” Kalim called. “You better get ready to be worked to the bone; anyone who falls behind will be lectured later!”

Arisu looked up at him, the prefect was on an elephant – wait…this scene was beginning to be all too familiar. He looked to Riddle and Grim who had the same expression. The dream from last night, this was all too much of a coincidence. Well, they found their ‘Prince’ of the dream, but Kalim’s not their OB target. And right now, he was too high up to make direct eye-contact with.

Grim growled as they were force to march and have a mini procession in the process. Anytime someone was off beat or showed slowing down, Kalim would snap at them. Grim felt his eyes widen and he grinned, he waited until Kalim’s back was back to them before he climbed up on Arisu’s shoulder to whisper to him; he had such a good idea that he knew his human was going to praise him for this.

“Hey Arisu, you remember our music nights at Ramshackle?” Grim whispered.

“Yeah, what about them?” Arisu whispered back.

“What’s that one song it had an ethereal tone and something about being crucified?”

“Crucified by Army of Lovers? Grim, what are you going on about?”

“Listen, this whole march is based off the rhythm started off by Jamil.” He pointed to the lead vice prefect who had a tambourine in hand. “If we throw this off it’ll cut the march short and maybe knock Kalim back to normal.”

Riddle felt his own eyes widen as he kept in time with the bells. “Grim, I can’t believe I’m going to say this but, that’s a genius idea.” He looked to Arisu. “Is it possible to get the song in acapella?”

Arisu looked to Adnan and Omar, they heard the plan and gave a small look – they’ve only heard this song a small handful of times when Arisu had music going for club meets. He shrugged and assured them he would do the majority of the song on his own, at least then the small group would only have to worry about the easy chorus.

“It’s probably best we start off soft and then gradually get louder to throw things off.” Arisu said. “If we go full blast, Kalim will know we’re up to something.”

“We’re putting our fate in your hands, coach.” Adnan whispered.

“Get ready, the chorus actually starts the song off.” Arisu whispered before clearing his throat.

The throat clearing did Kalim’s attention, but Arisu just assured him it was just the dry air and he was just getting air into him. It worked and his back was once turned again. With a thumbs up, the small group started off soft enough to keep from being detected but loud enough for the chorus to catch on; “I’m crucified, crucified like my savior; saintlike behavior a lifetime I prayed.” A weak start but they started to get back together in harmony. “I’m crucified for the holy dimension; godlike ascension, heavens away.”

It was time for Arisu to carry on the weight for everyone. He took a breath and made sure he could be heard and that the song was changed to throw this march off. “I’ve seen the deepest darkness and wrestled with gods. Ride the noble harness, raining cats and dogs.” He could feel his heart pounding as he picked up the tempo with the shakers. “I stand before my maker like Moses on the hill, My Guinness record break, I abide your will.” 

Whoever had the strings were going along, picking up the tune and also going wild with it. Arisu smiled a little at that and continued on. “The first of reciters I saw eternal light. Best of vocal fighters beyond human sight.” He could already hear Riddle beside him and doing the same with the quick tempo. “Where thorns are a teaser, I’ve played a double jeux, Yherushalaim at easter. I cry I pray mon dieu.” He flared out his golden locks. “I cry I pray mon dieu!”

Either Jamil had eyes in the back of his heads, he was psychic, or he was that one chess player who can read his opponents. He turned and watched the procession change behind him and scowled, Arisu was the one who caught the look this time around and he felt a chill run down his spine just seeing him glaring at him with venom in his eyes.

Whatever had Kalim in that strange strict mood had vanished as he encouraged the group to keep going. Even when they came upon the oasis, he went up to Arisu to question about the strange song; it was from the 90’s and Arisu just had a love of older songs as well as modern songs, it was just a spur of the moment to pick it during the march and nothing more. The albino just blinked confused and said that he should bring more Army of Lover songs to the training camp!

“That would be a great idea.” Arisu said. “But uh, I think after we return to the dorm we really should be going.”

Kalim nodded. “I understand, but before you do go, I want to give you three some gifts – I know it’s a bit last-minute, but I promise they’ll mean a lot!”

“If it’s from a dear friend, they’ll mean everything.”

“Right?!” He smiled. “Ah! One second, I’m sure everyone’s overheated.” He took out his wand and gave it a twirl. “Rest in the hot sands for an endless banquet. Now sing! Dance! {Oasis Maker!}”

It was beautiful; fresh rain graced everyone and filled the oasis in shimmery water, cold rains cooled everyone down and provided a refreshing drink in the process. Everyone was essentially dancing in the rain; Omar had done his best Gene Kelly impression with a tree and performed a bad rendition of Singing in the Rain. It was another party all around. 

With everyone well-rested and relaxed, it was time to return to the dorm for the rest of the camp and to send Arisu, Riddle, and Grim off to Sunnydale.

*
When they returned to the dorm, Kalim was true to his word on giving the three a parting gift – which was just stuff from the treasure room he had shown them earlier.

A gold collar for Grim with a ruby center, “A cat’s gotta have a collar, y’know” Kalim smiled.

Grim sported the gold with pride. “I’ll let you call me a cat just this once.” His tail was swaying with glee.

A set of golden bangles for Riddle, “I hope this okay; I don’t know what you’d like.”

Riddle just smiled. “As Arisu had said, a gift from a dear friend is worth more than anything.”

And Arisu…a replica of the blue diamond ring the Sultan once had. More specifically, a blue diamond held in a golden scarab.

“I can’t accept that.” Arisu blurted out.

Kalim just smiled. “I insist on it! You’ve been through a lot at the school as is and…well you deserve something nice. I’ll put it on you, no take backs.”

There was hardly any time to react as Kalim just came bounding over like a puppy dog. What happened next was in slow motion; a student had bumped into the prefect and knocked him into Arisu; this wasn’t entirely a bad thing, it happened, the only difference from a normal stumble into someone and this? Normal stumbles don’t end with lips locking with each other. From the outside view; Arisu was pinned to one of the pillows with Kalim above him as they ‘shared a kiss’. 

Riddle just stared and felt his jaw hitting the ground, Grim was a mix of laughing out of confusion and finding the scene humorous, the other Scarabia students had the same expression with the one who caused the mess covering his mouth and constantly apologizing. What felt like an eternity (even though it was only a few minutes), the two finally pulled away and were a bright pink among themselves.

“Oh my god.” Arisu covered his mouth. “Well, uh…this was um…an interesting way to part for the break.”

Kalim just quickly slid the ring on his friend’s finger. “I am so sorry about that.” He bowed a bit. “Uh you know, we have ice cream for dessert, I’ll go get you an extra scoop too! Wait here!” he hurried off to the kitchen.

“Kalim,” Jamil shook his head. “I’ll go make sure he doesn’t go overboard on your bowl.” He smiled at Arisu. “That’s a replica of the Sultan’s ring, please take care of it, okay?”

Arisu just smiled. “I’ll get a chain for it when I get home.” He promised. “Tell him I said thank you?”

“You have my word.” He smiled and ruffled his golden locks before going to the kitchen.

With all said and done, the trio had agreed that after dessert they would be on their way. 

It was wishful thinking as the harsh Kalim had returned. Arisu tried to reason with him, but the end result was ‘I gave you a gift and this is how you repay me? Leaving without helping around the dorm?’ It took Arisu every ounce of strength to keep Riddle from pouncing at him. They were just led to the gardens for after dinner sparring and that lasted until the evening once more; they were tired when they’d arrive at their room and were now locked in.

“Alright, we need a new way out of this…” Arisu paced around. “This is getting ridiculous.”

Grim grinned. “Fear not mortals! I, the Great Grim, have come up with an amazing plan to get us out of here and to get to Sunnydale!” he held up a spoon in his paw. “Behold! With this, I shall dig us to freedom!” he trotted over to a spot and started digging with it. “Keep watch for me, we’ll get out of here in no time.”

Riddle slapped his forehead and sighed. “I don’t even know where to begin with that inane idea!”

“I’m not on board with this either.” Arisu agreed. “But…what do we have to lose? If this fails, we can go with my idea; tie sheets together and climb out the window.”

“Are you two listening to yourselves?” Riddle demanded. “Whatever, do what you will, I’ll let you know if patrol comes by.”

Chapter Text

The rest of the night was like that; Grim eventually got tired out from digging and had to sleep, Arisu took the next shift and let Riddle and Grim sleep the rest of the night. When morning came; they had a good-sized hole, but not enough to break out just yet. They were sprung out by last night’s ‘guards’ – fortunately, they were Adnan and Omar that night so they were able to get out a little bit earlier to snag something to eat from the cafeteria before they were dragged off to the oasis yet again. 

Unfortunately, even though they knew Jamil was also an early bird, they never anticipated that he would follow them in the shadows. When he approached the group, his steel eyes bore down into the five – especially locking gazes with Arisu’s own gold eyes. Arisu felt himself shudder as the violent hissing sounds resonated in the cavern that was Jamil’s soul room; once could probably pass off as a regular mental shield, twice and the glares he’s received from yesterday had to be too much of a coincidence.

Snapping free from his gaze, Arisu cleared his throat once. “Jamil…could you humor me about something?”

“Only if you can ‘humor me’ with an explanation of yesterday’s shenanigans.” Jamil said, not letting up on the glare. “What the hell were you five up to?”

Grim growled at him. “Your prefect is holding us hostage! We had every right to try and disrupt the flow so we can be let out and start our break!”

Arisu laid a hand on Grim’s back to calm him down. “Jamil, can I see your pen for a minute?” 

Jamil huffed and took his pen out from his pocket before handing it over to Arisu. “Don’t even think about using my own wand against me; you will surely regret it.” He warned.

“I have no intentions on doing so.” Arisu assured him as he looked at the gem, paling at some of the fading blotches of ink. “Jamil…when was the last time you’ve looked at your pen?” he choked out.

The other just snatched the pen back from the blonde. “Get back to the dorm.” He ordered. “Kalim woke up to one of his moods and I’d hate for you to get mixed up in it if you’re not there.”

“Is that a threat, Viper?” Riddle demanded. “You listen here, I’m not above collaring someone else’s dorm; there’s ink stains on your pen, what the hell have you been doing to warrant this to happen?!”

Jamil smirked at the redhead. “I see we’ve forgotten what happened when you tried collaring Kingscholar.” He crossed his arms. “You five have nothing to worry about, I’m fine.” He assured.

“He’s right.” Adnan said, his voice a bit drowsy. “He’s healthy, Prefect Rosehearts.”

“It may be because of putting his all into the training, he just needs rest.” Arisu said.

“You’re so considerate thinking about my health.” Jamil nodded to the door. “Head on back to Scarabia.”

Arisu, Adnan, and Omar just nodded and left; Grim protesting the entire way on Arisu’s shoulder. Riddle stayed put as he stared Jamil down with a glare of his own; the Crimson Tyrant was back and he wasn’t going to be taking any prisoners. 

“That’s how you’re doing it; you have hypnotic powers.” Riddle said coldly. “Kalim’s erratic behavior is because of you.”

“Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.” Jamil replied. “You’re really in no position to be ordering me around, Rosehearts, I’m on another level than Kingscholar, your unique magic won’t do much to me.” 

“Oh no, I’m not going to do anything.” Riddle strode up to him. “Listen to me well, Jamil, should you continue down this route, you’re going to wind up somewhere you don’t want to be. Arisu is your only lifeline and he’s been through enough already that he doesn’t need your poison to mess with his system.” He turned to walk past him. “And just so you know, that wasn’t a threat, that was a warning for what’s to come.”

* 
Perhaps this was punishment for something; sometime after the second march to the Oasis, Arisu had found himself distancing from others to…expel the contents of his stomach. He didn’t think too much about it, he probably figured it had to be the remnants of the ink that Vil couldn’t entirely remove; at least, he assumed it was the ink in his system that was agitated that caused this.

Whatever mood Kalim was in at the time (most likely still harsh) was instantly broken when eyes were on the strange mortal who was crouching near the bushes and holding himself close; that was enough to get the current training to cease right there as Kalim ordered everyone to return to the dorm and that the session would be on hold until Arisu wasn’t losing his stomach contents anymore. 

With everyone at the dorm, Arisu was in the guest room with Kalim looking him over and vanishing to the kitchen every so often to get something made for him – ginger being the main ingredient of course for the upset stomach; while this was going on, Jamil had led Riddle and Grim to the lounge for a little private meeting - he had his trust that the boys could relay the information to Arisu later that night.

“Since Kalim will be tending to Arisu, we’re in the clear for now.” Jamil started out. “Now, I understand the dissatisfied feeling with our prefect right now; with him keeping you in the dorm and making you train during the holidays.” He looked at Riddle. “Interfering with your plans, it’s safe to say he’s being unreasonable and despite meaning well, he’s not entirely showing it well.”

Riddle leaned back and watched as the students try begging for Jamil to talk to Kalim – no avail, when Grim had questioned why they didn’t take the complaints to Kalim himself; each story was them having positive experience. He knew exactly what the reasons were and he was going to stay quiet and relay that extra tidbit of information to Arisu later on. Watching the scene continue, he couldn’t help but to have a grin on his face when he saw Jamil slowly getting agitated with how Riddle had been quiet throughout the whole thing.

He wasn’t going to expose Jamil before everyone. No, that was more of Leona’s play, Riddle wanted to play the waiting game and have Jamil expose himself instead – he just needed the right words for everything. 

His thoughts were interrupted when a student said they were experiencing something similar to Heartslabyul at the beginning of the year – he smirked amused when the student realized that the prefect in question was sitting among them.

“Oh no,” Riddle assured. “I understand perfectly; I won’t deny and say I wasn’t harsh, I figured with a firm hand that my students would be rising at the top – never once in the time I’ve been the prefect had anyone failed or been expelled and I thought I was doing the right thing.”

Jamil nodded. “And though I’d like it if Arisu were with us; I’m going to have to settle with you and the cat for advice; what do you think we should do?”

Grim’s ears perked up. “You could challenge Kalim to a duel so you can become Prefect!” he offered.

Riddle shook his head. “I’m afraid that’s not going to be an easy option.” He told Grim. “Remember what Kalim told us during the tour? He said Jamil and his family had served his for years now…”

“Prefect Rosehearts is correct, a retainer drawing his sword against his master his unforgiveable, even more so if Kalim’s father found out about it…I’m sorry, but we need something that won’t put my family in danger just because of a selfish request.” Jamil looked away.

“Well, something must be done.” Riddle said, crossing his arms. “However, I think maybe you’re looking at this at the wrong angle; you heard what happened when I was challenged and the end result, what do you think is going to happen if you try the same method? Rebelling against the current dorm leader who has a supposed tender heart? That emotional break will be enough to send Kalim over the edge he can’t come back from.”

The small scowl had returned on Jamil’s face; Kalim was the least likely person to ever overblot. He realized that it wasn’t that Riddle was warning the group of their prefect’s chances, but rather himself. That wasn’t going to happen, he just needed a few more days to make this work and then everything would be fine in the end; he didn’t need that ‘lifeline’ that Riddle had claimed Arisu to be. 

Now that he thought about it, Arisu was a strange case. Jamil wasn’t going to lie; he’s observed the boy for some time whenever Kalim would drag him to the group table – they never were part of the conversations that happened, but Arisu had said he enjoyed their company all the same. 

Still, even Jamil had to admit that there was something else going on beneath the surface from the time they’ve been together. Regardless, he wasn’t going to let young Rosehearts’ stance change anything.

He cleared his throat and offered to go check on their guest; “Well, it’s not that I don’t trust the prefect with his medicinal cooking, but it may be better if I go to make sure he doesn’t have a mood swing while taking care of him.”

The narrowed eye expression from Riddle hardly phased him at all as Jamil left Riddle and the other students to talk among themselves while he tended to Arisu and Kalim.

Arriving at the room, Jamil leaned on the door frame and watch the sight before him unfold; Arisu had set aside a now empty glass – most likely ginger ale – and was now talking with Kalim about whatever came to mind, if he had to guess; Jamil had walked in on them talking about music with Arisu getting excited about some band coming out with a concert sometime in the summer that he already scored tickets for. 

As riveting as the conversation was it was time for it to end. Clearing his throat, he made his way up to Kalim and whispered something in his ear before watching him leave and turning to Arisu.

He wasn’t an idiot. Arisu had seen the sudden shift in the prefect’s personality the moment Jamil whispered to him; he stared at the other as he approached him before speaking. “I may be sick, but I’m not blind.” He said harshly. “What the hell did you do?”

Chapter Text

Jamil blinked and tilted his head. “What do you mean? I only told him to meet with the others while I took over your care.”

“You don’t have to worry much, I’m fine.” He got up. “And I’m going to slap some sense into Kalim.” He started to walk towards the door, Jamil grabbed his hand into his and pulled him back so he was pressed against him. “Let me go Jamil.”

“Arisu, please believe me, I only reported to him as the vice head.” He eased his grip on the boy. “I know he gets into one of his moods but he does have his duties as dorm head.” He lifted the boy’s chin so they were eye to eye. “As much as I want you to help us with him, I’d rather we go for a less violent way; you trust me, don’t you?”

“I would say yes if I wasn’t hearing violent hissing sounds.” Arisu pulled away.

Jamil raised an eyebrow at that. “Curious, I don’t hear anything.” He shook his head. “Regardless, your health comes first as our guest. All I ask of you is to Trust in me.” Jamil let the wave of magic course through the boy. “Just in me; shut your eyes and trust in me.” He grinned when he saw Arisu nodding at him and leaning forward to him, closing his eyes. “That’s it, just relax and let me take care of you, Alice. Slip into silent slumber, sail on a silver mist; slowly and surely your senses will cease to resist.” He picked him up and carried him back to the bed to lay him down. “Trust in me, just in me; shut your eyes and trust in me.” 

Suppose he better remove the old clothes and put him into something fresh; Riddle cared about him as well, surely, he’d appreciate seeing his darling Alice in something clean and they did have spare uniforms lying about.

*

“I’m so tired, I can’t move another step.” Grim whined.

Riddle was rubbing his shoulder. “The students will start an uprising at this rate.” He looked to the bed where Arisu was. 

“We hardly make enough for those.” Grim assured. “Anyway, where did my spoon go?” He dug around the pillows. “Aha! Found it! We’re getting out of here tonight!” he yelped in surprise when he felt someone swat him.

Arisu slowly sat up and yawned; “Grim it’s late.” He rubbed his eyes and paused; his wrist felt a little heavy. “What the hell am I wearing?” he looked at his wrist and saw a gold band. “Where did this come from?”

Riddle looked over and froze a little; “You’re also in the Scarabia dorm uniform…when did you get that?”

“I swear I was in our school uniform still?!” Arisu got out of the bed and looked himself over.

“We’ll worry about that later, let’s focus on getting out of here.” Grim said as he started on the hole again.

It took them some time before the hole was big enough for any of them could climb through – Grim made it through just fine, Riddle and Arisu felt like they were wringed pasta when the small cat creature pulled them out of the hole. The halls were quiet and they immediately made their move. 

It had to be cruel irony when they heard footsteps and talking from the end of a hall, without thinking they rushed and went into some random room to hide out; it wouldn’t be long until they were discovered and they needed a new plan fast. 

Fortune had to be smiling at them, when Riddle turned his phone on to get some light, they found themselves in the treasure vault (and had a familiar carpet playing with Grim). Was it a little on the rude side to take this just to escape? Probably, but they weren’t going to spend another second in this prison; it took a little sweettalking to the magic carpet before they were able to fly off and take to the skies. 

The students were looking up in disbelief and horror, and Grim? It was probably best not to let him drive; the moment he tried was when the carpet went out of control and crashed them into a mirror – well, upon impact, they didn’t see where they landed, they just held onto each other for support. It was official, they were dead and were likely in a purgatory void. 

“Oh my. I was wondering who would be visiting so late at night.” A cool voice came

“I came here to check if there’s a sneaky thief around, but it’s just you two.”

Correction. They were dead and this was hell.

“Jade, Floyd.” Riddle stood up and brushed himself off. “Charmed to see you two, pardon for the crash landing.”

The twins looked over at the carpet who was dancing with Grim (said ‘earless seal’ was cheering about escaping a prison). 

Jade grinned a bit “That looks very similar to the magic carpet that Kalim-san keeps, what were you boys doing with that?"

“It’s a long story.” Arsiu stood up and looked up at them. “We’ll be out of your scales soon.”

“We love stories.” Floyd grinned. “Especially if they’re from our favorite little Damselfish.” He hugged him and nuzzled his head.

“Well, we were in Scarabia for their winter training camp.” Arisu had started out.

The moment Arisu had uttered those words, the Scarabia hall monitors came rushing in – almost on an instinct, Grim rushed behind Arisu’s legs. The twins weren’t stupid; they knew the look of terror on their favorite fishes’ faces; Riddle and Arisu were moving unconsciously close together (They weren’t going to question why their damselfish was dressed in the Scarabia dorm uniform, not now at least), and since the land dwellers were on their homefield…

“What is going on here?” A cold voice came. Salvation came in the form of Azul Ashengrotto walking over with a tired and annoyed look on his face. “Oh?” he looked to the three by the twins and grinned. “Well, this is quite the surprise; Prefect Rosehearts, always a pleasure to see you and my favorite student of all time; Arisu Carol, now what have you boys here so late.”

“This doesn’t concern Octavinelle.” A Scarabia student called out. “Can you just hand those three over to us right now?”

Arisu looked up at Azul. “Listen, I know we’ve had a rocky relationship but…please help us, I promise we’ll tell you everything. Please, Azul?” he pleaded.

The student wasn’t letting off; he even had the gall to threaten the Octavinelle Trio that unless they handed the ‘guests’ over that they would have to use force.

“Honestly, I can’t allow any sort of scuffle here in Monstro Lounge, this is a gentleman’s place after all.” He leaned on his cane and smirked. “Now then; Jade, Floyd, do ‘escort’ them out.”

The twins had a wicked grin on their faces as they started to approach the Scarabia students; Azul took Riddle and Arisu by the shoulder and whispered to them to follow him. They made their way through the back and into the V.I.P lounge; he removed the ‘wall’ piece and watched through the glass and shook his head, until the twins got rid of the intruders, they were to remain quiet while in this room.

Of course, he was going to start charging for trouble; those poor tables and chairs that were casualties of the fight; suppose information will have to do. He couldn’t bring himself to charge Riddle or Arisu…Grim however was another story, suppose that tanuki could wash dishes to pay him back. 

With the fight over and the twins assuring that the Scarabia duo were gone, Azul led their misfortune friends back to the main floor and looked over his silver cane bored.

“Now then, we helped you out of the graciousness of my heart; of course, you are going to have to pay us back for getting us involved.” He looked at them with a grin. “I could never ask you to pay more than you could afford so then; Arisu and Riddle will pay with information while Grim pays back his service as a dishwasher when the school year returns.”

Riddle nodded. “Right, it’s as Arisu had started out; before we were in Scarabia for their winter training camp, the Headmaster had asked us to fuel the fireplace for the fire fairies.”

*

“I see, and you suspect Jamil may overblot if this continue?” Azul asked, watching the three before him nod in confirmation.

It was very troubling to hear all of this; Azul tapped his fingers on a chair as he thought about what Riddle and Arisu had told them, hypnosis was a tricky type of magic since the caster could enforce his will onto anyone, that and Kalim held Jamil in high regards that if they went with a full-on confrontation the Scarabia Prefect would harshly defend Jamil and that wouldn’t go well. 

Going against Jamil is going to be trickier; Arisu was an easy target and with his current luck who’s to say that the Vice Dorm Head won’t turn their sweet mortal on his friends in just a snap – it was easy for Azul to manipulate a situation, and with how Jamil is, it would be just as easy.

 There was the option of them leaving for certain, but it was a predictable move in itself, the Scarabia hall monitors would go to either Heartslabyul, Diasomnia, Ramshackle, or the Mirror Chamber to stop them from going too far – the three dorms in question would be the first place anyone would look when hiding a troublemaker (that is if Riddle hadn’t decapitated the person and turned them over first; but Arisu would try and hide a student – heck, he hid Epel a few times from Rook). Truly these boys were in over their heads, they had enough on their plate as is they don’t really need dorm drama to be mixed in. 

Closing his eyes and going through the facts he had before his mind was made up; “Well, it appears we have no choice but to lend you a hand.” Azul stood up. “This is very serious and if you’re right about him OB’ing, then you know who will be a target and will suffer.”

Grim’s ears pricked up. “Really!?” He pounced and held onto Azul’s leg. “Oh, my Seven, you’re a weirdo, but yes! Keep my human safe, damn it!”

Azul chuckled and picked him up by the scruff of the neck. “Come now, there’s no need for the theatrics, Grim; I have decided to be of help to the school the same the Sea Witch has to decided to be benevolent, you see. Scarabia is in a very dangerous situation and my classmates desire help.” He set Grim on a chair. “That, and I’d rather this school has one less phantom running around.”

Phantom? Riddle looked at Azul. “Azul…you don’t mean…is he here too?”

Azul and the twins sighed before pointing to the tank where a flash of black swam by.

“He’s creepy.” Floyd sighed. “And not as cute as Azul.” He pouted.

“We’re still trying to decide what to do with him.” Jade shook his head.

Arisu winced at the sight of the shadow mer swimming around. We’ll…put a pin in that for a later date.” He shuddered. “So, what are we going to do.”

Azul smiled bright. “We’re going to return to Scarabia!”

Chapter Text

Come morning light, Azul and the twins were helping their guests freshen up; Riddle was against this and had even demanded to know what it was they were up to the twins just assured the young prefect that everything would be taken care of and Azul had even offered to write up a contract ensuring that he would ensure that Riddle and his two friends would be in Sunnydale before the break was over. 

Arisu had to quickly assure him that it wasn’t needed, but he was thankful for their help; with them freshened up and strutting with a confident air, they made it back to the Scarabia dorm where Azul did the talking.

Jamil was surprised at the appearance of the Octavinelle Trio and even asked why they were still here; they didn’t want to deal with the cold from the Coral Sea, and they were staying at their dorm for the winter break. 

Azul was apologetic about how the twins treated the Scarabia students last night, he was unaware that the magic carpet that Arisu had was stolen from the dorm and they came to return it (As for Riddle, with that sweet doe-eye look the mortal is known for it wasn’t hard to convince him to go along with any and all wrongdoings). Despite Jamil’s protests about Azul wishing to see Kalim, the two ended up meeting regardless.

“Azul?” Kalim looked at him with bewilderment. “What brings you to our dorm.”

“Good morning, how are you faring today, Kalim-san?” Azul tipped his hat. “Your dorm is as wonderful as I remember it! It’s snowing outside but it seems as if it’s still summer here, quite the location to build a resort in, wouldn’t you agree?”

Kalim just tilted his head confused. “I don’t get it, but thanks for the compliment!” He grinned.

Azul held up a familiar carpet. “Of course, but I’m here because I’m here to return this.”

“It escaped on its own again?!” Kalim sighed. “I am so sorry, Azul.”

“It’s really no trouble.” Azul smiled. “Though, I’m surprised everyone is still here.”

“Yeah.” Kalim blinked. “Wait, you guys aren’t going home either?”

“According to Azul, Coral Sea is really cold this year.” Arisu spoke up. “I guess they’re just looking for an excuse not to head home during this time.”

“Sunnydale’s cold now too, isn’t it?” Azul mused. “Well, since we’re all here to enjoy the warmth, I’ve been thinking; why don’t we make the most of our time and join a training camp between Scarabia and Octavinell!” he looked to Riddle and Arisu. “Guest staring Ramshackle and Heartslabyul, of course.”

Kalim was on board with it, Jamil had his scowl before he shot the idea down; the training camp was because they needed to catch up to the other dorm and had – well, Azul was the one who caught this – faltered in his reasoning for why they shouldn’t let Octavinelle join them.

“I understand what you’re trying to say, Jamil-san. We are practically rivals, after all.” Azul tipped his hat to Kalim. “Unfortunately, we will have to say goodbye for now. Kalim-san, Jamil-san, I wish you good luck on your training. I only ask that you take care of Riddle and Arisu; they’re quite dear to us, you see.” He left the two boys in question with Kalim and went up to the twins with a sigh. “I guess the three of us will have to spend the harsh winter alone once more…well, it’s not our say, so let’s go.”

“After we worked so hard trying to catch the magic carpet, too.” Jade had a small frown on his face.

Floyd pouted and held his heart. “It really wrecked the Monstro Lounge, too.”

The three held onto each other and started out. “Haaah, so heartbroken.”

This was their grand idea?! Arisu looked over at Riddle and Grim in disbelief; there was no way on this god’s fearing earth that anyone would ever fall for that act! He was proven wrong when it was Kalim who spoke up and told Jamil that having Azul with them would improve their training camp a lot more efficiently and it was against his family’s policies to not return favors; the trio grinned and offered their hands where they can to help lessen the load of work Jamil would have to do. 

Arisu and his group barely had time to react before Kalim cheerfully led the group out to the gardens to begin the morning training; a magical duel where everyone was fair game.

*
The rest of the day was tiring; if they weren’t in a duel, they were in study sessions – this was the only time that Arisu could be from the rest of Scarabia, he was immediately with Riddle as he found his tutoring sessions helped him more, Grim was with the Octavinelle Trio (hey, Azul did get Grim out of the red with his notes, of course he was going to be beside the Prefect to get help as well). 

Not only that, but it was also at a safe distance to talk about what they can without having someone eavesdrop on them; any attempt to talk to Azul about any plans went out the window, he just simply said ‘just sit and watch the master at work’. 

Dinner was a little tense; especially since Jamil and Kalim were honed in on the mortal boy, Riddle had to take the Octavinelle trio to the side and bring up the upset stomach incident with them. This made Azul narrow his eyes at the information and turned to Arisu while making a mental note for something later down the line.

With the evening hours settling it was time to meet up to discuss the next phase of their plan. They were in the guest room – for once, it wasn’t locked; probably because of the sleepwalking spell Azul mentioned to Jamil and Kalim and they were quick to agree to keeping it unlocked to keep the boy from harming himself. Arisu and Riddle were settled on the chaise and Grim was seated on the arm of it; the twins were on the bed and Azul was still standing as if he was taking center stage.

“The Kalim we were talking to was his usual self.” Azul started out. “It’s clear that Jamil hadn’t received the chance to use his power on him. Now then, I’d like to hear from you two on what we should be looking for.”

Grim nodded. “His eyes get so much narrower when he’s angry and he speaks in a scary way!” his ears flattened

“The way he speaks when he goes 180 is in a challenging tone; like he’s daring anyone to speak up against him, Riddle nearly decapitated him.” Arisu pointed out. “He has changed back to normal on the following; when we asked for fresh water after the first march, he went from his strict self to his cheerful self and…” he looked away. “When I got hit with food poisoning, he was instantly by my side as I was losing the contents of my stomach.”

“Jamil said they were unable to place during the Magical Shift Tournament and during the test – which, by the way, the tests are on you three.” Riddle scolded

Floyd stared at him. “Was Baby Otter the type to worry about that?” He thought for a bit. “Nope! Not possible, he just smiles and moves to the beat of his own drum; I don’t think there’s been a time where he was that easily discouraged.” 

Azul nodded. “There is something going on if Jamil is willing to target Kalim like that; Arisu, you’re able to see a person’s room, care to share with us about what you’ve seen with those two?”

“With Kalim, he’s in a garden with fairy lights and music playing; lanterns are hanging there as well and he’s always dancing. I do see him with friends – well, technically they’re phantoms, they take on the form of the people he’s thinking about and they’re mostly just dolls.” Arisu explained. “They’re already part of the soul room so there’s no interference.” He immediately cleared up. “But when he’s in his ‘mood’ there’s something covering the room; it’s like a shroud – I got a headache from this, but I did push through and saw Kalim still in the garden, except it was dark as hell and he was suspended by something…”

“Could you make anything out?” Jade pressed; he saw the boy shook his head. “It was that dark?”

“Yeah, sorry.” Arisu bowed his head. “With Jamil; his room was a cave, but it’s dark as hell with only a torch as the light, I would have explored it but…there was violent hissing sounds.” He shuddered. “His mental block is extremely violent and I’m scared to try entering his room again.”

Azul nodded; “Thank you darling.” He patted Arisu on the head. “Jade, could you ‘talk’ with Kalim for a little bit?”

“Of course, though I have to say that ‘talking’ to Jamil may pose to be a bit of a challenge.” Jade grinned. “I trust you’ll have an easier time with him?”

“Naturally.” Azul grinned. “Floyd, Riddle, Grim, Arisu, come along now; we have a Vice Head to talk to.”

Chapter Text

“Apologies for barging in so late.” Riddle yawned. “Floyd wouldn’t let us sleep until we’ve spoken with you.”

Jamil turned to Riddle and raised an eyebrow. “Yet, you have someone who is prone to sleepwalking up and about.” He looked to Arisu. “This won’t affect you now, will it?”

Arisu shook his head. “It only sparks under stressful conditions.” He informed him. “My bet is that Floyd was worried I’ll start up again.”

“You’ve read his mind, Arisu.” Azul smiled. “Originally it was just going to be the four of us, but we couldn’t really leave him unattended. You understand, don’t you?”

Jamil crossed his arms. “All too well.” He said simply. “What is it you need again?”

“We found a board game in the treasure vault when Kalim-san gave us a tour.” He held it up. “I’ve never seen this one before and we were wondering if you could tell us more about it.”

“Mancala?” Jamil looked at it. “It’s a popular boardgame back home; I suppose there’s no harm in showing you how to play. Kalim’s asleep already so it won’t be a problem.” He looked over to Arisu. “Perhaps this will alleviate some stress and he’ll be able to sleep without problems.”

“Our thoughts exactly.” Riddle agreed. “I would have brought him to Heartslabyul for hedgehog sessions but, I’m afraid they need to hibernate during this time and need their rest.”

“I understand.” Jamil led the way out of his room and to the lounge. “I would be the same if I had found out Kalim had been suffering such an ailment; now come along, it may be best to be in the lounge for this game.”

It was a silent agreement; never let Azul, Floyd, and Jamil play alone ever again. They tended to be on the fierce side when it comes to competitive gaming; but it did leave for them to open up about each other, subtly getting Jamil to talk was actually easier this way (Heck, Arisu and Riddle were honed in on the Octavinelle duo when they mentioned they only became friends in middle school – and Grim getting near choked by Azul after mentioning the past; honestly those two). Still, there was the slight concern about the twins turning on Azul if he became ‘boring’, especially since there was something similar from Heartslabyul with Ace and Deuce challenging Riddle (different reason, but still unnerving).

“The Vice-prefect isn’t the prefect’s retainer, you know~” Floyd grinned. “This is perfectly normal!”

“I’m still more concerned about you three.” Arisu spoke up.

Azul chuckled. “Don’t fret, dear Alice; this is just a long running game between the three of us.” He patted the blonde’s head.

Jamil shook his head; “Afraid I can’t really understand; I’ve been raised as a retainer to serve Kalim’s family.” He crossed his arms a bit. “A master is a master and a servant will be a servant, probably for as long as we’re alive.”

Arisu reached out to him. “Jamil-”

The game was interrupted when Kalim came in, bounding in like a hyperactive puppy dog again; he sat beside them and that caused another look from Jamil (a little hard to read this time). Jamil wasted no second in scolding him for being up so late and reminding him about the possibility of being kidnapped again. Wait…Again!?

“I feel like there’s a story behind that, but it’s far too late to even ask that.” Arisu muttered.

Kalim waved it off dismissively. “It’s nothing to be concerned about. Besides, I was walking with Jade and talking with him.” He assured him. “So, what brought this up so late?” he looked at the game.

“You were with Jade?” Jamil was already up and on his feet. 

“Yeah, we were in the treasure vault.” Kalim looked up at him. “Oh, we brought some silver and blue carpets from home, didn’t we? Do you know where they went? Can’t find them anywhere.”

The rest of the scene unfolded as anyone would guess; Jamil was quick to move Kalim from the group and only after the two left did the group pick the game up and returned to their rooms. 

Floyd immediately got into the bed and held onto Riddle like a teddy bear despite the protests and struggles from the redhead in question, Arisu shook his head and made his way between the two to separate them – and maybe keep from sleepwalking again. 

Azul and Jade took the pullout and Grim had the chaise once more. There was a unanimous agreement that if their mortal started to move again to follow him and to keep the Scarabia hall monitors from interfering again; they really weren’t in the mood to deal with them if the sleepwalking spell happens again.

Stagnant air, this was never a good sign for anything. Despite being in the desert, Arisu felt a massive shiver down his spine, he held himself close as he followed the uneasy feeling right up to the sight of the vizier with the magic lamp. He felt his heart drop in fear, he wasn’t entirely wrong about when he told Ace about Sorcerer of the Sand’s rise to power with the lamp and seeing it first hand was…terrifying. This was an unholy mix of Ursula’s rise to power and Scarr’s descent into madness.

Watching the vizier humiliate the ‘prince’ and send him off to hell knows where was like watching a train wreck; you can’t really pull your eyes away from the scene. Even more so when Aladdin was said to start regretting not freeing the genie when he had the chance to before this happened. Every second of this passing was making him wish he could wake up now!

“Please wake up. I don’t want to see anymore.” He told himself.

*
“I told you it was that damn mirror!” came Riddle’s voice.

Arisu yawned as he woke up to the shouting in his room, he looked over to Riddle who was in a shouting match with Floyd; the eel didn’t seem to have a problem with Arisu and his sleepwalking habit, nor did Jade and Azul if anything they were the ones to offer to pry into those dreams – that got Riddle red in the face from the suggestion.

“Guys it’s too early to be fighting.” He hid in the covers. “Please screw off.”

“Nope!” Floyd picked him up and held him. “You’re going to be joining me for breakfast, remember the plan, Damselfish~”

“And what about the others?” Arisu challenged.

“Don’t worry your pretty head, come on, Damselfish is in need of fresh food so he doesn’t get sick again” Floy nearly skipped off while carrying the human.

Riddle shook his head with a scowl. “Damn eel…” he muttered. “Alright, I suppose this means we get to Kalim before Jamil, and then what?” 

“As I told you Riddle-san.” Azul patted his shoulder. “Let me handle this and we’ll get you boys home in time for Christmas. Four days is all I need at this point.”

“We’ve worked on tighter deadlines before.” Jade assured as he led the way, Grim sitting on his shoulder. “But we’ve always managed to succeed our goal, isn’t that enough?”

Riddle just hummed. “Forgive me if I’m not in the most trusting of moods around you; you were the cause of us losing our legs.”

“All in the past now.” Azul brushed it off. “That was that and this is this, we have a job to do.”

Breakfast preparation went surprisingly well for the two; while Arisu was working on dishes he was skilled in (traditional meals from home; usually pancakes, fruit bowls, and other treats that were healthy yet sweet to the taste) Floyd was going crazy at the savory dishes; he was precise with his knife work and spice sprinkling that Arisu couldn’t really help but to stare in awe and disbelief. He knew that the twins had cooking skills but this was just insane to watch! The scent the two were creating filled the air and the rest of the Scarabia dorm rushing over to them and watching in awe; Floyd was quick to invite them over to help with breakfast and with the group together they were able to get the meal made just as Jamil came in and stared with his jaw hitting the ground.

“Good morning, Jamil!” Arisu greeted. 

“Floyd…Arisu…” Jamil looked at the platter before everyone. “D-Did you do this?”

“Good morning, Sea Snake!” Floyd greeted. “You know how Azul’s been saying he wanted to help you, right? Damselfish and I had been talking about how we can help out! You really should try the strawberry pancakes; he added a little bit of protein powder to keep everyone’s energy up!”

“I…see.” Jamil said. “Well, I can’t really let a guest do work around the dorm.”

“I mean…” Arisu spoke. “If anything, we’re not entirely guests, you…asked for Riddle, Grim, and I to assist in helping Scarabia out.” He reminded. “So, we’re just here to help you along and to keep the peace of the dorm; The Mafia – I mean, the Octavinelle Trio are here as training buddies.”

Jamil’s eyes narrowed a bit. “I don’t wish to ruin your efforts but, there is the matter of Kalim’s worry of being poisoned.”

“Is that a jab to my poisoned apples from Halloween? I told you they were glorified candied apples with the Halloween theme.” Arisu huffed.

Floyd had convinced Jamil to have a taste test and reluctantly approved of the breakfast just as Kalim came in with the rest of the group. It was wide and festive as ever, and instead of marching to the oasis Azul managed to convince everyone that the better exercise regimen was swimming as it would prevent heat stroke and that it would burn fat faster than walking. A lot of cheers happened because of that offer, and the rest of breakfast went without problems.

The swimming regiment went just as well as one would expect it would; it was a mix of playing around and doing laps under Azul’s guidance from the shore; Arisu had tried numerous of times to beg him and come to join them, but he kept refusing the other. He’ll get that mer into the water one of these days, Arisu’s grin was the silent promise at that, and Azul’s slight narrowed eyes were a silent challenge to the boy.

After they had finished their exercise for the morning and everyone was dried off and dressed came the studying portion; Azul had given a surprisingly helpful tip about how to memorize things -reading aloud while walking around; it actually helped a lot of students who struggled to study while remained seated. Riddle had given his study tips as well; highlighting the important notes and – this was a slight jab at Cater – have a friend make Magicam posts with the notes in the tags that corresponded with the picture taken.

To the side, Arisu had noticed a scowl on Jamil’s face; he wasn’t certain about Azul’s plan but the grin Azul had on his face was enough to know that they were on the right track of things. He just smiled and kept his eyes on Jamil while the rest of the day unfolded from sparring to making lunch as a group again.

Things took a turn when lunch had come; while the rest of the dorm worked with the Octavinelle Trio and Riddle, Jamil had taken Arisu by the shoulder and gently moved him into the halls. He assured Kalim that all he was going to talk to Arisu about was recipe sharing and they would join everyone shortly.

Out of sight, out of earshot, Jamil’s grasp on Arisu’s shoulder tightened and the cold glare returned on his face. “What the hell are you guys planning?” he demanded.

Arisu just blinked. “Hey, I’m just going along with Azul’s ‘De-stress Jamil plan’ and help you with running Scarabia with no problems.”

“One word; Crucified.” He reminded. “Now start talking, what are you doing this time.”

“Army of Lovers got Kalim in bright spirits again, didn’t it? And taking the extra load off both of your shoulders to make the training camp easier is putting everyone at ease, shouldn’t you be glad we’re helping you like you asked?”

Jamil just shoved him away. “Look, I’m only going to say this once, Arisu; play your part. Keep your head down and stop getting in the way.”

Arisu just looked up at him. “Getting in the way of what?”

The vice head said nothing more, he turned and returned to the cafeteria to help the other students – despite the Octavinelle trio saying otherwise.

Chapter Text

Things were different when they returned to the dorm; everyone was in the lounge with small snacks beside them as they had their books in front of them. It would be a shorter session among them as there was going to be another sparring match before dinner time; but that would be for later in the day, Azul had pointed out it was getting close to tea time and Riddle had offered to get tea made.

Azul turned it down saying he would handle it, a grin forming on his face as Jamil offered to assist him. The moment the two had left the room was when the twins made their move; they both had their famous grins on their faces, the ones that screamed they were up to no good in general – more specifically, the grins that they wore whenever someone was about to make a deal with Azul. Riddle had followed them for a bit and silently demanded to know what the twins were up to; Floyd just held his finger by his lips and patted his head before shooing him over back to their favorite blond; Jade just told them to make sure to check on MagiCam in a short while.

Like back in the tank, Riddle had a bad feeling in his gut that this was going to end horribly and the ping from everyone’s phone was enough to confirm this.

*

“I must say; having Lucky 13 with us definitely made a huge difference!” Azul folded his hands together. “I’m rather jealous, Jamil, if I had known that he would make that much of a change in the finals I would have done everything in my power to have him work for us; the contracts wouldn’t have been needed.”

Jamil narrowed his eyes slightly. “You’re talking about Arisu? Exploiting his study talents, how low could you possibly sink.”

“Come now, I would never do anything that didn’t benefit both parties.” Azul held his heart. “But even you can’t deny that the progress has raised about 15% since we’ve shown up and pushed Lucky 13 to the be a motivator – even more when we have Young Rosehearts with us. It’s a favorable result, I should say.”

“You have a small point.” Jamil agreed bitterly. “I suppose having Riddle with us has benefitted everyone.”

“I just simply wish we were here earlier.” Azul gave a soft sigh. “Arisu expressed concern about your dorm, how…hostile it had been, but it seems like everything has calmed down since we’ve shown up.” He smiled. “Should this keep up, we’ll be able to whip through without problems!”

Jamil just shook his head. “That will be a problem.” He said softly.

“Pardon?” Azul looked over. “Did you say something, Jamil?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you three to leave Scarabia.”

"You still don't get it?" Jamil said exasperatedly putting his hands on his cheeks and pulling down so his bottom eyelids were stretched to show the red insides of his lower socket. "Take a look at how sad I am" he said letting his eyes roll up to just show the whites.

“Hm?” Azul walked up to him. “After all we’ve done for you, you’re not pleased?”

Jamil grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him to make eye contact with him; “The person reflected in your eyes shall be your Master. You shall answer when you are asked, and you shall obey when you are ordered. Snake Whisper.” 

He dropped Azul who was holding his head in agony, Jamil smirked and taunted him, telling him to just accept that Jamil was in charge. A few short minutes later and Azul was under Jamil’s commands. This was perfect! Wait no, he couldn’t really use Azul not since he’s returned the magic he stole from people, he could still get Azul to return to the Coral Sea with the twins.

“I suppose I’ll just have to kill two birds with one stone; chase both you and Kalim out.” Jamil mused.

“I remember what was written in the contracts.” Azul said calmly. “All the secrets, worries, weaknesses, and desires of those who made a contract with me…I remember them all.”

Jamil laughed and shuddered. “What a creepy collection! I made the right choice not making friends with you. Do you have any secrets about the Headmaster in that collection of yours?”

“Of course, I know all the secrets he doesn’t want people to find out.”

Another laugh from Jamil. “This is perfect! You really are my genie in a lamp, Azul! If I can exploit the Headmaster’s weaknesses, then…I can finally be free! I can chase Kalim out of the school and become prefect myself!”

“That’s all we needed to hear.” Jade stepped forward from the shadows.

“What?! How much did you hear?!” Jamil demanded

“Everything.” Riddle strode forward. “From your hypnosis, to your plans in using not only Arisu and Grim, but me as well to do your dirty work.” He had his pen out. “I should decapitate you right here right now for such, but…I’ll let the mob take over.” He smirked.

“What?” Jamil turned and saw Floyd walking over with the phone in hand. 

“Recorded and broadcasted live all over the school using Azul’s phone.” Arisu smiled up at Floyd. “I’m sorry what’s the total number of viewers? I stopped counting at five hundred.”

“Over five thousand, Damselfish.” Floyd replied with a grin and a…deep voice. “Evil Scheme Unfolding in a Certain Magic Academy is a trendy title.”

“Floyd…Oh god I have so many questions not enough answers for this!” Arisu shuddered.

His moment of unease didn’t last long as soon the rest of the dorm came rushing in to the sight. In an instant it was the dorm interrogating Jamil and begging that what was heard live wasn’t true; confronted by all sides, Jamil had time to get Azul to ‘escort’ the others out, the plan failed when Azul dropped his act and smirked at him a little countermeasure was in place with a little help from Floyd; turned out Floyd made a contract with Azul to make his voice sound deeper and lent Azul ‘Bind the Heart’ to jam the Snake Whisper’s effect and redirect it. Arisu scoffed and shook his head at the trick, it worked though and now that the truth was out, the nightmare could be put to rest, right?

Not quite; Kalim had emerged from the crowd and confronted Jamil. It was heartbreaking to see the soft-hearted prefect being in near tears, he tried to pass the blackouts and dozing off as because of anemia and not because Jamil was controlling him. They were best friends, weren’t they? Jamil’s reaction to this had Floyd and Riddle holding Arisu back to keep him from lunging at the magician in question; even with the explanation being somewhat reasonable (Kalim diving into things without thinking, and wanting his family out of the Asim family’s shadows), it was still enough for the blond to want to go over and slap Jamil in the face. It wasn’t like he’d be able to get the chance to since Jamil decided to turn his attention over to the other Scarabia students.

“The person reflected in your eyes shall be your Master; you shall answer when you are asked, and you shall obey when you are ordered. Snake Whisper!” Jamil smirked at the students as they struggled to fight off the spell, he then turned and pointed to the group before him. “Throw Kalim, the Octavinelle bastards, the ‘Queen’, and the mangy cat out!”

Chapter Text

“Yes master!” the students said in unison.

To say the battle was easy would be a lie; the group did what they could to push the zombified students away. Riddle had conjured up rose vines to throw them back – trying to cause minimal damage, the goal was to try to knock some sense into them to break the hold Jamil held. Grim was the one to charge forward, allowing his blue fire to lick out into the formation of a whip, smacking some of the students right on the rear and causing them to burst into flame. He gave a victorious little whoop for joy, pumping his fist into the air at some of the Scarabia residents beginning to panic. 

The twins, Jade and Floyd, were being just as effective with their attacks. Their footsteps were light and airy, almost as though they were in the water now. They had grabbed a long, sleek veil off of a nearby wall and were now quickly stepping around the students that tried to tackle them, each twin holding an end. Pretty soon, the two twins yanked on their corresponding ends, and the students within all got smacked suddenly into one pile. They began to groan out in pain from the impact right as Azul swiftly stepped in and tied the veil into a bow. The trio soon high-fived at their success, mischief flickering in their eyes. Though weak in some aspects of hagic, that didn’t entirely stop Arisu from firing off his own spells – wind based to knock some onto their back, he just called out an apology after he had found out that one of the targets was Omar. Whoops. Somewhere in the mess; Kalim had tried going up to Jamil in some weak attempt to appease him in some way – offering to leave for home and letting Jamil take over. Good intention, but clearly missed the mark. 

The air had grown heavy, everything was clouded over in a dark red, the energy around Jamil changed drastically – same as what he was wearing; the first thing that caught Arisu’s attention was the snake hair that Jamil had under a black turban with a red feather in the center along with a red gem, the crazed look in his steel eye and glowing red eye, the ink on his chin gave a small mock of a beard starting, the turban had a red drape behind that was in tatters, gold adorned his wrist, waist, and torso area with chains and coins, the main appearal looked like a form fitting black dress (also tattered) with red accents, black ink gloves, and black laced shoes.

“J-Jamil…?!” Kalim took a step back. “Wh-What’s wrong with him!”

“Overblot.” Riddle choked out. “Arisu, stay behind us-!”

“No.” Arisu shook his head. “I’m not dealing with this again.” He grabbed a stray curtain rod that appeared sometime during the scuffle with the other students. “Jamil, it’s time to wake up!” He rushed over and started to swing towards his head.

The blow never came, a snake had grabbed hold of it and Jamil looked at the blonde with a wicked grin on his face. In a flash, he had grabbed the rod and flipped Arisu over harshly, there was an audible and sickening crack as the boy’s head had met with the floor. He was still alive, but there was a high chance of him being concussed after that.  

“Arisu!” Riddle rushed over to him, only to be grabbed by one of the snakes. “Unhand me this instant!” 

“Drop him, snake!” Floyd growled.

Jamil turned to Floyd and narrowed his eyes at him; “Silence, seafood!” he flicked his wrist and forced the Octavinelle trio onto their knees, bowing to him.

First seeing Arisu laying injured on the ground, seeing Riddle held in place by snakes, and seeing the mafia on their knees, Grim decided enough was enough and started to charge at Jamil. Readying a fire blast at the deranged vice-prefect; Jamil turned his attention to the creature before snapping his finger and turning him into a normal house cat. That was one nuisance solved, there was just one other problem that needed to be solved, and he knew the perfect way to get him going.

“To think that mortal would be attracted to you.” Jamil looked at the struggling Riddle. “Oh, Riddle, you may be powerful but you’re not quite as strong as the prefect of Scarabia; you’re lucky to be the first one to see this!”

“Jamil!” Kalim had his staff ready to go. “Let him go, now!” he demaded.

“Oh Kalim.” Jamil sent his snakes over and held the boy in the same puppet position as he had Riddle in. “Prince Kalim, yes, it is he, but not as you know him.” He forced Kalim forward. “read my lips and come to grips with reality.” He turned to Riddle with a mocking smile. “Yes, meet a blast from your past; whose naivety was too good to last. Say ‘hello’ to your precious Prince Kalim.” He carelessly threw Riddle to the Octavinelle Trio and to add salt to the wound, replaced Kalim’s dorm uniform with common street rags. 

“So Kalim, useless as him, merely a poor boy.” He had him by the hair. “Eldest son, need I go on? Take it from me.” He threw him to the Octavinelle group as well. “Your personality flaws, give me adequate cause, to send you packing on a one-way trip so your prospects take a terminal dip.” He readied a spell. “Your assets frozen, the venue chosen is the ends of the earth, whoopee!” with the spell casted the group was sent flying through Scarabia as Jamil gave a mocking wave. “So long!” he laughed. “Ex-prince Kalim!”

*
Waking up, Arisu found himself in a nest of pillows; the sound of music and joyous celebration rang on. There was a small part of him that was hoping that the mess with Jamil had been resolved, but the rational side of him was saying otherwise; especially when he got a better look at his surroundings. The students all had the glossy-eyed look as they went about the morbid party; the atmosphere was still dark and dreary, and Jamil was reclined on a throne taking in the spectacle. If Jamil was still under the ink’s influence, that could only mean one thing and he was dreading to take a look at himself for this.

He was right; he was in a red dress-skirt with a ruffled, glittering tulle layer over it; sewn around the thigh portion were gold scales and hanging medallions, the waistband had pearls lining the bottom and several pearl strands hanging from it and at the middle was a large amethyst gem on a gold base. He wore gold anklets, bracelets, earrings and a necklace. And at the top? He wore a red bikini-shape toped that had ribbon sewn from the chest to the neck. Gold lines the top adorned by two ruby gems on each side that had a tassel hanging from it; an amethyst gem on a gold base was in the middle, and a chain hung from beneath the gem and around the navel attached to a yellow gem. Beneath the chest was a gold chain on each side with several medallions. Out of everything that he had to go through with overblot victims; THIS WAS TOO MUCH!

He’S aWaKe! BrInG hIm To Me!

One of the students stood up and took Arisu by the hand before guiding him over to Jamil, shoving him forward so he was on his knees and looking up at their ‘rightful king’. There was a feeling of dread pooling, hoping that this wouldn’t end the same was with Leona when he OB’ed. 

“Jamil…I’m just going to assume this is the ink’s influence, please come back.” Arisu begged.

YoU bLeEdInG hEaRtEd FoOl. AlWaYs SaCrIfIcInG yOuR lIghT fOr oThErS, iT sIcKeNs Me!

He held his hand up in surrender. “Okay, okay! You’ve made your point clear…look, I care about my friends and I go the extra mile for them if I’m able to; I do want to help you Jamil, just tell me what to do?”

There was silence from the other before he took the boy’s hand into his and pulled him up and close so the blond was forced to move to sit onto his lap.

HeLp? ThErE’s NoThInG tO ‘hElP’ wItH! bUt, ThIs PaRtY cOuLd UsE a DeSeRt LoTuS tO lIvEn Up ThE pLaCe

It wouldn’t be much, but at the moment, all he could do was stall and get close to him. It was going to be a while for this to be successful; wherever his friends were, he had hope they would get here soon before things escalated, fortunately; Jamil was being reasonable with his requests, hopefully this would stay that way.

*
Freezing. This was worse than the harsh winter itself! One would suppose that it came with the territory of being in the desert at night; they say to never underestimate the desert cold, it was a lesson Riddle wouldn’t forget. He covered himself in the jacket he had earlier and looked around their surroundings. The ends of the desert, nothing could be seen for miles, it was troubling.

“Jamil…” Kalim’s voice started to crack. “I trusted you…and…”

Riddle felt his heart ache, he walked over and took Kalim’s shoulder into his. “Kalim.”

“Baby Otter, are you crying?” Floyd came over and poked him. “Are you sad?”

“Damn it, Floyd.” Riddle hissed. “Learn how to read the room!” he turned to Kalim and sighed. “Ignore Floyd but, Kalim, you do see how this was a long time coming, correct?” Riddle asked.

“Huh, what?” Kalim looked up in surprise. “What do you mean!?”

“Kalim, you are a very kind person.” Riddle said. “But you can be overbearingly kind. And I feel that way only seeing you nine months of the year. How do you think Jamil feels, having to live with you your whole lives?”

“Oh…” Kalim looked like he was rethinking his whole life.

“Don’t get me wrong, Jamil is going about this in the worst way possible.” Riddle added. “But don’t you think there’s a strong chance you’ve been smothering him?”

Oh…” Kalim covered his face in his hands. “…Arisu’s stuck with him…Jamil, normally wouldn’t hurt others, he’s…he’s overblotted now…”

Riddle gave a gentle squeeze. “We’ll help them.” He looked at him. “You’ll help him.”

Azul cleared his throat. “As much as I love touching moments; we do need a plan to get back and a plan on how to go about handling Jamil. I doubt Arisu’s magic will hold long…”

Kalim’s eyes lit up. “My unique magic! I can get us a river made back to the dorm!” he smiled. “And…well, I may have an idea…”

“We’re putting our fates in your hands, Kalim.” Riddle smiled a little.

Chapter Text

This banquet was a wonderful thing; not only was there food and drinks all around to celebrate the rightful King of Scarabia, but they had a beautiful desert lotus performing for them. It had taken a while to find a student who owned a guitar to surrender said instrument over to the beauty before them, but the end results were wonderful; the boy would perform guitar renditions of his favorite songs and tends to stumble when he tried remembering the chords. The look of nervousness from the loyal subjects was a delight to see, he enjoyed seeing them look over to see if he’ll do anything to the stumbling guitarist; he wouldn’t, hearing that voice sing and seeing him in a natural modest light was all he needed and besides, it was adorable hearing him say “Shut up, I got this” Every time someone offered to take the role of the guitarist for him.

But even music can tend to be dull. After some time, Jamil had ordered the boy to cease playing and to approach, Arisu naturally hesitated but complied; he was still waiting for his friends to show up to get him out of this situation, one final magic duel was all that was needed to get him back to them – he couldn’t really attack now, all eyes were on him after all. Once close enough, Jamil had taken Arisu by the wrist and pulled him close so the boy was sitting between his legs and forced to look up at him.

I’vE bEeN tHiNkInG, dArLiNg Of NiGhT rAvEn, As WoNdErFuL aS tHiS iS tHeRe Is SoMeThInG i’M mIsSiNg. A bEaUtIfUl LoVeR bY mY sIdE.

Jamil couldn’t help but to chuckle at Arisu’s expression; of course, the boy was likely thinking about how that brute Leona was to him, but Jamil wasn’t like that. He would treat this beauty with the love and respect he deserved instead of how the other prefects have treated him; he wasn’t letting this light fade because of them!

“You want me as your…boyfriend?” Arisu asked carefully, watching him nod. “I honestly have no idea what to say.” He was pulled up onto Jamil’s lap and held close. “I mean, this is such an honor that I’m speechless.”

“You’d turn Master Jamil down?” A Scarabia student cried in disbelief.

“No, it’s not that.” Arisu quickly assured. “It’s just that…for someone powerful as our…King is.” He let out a soft giggle. “Sorry, it sounds a little foreign to call you that, Jamil, but going back to what I was saying; for someone powerful as you to pick a weak-magic mortal as me as their lover…I don’t know what to say.”

ThEn SaY nOtHiNg MoRe OtHeR tHaN yEs!

“Then let me answer another way.” Arisu held his face into his hand and kissed him. There were cheers from the other hypnotized students as he moved his right hand from his face and pulled it back with the intent of hitting him in that glowing eye. Like the snake Jamil was, he quickly grabbed his hand and pulled from the kiss.

My BeAuTiFuL, lUcKy, DeSeRt LoTuS

“Oh no, my king.” Arisu shook his head. “You’re the lucky one out of us all; you have everything! The glory, respect of the others, and well…you just mentioned me, of course. You’re so powerful and amazing.”

That was the trigger; Jamil took in the praise from the mortal and demanded more praises. A set of familiar voices rang from the room; Azul calling the snake handsome, Grim playing on how tall and tanned he was, Jade …mentioning how sharp his eyes were, Floyd going with broad shoulders, Riddle praising how resourceful he was, and Kalim going for super strength. As Jamil took in the praises, Arisu shifted so he was seated in a way he could get away from Jamil if needed. 

When Jamil came to and saw the others, it set of its own chain reaction; disbelief before arrogance – especially when Kalim challenged him. The start of everything came from Kalim as he conjured up a bubble wall to disorient Jamil with what it appeared to be copies of the actual opponents; while the overblot victim was focused on trying to find the right target, the twins came to the side and combined a lightning spell and water spell to strike with an electric water ball. 

That attack had agitated Jamil as he sent on of his snakes after Kalim, Arisu had pushed the Asim heir to the side and took the blow instead. Kalim rushed to Arisu’s side as Riddle got between them and Jamil to hold him back while Kalim moved Arisu to safety, Grim rushed forward – still a cat, but he still had his fire magic (even if it was probably enough to be considered a lit match; fire was fire and he still chose to attack). Jamil flicked his wrist and sent Grim flying into a cage that he conjured last second; cat was in the kennel now. Looking around, Jamil realized something as he was dealing with defense and offense; Azul wasn’t around. Where was he? No, he wouldn’t worry about that octopus, he had other things to worry about.

Such as getting the distractions out of the way, with another spell casted, Jamil struck at Riddle encasing him inside of an hourglass and had sand trickling down onto him. Floyd broke from his brother and rushed over to try and break him out – the break of the water and electric attack gave the deranged magician in caging the eel twins around swords. A small chuckle as he approached the two standing; Kalim and Arisu, two children of the light, it sickened him just seeing them acting with little care in the world. Using his snake hair, he grabbed them and pulled them close so they were inches apart.

I’vE aLwAyS wOnDeReD iF iT’s PoSsIbLe FoR tWo LiGhTs To CoRrUpT eAcH oThEr

“Do whatever you want with me, just let Riddle, Grim, and the Twins go!” Arisu begged.

“Arisu-!?” Kalim looked at him in surprised.

TemPtInG. LeT’s SeE hOw YoU pErForM bEfOrE tHe QuEeN’s TiMe RuNs out.

To keep Jamil distracted, Arisu pulled Kalim into a kiss right in front of him; both Scarabia students were surprised to say the least, but the distraction did its thing, the moment Jamil was about to react, a harsh and cold voice belonging to one Octavinelle Prefect caught his attention. The last thing Jamil saw was a flash of gold hitting his face and Arsiu fiercely holding his face.

*
The cave was a little more welcoming now, the snakes were still there but they had taken refuge on the treasure pile as Arisu held a torch in hand. This visit wasn’t just from him, in the heat of things Kalim had grabbed onto him with the intent of pulling the boy away from Jamil – this would have to be another conversation with Vil when the break ended and the school year started. Arisu told Kalim to stay close and not to touch anything; the boy agreed and just held onto his friend as they walked through the cavern.

Despite it being filled with treasures, everything was…dusted and not well cared for – of course, they were in a cave, but still…there was hardly a shine on anything. Plates and mirrors would show various scenes of the past and Kalim would be quick to point out the ones that had him and Jamil in them, confused as to why those images were scratched or cracked, Arisu just shook his head and squeezed his hand. The one they came upon recently was when the two were kids, they weren’t close enough to hear but Arisu could make out the lips; Kalim wanting to play with Jamil, Jamil declining a game and getting scolded for it.

“The very first memories I could remember were Kalim, his parents, and my own parents boxing my ears. I hated seeing all of them.”

The moment Jamil’s words echoed; the plate was covered by an agitated cobra. It was best to leave it alone. Another image showed, this time on a cracked mirror – no, correction, it was shattered and it made it hard to discern the scene, after a few squints and pressing close they were able to see a duel between Jamil and Kalim happening after Jamil’s parents pulled him to the side for something.

Kalim’s parents were always better than my parents. That’s why…Kalim should be better than me, too. That’s why, I could never surpass Kalim when it comes to studying, exercise, and even playing – Every time I was with Kalim, I had to pretend to be incompetent.

“Arisu…is there a way we can leave?” Kalim choked. “It hurts seeing this.”

“I know.” He agreed. “Come on.” 

Arisu led them out of the treasure chamber; they listened to the echoes of each memory passing by until they came upon a set of double doors – a small barred window was centered to look in; pushing through the doors, they found Jamil one a set of plush pillows, he was dressed like he normally was except for a familiar adornment on him – golden shackles, almost similar to when Arisu had visited Riddle’s room. Another gilded cage, except the chains were connected to a black lamp that was seated perfectly at the arm of a throne. 

Jamil looked up and narrowed his eyes at the two, but allowed them to approach the table before him; small enough for a party of one, the candle was in the center and was giving off violent flickering. Arisu sighed and sat down before him, making sure Kalim stayed back and silent for this.

“Why is he here?” Jamil demanded. “Why are you here?”

“You should know by now this is a normal occurrence for me, Jamil.” Arisu explained. “Student overblots, stuff happens, and the student is saved – this is the ‘stuff happens’ part; I…enter a person’s soul room and I help them.”

A small scoff. “I don’t need your help.” He waved them off. “Take the Eldest Son with you, and leave.”

“He’s only a spectator, this is between you and me, Jamil.” Arisu stayed firm. “And you most certainly do need help, the memories we saw are testament to that.” He watched the other before him as well as the room – no sign of the snakes, this was good the last thing they wanted was to be killed here. “Jamil, talk to me…please.” He held his hand out to him. “Make us understand.”

“What’s left to explain? I told you everything back at the dorm, Arisu.” He lifted a hand with chains on his wrist. “Isn’t this enough said as is?”

“It does make the point clear.” Arisu said, looking to the shackles and the lamp the chains were attached to.

"I might as well accept my fate, no matter what I do I'll always have to be second-rate to that buffoon" Jamil said but there was no real bite in his words. In a last-ditch effort to preserve his dignity he was attempting to egg Kalim into either leaving or attacking him.

Kalim came up to the table and reached out to him, Arisu didn’t even stop the other from approaching him. The heir just reached out and laid a hand on top of Jamil’s hand, he wanted to punch him…he wanted to yell at him…but everything was just frozen in the air. Kalim’s crimson eyes met with Jamil’s steel ones, the other just silently pulled his hand away from the prefect.

“As I said, you two should just leave, there’s nothing you can say or do to help.” Jamil said bitterly.

Kalim quietly sat down beside Jamil and placed his hand next to the other boy's before speaking "Maybe I am a buffoon, maybe I do take things a bit too lightly. But there is one thing I am serious about and that's how much I care about you. I was a bad friend and I took you for granted, I see that now" he said quietly keeping his scarlet eyes adverted.

“A bit late for that sudden realization.” Jamil shook his head.

Arisu stood up and nodded. “Well, then in that case…we should be going Kalim. He doesn’t want to be saved.” He gave a small wink to the prefect, watching him tilt his head confused.

“But…You were successful in the other cases.” Kalim brought up.

“Yeah, because they accepted the help and burned the room themselves.” Arisu shrugged. “Jamil has no interest in doing that…” 

“You can’t give up on him! Jamil’s one of the best magicians out there!” Kamil protested grabbing Arisu's arm with a stubborn look in his eye. "I'm not gonna sit by anymore and watch! I want to see my best friend shine bright as the sun! And you're gonna help me do it!" the albino boy said sincerely not realizing the ploy Arisu was trying to play.

“Believe me, I want to see him at his best, I want to see his full power.” Arisu took his hand into his and had a grin on his face. “He’s a fierce gamer and more but…if he’s not going to share that with us, we may as well go.”

A small chuckle. “As entertaining as this is, you forgot one simple tiny detail.” Jamil spoke up. “If word gets home about me surpassing him.” He pointed to Kalim. “Guess who’s going to get the worst of the scolding?”

Arisu shrugged. “Leave that problem to me; you’ll find I have a way with words, senpai.” He looked at him. “So, are we going to see how bright Jamil can be? Or are you just going to stay in your makeshift cage.”

“Seeing you, a common mortal, going against a family who could ruin your life with a phone call.” Jamil mused. “This…This I have got to see.” He grabbed the candle. “Alright, get out…and when I see you out in the waking world…you better deliver on your word, Carol…”

“I always do.”

Chapter Text

“Jamil! Arisu!”

Jamil groaned and opened his eyes, the first thing he was greeted to was a familiar set of crimson eyes; he groaned and sat up with a wince, his entire body was sore and he could already feel a bruise starting to form on him somewhere. All of this would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that he was still being fussed over by a crying Kalim, he just scowled and shoved him to the side before getting up and brushing himself off.

“Why the hell are you crying?” Jamil scoffed, he turned to where Arisu was laying and felt his gaze soften at the sight of the boy who was laying in Riddle’s arms. “Is he…”

Riddle shook his head. “He’s fine, he’s just exhausted after healing you.”

A small sigh of relief was interrupted when Kalim pounced and held onto Jamil “Kalim…” his tone was starting to sound harsh. “You have five seconds to let go of me before I flip you onto the marbled floor!” That got Kalim to back off from the other.

"Ahh seems like the sea serpent does have some bite to him after all" Floyd commented cheekily. "Means basketball practice is gonna be a lot more interesting in the future" he added with a wide grin.

Kalim gave Jamil personal space for about ten seconds before he was hugging the other boy again and crying tears like a fountain. "You're okay, you're really okay! I thought I lost you!" he wailed like a child and his display eventually softened the other boy enough to tolerate the hugging for now.

“I swear I’m close to throwing you!” Jamil warned again.

“You wouldn’t really do it.” Arisu said from his spot, he smiled when Jamil turned to look at him again. The smile fell for a minute. “But we do need to separate you and Kalim for a while – and before you bring up the whole ‘As a retainer, I’m not allowed to’ line, I’m going to be calling in some favors to make this work.”

“I swear, you’re impossible to be around!” Jamil moved Kalim off him and pulled Arisu to his feet. “You may be Draconia’s childhood friend, but I seriously doubt that’ll be enough to convince anyone! What the hell are you hoping to accomplish?”

“You know it’s not hard for me to say ‘Due to the Scarabia training camp cutting it close, I told Jamil to return home with one of my students to help around for the holidays and he’ll be back in time for the party at Afterglow.’.” Kalim spoke up. “Jamil…let me make this right for you; we can start on a new slate from here on!”

Jamil narrowed his eyes at Kalim. “You’re going to lie on my behalf? What the hell is wrong with you? No, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.” He started off down the hall. “I’m getting my things; I’ll meet you by the mirror.”

Floyd hugged Kalim close to him. “While you’re enjoying the cold, we’re going to be with Baby Otter and his family!” his grin grew when he saw Jamil growl under his breath.

*

With final good byes, everyone was able to head out – well, almost everyone. Kalim and Jamil stood before each other in silent conversation before they nodded and parted ways; Jamil watched as Kalim and the school’s local mafia went through the mirror for the Land of Hot Sands before going with Arisu, Riddle, and Grim to Sunnydale. Being in freezing temperature was not his idea of spending the holidays, but it would only be for the final three days; he just followed the group out of the trail and onto a sidewalk where Arisu’s mother was waiting for them. He had asked about it; wondering when she’d got here, Arisu informed him that Sunnydale and Grizzly Point were small towns it only took her twenty minutes to get to the entrance of the trail and would be here by the time they left Night Raven College. 

Arisu had informed his family of certain events; he was with Scarabia to finish up some homework and to try out their training camp, and after he would be bringing some friends to spend the holidays. They were okay with it and Loraine had welcomed them the moment they got into the car, the drive back was mostly getting caught up with everything about school and how classes were. 

Driving by, Grim was pressed against a window and watching as the town’s Christmas card appearance went by them, he would jump from person to person – except Loraine – to see more of the town covered in snow. She smiled and told Grim if he liked it now to wait until Christmas night when they would be taking part in a family tradition; naturally the strange cat creature asked for details and she just told him it was a surprise – as well as telling him that he looked handsome in his new sweater. 

Grim just puffed out in pride after that. Riddle and Jamil shook their heads, in all honesty; Riddle was a little excited about this after hearing most of the traditions Arisu had told him about (there were some he purposely left out because he wanted Riddle to get the traditions first hand), they had three days before the main event now and that’s all he cared about – well, technically four days if one were to count the Afterglow.

Once at home, Arisu led the two upstairs and pointed to each room; “Okay, over to my right is the guest room where Jamil will stay, and the upstairs bathroom. To my left, is my room where Riddle will reside; Grim I’m sure you can play nice and sleep on the recliner in my room.”

“And where exactly are you going to sleep?” Jamil challenged.

“I’ll sleep on the couch downstairs; you know it’s one of those huge L ones that you can lay down without problems.”

“You will absolutely do no such thing.” Riddle scolded. “This is your house and therefore should be sleeping in your own bed, I’ll room with Jamil while we’re here.”

Arisu just grinned at him. “Nope! Family tradition says I get to camp down here to make sure the guests – meaning you don’t try sneaking over to your presents before everyone else is awake!” he crossed his arms. “So, you two get your beds while I stay down here.”

The two just stared at him but said nothing more to the effect; in some weird way, Arisu had a point with what he was saying, on the other hand they weren’t entirely thrilled that Arisu was sleeping on the couch for three days. They just shook their heads and went to get settle in the new rooms while their friend hurried downstairs for something. 

Both rooms were similar and yet entirely different; they each had a poinsettia on the windowsill and lights around – while being careful not to let the curtains touch them, a stocking was on the inside of the door (handmade and personalized, Jamil’s was added a few minutes later with a sheepish Arisu going ‘Sorry! Forgot to hang this’; he knew the name on his was added last minute, but the craftsmanship was admirable), cozy quilt comforters with a theme (Jamil had reindeers and pine trees, Riddle had snowmen and cardinals), and paper snowflakes taped to the ceiling to look at when one should wake up. Both Jamil and Riddle had finished putting their bags away as Arisu came up and set down a plate of gingerbread cookies and a cup of hot chocolate. 

Grim had taken a few of the cookies and ate them happily as he thanked his friend. Arisu just shrugged and smiled back.

“We’re going to be watching a movie if you guys are interested.” He informed them.

Jamil set the mug down and raised an eyebrow. “Somehow, I feel like I should decline, what movie are we watching?”

“Just a classic that no Christmas celebration should be without.” Arisu smiled innocently. “The Christmas Tree!”

“Huh.” Riddle paused mid-bite. “I was half expecting something outrageous from you, we’ll be down shortly.”

“Perfect, see you there!” Arisu smiled as he went back downstairs.

Jamil looked to Riddle “Is it wrong that I was expecting him to say something along the lines of ‘Krampus’?”

“He wouldn’t pick that, Arisu hates horror movies unless it’s one of the campy yet stupid ones; case in point would be Snakes on a Plane, he can watch that with no problems.” Riddle finished off the cookie he had.

“Krampus is kind of that…it opens with mallgoers fighting each other for gifts and whatnot over the song ‘It’s the most Wonderful time of the year’ PG-13 rating and they get away with a lot of stuff.” Jamil took another swing of the hot chocolate. “It looks like some of the stuff should be in an R rating but, they found ways around it.”

“I’m safe to assume Kalim dragged you to see that movie?”

Jamil had a bit of a dark grin on his face. “Actually no, I told him I knew of a wonderful movie to watch for Christmas and decided to torture him with that. I blamed it on a Diasomnia third-year saying ‘I had no idea it was this terrifying’.” He snickered.

“You truly are a snake, Jamil.” Riddle shook his head. “Just don’t do that around Arisu and we won’t have a problem.”

“I can assure you; I wouldn’t dare.” He set the empty mug down and went for his own cookies. “We should be on our way.”

Making their way downstairs, they were able to take in more of the décor around their friend’s household; one part of the L couch had a makeshift bed setup with a quit (penguins) and a pillow while the other half of the couch just had a covering on it (red with snowflakes), the Christmas was white and was seated by the part where Arisu would be sleeping – it was adorned with colored lights and various ornaments both old and new, lights strung over some of the thresholds that would blink and play music when turned on, Christmas cards were taped along a different doorway that were from friends and family. A wreath with berries and apples (fake of course) was hung on the window as well as some gel window decorations surrounding it. There was an unused fireplace that had snow globes lining it, and for the main part; The wide screen TV positioned before the couches, and where Arisu was with a DVD in hand and trying to get the DVD player to work. 

“Will your parents be joining us?” Grim asked.

“Absolutely not.” Loraine said. “I’d rather eat a pig’s heart than watch The Christmas Tree again, and right now I envy that Lewis is at the shop doing oil changes.”

“Lewis?” Riddle looked over at Arisu. “Your father I presume?”

“The very one.” Arisu smiled. “And mom, it’s not that bad of a movie.”

Loraine stared into his eyes and crossed her arms. “Arisu, it’s been 16 years now, I know that impish glee in your eyes anywhere.” She turned to the kitchen. “If you need me, I’ll be getting lunch going for us.”

Chapter Text

It took every tooth and nail to not call Arisu a snake in his own home – even if that statement were true. On the flipside of the coin, Jamil had to admit he was impressed with how Arisu was in this situation; being raised by faeries definitely showed. That was another thing; he had learned from Riddle and Loraine to always look at the eyes – if there’s a mischievous glint in them, there’s a high chance he’s plotting something, never try turning down food – he will find ways to bring a plate to your room to make sure you’re eating right, if he tells you to prepare yourself for family game night, listen – especially if he warns you that they tend to become anarchy.

That’s what was happening during their first night together; it was mostly card games and in every one – depending on the game – the entire family was vicious. Poker with Loraine had everyone chip-less before anyone could blink, similar situation with baccarat and Lewis, and Arisu with games like Hands and Foot? Well, Jamil was surprised to see this kid being vicious. If Azul were here, he would be doing everything in his power to recruit that boy into the board game club.

The day had ended with a family dinner – pizza delivery actually. Grim and Lewis had to share a box since they were the only two who actually enjoyed anchovy pizza. Arisu just had a vegetarian pizza – he enjoyed meat, but when it came to pizza it was veggie or nothing – Riddle shared that with him. Loraine and Jamil just enjoyed the plain cheese. Another movie was playing, this time one everyone could agree on; comedy with Game Night, everyone had lost count on how often soda came from their noses.

With the movie ending, and leftovers thrown into the fridge for tomorrow afternoon, everyone had turned in for the night. It was here that Jamil took a better look at the guest room that Arisu had set him up in; he found the little setup charming from the holiday themed blanket, to the poinsettia on the windowsill, and a stocking on the door. But that wasn’t all that resided in the room; his grey eyes landed on a glass unicorn that was on a side table, he shook his head and went over to it; picking it up and playing with it. He couldn’t help but to silently chuckle at it, nor could he help himself from thinking about the horror movie Black Christmas.

“How are you holding up?” Riddle asked quietly.

Jamil had stopped playing with the glass unicorn, “I’m fine…I guess.” He finally said, looking into the empty eyes of the figurine. “I feel…freer than before but…there’s still something still lingering.” He turned to face Riddle after setting it down.

“Your soul room was just torched.” Riddle reminded him. “It’s going to take time to recover, believe me I was on shaky grounds after my overblot incident.” He took a breath. “It took a month I believe to get over the nightmares of believing Arisu is dead…I nearly hanged him.”

Jamil kept his gaze away. “Yeah…So what happens now?” 

“We continue to move forward, you and Arisu are going to have to meet to talk for closure – and before you say it won’t be easy because Arisu hates you, he doesn’t. He’ll find ways to get back at the treatment you had before the overblot and chances are…that terrible movie he showed us was his revenge.”

“Right, about that, what did he do to You, Leona and Azul?” 

Riddle just shrugged. “Well, he decided to show me Vampires Suck, I was close to whacking him upside the head.” He started off. “Leona said he was forced to watch Elvira’s Haunted Hills, and as for Azul…I’m not sure, you’re probably going to have to ask him about it.”

“Remind me to warn others not to get on his bad side any time soon.” Jamil shuddered, he looked over to the radio clock. “It’s late, we should get to bed. Will you be fine?”

“I’ll be fine.” Riddle assured. “It’s you I’m worried about.”

“Don’t worry about me.” Jamil nudged him to the door.

It was a long night for Jamil; he kept waking up every time he managed to drift to sleep, he understood Riddle’s plight when it came to the nightmares and now, he was the one dealing with the ones where Arisu was treated as a slave and Riddle being buried alive. 

Throwing the blankets off him, he got up and made his way downstairs to the living room, where Shiro was in a little bed under the tree and next to presents and Arisu sleeping on the long couch with no problem. The lights on the white tree were the standard non-colored ones, the ornaments were still reflecting light, presents were undisturbed, and …in a morbid sense this was a setup for a Christmas slasher. Shaking his head, he went up to the couch, where Arisu was quick to open his eyes and look up at him. 

Jamil held his hands up and assured him he wasn’t there for the presents but just to check on his host. Arisu yawned and rubbed his eyes before sitting up and looking at Jamil, he knew nightmares were starting to plague him and quietly led him to the kitchen to get hot chocolate made – it helped Riddle, and it actually helps with nightmares in general.

 They just sat in silence and enjoyed their drinks as well as one of the raspberry petite fours from the fridge. It took a few minutes before they finally started to talk.

“You don’t have to worry about anyone listening in; it’s just you, Shiro, and I down here.” Arisu assured him. “What’s wrong?”

Jamil sighed. “It’s nothing serious, just…worried I might have killed you, you’re fine and I can sleep fine now.”

“I doubt that’s the case.” Arisu took a drink from his mug. “But I’m not going to press the topic; I will say this, go upstairs and get a pillow and blanket, join me down here.”

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Confusing as ever.” He finished his drink and put the cup in the sink. “Fine, I’ll humor you this time.”

Arisu smiled and got up to push the couches together to make a bed shape with them, he smiled as Jamil came down with the blanket and pillow. Arisu took them and set up Jamil’s side before returning to his spot by the tree. Jamil just shook his head; there really was no win with this boy. Dropping his shoulders, Jamil climbed into the other part of the L couch and covered up in the warm blanket, he shook his head at Arisu before wishing him a good night.

Chapter Text

Come morning light, Arisu was helping his mother with cookies he smiled when Jamil, Grim, and Riddle came into the room. He greeted them and nodded to breakfast on the table; apple pancakes and milk, while the three enjoyed their breakfast, they watched their hosts make sweets. Grim had asked what they were for and Arisu answered that this was around the time Christmas Carolers would be out and going door to door singing, most everyone give the carolers a treat of some kind.

“Is this a yearly thing?” Riddle asked. “Scratch that ridiculous question; of course, it’s a yearly thing.” 

“Actually Riddle, it depends on the weather.” Charles said as he started to cut up bell peppers. ““Last year it was a white out so the carolers stayed home, on Eve we’ve had bad roads so the only people celebrating was just us and Lilia’s.”

“Just one of the many things living here in Minnesota.” Arisu shrugged.

The trio just blinked and tilted their heads in collective confusion, they decided this was one thing to witness first hand; and they were right, the door knocked and the group (consisting of Arisu, his father Charles, Loraine, Jamil, Grim, Riddle, and Shiro – being held by Charles) were greeted to the local carolers performing renditions of three songs; O Holy Night, Jingle Bells, and My Favorite Time of Year, when they got to the third song, Loraine broke from the group and got the plate of cookies for them and wishing them a happy holidays as they left for the next house.

“So, what do you guys want to do now?” Arisu asked.

Grim tilted his head. “Well, what do you usually do during this time?”

“I mean, we make igloos to spend the night in; but uh…I doubt you boys will be comfortable with that idea.” Arisu looked away.

“Why would we be uncomfortable?” Jamil asked. “So long as we have something warm and dry under us to lay on, what’s the big deal?”

He couldn’t really argue with that. Arisu got his winter coat and gloves on before taking the boys with him to their backyard and roped off an area big enough for them to sleep in before he started to get to work on the blocks. The trio watched him and looked at each other, they each brought up that it had to be easier to use magic to make it but Arisu was adamant on no magic being used in this. With a shrug, they knelt beside him and started to help make the blocks. It was almost high noon when they got their igloo done and insulated before they laid a tarp and sleeping bags inside before they went inside the house for lunch.

Before going inside, Jamil looked at their completed work and took his wand out; even though they made sure there would be enough room for the three of them, he still wanted to make sure that they would be comfortable. Flicking his wrist, he smiled at his work; it was definitely big enough for the three of them now and it came with a door to keep potential harsh winds away.

*
“And there’s our boy!” Lilia had pounced and held onto Arisu. “Look at you, you’re growing into a fine magician – of course, there’s definitely some work that needs to be done.” He sighed. “Oh, how the time flies.”

Loraine laughed. “Okay, Lilia.” She moved the two apart. “He has company over.”

Lilia looked over at Riddle and Jamil and grinned. “Yes, yes, I can see that.” He approached them. “Riddle, Jamil, wonderful to see you two again; how are you?’

“We’re well.” Riddle assured him. “We stayed at Scarabia for a few days due to a winter training camp. I have full confidence that everyone’s grades will have improved greatly.”

That got Malleus looking over from playing with Shiro, it was no surprise that Riddle would extend a hand to other students for help. However, he knew his Queen wouldn’t put aside established engagements to do so; if Riddle had tea time at four but a Savanaclaw student needed him to help with pyromancy at 4:01, Riddle would turn him down and tell him he would meet after tea time. Riddle was going to head straight to Sunnydale for break, yet he found himself working with Scarabia students.

“Very interesting.” Malleus nodded. “A model student to the end, Little Queen.”

“And you’ve brought Jamil.” Silver looked to Arisu. “How did you get him to leave Kalim’s side?”

Jamil cleared his throat. “Kalim’s idea, don’t ask what goes on in that idiot’s head, I’ve stopped questioning it ages ago.”

“Right…” Lilia stretched. “Well in any case, we’re here now and it’s time for our favorite family tradition.” He folded his hands. “Loraine, Lewis,” his grin grew. “It’s time to…break out the coronas and get the trivia cards ready.”

The card table was set up, Trivial Pursuit was brought out and the drinks were poured; to Riddle’s and Jamil’s surprise they were given a glass of the beer in question, they tried to ask why but the only response Arisu had gave them was ‘It’s one glass, it’s not going to hurt us.’. That was how they found themselves playing a wide variety of competitive games and a glass of corona beer. The adults were just settling with bottles and sliding limes in them, after game number five it had dove into wild territory and Arisu had asked for another glass – it had to be a shot, but it was enough to get into the spirits.

 Everything else was a blur until dinner when the games were ending. Dinner was just a hot dish and everyone laughing about the games they’ve had; Lilia had a good winning streak at the start when Poker started that was destroyed when Arisu came up behind when baccarats was brought up then he just annihilated everyone, surprisingly when it came to Hands and Foot, Riddle was the one who destroyed people left and right – his excuse was “I’ve watched how Arisu played and took his techniques for myself”

After dinner, everyone settled with a movie to watch; a classic (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) was the choice of the night and when that was over it was time for the gift exchange. Since Arisu had already gave the boys their gifts, it was just a matter of the group handing their own presents to others.

The evening came and Arisu left for the igloo with Jamil and Riddle; Lilia wished them sweet dreams and would be seeing them in the morning. Arisu smiled and wished them the same; when the three got outside, Arisu just stared at the size of the igloo before looking to a grinning Jamil. No, he wasn’t going to question, he just entered and laid a tarp down as well as a few sleeping bags and pillows. 

Once everything had been settled, the three got in their respected bags and relaxed. Grim was curled up beside Arisu and was letting out soft purrs as the boys just had a silent conversation between them as they started to drift off into sleep.

Chapter Text

What time was it? Did it really matter at this point? The only thing Arisu could feel was the weight of something on his arms; it was probably Grim sprawling out on him, Riddle holding him like a stuffed animal, anything could contribute to it. It still felt uncomfortable though, he wanted to move so he could sleep on his stomach as his back was getting stiff. Comfort be damned, he just started to squirm so he could gently shake Riddle and Grim off of him; this wasn’t working out, the weight still persisted and even pressed on him even more. 

“Riddle, please.” Arisu muttered. “Let go, I need to switch positions.”

“That’s mean of you, Desert Lotus.” A purr came. “It’s a brand-new day, you should be up and ready to start it.”

Arisu was wide awake now, he looked up at the figure before him and paled slightly; before him was Jamil when he had OB’ed, he knew this was a phantom, but it didn’t make him feel better knowing that the figure before him had the same predatory look on his face. 

“RIDDLE!” Arisu cried out.

The phantom just laughed and grinned at him. “Did I interrupt a good dream? What were you dreaming about, Desert Lotus?”

“Get off him.” Riddle was upright now. “He gets enough harassment from Leona’s shadow and mine, he doesn’t need you to bother him.”

Before the phantom could say anything, Jamil groaned and sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “What the hell are you two screaming about this early?” He looked over and froze, seeing the shadow of himself grinning over and still having Arisu pinned down. “What the hell?!”

The outburst got the attention of the two faeries from inside the house. The group was in silence – save for Lilia’s silent order to get into the house at once. Everyone had complied, even the shadow. Despite being a short walking distance, it felt like an eternity before they made it into the door and found another familiar shadow sitting at the table with the rest of the family.

Loraine was at the head of the table, watching the boys like a hawk as they made their way over to the remaining empty seats. She just nodded to the watcher pitcher and the breakfast pastries before them, indicating to get something to eat and drink to relax them in preparation for the possible scolding. Even Lilia was at a seat away from her, it was definitely something if an ancient faerie was afraid of what’s to come.

“Are you boys familiar with Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?” Loraine finally asked.

Jamil nodded. “Mr. Trein had us do a book report on it, yes.”

“And you’re aware the both the Doctor and the Killer are one in the same?” she watched them nod. “Listen, I may not know the magic aspects of this.” She pointed to the two shadows. “But I have talked to college students, professors, and everyone else who has a coffee addiction; how long have these being been around?”

“Jamil’s started up.” Riddle started. “Azul’s I’m estimating a few weeks.” He winced. “Leona’s and mine have been around for months now.”

“And what have you been doing about it?” Loraine asked. 

“We…tried a banishing charm and ordering them to leave.” Riddle had unease in his voice.

Loraine just shook her head. “You know, the good doctor tried to suppress Hyde with the serum and the end result was that due to the impurity of one of the ingredients, he would remain as the killer.” She folded her hands. “What you boys are doing, is similar to this case.”

“Mom?” Arisu called. “What exactly are you getting at?”

“What I’m saying.” Loraine looked at her son for a brief moment. “Is that the more they push the dark away, the more they are subjected to the darkness taking over.”

“So…when we burned our soul room…” Riddle started out.

“Again, I’m not going to pretend I know the magic aspects of what’s going on.” Loraine interrupted. “But my guess is you tried to expel “Mr. Hyde” from you when you burned the soul room. There’s a difference in cleansing yourself and trying to destroy a crucial part of yourself.” She took a drink of coffee. “Sometimes, the parts we need the most are the ones we hate the most.”

There was silence at the table, Jamil and Riddle looked over to their shadow counterparts in deep thought. Loraine was right about the statement, but could they really accept the lecherous beings before them? Wouldn’t it just be easier to defy them on the spot? No, doing so would just risk them getting taken over again and they could never bring themselves to let Arisu go through that hell again. Riddle could still the strangled marks on the boy’s neck despite them being healed for months now.

“I’m not telling you to make a decision now.” Loraine said calmly. “But it is your final choice what you do.”

Riddle nodded at that. “Listen specter, can you give us until the week before Spring Break before you decide to bother us?”

Chapter Text

With the phantoms gone in time for the relatives to show up, Christmas Eve was able to begin; and it was just as lively with the rest of Arisu’s family. Trivia games, entertaining some of the younger cousins; Loraine’s side was pretty big and it took a lot to handle them, that was Jamil’s strong point. Riddle was a bit clumsy but still helped (he had a stern yet caring hand) and Arisu was just thankful he had those two to help him. 

The present fiasco ended with Shiro running around and playing in the wrapping paper, while everyone was just relaxing with hot cider and the likes and just enjoyed the rest of the night watching movies from Christmas films to anything they wanted to watch at the time (minus the R rated stuff). 

Everyone ended up falling asleep where they were; some on the couches, chairs, on each other. Christmas Day was just everyone parting for the time being and Loraine packing up food, Lewis was getting the car ready along with Riddle and Jamil. Today was the day they were going to the Afterglow, and everyone was excited and couldn’t really wait. It was going to be memorable.

Ruggie couldn’t believe it. He was floored when Leona came over with his family and some servants bringing in food, he didn’t think much about it at first, he knew they were going to show up – they always did and started to look around before talking with him and the others about renovations to the slums (It would take a long time for that to be a completed project, but they’d prefer things to be done little by little than one grandeur that would overwhelm anyone). 

But then Rook showed up with a sled of his latest hunt; he didn’t wait a moment too soon before he was starting up a firepit and cooking the meat over a spit while working on making clothing and the like from the fur. That was when Ruggie started to raise an eyebrow and question about it; he got the answer in the form of Vil, Jack, and Epel striding in with baskets and carts, it didn’t stop there…every land, and every student that was a part of Arisu’s group was showing up and bringing their family and a variety of food.

He lost it, he couldn’t believe it; he gave a shrill laugh when Arisu and his group came over with their food. 

“Arisu!” Ruggie wiped his eyes. “What is all this!?”

“It’s your Christmas present.” Arisu said. “I know I got you Hello Fresh, but…I wanted to do more and arranged this huge banquet!” he smiled at him.

“You are so weird!” Ruggie grinned and immediately pounced him.

Arisu ended up falling backwards on the ground, Ruggie kneeling over him and nuzzling into his thighs. He laughed and moved from him, that failed when the hyena pounced again and nuzzled his thighs again. 

“Ruggie what are you doing?!” He laughed

“Shut up and take your affection.” Ruggie continued to nuzzle him. “Arisu~ how did you pull this off!”

“Ask Leona.” Arisu grinned. “I had to get him on board with this idea!”

Leona huffed and brought out Coolers. “Yeah, he wouldn’t shut up about this banquet.” He huffed. “He kept begging me to talk to my brother about it.”

“I approved of it.” Farena reminded him, he turned to Arisu and shook his head. “You’ve picked out a good friend, Leo, he’s a good kid.”

“Augh shut up, he doesn’t need you to praise him.” Leona elbowed him. “His ego is big enough as is.”

Arisu shook his head over at the antics of the two brothers, at least the two were on good terms (so to say, they were civil and Arisu was going to ask Leona for details later.) He pulled himself from the hyena and went among the crowd and watched as the hyenas and the others were mingling with others while going after the food as well, things were really in the swing of it all and everything was coming together. To the side, he saw Riddle talking with Azul and the Leech Twins, though curious what they were talking about, Arisu just decided to let them be and be around others for the time being.

Malleus had come up behind and relaxed in the sun with him; he gave Arisu a small parcel that held a tomogachi for him. Arisu took it and thanked him before hugging him, he named the tomogachi Kirito from Sword Art Online, the two just laughed about it and spent part of their time together just playing with their small handheld games. This Christmas day in Twisted Wonderland, and it was still warm among everyone here – even though they were in the savanna.

*
Cater had to admit, this was an amazing party; of course, he could go without his sisters being there as well, but aside from them being here he was having fun and livestreaming everything – well, almost everything, he made sure to keep Riddle out of the frames. 

He made his way over to the food bar and hugged Arisu from behind before getting the two of them in the frame; cheerfully saying that this strange human had done it again with his crazy ways – okay, it wasn’t all on him, but Cater enjoyed seeing Arisu so flustered when the limelight was on him. Cater laughed and ruffled his hair, letting the boy know he was just messing with him and asking what dishes he and his family brought over. Arisu let a sigh of relief as he showed him what was on the Carol menu; scalloped potatoes, broccoli salad (“yes, there’s mayo in this, and if Vil has a problem with it he can fight me later”), and cupcakes. 

Cater couldn’t help but set the phone down and try one of the dishes (the scalloped potatoes), that just led to the two talking about recipes and exchanging them with each other before trouble came. Double trouble: Caroline and Coraline, his two older sisters who decided now was the perfect time to tease him around the first year.

“Oh, who's this little cutie? Are you one of Cater-tot's friends, pretty boy?" Caroline said resting her chin on the top of Arisu's head as she grinned playfully.

 Arisu gave her a tight-lipped grin as he was trying not to burst out laughing at hearing the nickname, she used for Cater. He could see the familial resemblance between the two, although the girl's hair was much choppier than her little brother's do was. 

"Hi! I'm Arisu, Cater's told me... well actually he's told me practically nothing about you except that you're kinda bossy" Arisu said despite the gestures Cater was making at him to be quiet and not get him in trouble with his older sisters. "So, did you go to NRC too or..."

"Who cares about boring stuff like that, you wanna hear about the time Cater-tot first used his unique magic and scared himself so bad he peed his pants?" Caroline said with a flick of her head. “He thought he met his doppelganger!”

Arisu laughed and covered his mouth as he looked over at his friend who was blushing and was trying to hide his face. “I can’t believe that.”

Coraline took Arisu’s hands and spun him around. “I’ve seen you in Vil’s photoshoot for Temptation, you were so adorable! Tell me, are you going to be with Poisoned Apples from here on?” 

“The only way I will is if Vil drags me to them.” Arisu let his shoulders drop.

“Please, have some class.” Vil walked over. “You were only a stand in for the one time; you still have a lot to learn before you can even be part of us fulltime.” He scowled at the plate Arisu had. “And we have a lot to talk about when we get back to school, young man.”

Chapter Text

It had to be the holiday hangover; there was no other explanation for everyone looking half-dead the moment they returned to school. Ace and Deuce were using each other to support themselves as the walked through the halls, occasionally would be saying ‘ow’ with each step until they collapsed into their desks. Jack had to pull Epel, Grim, and Arisu in a sled to class before dropping them unceremoniously in the doorway and clawing his way to his desk behind the ADeuce combo. Epel just called to their teacher telling him to just leave them like this. And Sebek? He was probably the only one with a pep in his step as he walked in with his head held high.

Arisu was definitely going to kick his ass.

Though he was out of it as well, Divus still held himself with a professional attitude – after all, he could always take a light nap in the teachers’ lounge and get a decent amount of sleep when he got back to his place. Clearing his throat, he began the lesson – it was more of a story than a lecture, but it did paint the picture of what was going to happen later in the day.

Students groaned at the story and their groans grew more after the story they were tasked in doing today’s assignment – which was identifying the moon phases and the effects it had on Moon Water for certain potions. Today was just a day of torture it felt like. After that torture, Divus had ordered the students to get to the lecture hall for an assembly about the Star Sending.

Arriving at the assembly, students were more alive than they were this morning – the death coffee everyone pumped into their veins was probably kicking in. As everyone settled down, Crowley came strutting in, lively was ever as he greeted the students with a bright smile on his face.

Another person that Arisu was going to beat.

“Hey Ace.” Grim nudged his friend’s arm. “What’s this Star Sending thing the Headmaster is talking about?”

“The short version is this.” Deuce started out. “An old toymaker poured his soul into a doll he made, and he wished for it to become a real child. The wish was granted and the doll gained life…it’s a famous story, that’s the story I heard a lot when I was a kid.”

Arisu looked over and tapped his fingers in thought. “I’ve heard the story too, except…while the doll was brought to life, the Fairy that gave him life said he had to be brave, truthful, and unselfish in order to be a real boy.” He recited. “He underwent a series of trials and became the real boy at the end.”

Ace looked at Arisu and raised an eyebrow. “I’m not going to ask, I think we’ve learned that lesson after the Beans Day fiasco, I’m not repeating that.” He shook his head. “Anyway Grim, the star sending is the one day a year – the same day he originally made his wish – that we send our wishes off to the stars. In order to do that, we need ‘wishing stars’ they’re some sort of weird magic stones that once you’ve charged them, you hang them up on a tree.”

“What a weird event.” Grim muttered.

“I mean, every event is strange when you think about it; but in the end, it’s all in good fun.” Arisu pointed out.

“Anyway!” Crowley called. “Now that we got the main part out of the way, it’s time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The selection of the “Star Gazers”!”

That got everyone tensed up and praying. Grim and Arisu just blinked as they watched over everyone; on the surface, it sounded like everyone was excited. But straining his hearing, Arisu could hear that no-one wants to be selected – the job was to collect the stars and hang them on the tree; it sounded like the easiest job. Arisu shrugged, he didn’t understand why no-one wanted to do the easiest of requests.

“Right then! The first star gazer will be…born on October 25th, Trey Clover!” Crowley announced.

There was a quiet praise from Riddle, Arisu smiled and sent a text congratulating him. The second Star Gazer was Idia Shroud, Arisu looked over to the floating tablet and winced, perhaps he should lend a hand for the Gazers? That thought was answered immediately when Deuce was announced as the third Star Gazer. The three were definitely going to need help of some degree if anyone had any hopes of getting through this event.

Once the Gazers were announced, everyone was lined up to get their stones. Arisu played with his and kept it in his pocket, he wasn’t certain on his wish just yet and he wanted to go find Deuce before he did something stupid. Grim was on Arisu’s shoulder and holding his star in his paws, he was thinking of possible wishes he could make as they went to catch up with Deuce.

“I got it!” Grim cheered. “I wish to become the greatest of magicians!”  his eyes shone when he saw the stone light up. “Ari! Ari look! It lit up!”

Deuce laughed. “It’s proof that you’ve decided upon a wish.” He gently took it from Grim. “Hey, Arisu…what are you going to wish for?”

Arisu just shrugged. “Don’t know yet.” He looked up at his friend. “Hey, can I ask something?”

“You just did.” Deuce poked his shoulder. “I’m teasing, what’s up?”

“At your previous school…did you have a certain wish?”

Deuce fell silent and looked away. “Well…no, but…I do remember my mother’s wish back when I was in middle school.” He looked back at Arisu who was now holding his hand. “I don’t remember if I told you or not, but I was a delinquent as a kid and…her wish was for her “Son to stop getting in fights and stay healthy.” So…I’ve been working to be an honor student for her.”

“An admirable wish.” Arisu smiled. “And for what it’s worth, that wish definitely came true…even if you threw a student at a chandelier.”

“Did you have to bring that up?” Deuce groaned and Arisu just giggled.

“He has every right to.” Trey approached them. “After all, it was that brash move that got you in trouble on your first day here.” He looked at the star in Deuce’s hand. “Ah, you’re already collecting the stars; which one is that?”

“Grim’s.” Arisu confirmed. “I’m still thinking about my wish.” He cleared his throat. “Actually, part of the reason I came to Deuce is because, I want to help you guys in collecting the wishes of the students – it’s a pretty big job for three people.”

“The Aerith Gainsborough of the school is here on schedule.” Came Idia’s voice. “Compassionate, upbeat, joyful, and wishes to help however he can.” 

“There’s really no rules that say you can’t.” Trey pointed out. “Alright, before you go off keep this in mind; don’t dive head first, be casual with your conversation and get them to make a wish in the process.” He ruffled his hair. “Go get ‘em, Ari.”

*
Arisu looked down at his list and smiled; he had visited Wolfram, Tarrant, Harlan, Deva and Duncan, Chara, Calico, Henrick and Gregory, Flynn, Claire, and Raphael and each of them had huge dreams. In all honesty, Arisu was a little jealous since he couldn’t think of something grand for his. But he still smiled knowing that even in a “villains’ school” that everyone had something huge. Looking to the tree before him, he had to wonder how Grim was doing with the bike club and some of the Diasomnia students; he hummed and took the stone from his pocket, clutching it close to him.

“I close my eyes and I can see, the world that’s waiting up for me; that I call my own.” He looked to where the school was located, smiling as he thought about the crazy year that he had been through here. “Through the dark, through the door, through where no one’s been before but it feels like home.”

Hanging the stars up with great care, Arisu smiled at how they sparkled and shine; “They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy.” He moved from the tree and sat down on the grass. “They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind.” He grew up with faeries from the fold, this was normal for him. “I don’t care, I don’t care so call me crazy; we can live in a world that we design.”

Arisu laughed and laid back so he could look up at the clear skies before him, the many stars before him twinkled in the night. “Cause every night I lie in bed; the brightest colors fill my head; a million dreams are keeping me awake!” he reached up to the stars. “I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see; A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.” He lowered his hand and closed his eyes. “Oh, a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

From a distance; another blond watched over him. He wasn’t close enough for Arisu to detect his presence, but he was close enough to listen to him. He did have a wish – no, it was a goal that he was going to achieve without the help of a wish; Arisu’s approval he so desired greatly, it’s a work in progress and he was confident that they’ll get there.

“There’s a house we can build, every room inside is filled with things from far away.” He turned and picked a coral rose and twirled it in his fingers. “The special things I compile, each one there to make you smile on a rainy day.” He made his way back to the outer corridor and looked to the empty classrooms; picturing his fellow classmates inside as well as his dormmates and their expressions should they learn of his true desires.

“They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy.” He had a light smirk. “They can say, they can say we’ve lost our minds; I don’t care, I don’t care if they call us crazy.” He stopped before the mirror to his dorm and looked back to where the path to Main Street. “Runaway to a world that we design.” 

Stepping through and making his way down the pristine hallways; he flicked his wand and changed from the school uniform to the dorm uniform that he wore with pride; even if he wouldn’t be in it long, he still wore the regal attire with pride as he strode to his room. 

“Every night I lie in bed; the brightest colors fill my head.” He laid a hand on the windowpane and looked to the stars. “A million dreams are keeping me awake! I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see; a million dreams is all it’s gonna take.” He let go and went to his room, with a slight hum. “Oh, a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

*

There was going to be a storm coming; a lot of students were on edge about the whole thing. Sure, hardly anyone was excited, but at the same time, to have the beautiful sight be halted because of the weather tends to put a damper on anyone’s mood. Even if the headmaster said things would continue as it were; everyone was a little worried regardless.

The dance Trey and Deuce performed before the tree was graceful and energetic with Idia on the drums; the costumes they wore sparkled alongside the tree behind them. It was like watching ethereal beings dance, and for the duration of it, everyone’s spirit was at ease.

BANG

Despite the ceremony being close to cancelation; Idia had came up with a plan specifically for this purpose. If they couldn’t bring the wishes to the stars in the traditional method; they’ll bring the wishes to the stars another way. Seeing Ortho flying over in gear similar to what they were wearing, it didn’t take long for everyone to put two and two. After everyone was in the safety that was indoors, they were able to watch as Ortho shot to the skies, breaking the clouds with such momentum.

The stars were visible, and …shooting stars? No, not just any shooting stars; they were the wishing stones everyone had given! Decorating space with them and watching as the skies light up even more with them!

“Every night I lie in bed; the brightest colors fill my head.” Arisu smiled up at the sight. “A million dreams are keeping me awake.”

*
“Hey…Arisu.” Grim looked at him. “Do you still have your stone?” 

Arisu paused in changing and shook his head. “Nope, I handed it to Trey before the send-off.” He tossed his clothes onto a chair and got into his pajamas.

Grim pounced onto the bed and circled a spot. “Out with it! What did you wish for!”

“I can’t tell you.” He climbed into bed. “Otherwise, it won’t come true.” He petted the monster on the head.

“Grr…I’ll find out eventually.” Grim huffed and lied in his arms. “Just you wait, nothing gets by The Great Grim!”

Arisu just chuckled. “I believe you.” He closed his eyes. “Good night, Grim.”

Chapter Text

Even though he’s been back for nearly a week, Arisu was finally able to appreciate Ramshackle without feeling like he’s crawled from the grave itself. Actually, now that he’s thought about it, his time at the old dorm was coming to an end; sometime after the shooting star send off, the headmaster had pulled him aside and announced that he was going to hold a small ceremony. His ability had grown and he would have an official dorm, he was actually excited about it, but in his heart, he actually didn’t want to leave the three ghosts; he enjoyed their company and already called Ramshackle his home away from home.

“Arisu! You’re back!” Kalim pounced and hugged him. 

“He’s been back for a while.” Jamil sighed and parted the two. “Give the boy some air.”

“But he’s more awake now!” Kalim huffed.

Arisu just smiled, at least one thing would never change in Night Raven College; the antics of his friends. Since their return to the school, both Jamil and Kalim had been getting better – it was still a work in progress, but Kalim had been backing off and throwing less parties (Okay, there was still a party every other Friday, but at least the studies were still going well). Jamil had been teaching Kalim to be more independent every now and then (even if he still had his duty as a Viper; he still wanted to lessen the chance of Kalim getting in danger). It was the little things that made every second count, and Rome wasn’t built in a day – the two still had a long way to go, but he had his confidence in the two.

Grim started to climb up Kalim’s legs and made himself at home on his shoulder. “Hey Kalim! Jamil! What’s up?”

“We’re just here to get Arisu’s ceremonial robe.” Jamil shrugged. “Tomorrow is the day we get to see where this kid is heading.” He patted the blonde’s shoulder. “Excited?”

“A little.” Arisu smiled. “But also sad, I actually enjoy Parron, Passe, and Futuro’s company.”

“You can still stay in Ramshackle too!” Kalim took his hands into his. “The headmaster said if you get too ‘homesick’ you can return to the old dorm whenever you want!”

That was relieving to hear! 

Arisu smiled and followed the two to his dorm; Grim was going on about what kind of dorm he wanted to be in – he didn’t want to be in Diasomnia, it was pretty scary there; Pomefiore was so pretty and lavish he wanted to stay there alongside the warm dorm that was Scarabia; this went on with Kalim adding fuel to the conversation. With them the way they were, Jamil looked down at Arisu in silent concern, his look was met with a soft smile of assurance that everything was alright.

 Kalim had looked over with a silent worried expression, it softened when he saw the assured nods from his two friends. Grim let a soft purr and they just went to Ramshackle where upon arriving…something was off; the trio of ghosts were by the gates and gave a tired greeting. Unless someone had came in with sage or some cleansing element, there should be no reason for them to be away from the dorm like this.

Jamil narrowed his eyes and told his two companions to stay put while he went to investigate the old dorm. The foyer was pretty quiet – and decked out with multiple tables, shades of blue and white everywhere, plates and glasses along with place cards. There was even a grander looking table in the back!

Unless Arisu was hosting a dinner party for the entire school; this setup should not be here. 

“You filthy rat! What do you think you’re doing here!”

Jamil took his wand out and turned to face the newcomer; ghosts decked out in royal guard attire; it was that time again it seems.

“I’m just here to get something of my friend’s and I’ll be out shortly.” Jamil explained. “There’s an important ceremony tomorrow at dawn.”

The ghosts turned and talked to each other for a bit, before allowing him to traverse further into the old dorm. Jamil made his way into Arisu’s room and grabbed his robe before leaving to regroup with the group outside. After explaining everything, it was agreed upon to see if there was something the headmaster could do about it – chances are the answer was a dismissive ‘We can see what we can do, there’s really no guarantee to anything’. Their best bet, according to Jamil, was to return to Scarabia for the time being and wait until this passed over; the bride was here for the day and come midnight she would be out of their hairs.

Right, that was a long story that needed to be explained to the freshies. Jamil just shrugged and guided the group to the school so they could get to the hall of mirrors; on the way there, he informed them of the situation; once a year a ghost bride would come to Twisted Wonderland while looking for her ideal prince, this wasn’t much of a concern as she had very high to near impossible standards. 

Well, today was the day of concern as the group saw Ortho run (float?) to the headmaster’s office; something definitely happened, but before they could even piece together anything, they watched as they neared the cafeteria that Lilia and Sebek were in an all-out magic fight against the bridal party; first Ramshackle, now here? Jamil just silently looked at Kalim, Arisu, and Grim in a silent question; how much did they want to bet the entire school was taken over for today? This was definitely strange; they hardly ever got this defensive about the school and they never once decorated anything. Wait.

“Uh…this may be stretching.” Grim started out. “But…do you think the bride found someone?”

Jamil shrugged. “If she did, then I’m impressed; she has impossible standards for what she wants and the fact she found someone like that here at Night Raven College is saying something.”

They watched as Lilia and Sebek stormed off; still occasionally shooting a spell at the ghosts. Jamil shook his head and led the group back outside; there was probably a huge chance they wouldn’t even get to the mirrors and return to Scarabia for the time being.

*
One thing definitely led to another; the end result was the majority of the school in the sports field after the ghosts of the bride had taken over the majority of the place. As it stands, the only places that were probably safe from the bridal party were the seven dorms, this place, and the school store. 

When the confusion had settled down, Crowley and Ortho took the time to explain what had happened; last night, Idia was kidnapped by the ghost bride as she assumed him to be the ideal prince, she had been looking for all these years. Taller than 180cm, a slim body with no muscle, beautiful skin, slim and long eyes, charming smile, hair that shone brightly, and lips that leaves one begging for a kiss.

It was quite the standard she had, however, Idia…well, Arisu had only seen him a handful of times and he would have to agree that the Ignihyde prefect had bright hair, slim eyes, and unique lip colors. The only difference was how he looked when he got excited; it was a swift Jekyll and Hyde moment when that happens, so how the bride thought him to be the ideal prince was a mystery at most that actually had everyone on the field double-over laughing their asses off.

“You’re not aware of what it means to be chosen by a ghost bride.” Crowley crossed his arms. “Marriage to a ghost, to be entwined in such a contract means you’ll be dead forever.”

Malleus raised his hand. “Sir, he’s the son of Hades, I don’t think he has much to worry about.” 

Crowley just stared at Malleus. “You’ve never went against an angry god before, have you? That’s something you only do once. The second Lord Hades finds out his son’s been hitched to a ghost bride is the second he comes bursting through and wreaking havoc on this school for failing to stop the wedding.”

Silence filled the yard. Out of the Great Seven, two were ones you didn’t want to get steamed; Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, and Maleficent, Queen of Thorns and Mistress of All Evil. They had two students who were direct descendants of them and in their hearts, they could see why having the two show up should anything happen to the princes would be bad news. 

After a few minutes later, it was agreed that they would help; it wasn’t going to be easy as now that the ghost bride had found her ideal prince, she wasn’t going to give him up any time soon. After what felt like forever, an idea finally came; they were going to going to separate them by force – yet in an unconventional way; they were going to propose to her! They just had to get the right things from Sam first.

Chapter Text

Idia was tied in place; no matter how much he struggled, the bride – Eliza, was enjoying it. There was no way in the seven circles of hell this was happening; he was not going to be married to a ghost! His father…oh god, his mother would destroy all of earth if he showed up in the underworld with her. No earth means…no game developers, he was not going to go through with this!

“Princess, tell me if you can, who’s gonna buy the wedding bands? Times being what they are, hard and getting harder all the time.” Idia called. “After all, no wedding bands no wedding, right?”

Eliza looked over and covered her mouth in a giggle. “Idia, when I sing my song, all the rives sing along; and they’re going to break their banks for me to lay their gold around my feet, all a-flashing in pan, all in fashion for our hand, the river’s going to give us the wedding bands.”

“Did you really think we would show up unprepared?” Jiya asked, he held up a box with two sets of gold bands with an emerald stud in the centers. “Emerald for the heart’s choice.”

Okay, so they prepared the rings, there was no way they would have everything else prepared. “Princess, tell me, if you’re able; who’s gonna lay the wedding table? Times being what they are, darker and getting darker all the time.”

Eliza twirled and motioned to the trees outside the school. “Lover, when I sing my song, all the trees are going to sing along and bend their branches down to me. To lay their fruit around my feet; the almond and the apple, and the sugar from the maple. The trees are going to lay the wedding table.”

Some ghosts had flown in; they bowed before the princess and smiled. “We’re pleased to let you know the reception hall is ready.”

Zeus must really hate him today, and Idia could feel the roots of his hair turning a light shade of orange; this was it, there was no humanly way they had that ready for them. “Princess, tell me, when we’re wed who’s gonna make the wedding bed? Times being what they are hard and getting harder all the time.”

Before she could even answer; Chubby had flown in to announce that a line of students was lined up outside ready to propose. Oh, thank the seven! He felt a wave of relief rush over him as salvation was here for him at last. Eliza had a small frown as she heard this; he decided to try and sweeten the pot for her letting her know that this school had a wide variety of high society students from various backgrounds – heck, they had two other princes in this school! 

She was still adamant on marrying Idia though, she even told him that as she sent the ghosts out to escort these potential suitors her way. 

*
“You can’t really be serious.” Idia muttered. “My life is over.”

Leona was the first to go down, then it was Vil – ironically, the blond had a strong start until it got to the question about a dog (even then, he had apparently thrown one of his students under the bus; “I have a small breed, he’s feral unfortunately, I am working on taming him” that earned a slap.) Lilia was apparently ‘too cute’ to be considered, Sebek went back on praising The Young Master, Trey was just hopeless.

Suitor after suitor failed and now standing before them was Arisu Carol; suited up in formal wear from the Valley of Thorns, heeled boots, a bouquet of magenta lilacs, a sword at his hip, and radiating an aura of light and chivalry.

“Princess Eliza.” Arisu greeted with a bow. “’Tis an honor to meet you, I brought you these for they mean Love and Passion.” He extended them to her, to which she took in her hands. “My name is Arisu Carol, prince of the kingdom that is Sunnydale; where the flowers came from.”

“They’re beautiful.” Eliza laid a hand over her chest. “Your kingdom must be just as beautiful with a name like that, especially if they grow these beautiful flowers.”

“Aha, I wouldn’t go that far, we’re but surrounded by forests.” He added, acting a little modest. “I’m sure there are kingdoms far grander than mine.”

She giggled. “A humble prince!” she smiled bright. “I couldn’t help but to notice the blade you have, how long has it been in your family?”

Arisu took the sword out and looked at it in the light. “Afraid this isn’t part of my family, but there is a story to it; the short version is that this sword lays in rest for a True Hero to come upon it. I too, have come upon it just like many heroes before me – traversing various terrains to obtain it and defend their kingdoms.” He sheathed it and lowered his head. “Soon, I shall return the sword to its resting place to continue the Link of heroes.”

Tears welled up in her eyes, she dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief. “That’s…so many kingdoms were protected by that blade and now you’re taking such a mantle? Do you…do you have a canine companion to aide you in such?”

“Afraid not, I actually have a rabbit with fur white as snow.” Arisu said. “My loyal retainers have wolves at the ready when we traverse the woods to protect Sunnydale.”

“So brave!” She straightened up. “But that will only get you so far; as a prince you must know how to play music, yes?”

“I am skilled with a guitar, Princess, and can sing acapella with no problem.” He assured her.

“I’ve been dreaming of a true love’s kiss.” She moved around him. “And a prince I’m hoping comes with this; that’s what brings ever-aftering so happy.”

Arisu had a glint in his eyes. So that’s the game she was playing? He would play, he got this far with Diasomnia’s help, he can get that ring on her finger. “You’re the fairest maid I’ve ever met, you were made…”

“To finish your duet.” She held his hands in hers.

“And in years to come we’ll reminisce.” 

Arisu lifted her chin. “How we came to love.”

She smiled. “And grew and grew love.”

“Since first we knew love through true love’s kiss.”

She moved and clapped her hands together. “Oh Prince Arisu, You’re really becoming an ideal prince for anyone! But…” she looked to the heels. “Are those truly necessary? You are tall to go with handsome, yes?”

The record screeched to a halt in Arisu’s mind. He wasn’t anticipating this in the long run. “Err I…am more of the height doesn’t truly matter if you love someone…” his confidence was faltering.

SLAP

“How dare you deceive a woman like that! I thought you were different than the rest of the ‘suitors’ that had came through the door, but you’re just like them!” She turned with a huff.

“We almost had it.” Sebek groaned. “All that training from the young master wasted.”

“Well, it can’t really be helped.” Vil sighed. 

Arisu sighed. “There has to be a way to help him though.” He looked to Idia with worry. “Right?”

Not quite. The wedding day was going to be tonight at midnight; with the eligible bachelors out of commission, it didn’t really seem like much hope in this case, especially with the bride having her heart set on Idia. The others were of no help either, they just flat out gave up on the spot – they were frozen, there really wasn’t much they could do. Arisu on the other hand was wracking his brain for any ideas that could help them in this situation; they could try talk to her again? No, she wasn’t going to listen. 

What were they going to do now?

Chapter Text

Malleus just shook his head at the sight; humans were such small thinkers, they had the right idea about shifting the bride’s affection to someone else, but switching it onto them wasn’t the way to go. Being a perfect actor was only going to get far before she caught on – it happened with Arisu when she noticed the heels, and it would most definitely cause Vil’s downfall if he had lasted longer, the bride would have detected the less than sincere look in his eyes.

He watched as the remaining group tried to think of a plan; as it stood, the only ones that may even have a chance were Ace, Rook, Ruggie, Epel, Kalim, Jamil, and Riddle. Shifting attention onto them would be near impossible – maybe in the case of Kalim it would work, but that was asking too much. Closing his eyes, he went through the events that lead up to the suitors and the reactions; sure, he may not have been able to be one of the suitors themselves, but it didn’t stop him from lurking in the shadows. 

There was one ghost that stood out to him; the one who would look increasingly worried whenever someone like Vil or Arisu took center stage. The ghost would have a smug expression whenever someone got slapped, not only that he also looked relieved. 

“Of course.” Malleus chuckled. “Why didn’t we see it before!”

Silver looked over at him. “Malleus?” He raised an eyebrow in confusion. “What is it?”

“I may have a way to help.” He approached the small group and whistled to get their attention. “Everyone, I want you to get your finest suits, we have a wedding to attend to.” 

Riddle crossed his arms. “Alright, Draconia, what are you planning?” he demanded. “I know when you’re in trickster mode, so what is it?”

“Come now, Little Queen, this is a royal wedding; an event where only the elite may join.” He explained. “Riddle, son of the Rosehearts family, Kalim son of the Asim Family, and myself of the Draconia family; are usually permitted to take one guest with us. Jamil and Silver are naturally our retainers in these events – in case should any…undesirables attempt our lives.”

Kalim’s eyes lit up. “I think I get it! We’re going to pose as elite guests and sneak into the wedding where we’ll be able to crash it!” he saw Malleus nod. “That’s genius!”

“Even if we do, we still have to put a ring on the bride.” Ace reminded tiredly.

“Not quite.” Malleus had his smirk. “Let me handle that; you boys go get ready for the ceremony.”

*
The time was nearing midnight; the ruse was going according to plan. 

It took some sweet talk convincing from Malleus to get the ghost to let them pass – heck, said ghost had to inform the bride of visitors from another kingdom here to witness the blessed ceremony. The group was escorted to the wedding hall, where the final showdown would begin. 

Idia felt his eyes widen when he saw them; Eliza had her doubts on the claims from the guests, he immediately chimed in and said that Malleus’ words rang true before explaining the situation. Malleus Draconia, the prince and heir to the Valley of the Thorns, was also Maleficent’s grandson (and maybe adding in that Arisu was also the honorary family member to the Draconia family just to add some spite to the fuel).

Eliza froze and felt her eyes widen; she covered her mouth in fear as she looked at the horned prince.  “Prince…Draconia…” she curtsied to him.

“Ah, no need to be formal, Princess Eliza.” Malleus assured her. “It is your wedding day, where it’s all about you and your beloved.” He bowed at the waist. “I would like to formally apologize for my darling Sunflower, one of my retainers had filled his head with tricks, you see, and no disrespect to you and the others, but humans are quite easy to fool and believe just about anything.”

“So then…” She looked at Arisu. “He was only doing what he was told was the right thing? Oh my…I’m…I’m so sorry!”

“’Tis fine, Princess.” Malleus stood up. “Of course…” he looked to Idia. “I do regret to say that as someone who has been through the ages myself and watching over humans; Lord Shroud is not the one for you.” He saw the ghosts getting agitated, he held his hand up. “Before I explain the why, I want to let you know something important; I have three lovers by my side, all of which are royalty in their own way, and while we have what we want, we don’t have what we need.”

“What you need?” Jiiya repeated. “Explain yourself, Prince Draconia.”

“What we need…is a lover of pure light; someone to light our darkness.” Malleus smiled softly. “Unfortunately, the ideal of Light doesn’t exist; they would need to have a kind heart filled with compassion, be brave enough to face the dark no matter how scared they are, a gentle soul that can bring anyone peace of mind.” He sighed. 

He took a step closer. “The Progeny of Light is but a legend, but they do sound like an ideal lover, wouldn’t you agree?”

Eliza felt tears well up, the ghosts lowered their heads; for five hundred years…they wanted nothing more than for their princess to have true love and happiness. The way Prince Draconia says these things…they didn’t want to believe it! The ideal prince, the ideal…everything had to exist…

“Faeries can’t lie.” Idia finally said. “They’re incapable of doing so; should they try to lie their throats would close up as if they’re swallowing molten iron.”

“We’re not going to put that statement to the test.” Malleus looked at Idia sharply. “Instead.” He took Eliza’s hand in his. “There is someone who does fit the profile of someone you want; someone who loves you, cares for you, he may be not look like an ideal prince but…if you can look past appearances, you’ll find the perfect groom.” He turned to the door. “You can come in now, it’s quite rude to linger in the doorways.”

The doors opened and the robust ghost made his way over. Malleus grinned at him and took his hand into his before placing it over Eliza’s and stepping away; tricksters faeries may be, but they will never lie. He smiled and nodded to them; a kiss of true love between Eliza and Chubby was sealed on this holy of days. 

*
“Finally, I can feel my arms again~” Cater sighed in relief, he looked to Malleus and grinned. “Guess I- wait no, I can’t say that…you’d get offended.” He tapped hic chin. “Tha- No, can’t say that either.”

“You can say it, it matters not to me as times have changed.” Malleus shrugged. 

Idia bowed a bit to Malleus. “I owe you for this, I’ll buy you any furby you want!”

Arisu chuckled at the sight of the everything; it had been one crazy day and he was actually glad that it was over and done with! He was just ready for bed so he could go through the ceremony redo and get settled into his new dorm. As he started to doze off from the fatigue, Eliza had shouted about something, he didn’t register what it was until he felt something land in his lap. Picking it up, he found it to be the lilac bouquet. Wait.

“Kalim already put a ring on him and kissed him!” Jamil got in front of Arisu. “Back off from him.”

“Please, that doesn’t count!” Riddle snapped. “Kalim tripped when they kissed, and the ring was but a Christmas gift.”

Arisu just paled at this. “Just when I thought today was finally over!”

Grim was grinning up at him. “DIBS AS YOUR BEST MAN!”

“Absolutely not, there’s not going to be a wedding, tanuki!”

*

Returning to bed, Arisu sighed and snuggled into the bed. He didn’t really care about how late it was; he was just glad to be ready to start falling asleep in his old dorm again.  The feeling was short-lived when the familiar glow from the mirror returned, he sighed and threw his covers off and covered Grim in the process as he made his way to the mirror before him. This time he was greeted to the same silhouette again; he was able to see with more clarity…a mouse? 

“Who’s there?” the mouse asked. “Who are you?”

This was weird, Arisu rubbed his eyes before replying. “My name is Arisu.”

“Arisu…weird name, but it sounds great.”

“Thank you.” Arisu looked over the mirror. “You look familiar to me, could you tell me who you are?”

The mouse nodded. “I’m Mickey, Mickey Mouse. Am I dreaming again? I’ve been seeing the same dream three times now; it’s always been the same living cards and dancing music.”

“No, I’ve had those dream too.” Arisu told him.

“I can hear your voice clearer now, maybe you’re not a dream.” The shadow of Mickey looked back at Arisu. “Where are you right now, Arisu?”

“I’m in Twisted Wonderland.” 

Before another word was said, the connection dropped. Arisu laid a hand on the glass and tapped it trying to get a hold of the strange mouse again; here he thought he had another ally about the strange events that’s been going on at the school. He really needed to talk to Vil about this when he got the first chance to. With a sigh, he made his way over to the bed and went back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Not again. Please not again.

Arisu found himself walking along a cobblestone courtyard, for a brief moment he had believed he was visiting Maleficent’s castle in the Valley of Thorns. There was a glaring difference between the castles; for one, this one was in the sun and not hidden away by briars. Still, he could still feel a dark presence within the walls; and he would go inside shortly, first he wanted to get a better feel of the courtyard.

Beautiful singing could be heard. Following the voice, he approached the wishing well where he found a familiar princess before him. Snow White herself. Then…inside the castle was the Wicked Queen herself. Arisu wanted to stay with the princess, but in his heart…he knew he had to face the Queen instead. Forcing himself from the courtyard, he entered the foreboding halls of the castle; now that he thought about it, this was eerily similar to…Vil’s room. No, the room took on the form where a person felt safe. Vil just found himself safe in a lavished lifestyle.

“Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one all?” The Queen asked.

“Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.”

The Mirror of Darkness…the same from the entrance ceremony. Arisu felt his chest tightening up with each second; “Please no.” he tried to touch the queen, despite being a ghost. “The vanity isn’t worth it!” He can’t change the past, that was impossible. He was just here as a phantom forced to watch the events of the past transpire.

“Alas for her! Reveal her name.” The queen demanded.

“Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow.”

It took a lot of hard willpower to wake up from that. Arisu looked at the clock beside him; he still had time before Vil ended the morning sessions with his students; not even bothering to change from his pajamas, he shoved the covers and unknowingly Grim, to the side. Grim growled and chased after him, trying to demand what the hell was Arisu’s problem, his rage turned to confusion when he saw his human getting his shoes on.

“Arisu, you’re acting weird.” Grim tried to grab his arm. “Arisu, come on, you’re freaking me out!”

The blond ignored him and gently nudged him away, getting up and throwing the door opened; he didn’t even register the visitor – Idia; he barreled into him. “Sorry, Senpai, I have to go. It’s an emergency.”

“Arisu-!.” Idia stood up and watched as the blond just ran past the gates and towards main street. He turned to Grim who was just as confused. “What was that about?”

“I…don’t know, he looked so scared!” Grim’s ears flatten. “Hey weird groom guy? Why are you here this early?”

“I was going to ask about the sword he had but…that can wait…do you know what got him scared?”

“If I did, I would’ve said something sooner!” Grim huffed. 

The same thing had happened when Ace and Deuce were on their way; past the Great Seven, they were shoved by Arisu; confused, they got up and turned to see Idia and Grim making their way over. This was concerning – even more now that the recluse was out of his lair. Not hesitating, the four chased after him; the way he was acting made Ace, Deuce, and Grim’s blood run cold. They had a sinking feeling that this was another sleep walking case and when those happened, it always led to someone going into overblot. 

Finally catching up with Arisu, the group found themselves at Pomefiore; Idia shuddered and muttered about the excessive people in the halls, even going as far as to throw his hood over his head. He wanted to leave but, after that panicked expression – heck, this kid was the one who almost got him freed by Eliza. Almost, but not quite…still, he did owe it to Malleus and his cohorts for that.

Entering the dorm, they watched as Rook kept the other students away as Vil moved the tired out first-year to the side to talk and relax; the morning routine was coming to a close so it wouldn’t be much for Rook to get everyone to get ready for classes while their dorm leader tended to the freaked-out student. Vil just ran his hand over Arisu’s head and hummed a bit, he may be a harsh prefect, but even he knew when someone needed help – especially in this case where he looked like he was running from the devil himself.

“Can you speak?” Vil asked.

Arisu nodded. “Yeah…Vil…can I see your pen?” he choked out.

Vil took it out from his breast pocket and held it out to Arisu who took it and frantically looked it over for any stains. He frowned and shook his head before taking it after he heard the boy sigh in relief.

“Arisu…what’s wrong?”

“I saw the Beautiful Queen.” Arisu choked out. “The castle resembled your room and…”

“You fear I may be on the edge.” Vil finished for him. “You saw the pen, there are no stains on it.” He brushed his hair from his face. “I’ll tell you what, we’ll meet daily at lunch and you can do your magic to keep tabs on me, okay? We’ll keep this fate from happening, you know as well as I do that the future isn’t set in stone.” He smiled and helped him up. “Now then, let’s get…this fixed up for the day.” He pointed to Arisu and his pajamas. “Riddle will have an aneurysm if he sees you like this.”

“Vil.” Idia called out, using Ace as a human shield. “We also have this kid’s ceremony redo…”

“I know.” Vil looked over. “Speaking of, this is a first…you never show your face this much.”

Idia narrowed his eyes. “I only wanted to ask Arisu where he got a Master Sword from.” 

“I got it for my birthday.” Arisu smiled. “Lilia had it custom made for me, and I decided to bring it to school to show off.”

“It worked.” Vil said, as he was brushing his hair. “Now then enough chit chat, we have an important day to get to.”

*
Classes were on hold due to the short ceremony redo; Arisu flared out his robes and walked into the mirror chamber with his head held high as he was escorted in with Grim and by the headmaster. The seven prefects were there and seated waiting for him with a mix of smiles and unamused expressions. They had some…extras in the seats across the room; the phantoms were here and they had their own types of gazes on Arisu. He didn’t let them bother him as he just wanted to carry on; there would be another time to discuss about them, and right now was not the time.

Looking at the mirror before him, Arisu felt his chest tighten as he remembered the dream. The Dark Mirror, the Queen’s mirror. No, stop it, Vil already agreed to daily checkups to prevent the visions from becoming a reality. Stop thinking about it!

“Arisu?” Grim poked him. “Hey come on, get to the mirror and be sorted already!”

“Right.” Arisu smiled weakly at him. “I’m sorry, just…nervous.” He walked up to the mirror and held his head high once more.

The slave in the mirror appeared. “State thy name.”

“Arisu Carol.”

“The spark in thy soul has grown, a bright light emits.” The slave said. “The shape of thy soul is…Scarabia.”

Most of the prefects were in disbelief and some were screaming in disbelief (Malleus had even calmly said ‘Try again.’ To the mirror) but there was no change.

“I wasn’t expecting this.” Dire admitted. “Well…I suppose it’s a good thing we had the redo.”

Kalim walked up to Arisu and took his hand. “Welcome to Scarabia!”

“Thank you.” Arisu smiled. “You do know I’ll be returning to Ramshackle if the desert heat gets too much, right?”

“I know.” Kalim patted his shoulder. “But you’re still one of my students!” he smiled

Riddle crossed his arms. “He’s still attending our Unbirthdays, we’ve made him an honorary student of Heartslabyul.”

Arisu shook his head. “I get the odd feeling this is going to start a dorm war of fighting for me.” 

Dire just shrugged. “You know how to liven things up.” He patted his shoulder. “Suppose you’re officially a Scarabia student, we’ll get your dorm uniform in time. Until then, I’ll let you boys talk this over.” He said as he left the students alone.

Silence lingered in the room for some time; no-one else dared to have said a thing, and this continued before a familiar queen left the shadows with a familiar lion by his side.

"Oh my, it appears your so-called united front isn’t as stable as you've been pretending." He grinned 

"Where's Azul's Phantom? Shouldn't it have come with you two?" Jamil commented with raised eyebrows. 

"The octopunk's ink mistake will show up when it pleases, probably with its suckers attached to some new toy" Phantom Leona said with a yawn sitting against a wall and pulling the redhead it had been following before down with it to cuddle.

And show up when it pleased the octopus ink monster did, clinging to the neck of a new phantom with two tentacles looped around the waist of the newcomer to support it. It didn't take much effort to figure out who it was supposed to be mimicking with its inky beard and sultan's hat while holding a shadowy ball of fur in its arms.

"Of course, I have one of these " Jamil said with an annoyed sigh. "But why are you letting him cling to you?" he added pointing at the Phantom Azul who let out an indignant gasp at being so rudely pointed at. 

"Why should I care? He's my pet just like this little guy" Phantom Jamil said pointing at the octopus on his back and then nuzzling the dark fuzzy thing curled in his hold at which point the creature let out a happy yip.

“Why are you here?” Riddle demanded. “We’ve had this chat already that you wouldn’t bother us during the school year.”

The phantoms laughed. Phantom Leona grinned and walked over to Arisu, letting a claw rest on his head; “Yeah, yeah you broken twits accept us and we’re more…docile to say, but, we’re here because our Beloved will be here soon and we want to be here when he comes.” He grabbed onto his hair. “Of course, then we caught wind that someone wants to get in the way.” He sneered down at the blond. “Getting real sick of your damn light, Alice, you should’ve just stayed back in your town where you belonged and let the shadows rule instead.”

“Get your fucking hands off him!” Leona growled out, nearly becoming a roar itself.

“He’s not even worth a snack.” The Phantom scoffed, shoving him harshly to the dorm heads. “Brat’s way over his head, he’s not going to last long.”

“You seem quite hostile towards our angelfish.” Azul mused. “Whatever could the reason be?”

“For a mafia boss, you’re pretty slow.” Phantom Riddle scoffed. “Fine, let me spell it out for you; the internal battle between the Benevolent Seven and the Scion of the Great seven spans out for generations; case in point with Arisu and you.” He pointed to Riddle. “You wanted nothing more than to kill him despite him doing nothing to you, yes? Don’t lie, I know you did; he’s Alice’s light and you’re the Queen’s direct descendant! You two were fated to be at each other’s throat until death, but of course, things don’t go as planned now do they?”

“You’re talking about Arisu’s unique magic.” Azul mused. “His ability to enter a person’s soul and heal them.”

“That ability does more than just healing.” Phantom Azul called softly. “He can remove the Scion’s influence, not directly, but he’s been able to convince you into cleansing yourself of the influence and rising from a fresh slate like a phoenix.”

“Hold it.” Leona started to advance. “Earlier you said shit about us accepting you, from the sounds of things you’re not glad that we’re trying to our better ourselves; fucking contradictory if you ask me.”

“Oh kitty.” Phantom Riddle approached him and wrapped his arms around his neck. “We do want you to be better and to accept us; but.” He tightened his hold. “What we meant is bettering yourselves through exterminating the progeny, not welcoming him into your hearts and keeping us out!” he snarled.

That got Malleus to pick Arisu up and hold him close. “Care to repeat that.” He let his fangs show and let smoke emit from his mouth. “I think I misheard you.”

“Oh, you didn’t.” Phantom Leona said with a smirk. “Without a seventh progeny to fill the gap, the shadows will be the ones taking over without that balance shit happening…Of course, if neither of you wants to get your hands dirty, you can hand him over to us.”

“Please don’t kid yourself.” Phantom Jamil huffed. “I’d like it if we keep my pets alive.” He had a lecherous look at Arisu. “After all, there’s more than one way to dim the light.”

“Leave him alone.” Kalim said coldly. “As long as he is a student under my careful watch, you will not harm him.”

“Oh my, the otter has a backbone.” Phantom Jamil mused. “I’ll comply this once…I’d rather not have to deal with two progenies in one setting. There’ll be time for your lights to fade eventually.” He smirked as he vanished from the room – taking the octopus with him.

“Suppose even a snake has his moments.” Phantom Riddle shrugged. “We’ll be awaiting our Beloved’s arrival, don’t keep us waiting too long now.” He blew a kiss to Vil.

Chapter Text

It was very troubling to say the least; having the overblot side of his students be their own entity and roaming the halls as if they owned the place. Dire wasn’t an idiot, he knew destroying a part of a student would cause severe harm to the individual, it’s why he told the teachers to just leave them alone. At least, leave them alone until they found a way to get the two parties to return as one entity again. Splitting the dark and light from someone was a risky move as in extreme cases…well, it falls under the category as ‘Why the Fairy Godmother was no-one’s favorite among Night Raven College.’

Naturally aside from that, he was quite curious about Arisu’s ability to enter a person’s soul; now that he thought about, each of the Overblot case were settled once Arisu got involved and for the longest time he could not figure out why the victim would return the normal the moment the boy got close to them. Now he knows, the boy was entering their souls and helping them from the inside, this was a benevolent gesture and it helped four students in one go…of course, it still brought these phantoms but…at least with the phantoms it should be an easy fix. He was right about his judgement here, having the boy here was vital to keep that from happening!

“Headmaster?” Malleus called. “Are you with us?”

“Ahem!” Crowley straightened himself up. “Yes, yes, I was merely lost in thought is all, where are we in the meeting?”

Leona raised an eyebrow. “Riddle was going to give the update about the festival?” he said as if it were obvious.

Riddle watched the headmaster, he seemed more frazzled than usual. Shaking his head, he turned to the file he had gave everyone. “Right then, if you will take a look at the papers before you; we’re still in the middle of accepting application for representative students for some of the planned programs. However, we have finished evaluating applications for food and other craft booths.”

Kalim raised his hand. “Is Arisu doing face painting? I know he was going to do that for magical shift but the plans changed.”

“Unfortunately, Sunflower has prior engagements as is.” Riddle said. “Which brings me this; we have three special stages within the college for the following; the school yard will be for the red stage – which is where the drama club will perform their pieces, blue stage for the speech contest, and the purple stage – which is getting media attention, the coliseum would be hosting the…Vocal and Dance Championship…” he set the file down. “That is where Arisu will be lurking this year.”

“You called him sunflower earlier.” Kalim pointed out. “Isn’t that Malleus’ name for him?”

“Yes and no.” Malleus said. “While no doubt the nickname came from me, Arisu does hold a reputation in the Valley of Thorns as the Sunflower of the Valley; I suppose sharing the news about the boy was on my fault of things.” He shrugged. “The only people who have seen him in person were those from the castle, everyone else only saw him while he wore a cloak that hid his features.”

“And with the media covering VDC because of Vil Schoenheit and Niege LeBlanche, the second word got out about Malleus taking center stage as a contestant people are going to be flocking to see if the mysterious Sunflower of the Valley will be there.” Azul chuckled. “I have to say, this year will be quite eventful!”

“Right then…” Crowley nodded. “I suppose that concludes this meeting; ah right, there are some V.I.P invitations that must be sent out!” he folded his hands together. “I couldn’t help but overhear about how…stressful Arisu has been lately, my proposition is to send him to RSA to hand those invites out!”

“Headmaster, will all do respect.” Vil sighed. “That boy is infectious, the second he flashes his smile and everyone’s going to pounce.”

“That may be true, but he could use a new setting even if it’s for an hour.” Crowley smiled. “It’ll do him some good and make him feel…lighter and less stressed.”

Riddle crossed his arms. “Che’nya goes to school there, Arisu will be in good hands…I…suppose that having him deliver the V.I.P. invites will be beneficial for his health…”

“Wonderful! I’ll inform him at once! Meeting adjourned.”

*
No longer being a prefect anymore, Arisu was able to relax in his new dorm and work on the latest assignments with Grim, sometime after they got settled, the desert heat had started to get a bit much and not wanting to fight with the students about the central air, they ended up buying a fan to cool their room off and that alone caused his new dormmates to stare at him in disbelief. 

Still, even while in a new environment, his mind kept wandering to the mirror and the mouse he met. He was familiar with Mickey Mouse – heck, he grew up to every last bit of story that this world was a part of. At first, he thought that he was responsible for the visions, but after hearing that Mickey’s been having similar dreams as well, there was definitely something more going on with the mirror. 

Thoughts were interrupted when Kalim had informed him that the headmaster was looking for him; Arisu and Grim looked at each other before getting up and leaving the dorm, making their way to the headmaster’s office where the man was seated at the desk tying a small stack of envelopes together. 

Smiling, Crowley welcomed the two in and folded his hands. “Ah Arisu! Wonderful timing! Could you deliver these to Royal Sword Academy for me? It’s an invitation to our school’s Culture Festival!”

“Wait…you want me to go to another school to…deliver invitations?” Arisu looked at the envelope in hand; black with gold cursive writing that read ‘You’re invited!’. “Where did this come from?”

“Well, I’ve been getting reports that a student from there would visit you and I figured since you were friends with people of that school, it would make more sense for you to go and deliver the invitations to them!” Crowley laid a finger on his chin in thought. “You’re a curious mortal, you’re making friends with a lot of elite students…” he shrugged and smiled. “You’ll be fine, it’s just on the other side of the island.”

Okay, it was just delivering invitations to the school. Arisu shrugged and left the school with Grim, taking a carriage ride to the other school. He looked at the envelopes before him; they were V.I.P invites and each were addressed to certain students, nothing really was special about them; he sighed and rubbed his eyes. The dreams were really getting to him.

Upon arriving at the gates, Grim and Arisu were in awe; Royal Sword Academy was definitely different than Night Raven College; it was so bright, their banner had two horses by a crest with the school’s name on it, it was settled by a beach and the school ahead was a pristine palace instead of the Dracula looking one from NRC! both were caught up in the beauty of the place that he wasn’t entirely paying attention to where they were going until Arisu stumbled into someone.

“Ah! Sorry.” Arisu backed off and bowed in apology, the next thing he knew he was being smacked on the back of the head with a hardcover book. He jerked up into an upright position with a yelp of pain and rubbed the fresh bump on his head. "Hey what was that for?" the blonde said with dismay looking accusingly at the boy who had just whopped him over the skull.

"Watch where you're going, doofus" the boy said crossly still clutching his book. "And who the hell are you anyways?" he added after a moment looking Arisu up and down with clear distrust in his eyes. "You're from NRC, aren't you? God damnit, you need to stop trying to steal our school mascot." the boy said throwing the sudden accusation the blonde's way.

Grim growled and puffed his fur up. “Why you! You’re pretty damn rude, I should light you on fire!”

"Woah!” Arisu held Grim. “Hey, we’re only here to deliver invitations not here to start a fight.” He watched as Grim just huff and went up to the statues in the courtyard. “Sorry about him, um, Headmaster Crowley sent us over to deliver invitations to the cultural festival. I'm supposed to get these out to a Whitney Darrin, Ashley Cendres, Akihiko Tatsuo, Neige LeBlanche, Trevor Beau, Riel Currant and Andre Rosales. Do you know any of them?" Arisu trying to calm this irritable boy before he got hit again.

"Yeah, one of them" the boy said snatching one of the envelopes. "Urgh, I don’t wanna go to the cultural festival I'll have to see that creepy gym coach Vargas." he said with a frown, he looked back at the blonde and the cat. “Your feline friend over there seems interested in the Benevolent Seven.”

Arisu looked to Grim and the statues. “Yeah, he was the same with the Great Seven back at Night Raven; it’s actually cute seeing him like this.” 

“Do you…want me to teach him about who’s who?” 

“If you want to.” Arisu shrugged.

The boy just nodded and walked up to the cat monster; he cleared his throat to get attention. Once he had Grim’s attention, he pushed his glasses in place and nodded to the first statue; a petite girl in a Lolita style dress, hair pulled back and held in a ribbon.

“Well, we have the Curious Princess.” He started out. “She’s actually not from our world, she stumbled in through a rabbit hole trying to chase after the White Rabbit; her curiosity led her to meeting the strange inhabitants of Wonderland and led her to the Queen of Hearts’ court.”

“The same queen that kept order in the chaotic land!” Grim cheered. “So…what happened?”

The boy tightened his hold on his books. “Well…the queen was borderline tyrant and when her way was questioned, she…nearly decapitated the Princess…literally not Rosehearts’ unique magic.”

Grim shuddered at the memory, he jumped and hid on Arisu’s shoulder. “You guys have more statues here than at Night Raven, what’s up with that?”

“Well, we have the Seven Princesses of Heart plus the two Honorary Princesses.” He explained. “Ah…I’m…sorry I’ve been rude and didn’t introduce myself; my name is Andre Rosales.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Andre.” Arisu held his hand out. “My name is Arisu Carol, this…furry friend of mine is Grim.”

Grim jumped and landed on Andre’s shoulder, he was rubbing against his cheek and smiled. “Come on, tell us more about these princesses!” he pointed to the next statue. “So, who’s the bookworm?” 

“DO NOT CALL HER THAT!!” Andre roared. “That is the Studious Princess, who nobly sacrificed her own freedom to save her father! She stayed with a beast for months, learning to see past his appearance and rage to the prince within! It was due to her love that the cursed prince became human once more! You will treat her with the respect she deserves!”

Grim had jumped and hid on Arisu, Andre sighed and slapped his forehead. “Crap…I did it again…” he groaned. “Sorry, I’m…I’m a work in progress…let’s move on.” Andre grumbled.

Arisu laid a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, it’s fine.” He assured. “I know how it is.” He smiled

Andre gently moved away. “Thanks.” He muttered. “Uh anyway, next we have the Kindhearted Princess; despite what her stepmother had put her through she still opened her heart to others from reuniting a lost baby bird with its family to helping the dwarves keep a tidy home to even helping an old peddler woman – which…turned out to be her stepmother in disguise. Still, she never had ill-thoughts.”

“She’s definitely earned the title the Fairest of the Land.” Arisu admitted, he had a bit of a sad smile on his face.

“Yeah…hey, are you okay?” Andre looked over. “You’re acting weird now.”

“I’m fine, just…thinking.”

"If you say so.” He adjusted his glasses and went to the next statue. “Here we have some other noteworthy figures like the Glass Princess. Even when her step family tore her down, she hoped that her dreams of happiness and freedom would come true." he explained. 

"Did her dreams come true?" Grim asked, Arisu was equally curious of how it ended. 

"She does and is given the chance of a lifetime and long story short; her dreams did come true." Arisu looked up at the statue and could feel a sense of whimsy coming from the statue of the young woman wearing a beautiful ball gown.

“And what about the one with the poofy pants?” Grim asked.

“She is the Sultana of the Sands. She rebelled against her father to marry the man she loved, even when her father, the sultan, was brainwashed into forcing her to marry the royal vizier.” Andre answered in a matter-of-fact way.

“The Vizier? Do you mean the Sorcerer?” Arisu pressed, seeing the link between her and the Great Seven member that inspired the Scarabia dorm. 

“Yes, the Sultan was easily tricked, but his daughter and her lover were able to confront him, and entrap him in a lamp, never to be seen or heard from again.” Andre explained in an enthusiastic tone, getting into the stories he was telling.

Arisu and Grim looked at each other, an uncomfortable silence filling the air. 

“Let’s see our next princess!” Arisu blurted out. “How about…” he pointed to a mermaid. “Her, I know her…sort of, I mean, I know she’s one of seven princesses of King Triton.”

“Yeah, the Mermaid Princess; she’s up there with the Curious Princess, always exploring and learning about the human world. She wanted to be part of our world and it wasn’t until she saw the human prince that made her yearned for it more.” Andre sighed. “She made a tough choice by signing a deal with the Sea Witch who almost took over the ocean, but…in the end, it was the love the prince felt that helped took the Witch down and save the seas from her. The princess got her legs from her father…”

Arisu nodded. “The Sea Witch was also one of seven sisters herself.” He said softly. “Because she wasn’t as…beautiful as the others, her father showed disdain to her and to ‘ease his guilt’ gave her a shell filled with hexes and curses.” He scoffed. “Kind of a dick move if you ask me.”

“Sympathizing with the villains, are we?” Andre teased.

“Depends on the villain. I know my granny got the short end of the stick of things.” Arisu said in a nonchalant tone.

“Wait…granny?” Andre repeated. “Who…are you related to exactly?”

Grim pounced back over. “Oh, she’s not his actual grandmother, he just grew up with her family that he calls her that!” he went up to the next statue. “Hey, hey! Who’s this girl? She looks to be the same age as the Curious Princess!”

“Oh, this is the youngest of the Princesses.” Andre started. “The Storyteller Princess. She would tell stories to her younger brothers about a magical place called Neverland. The main character of her stories turned out to be real, and whisked the three siblings away to Neverland. There they were hunted by a wicked pirate, but they defeated him through their own trickery.”

Arisu looked at a girl in island attire, he titled his head and looked at him. “I feel as though I recognize her.”

“The Princess of Heart; the story goes that when the Darkness was taking over, her heart went into a dear friend who went around multiple worlds to seal them and save them from the darkness; it was a hard journey for both her and her two dear friends; but with their unity they were able to overcome the shadows and help bring light to the worlds.”

“And her? She’s beautiful as well!" Grim pointed at the woman statue that has its eyes closed. 

Andre hummed in agreement. "That's the Sleeping Princess. You know the tale of the Witch of Thorn, right? Well, she cursed the princess into a sleeping death, but she's saved by True Love Kiss. A dreamer until the end, as destiny brought her together with her fated one, she met once upon dream." 

"But the Witch of Thorn is awesome though," Grim said again. "She's the strongest witch in the world!" 

"It doesn't matter," Andre crossed his arms in front of his chest. "What's the point of having those great power if in the end you never use it to help the world? Only thinking for themselves, how selfish of them.”

“Excuse me?” Arisu snapped. “First off, granny had regretted casting the spell on the Sleeping Princess; and she only did it because King Stefan was a prick! Royal Christenings were a public event that everyone – no matter your status in society – were welcomed to, not receiving an invitation was considered a huge insult! And Granny had the right to be upset, she offered the king to apologize for it and he just threw that back in her face! Which, if you know anything about dealing with faeries, insulting one is the last thing you want to do!”

“Time out!” Andre growled. “Your grandmother is Maleficent?!” he demanded

“Not by blood, but yes.” Arisu snapped back. “I understand the other side of the story, but don’t you dare call my grandma selfish! King Stefan did worse than just insult her!”

As things were about to escalate, a wall of fire appeared between them to keep them from causing any physical harm. Both boys jumped from the flames and looked to where the source of the wall came from. Before them was a boy with honey blonde hair that was tied back in a blue ribbon; he wore a dark brown vest that covered his light blue shirt under his uniform jacket and dark brown pants. Beside him was a reddish-brown haired bow with a lighter blue ribbon that held his curls, he too had a light blue shirt on – it was more of a tunic actually – and black pants.

“Honestly.” The honey blonde approached them. “When we heard that there was an oncoming chaos on main street, I never thought it’d be about the Benevolent Princesses.” 

“You both are lucky we came here when we did, should a fight had escalated you both would have be in trouble.” The brunette said. “Especially getting into a fight with a guest from another school no less, we may have our rivalries but we don’t need to add actual bad blood to the mix. Now, what do you two have to say about yourselves?”

Chapter Text

“Ashley…Whitney…” Andre had backed off from then and lowered his head. “I’m sorry, our guest was…”

“Defending a family member?” The honey blonde walked over. “You hardly batted an eye at my step-family when you learned who they were.” He nodded to Arisu. “What exactly makes him being related to Maleficent any different?”

Andre just kept quiet and lowered his head, the blonde shook his and sighed. “Really now, Andre, it is understandable that what Maleficent did was horrible; but you forget one thing, she had shown regret in her actions and it was her own caring heart and Prince Phillip’s kiss that brought the princess back from slumber.”

The brunette shrugged. “I mean, apparently the story goes that when the Princess was, twelve? We’ll say twelve, it’s a good round number, she met Maleficent and called her ‘Her fairy godmother’. Then there was when she was still a toddler and even had the Mistress pick her up and even grab at her horns out of curiosity.”

The blond went up to Arisu. “I’m sorry about him, he’s just…wary when it comes to the Great Seven.” He held his hand out after dispelling the flames. “My name is Ashley, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Ashley Cenders?” Arisu asked, watching him nod. “It’s nice to meet you too! I’m Arisu Carol, and…one of your father’s students…this isn’t going to be weird, is it?”

A soft chuckle. “Has he been praising my step siblings to heck and back already?” He shook his head. “I tease, it’s nice to meet you, Arisu.” He gently took one of the envelopes from him. “Thank you, and welcome to Royal Sword Academy…I’m going to be honest, when Che’nya talked about you, I was expecting something different; you’re definitely not the frail type he makes you out to be.”

“I’m not going to ask.” He turned to the brunette. “If he’s Ashley, you must be Whitney Darrin?” He held an envelope to him too. “Um thank you for having me here, oh!” he motioned to Grim who made his way to his shoulder. “This is Grim, he’s a friend of mine too.”

Whitney smiled and petted Grim’s head. “Oh, aren’t you a precious kitty.” He cooed. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“I’m not a cat!” Grim huffed. “But I’ll let it slide, I’m going to be the greatest magician ever and I’m going to need all the adoring fans.” He puffed his chest out.

He chuckled. “Of course, I’ll definitely ask for an autograph when that day comes, Grim.” He turned to Arisu. “You still have invitations, right? Who do you still have to get to?”

Arisu looked over at the envelopes he had; “Akihiko Tatsuo, Neige LeBlanche, Trevor Beau, and Riel Currant.” He laid a hand on his chin. “I feel as though I’ve heard Neige’s name before…”

Ashley and Whitney winced and looked at each other in silent conversation before they turned to Arisu and simply told him that Neige was another model that was in the same leagues as Vil; they both had a huge fanbase and they were usually considered rivals. Arisu blinked and nodded before asking if they knew where the rest of the boys were; they took Arisu, Grim, and Andre with them and said the three would give the NRC boy an exclusive tour around Royal Sword Academy.

Like Night Raven College, the school had the stone castle look; it wasn’t until Arisu and Grim walked in that they were floored. Bright brass candle chandeliers that hung the halls; red carpentry with gold squares, and intricate carvings of the archways. Almost inside every classroom had a mosaic wall that showed a brief story of one of the princesses from the courtyard.

Some parts of the halls had paintings of the princesses as well as coat of arms from their families hung up under them. Coming upon a banquet hall, Ashley led the way to one of the tables where a boy with wavy brown hair was seated – he appeared to be a little drowsy looking, but he was actually keeping himself wide awake with an energy drink as he stared bored at a book in front of him. 

Ashley tapped his shoulder to get his attention and smiled at him. “Hey Trev, we have a guest, can you keep yourself awake enough to say hello to him?”

The boy stuck his tongue out and turned to see Arisu. “Hello!” he greeted. “Sorry, literature has us doing book reports since the Cultural Festival is coming up and our teacher doesn’t want us to have extra work when we could be having fun instead.”

“You’re fine.” Arisu assured him. “Actually, I’m here delivering some invites that got lost in the mail.” He held the one that read ‘Trevor Beau’ on it. “What book are you reading?”

Trevor sighed and took the envelope. “I’m trying to read Le Fantome de l’Opera, and I can’t really get into this.” 

Arisu’s golden eyes lit up. “Oh! I’ve read that book over a million times; I can help you if you want?”

“You are a life saver.” Trevor sighed in relief as Arisu sat in front of him. “How do you like Royal Sword Academy so far?”

“It’s beautiful.” Arisu admitted. “Now then…”

The rest of their time together was spent with Arisu helping Trevor with his book report; between the two of them, they got it done with little to no problems. Trevor’s eyes lit up as he thanked Arisu over a million times by now; though…his eyes are what got Arisu’s attention; he only knew one other person with the very shade of purple in his eyes. No, he was thinking too much again.

Smiling, Trevor collected his things and followed the group to continue with the tour and to find the next boy of the set; Riel Current. Given the time of day, Whitney had suggested that maybe the boy in question was at the beach with Akihiko as the two were always swimming around or collecting seashells for necklace making.

Out of the castle walls and onto the beach, the group came upon the duo in question; one was of a redhead who was buried under the sand (and having a small sandcastle on him) leaving only his bare chest and arms exposed to the sun, next to him was a boy with reddish-auburn hair and was seated next to a pile of sea shells; the two were talking about whatever came to mind when the topic of the shooting stars came up. Arisu had felt a tinge of pride for his classmate Idia that had Ortho bring the wishes to the stars themselves.

“It was beautiful.” The redhead with the shells sighed with a smile. “Just…seeing the shooting stars everywhere in the world, it’s like sharing a rainbow if that makes sense.”

“It does.” The redhead in the sand agreed. “Want to know the interesting thing? It was actually about to storm that night, but something happened over at Night Raven College that brought the stars to the world.”

“It was thanks to Idia-senpai.” Arisu approached them. “He came up with the idea of having his brother send the wishes to space.” 

Both looked over at him and the others behind him, the redhead with the shells smiled up at the group; “You should tell your classmate it was a wonderful idea.” He held his hand out. “My name is Akihiko, and this fellow beside me is Riel.”

Riel smiled and waved from his sandy prison. “Pleasure is ours!” He moved a little in the prison. “Ah…Akihiko, little help here? I’m getting dried out.”

“Oh!” he got up and started to unearth his friend. “Sorry, Riel.”

Arisu chuckled and smiled. “May I ask if you’re…well…you can tell the school I go to.” He motioned to his uniform. “Um…Are you the same Riel from Azul’s class?”

Riel fell quiet and nodded. “I am.” He wrapped his arms around Akihiko as he was pulled from the sand, showing off his beautiful teal tail. “I’m sorry if Azul gave you trouble.”

“Trouble is putting it lightly.” Grim growled. “He was a damn scam artist!”

“Is it really a scam, Grim?” Arisu challenged. “Your grades improved greatly thanks to his notes.” He watched his feline friend sulked over and laid in Whitney’s arms. “Azul was…well, it was my fault for not reading the fine-print, so I’m the one at fault.”

“I see.” Riel nodded as he watched Akihiko grabbing a bag by the stairs. “Well, what was the deal you made with him? Good Grades? Financial Success? A date with a hot person?”

“None of that.” He sat beside Riel. “I…well, to get my friends out from being employed under him, I gave myself up in their place.”

Grim’s ears flattened as he returned to Arisu’s side. “You didn’t have to do that though!”

Arisu smiled and petted Grim on the head. “And leave my friends in the dust? What kind of friend would I be if I did that?” he smiled as the other purred against him. “I told you at break remember? You’re family now!”

Trevor pounced Arisu from behind and hugged him tightly. “How did Night Raven College get their hands on you?! You’re too pure for this world! Transfer to RSA, please we need you!”

“Trevor!” Whitney rushed over and pulled him off. “I am so sorry Arisu, he gets excited easily.” 

Arisu just laughed and shook his head. “It’s fine.” He assured. “I know how it is when a friend gets easily excited.” He watched as Riel was brought his bag and immediately turned to give him privacy.

“We’re all guys here, Arisu.” Riel said, taking out a potion from it. “Really, it’s not that big of deal.” 

“It’s called being modest.” The blond huffed.

A soft hum. “So, what brings you to our little school?” 

“Delivering invitations to the festival NRC is hosting.” Arisu took out two envelopes. “All that’s left is…” he looked at the final one in his hand. “Neige LeBlanche.”

*
Vil paced around his dorm room for a while. He knew that Arisu was just delivering the invitations upon Crowley’s request; this was for the boy’s health, he’s been under so much as is and didn’t need to add onto the stress and agitate the ink in his system.

Still, RSA was where he was. It wasn’t that he hated his stepbrother, Neige worked hard to get to where he was today; hard work and effort is what brought the two to the top where they would remain. Still…he did have his feelings of jealousy over Neige’s growing in popularity. No. Stop that.

He pushed his hair back and took his phone out. “I just need a seaweed wrap, that always helps with growing stress. I can get in first thing tomorrow and be back before I’m even missed.” He cleared his throat. “Mira, Mira, please enlighten me.”

A familiar robotic voice came out. “Yes, what would you like to know.”

Provide the number for Red Apple Spa. 

“Currently, who is the most beautiful of all.”

Why the hell did he say that?! Vil internally groaned as he heard the answer; “The first web result that I obtained using the keywords ‘beautiful is Neige LeBlanche.”

Vil held his phone in a vice grip as he felt a cold glare come on. 

“Ahh~ Our Beloved will be here soon.” A cool voice came.

His anger turned to annoyance as he turned to the phantom sitting on his bed; Phantom Riddle to be more precise. “Don’t you have someone else to bother for once?”

The phantom tilted his head. “Hm? Is it wrong for me to be excited to see him?”

“You really are a thorn in our sides.” He smirked. “Unfortunate for you, I’ve been looking into how to get rid of you once and for all.”

“Yes, yes, I’ve heard it before.” He looked at his inky hands. “Arisu’s been at RSA for some time now, I thought he was on a simple errand, whatever could he be doing?”

“Knowing him, he probably ran into the Lost Boys and they adopted him.” Vil crossed his arms. “I’m not worried, Trein’s sons attend there, I know Arisu’s in good hands…”

“Isn’t Neige part of the Lost Boys?” The phantom mused aloud. “I could be mistaken, but perhaps the two met and he’s taking Arisu under his wing now.”

“No…Arisu’s my student. The only other people who can claim him as theirs is Malleus, and those who grew attached to him here at this school. He’s our rough diamond, not Royal Sword’s and certainly not Neige’s.”

The Phantom just chuckled. “Good, you’re sharing his desire.” He folded his hands. “Oh, I can’t wait to see him again!” He laughed before vanishing for the time being.

“No…” Vil ran his hand in his hair again. “Another Phantom won’t roam these halls; I won’t allow it.”

Drip.

Chapter Text

It had only been a few days since his visit from RSA and in those few days he was pounced by friends, hounded for information, and been added in a group text with the ‘Lost Boys’. The group he had met and the group that got their name by Whitney. Arisu was quick to introduce Ace and Deuce to them and though the two cards were a bit stiff at first, they instantly relaxed when Trevor had suggested they all played an MMORPG game together; that caught on in a flash as Ace, Deuce, and Arisu quickly made a profile for the game in question: Treasure Planet, a game based off a legendary planet where space pirates would hide their loot.

Legendary or not, the game experience was something else; they not only got to create their own pirate and build a crew (the game’s equivalent to a guild). Life as a pirate was actually quite good and the group had fun as they continued their own little adventures here and there – heck, somewhere down the line Whitney had brought up that he was going to add their other member of the Lost Boys’ in; someone that Arisu was familiar with when he saw the name ‘The Captain’ show up. 

Ace had narrowed his eyes and asked if this was the same punk from Beans Day, The Captain confirmed and even introduced himself again as Jonah Argentum. This continued until they had to get off for school tomorrow; weekends were agreed to meet up and continue their pirate adventure.

School on Monday surprisingly went by pretty quick; not that the quartet were complaining in the slightest, especially since in history their teacher was actually in high spirits that he didn’t even start history on a gory note like he usually did. Okay, sure, classes were still tiresome and can be flat out disturbing at best, but this was more a relief than anything. Even Master Crewel was tamed compared to how he usually was in the classroom; he was still harsh and stared students down while holding his pointer but he wasn’t close to wanting to actually ‘knock some sense’ into his students like he usually was when it came to lab days.

Gym class…well, it was the same that left everyone wanting the sweet relief of death; not even a hot shower was going to relax the nerves. 

“Someone, please, kill me.” Arisu begged.

“There, there.” Riddle patted his back. “I don’t see the misfits anywhere.” He looked around.

“Ari~su~!” Came the chime of two familiar voices; Ace and Deuce had returned.

“Look Ari!” Grim jumped onto Arisu’s back and patted a flier down before him. “Look! The schools are having the Joint Cultural festival and there’s even an audition to join the Vocal and Dance Championship! Look at the prize! We can buy all the tuna we want!”

“Key word here is ‘audition’.” Riddle reminded sharply. “And besides, Arisu won’t be able to attend auditions.” He looked to the seat beside him and narrowed his eyes. “Wipe that smirk off your face, Draconia.”

Malleus just hummed. “It’s not my fault Sunflower has prior engagements to attend.”

“He’s right, if you look at the fine print.” Silver pointed to the flier. “Guest Appearing at VDC is The Valley of the Thorns own Sunflower, and since this whole school knows about the Young Master’s name for Arisu…it’s not much to put two and two together.” 

Ace, Deuce, and Grim had a bit of a crestfallen expression on their faces; they couldn’t drag Arisu into their schemes this time around. Arisu just shrugged and went back to his lunch; his mind kept going back to the festival and even tried to bring up the subject of RSA, the group were indifferent about the school, but they were still enjoying Arisu’s retelling – even some were trying to hide their faces (Azul) when Arisu brought up certain names.

“Che’nya wasn’t at the school today.” Arisu reported. “I was actually looking forward to seeing him there.”

“Ah~? Alice missed me?” 

“Oh…there he is.” Arisu looked up and saw the strange cat boy laying over his shoulders in a lazy hug. “Where were you?”

The cat grinned at him. “Here, there, I’m everywhere.” He hummed as he looked at the plate before him. “I see you’re not going for your garlic butter pasta, I guess the peacocks got their hands on you for this momentous occasion.” He patted Arisu’s head. “You’re something else, Alice, we now have all nine lights and seven shadows; I wonder what’s to happen now?”

“Will you stop with that?” Leona groaned. “You’re more insufferable than the prick that keeps taking my fucking bed.”

He was ignored as the cat went over to Azul and Jamil, sitting between them. “A snake and an octopus, very curious; even more curious if you manage to get the Prince of the Dead to sit with you.” He leaned forward so he was staring Arisu in the eyes. “But I’m here to give Alice a good luck gift.” He slid a hand mirror to him. “Good luck at VDC, Sunflower of the Valley.” He grinned and vanished from the group.

Arisu picked it up and frowned at the weight; pure silver mirror, he had a dread feeling he knew what this was for. Well, he wasn’t going to argue about the case of it; he pocketed it into his back and just went back to entertaining his friends. Trying to pretend that everything that had happened was just Che’nya’s way of messing around.

“Well, as much fun as this was.” Vil stood up. “Afraid we only have two months before the actual event.” He snapped his fingers. “Rook, Epel, we have work to do and Arisu…” he narrowed his eyes. “I expect to see everything of you; I expect to see your hard work on stage, is that clear?”

“Yes Vil.” Arisu smiled. “Um…about the Unique Magic lessons?”

Vil chuckled. “Yes, your ability has grown, you don’t need my help in that department anymore.” He laid a hand on his head. “But I won’t oppose you wanting to meet for other lessons.”

“I’ll take you up on those lessons.” 

*
If he had to describe Arisu’s musical choices, he would have to say erratic. Malleus hummed as he went through the boy’s media library in hopes they could find something that would wow the competition and something that would showcase Sunflower for who he was. Well, no, his sunflower was always a marvel to behold…of course, he wouldn’t lie and say he wasn’t thinking of a way to troll the audience.

Arisu had beautiful long blond hair, courtesy of the Pomefiore dorm; a cute cut and a new hair color would be perfect for the occasion. He chuckled softly to himself, oh, Beautiful would be having a heart attack by now if he saw what he had envisioned, but that would be for later. He had his own assignment to work on and hearing his sunflower strumming random notes helped him out to some extent – well that, and the ghosts harmonizing to provide some background noise; a mix of modern and old in one setting, it was a quaint little feeling. 

The small fun was cut short when he heard someone coming up the way; he heard that a student from RSA came over to deliver some treats from a little café at their school and even heard his Sunflower was invited for a coffee visit.

“You know, there’s really no harm in having fun once in a while.” Malleus called.

The RSA student looked over at him. “You’re…” he looked at Arisu. “I really don’t want to pull you from anything important.”

“It’s fine.” Malleus assured him. “We’re just looking for what song to cover anyway, besides, it may help to have a different setting to clear your mid.”

Arisu smiled and turned to the student. “Ash? Could you tell the others I’ll be free this Saturday?”

“Yeah…We’ll see you then.” He ruffled his hair and left.

After Ashley had left, Arisu turned to Malleus and sat beside him; “Hey Mal? Why did you speak up…You know how Vil’s going to be if he finds out.”

Malleus hummed and poked his nose. “You just let me worry about Beautiful, Sunflower.” He smiled. “Now then, I’m thinking about this song; it would fit Beautiful wonderfully.”

Arisu looked at the choice Malleus had pulled up, he started to hum the notes as he strummed the guitar in his lap to get the rhythm down and to get the vision he wanted for the show; he knew this was going to be directed to Vil, but he wanted to add on – perhaps a small spell to let people see what he sees? It was worth a try in asking Malleus about it. This was one of the talents that Malleus was trying to wrap his mind around; how could his Sunflower be able to play an acoustic rendition of anything after humming a few notes? His little Sunflower definitely had more than magic within him.

“Made a wrong turn, once or twice; dug my way-out blood and fire.” Arisu sang softly. “Bad decisions, that’s alright; welcome to my silly life.” He picked up the tempo with the guitar. “Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood; miss ‘knowing it’s all good’ it didn’t slow me down.” He was picking up volume with each crescendo. “Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated; look, I’m still around.”

He stood and let everything out, pouring everything into the chorus. “Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, every feel like you’re less than fuckin’ perfect. Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing, you’re fuckin’ perfect to me.”

“Hmm maybe not that one; we’re going to be live and I doubt the censors want to deal with cursing.” Malleus muttered. 

“Okay, yeah.” Arisu nodded. “But we are on the right track, right?”

“Maybe.” He ruffled his hair. “I’m going to return to my dorm; you boys behave.”

*
The Trident Café was almost similar to the Monstro lounge; almost being the key word. It had more of a traditional seaside bar look to things with fake grass on the counter, wooden table and chairs carved out by hand, and dim lights. What sold the look was a tank in the back that had a sign saying ‘pet me’; it was a shark tank! Arisu was in awe as Riel took his hand and led him over to pet them with him; saying how they love it when people visit them.

It had to take a lot of convincing from Malleus before he could even show up, Arisu just felt bad about leaving in the middle of practices and work that he just felt a little awkward being here. The group had taken notice of it and Whitney was the one who spoke first; telling him they wouldn’t be upset if he wanted to leave and work on his entry for the VDC show at the festival. Arisu just shook his head and said that he and his partner in crime were still looking over songs; a small idea did come and he ended up whistling another tune – he didn’t have his guitar so he couldn’t go all the way with it.

“Your cruel device.” He started off softly. “Your blood, like ice; one look, could kill; my pain, your thrill.” He tapped his frappe cup and nodded his head to the rhythm in his mind. “I wanna love you but I better not touch; I wanna hold you but my senses tell me to stop; I wanna kiss you but I want it too much.” His eyes started to glow a bit. “I wanna taste you but your lips are venomous poison! You’re poison, running through my vein, you’re poison – I don’t want to break these chains.”

Unbeknownst to him, he was casting a spell with his song; he did want to project an image to his audience when he and Malleus performed for the audience and he wanted to bring forth a small music video into the minds of the viewers. The problem was finding the right song; he didn’t want to accidentally give anything…too explicit to put it nicely.

His friends were watching the scene he gave them as he sang; Vil was before Arisu in a tango style dance with Vil taking lead and having a cold queen exterior. Andre, Ashley, and Whitney were the first to notice the spell and ended up with Andre taking a paperback book and swatting Arisu on the head to break the spell in question.

“How about a little warning before you use us as guinea pigs.” Andre hissed

Arisu rubbed his head. “I was doing what now?” he looked up confused, his eyes no longer glowing.

“You…sort of brought us into a spell.” Neige answered. “I’m not sure if that was intentional but…yeah.”

“I mean…that’s my goal for VDC, but…I wasn’t expecting it to work on the first try.” Arisu admitted sheepishly. “And I wasn’t expecting to…I mean to put it simply…I…”

Trevor patted his back. “We’re not judging you.” He assured. “So, anyway I think that’s a good song and you should totally perform it.”

“Oh my god, no!” Akihiko cried. “Okay uh Trevor…I don’t know if you ever listened to this song in your life – probably not, because the next line of the song goes ‘Your mouth, so hot; your web, I’m caught; your skin so wet, black lace on sweat.’ There is no way that song is going to fly at VDC.”

Neige cleared his throat. “Actually, it would; before some contestants would go hard on the songs they wanted; one was…well…” he had a light blush. “This is what I heard at least, but someone did a cover of the song ‘Flesh’.”

“Okay, then I guess Arisu could do Poison.” Akihiko let his shoulders drop.

Arisu shook his head. “Nah, I don’t want Malleus to double over from a heart attack; especially since we’re dedicating it towards to Vil.” He finished his frappe. “And speaking of who, I should probably head out to see him; I did promise him we’d meet when we’re not busy.”

“Take care.” Riel called.

Chapter Text

It’s already been three days since his meeting with the RSA boys, and since then the gymnasium was filled with various dancers! Arisu just stared in disbelief; he was armed with his guitar after going through another round of songs with Malleus earlier before the room started to fill up. Both just stared in the same disbelief; there was no way they could get through a song without being interrupted by Piece of My World that everyone was using; well, they just had a difficult time in getting through the mob.

Three days after that and Arisu was already having heck trying to navigate through the mob in Pomefiore’s lounge -more importantly, trying to navigate through this to get to Vil to plan out one of their meetings – it’s been a week now, surely when he visited Vil’s soul room there wouldn’t be anything off-putting about it, right? Right! After seeing there was no way to get past those who were there to audition; he just gave up and sat on a chair and watched as everyone was either harmonizing or moving in place to keep up their muscles warmed up. He smiled when he saw his friend group and immediately bounded over to them; Grim was quick to tell Arisu about everything the past few days from their practice rounds with Jamil to their hard work in general, even going out of his way to show Arisu his dance.

“I can tell you guys worked hard.” Arisu praised. “I’m wishing you luck.”

Ace hugged him. “With you here, we’re bound to be successful!” he pulled back. “No Malleus today?”

Arisu shook his head. “He’s with Riddle and Trey, and I’m only here to talk to Vil…he’s been aloof lately and I don’t think me going to meet with the Lost Boys last week was of any help.”

“Ah~ you worry about others too much, Sunflower.” Lilia was hanging above them. “Really now, you should focus on yourself more, Vil knows you have a life after all.”

Ace and Deuce yelped in surprised and knocked heads into each other from surprise; like always, Lilia enjoyed making a grand entrance just to get the ADeuce combo going. Arisu laughed and smiled up at him while the others were rubbing their heads to soothe the pain.

“I wouldn’t have to worry if I didn’t have that damn dream last week.” He looked at Ace. “No, we’ve established what I’m going through, I’m not reiterating it at this point in time.”

Lilia landed on his feet and gently patted his head. “I’m going to send Malleus to check out that strange mirror of yours.” He hugged him. “We’ll get this figured out.” He pulled back. “Right now, we have bigger things to fuss about; the auditions, you’ll be rooting for us, won’t you?” he asked, gently squishing the boy’s cheeks in his hands. “You will, I know you will.” He cooed.

Cater just gave a light chuckle. “Ahah Lilia-chan is so weird.” He said, rubbing the back of his head. “It’s almost as if you’re Ari-chan’s parental figure.”

Both just smiled at that and changed the topic to something else; Ortho had bounded over when Lilia was mentioning about how Ignihyde was pretty reclusive and he didn’t entirely think that Idia would be around – Malleus was shy, yes, but when it came to being around others, he was more social than Prefect Shroud. He of course meant no harm in the statement, still, Ortho defended his big brother to the end. 

He was a cute little one, Arisu wasn’t going to argue and he was excited to see how the kid was going to do during auditions. When Ortho mentioned about having a special synthesizer built in so he could do this, it got Cater and Arisu excited as they were quick to get their phones out. They wanted to show their little group some videos of cyber idols (Or Vocaloids as Arisu called them back home) – that idea was stunted at first because they had to watch an ad first; it was of Neige promoting a brand of apple juice; Arisu’s smile fell a little bit, his worry started up again, was it in bad taste to have Vil’s step-brother on the screen before they went in for tryouts?

His answer didn’t come for the double doors to the lounge slammed open and Vil stood before everyone in his cold and regal beauty alongside with Rook who was glowing just as bright beside him; a queen and his loyal right hand in a way. Vil had called for everyone to get in position and that they would be calling in each entry; Arisu took this chance to make his way up to him, after some exchange Arisu followed the three in along with Ruggie.

Vil was just brutal. It was like watching American Idol and Vil had filled in the role of Simon; Arisu just shook his head and sighed, Vil was really taking this event seriously – not that it was bad, but, there was definitely something more to this.

“Oh, my.” Vil smirked. “If it isn’t the little nobodies who picked a fight with me.” He folded his hands together. “Have you learned to be a little more graceful since then?”

Arisu looked at his friends. “You guys tried to fight Vil? Vil Schoenheit, aka Malleus’ boyfriend and part of the Royal Quartet…”

“Hey! He was picking on Epel, we had to defend him.” Ace huffed. “Anyway! We’re here to nail this audition!” He grinned.

“Oh, this should be good.” Vil’s smirk didn’t waver.

Surprisingly, the short amount of time that the trio had been practicing paid off; they were still rusty, and as Rook and Vil had said ‘They’re but baby birds learning to fly’. Vil just shook his head and dismissed them saying that the results would be announced the next day; with the ballroom now empty, Arisu just stayed with the two and watched them work, chiming in on his input here and there. Having agreeing with Rook about some inexperienced members in would pay off as it would play on natural hard work and effort.

Vil just hummed at the thought of it and even reluctantly agreed, he turned to Arisu and nodded to the dance floor; the boy was here already, he could at least try out for the hell of things. Looking over at his seniors, Arisu just shrugged and took to the floor; he insisted to leave the music off for the time being, confused, they complied

Tapping his foot and snapping his fingers; Arisu hummed a few notes before he was able to let his body move. “Through this twisted rhythm we will move forward and dance; looking down upon them is also an alluring chance.” He flashed a grin at Vil. “There is no problem, hey, what’s wrong with being a little bad?”

“I’ll never know how you’re able to do that.” Vil shook his head. “You’re definitely filled with a lot of hidden mysteries, Arisu.” He folded his hands. “Now then, was there something you wanted to see me about?”

“Yeah…um…can I enter your room? I’m sorry, it’s just that with the upcoming competition I just don’t want you to be under any stress.”

Vil nodded and approached him. “Come inside.”

Looking into Vil’s eyes, Arisu was back into his room; appearing in the familiar hallway leading to a grand looking door; he noticed the normal guards by the door who's faces have been disfigured – this…was new. Nodding and going past the guards and grand door was the beautiful throne room. Normally, this is where Vil would be to greet him and guide him around as they worked on the limitations of a person’s soul, but…something was wrong.

There on the throne sits Vil, no, it was an ice sculpture of him! A perfect incarnate of him; the details in his eyes, each strand of hair accounted for, a crown resting on his head, smooth to the touch; the frozen perfection is alien and ugly to the eye. Vil was circling the sculpture, staring entranced; in the hands of the sculpture were the familiar box and knife. The only thing different was the knife had a rust color to it.

“Vil…” Arisu choked. “What is…this wasn’t here in all the other times I’ve been here.”

“I just recently added it.” Vil nodded in approval. “Fits well with décor, wouldn’t you agree?”

Arisu shook his head. “No, I don’t…this isn’t like you; I’ve been here long enough and know you enough from Malleus, you’re not vain enough to have a statue of yourself like this.” He approached him and laid a hand on his cheek. “I…Is your pen stained?”

Vil took his hand into his and shook his head. “I’ve had Rook look it over, you know you can’t hide anything from his sight.” He kissed it. “Arisu, please trust me; people change, and this is but a small change.” He smiled softly. “Now then, I want us to leave here; Kalim had told me something interesting and I’m dying to know about your newest ability.”

Returning to the ballroom, Arisu smiled at him; he confirmed that when Kalim and Riddle touched him, they would enter the same space while in his trancelike state. Vil nodded and tapped his chin as he started to theorize about the possibilities, even going as far as to have Rook write notes based on their conversation. The session lasted for a brief moment before Arisu’s phone went off; he winced and gave a weak smile at the text before him, he looked up at Vil and lowered his head.

“Vil…I’m sorry…I…”

“Is this Sunflower of the Valley Business?” Vil asked.

“Yes and no.” he admitted. “I mean, someone found out my identity and they want me to meet at RSA for a few pictures – they’re not promotional yet, they want to take a few test shots before VDC.”

A soft sigh. “Go on, it counts as your role. We’ll…pick this up another time.”

Arisu bowed once and left the ballroom, leaving the two alone. Rook looked over at Vil and rose an eyebrow at him, it took a lot of convincing from the Beautiful Prefect that everything was fine and that they had more important things to worry about at the moment. They just turned and silently went to Vil’s room to work on the list of those who they believed passed the auditions.

It took a lot of careful thought and planning before they had the ensemble they wanted. With all said and done, Vil watched as Rook left his room and waited before he went to one of his three mirrors; he was normally above himself for spying on others through this method, but lately he’s been finding himself returning to this nasty habit whenever it came to…stop that. For once, he had nothing to do with this, he was just monitoring his boyfriend’s dearest friend – Malleus would be heartbroken if anything happened to Sunflower. That was it and nothing more.

"Yeah! Oh!" Vil mumbled to himself, locking the door to his room so that the soundproof spell that circled the room would kick into action. "It was, it was September" he thought back to the entrance ceremony all those months ago. "Winds blow, the dead leaves fall" he continued, seeing Arisu in his mind's eye playing in the leaves with Grim and his friends. "To you, I did surrender" Vil had surrendered, maybe not in public to the younger blonde but in his heart... it was long decided after Malleus, his darling dragon entrusted that boy’s wellbeing to him. Call it love at first sight, he didn’t care, it was true. 

His smile fell a little bit. "Two weeks, you didn't call" he sang on, thinking of how bleak his winter break had been without Arisu's bright face to give it light. True, he was called during break, but the reason was completely different; he was only called for the expertise of what was going on at Scarabia!

"Your life goes on without me" Vil went on to the next verse, bitterness marring the beauty of his singing a bit. "My life, a losing game" he was losing, oh Great Seven was he losing. Losing his mind, his composure, his dignity: all of it to the pretty boy. 

"But you should, you should not doubt me" Vil sang on his fingers skimming the surface of one of the mirrors as it rippled before showing an image of Arisu in it. "You will remember my name" he would make him remember it alright, until it was the only thing left in the other male's mind.

*
Idia was already hidden away in the shadows when his guest appeared; he was fine with Malleus showing up whenever there was a need for some nifty nostalgia tech and him paying him back the amount, but he wasn’t entirely ready to have others in his room. He stayed in the corner of the room, only having his gold eyes visible from the shadows, watching as Ortho brought the strange human that Malleus had attached himself to.

Arisu Carol, the strange mortal with a unique soul ability and a favorite to the faeries; he was curious about him and would watch over his adventures on the monitors, and also quite the performer when it came to the incident with Eliza earlier this month. Now that Idia thought about it, had the bride not call Arisu out on the height thing, he would have been successful in saving him from getting married and he had to admit he owed him that much since the other ‘suitors’ clearly weren’t that prepared.

“I’m sorry for the short notice, senpai.” Arisu bowed a little. “I was just wondering if I could get your insight on something, if it’s not too much of a problem.”

Idia sighed and nodded to a clean chair. “What is it?” he asked.

“You’re…good at soul magic, right? I was wondering if you could tell me something about it?”

The other took a tablet out and messed with it before showing a hologram image of two hearts; one was anatomical and the other looked on the crystal side of things. “We all have two hearts; the first one.” He circled the anatomical one. “Keeps you alive, without it pumping blood in your veins you would be dead.” He circled the other heart. “Then you have the second heart; the Core Heart as my dad likes to call it; this is where your heartfelt memories, emotions, everything that makes you…you; without it you are an empty husk.”

Arisu nodded. “The Core Heart is where I’ve been entering whenever I make eye-contact with someone, I …enter the person’s soul room.” He explained. “Is it possible for a room to be changed?”

Idia played with the stylus pen. “Yes and no; a person can be influenced, yes, but the Core Heart is…” he tapped his chin with it. “Think of it like this; you’re customizing your character’s appearance and everything, but nothing changes the game you’re playing. You can be a total goth in Star Wars and no-one’s batting an eyelash.” He explained. “However, that can change if you mess up on your choices and you stray from your ideal path.”

“I could be on the Jedi path but messing up will switch me over to the Sith side.” Arisu watched him nod. “So, what are the causes of this change?”

“Well, there’s the traditional growing darkness.” He started to color in the heart. “We’re not entire spotless from influence.” He explained. “But this doesn’t change anything; I know about your damn ability too; you really need to stop with the soul room burning.”

“What? Why?” Arisu demanded. “So far, it’s been helping the Overblot victims return to normal!”

“Do not make me come over there.” Idia warned. “Overblot stains are different than natural darkness – wait.” He paused. “Why the hell are you asking me about this!? Isn’t Vil supposed to be your teacher in this, why aren’t you talking to him!”

Arisu lowered his head. “Because it’s Vil I’m worried about; his soul room had started to change and I’m scared he’s going to go over the edge later on.”

A soft sigh. “Look, I respect that, but looking at an NPC status; I can’t do shit.” Idia explained. “You’re the hero of the game, figure it out.”

“But aren’t NPC’s supposed to be helpful with information?”

“Depends on who you ask.” He turned his tablet off and ended the mapping. “But I’m not going to be your walking cheat guide; I’ll help if you’re truly stuck, but…right now focus on your goal. Me? I have an event to get to, so…leave.” He waved him away. “Shoo. Out of my dorm.”

Arisu smiled and thanked him before leaving Ignihyde; the image of him leaving the dorm was shown in the mirror; Vil laid a hand over his chest and sighed in relief. Arisu wasn’t replacing him. Arisu was worried about him. Closing his eyes, and exhaling once more, Vil found some solace over this fact; he would finally be able to focus on the now in peace.

“Oh Ari, you will remember.” He smiled down at the image of the boy moving to wherever it was next. “Ari, one thing remains.” Was this feeling a bit possessive? Perhaps, but he didn’t really care. “Oh Ari, so warm and tender…you will remember my name.” He let the image vanish.

Flaring out the dorm uniform, he made his way to Rook’s side as they returned to picking out their winning audition members to be in the VDC with them; Vil played back through every single dance, song, and energy as well as taking in consideration of what Rook and Arisu had said about diamonds in the rough being polished. With a small shrug, he circled Ace’s and Deuce’s name. Two of Riddle’s troublemakers should be quite the project and if he succeeds here, he will have something new to show for! True, he had that feral farm boy Epel to tame, but, what’s one more feral student to train and whip into shape?

Rook just raised an eyebrow at Vil but said nothing, he just shrugged and started writing down the official letters of acceptance and even carefully tying them to his arrows. Let the hunt begin.

*
Arisu rubbed his eyes; Mr. Trein was just cruel today; he had his doubts that he would be sleeping tonight no thanks to the story about the Kuchisake-Onna. He sighed and watched as his friends talked about the audition results; it was getting close to lunch and there wasn’t anything said so far about the results. To be completely honest, everything had been a blur that Arisu wasn’t really paying attention.

That was his biggest downfall as the group had an arrow fired at them. The four friends cried out in fear and backed away, it took however long before they were able to relax and read the note attached to the arrow; Ace and Deuce had passed and were called to the Pomefiore dorm! Arisu jumped and hugged his two friends, congratulating them on their success.

With the celebration coming to a halt, the four hurried for lunch and began hurrying to the dorm where they ran into the Scarabia duo. Arisu went up to Jamil and reached out to him, the other just gently pushed his hand down and only said ‘Azul belongs in Pomefiore; he’s just as dramatic as the students in here.’ That was probably all he needed to know about the aftermath of the supposed livestream during winter break.

Kalim pounced and spun Arisu around with a grin; everyone was together again – sort of, they were going to be the greatest performers of this competition! He had a gut feeling about this!

As before with the arrow; celebration was called to a halt when two students had challenged them to a duel – just another day at Night Raven College.

Chapter Text

There comes a day when Arisu had to learn the important rule when it came to dealing with a manipulative crow; make sure you have Malleus or Lilia beside you to keep him from holding dorm maintenance over your head. Arisu was in an interesting position when it came crashing down; aside the fact that Pomefiore and its students were still dramatic as ever and forced participants to duel them to advance to where they would meet Vil, rehearsals went without a problem and Arisu was just relaxing in the corner of the ballroom with his own homework and Grim while the group did their routines.

Then it came to Crowley dropping the bomb saying Ramshackle would be hosting a training camp. Even though Arisu was a Scarabia student now, he was still in charge of the old dorm for whatever reason and that meant that the old dorm would still have renovations done. That was where some of the prize money was going towards, Arisu didn’t mind even if he was blindsided by the headmaster’s orders. 

Of course, now that he thought about it, he did get new furniture from the ghostly bridal party. It wasn’t that hard to convince them into letting him have the reception furniture; all he had to do was say that he was a poor starving human who needed new furniture for his new house and they happily gave it to him. So he was good on some of the things at the old dorm, the only thing he wasn’t too crazy about was having others live there for a month – he and Grim were fine being roommates with the ghosts, and he knew in his heart that Vil was going to go into dictator mode once he had entered through the threshold. 

And he was right; Arisu was lounging on his new couch as he watched the VDC group enter the dorm – smiling as he saw Ace, Deuce, Epel, and Kalim bound in. At least there were some people he was going to get along with for the month. Rook, Jamil, and Vil however? Well…even though Jamil and him were on good terms, he was still nervous when it came to kitchen duties.

“Sorry for the inconvenience.” Vil patted his head. “I know the headmaster had put you in this spot but we’ll try not to interfere with your preparations for the upcoming contest.” 

Arisu huffed. “I’m not mad, but I do have some rules regarding my dorm, if you don’t mind?” he watched him nod. “I don’t care what you do with your team, but the second you try and force those rules within my dorm, I will put glitter dye into your shampoo.” He warned.

“Typical response for someone who grew up around faeries.” Vil shook his head. “Fine, what are your terms and conditions?”

“First off; I respect your stance on having a healthier diet, especially when it comes to events as a proper diet is needed. However, don’t go around and shoving your plan down anyone’s throat.” Arisu held up two fingers. “Second of all; my room is completely off limits, unless you have a valid reason.”

“Such as your sleepwalking tendencies.” Rook pointed out.

Arisu shot a look. “Which hasn’t happened since December.” He stressed out. “Unless a valid reason is given, you’re not entering my room, at all.” He crossed his arms. “My final terms and conditions are no helicopter coaching or parenting; I know you want your team as well as Malleus and I to be at our top game, but I’m not going to sit back and let you tell me what is or is not an appropriate break time.” He held his hand out. “Do we have a deal, Vil?”

“These are acceptable conditions.” Vil nodded. “And I will adhere to them so long as you adhere to mine as well; same with you, I won’t interfere with your preparations as long as you don’t interfere with mine. I know about your…interesting breakfast choices, and I’ll be willing to turn the other way. But, for lunch and dinner I’m in charge in that department.”

“Negative.” Arisu said. “I’ll accept you taking charge for dinner but lunch will remain free for all at the cafeteria.” 

A small tch was the reply. “In regards to your room, I will be having motion sensor spells within your room to alert me of your evening activities so that I can get to you. I’ll also be monitoring any and all activities with that strange mirror of yours.”

“The hell you will.” Arisu snapped. “I told you I haven’t had any incidents since break! Heck, all through this time I’ve been sleeping just fine!”

“Oh really? So then two weeks ago you didn’t come running into Pomefiore looking as though you’ve ran from the devil himself as well as pouring your heart about your infamous dreams?” he smirked when he saw Arisu falter for a comeback. “Care to try again?”

Arisu glowered at him. “That was then, this is the now; not a single dream had happened since then and Grim here can confirm that I haven’t been having restless nights!”

Vil looked to the creature who tensed up a little. Grim just gulped and shrank a little bit from under the prefect’s cold gaze; “Well…he does toss in his sleep but…it’s not that bad…”

“That settles it.” Vil said. “The spell will be in place.”

“It sure as sugar will not!” Arisu snapped. “Don’t you dare tell me you don’t move in your sleep to get into a better position!”

Rook cleared his throat. “If I may suggest something?” he watched as the two turn their attentions to him. “Why don’t we have the spell in place for a week, if it’s the average ‘shift into a better position’ motion, then we can remove it.”

Arisu shook his head. “Fine, and when we prove that there’s nothing going on, we’re going to stop getting in the way of my sleeping habits.” He turned to Vil. “Any other conditions?” he watched him shake his head. “Alright, then with that said, let me show everyone their rooms.”

*
With Arisu in his room at the guitar, Grim was able to play! He was beside the computer that had a song that Vil had made for the contest; his tail wagged as he was excited for the results of the practice – okay, sure, he wasn’t one of the contestants, but he was still excited since them winning would mean cans of tuna! Well, that would be his mindset at least; even Grim had to be honest that he was worried about his human, seeing Arisu looking so panicked that morning just rubbed him the wrong way and he didn’t want to see that fearful expression again!

Even then, earlier with today, Grim caught that seething look Vil had when his phone rang earlier. He didn’t know what was said but whatever it was…he could tell it really pissed him off, same thing with earlier during the video they were watching. Grim had met Neige during the visit to RSA and he knew that the two were stepbrothers but the look Vil had on his face when the other was on the screen was pretty scary!

His tail twitched as he watched the rehearsal, if Grim had to be honest, he was actually glad he wasn’t up there with the others – okay, he was upset he couldn’t compete for NRC, but Arisu had promised him he would perform with him and Malleus! But that wasn’t important; Deuce was just…he looked like a cardboard cutout trying to dance. He snickered as Vil would scold him. Dumb human can’t dance. With the group on break, Grim watched as three of the dancers approached him, he got up and jumped on Ace’s shoulder before stretching.

“Well, I’m bored, let’s go see Ari!” Grim cheered.

“You didn’t even do a damn thing.” Ace shook his head. “Speaking of…is he okay now? I mean, I know whatever happened was two weeks ago but he’s fine now, right?”

Grim’s ears flattened. “I don’t know.” He whined. “I worry about that boy!”

“I think we all do.” Deuce sighed. “Ever since day one he’s been a target for misfortune, that’s just not normal.” He turned to Epel. “Ari came running to your dorm, did he say anything?”

“Something about the Beautiful Queen and that Vil’s room was starting to mirror the queen’s castle.” Epel shrugged. “I couldn’t really make anything out except that and Vil’s pen…”

Ace tapped his arm in thought. “Okay, yeah looks like we’re going to have a meeting after practice.”

It would be a long rest of the day.

Returning to the old dorm, everyone had piled into the lounge as Vil went straight to the kitchen; he knew that Ramshackle was going under constant renovations – and he’s even seen Arisu leave the school store or the mirror chamber with new furniture equipment. But the layout of the kitchen was a little bit…odd. The rustic charm of the old dorm with tinges of regal setting and of course, the new appliances. Actually…now that he got a better look at some of the things in the dorm itself, there were some leftover décor and other things from the ghost bride and her party.

He can only imagine what Arisu told them in order to keep some of these. Vil just shook his head and got started on the dinner preparations; the first-year didn’t have much in terms of…quality ingredients, but there were still enough of actual food to get everyone fed without any problems. He had made up his mind that he was going to take Arisu grocery shopping throughout this little training camp.

Taking out what Arisu had – steak, peppers, onions, soy sauce, and cornstarch – Vil got to work on making a stir fry recipe for the VDC group; being in control like this was actually relaxing, actually, anything where he didn’t have to stress about anything was relaxing. Didn’t matter if it was cooking or something else, being in control like this was his idea of peace and calm; no noise, no distractions, even if he could hear the ADeuce Combo and Grim playing some silly game in the lounge it didn’t matter one bit to him.

“Something smells good.” Vil didn’t even need to turn to see Jamil entering the room. “Didn’t know you cook.”

Vil just hummed. “I’ve always preferred to be in charge of my own meal prep when able to.” He said simply as he cooked the vegetables. “You don’t have to think so low of me to poison our team.”

Jamil went to the fridge. “Just here for a drink.”

“Don’t even bother; I’ve lost count how many cans of squirt resided in there.” Vil called, he chuckled when he saw Jamil recoil at the soda name. “I know, that was my exact expression when I saw the state of the kitchen.”

“Which state the stuff leftover from Eliza’s wedding night or the abysmal soda choice.”

Vil had to fight back the urge to gag. “Both.” He cleared his throat and added the steak. “I’ll be taking Arisu grocery shopping first thing tomorrow.”

“Please do.” Jamil just grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water. “Are you okay? You’ve been tense since the start of rehearsals and it’s only now that you’re able to relax.”

“Ah.” Vil nodded. “It’s just work-related stress, my manager’s been pestering me about a role for a movie – despite me putting my time and energy into the VDC; being in control like this helps reduce such stress and brings a peace of mind.” 

“Is that why you were violently cutting the peppers earlier?” Jamil raised an eyebrow. “Whatever, if you say you’re fine…I’ll believe you.” He patted his back. “Arisu’s having some artist block, maybe you can help him…should clear things up too.”

“I’ll…consider it.”

With the conversation over and done with, dinner was finally ready. For the most part, the group dinner went without a hitch; Vil was soaking up the praises over the dish and felt that the rest of the night would go without any other problems. The only thing that kept him from relaxing completely was the lack of a certain ‘sunflower’, Vil had to push any and all concerns from his mind as he just rationalized that Arisu was just caught up in his own work. After finishing his own plate, he picked up the one for Arisu and made his way upstairs. He respected that Arisu was a hard worker, but he was going to be damned if he let the boy go without the proper nutrients. 

Reaching the boy’s door, he reached to knock and alert his presence – pausing as he heard another voice from behind the door. Vil rose an eyebrow and leaned in close to see if he could identify it…actually, being this close he could hear his own voice as well as Neige’s. Curiosity got the better of him as he gently pushed open the door and found Arisu laying on the bed watching a movie – not just any movie, it was Hidden Hollows.

“I thought you hated horror movies.” Vil walked over and set the plate on the side table. “When did you get the TV installed?”

Arisu turned from the TV and looked at his senior, he just gave a light shrug and sat up while stretching. “This one doesn’t have cable if that’s