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The Chance of Their Lifetime

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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

WARNING: YEAH YEAH SPOILERS.

“You’re Jinnai from Hama Mid.? I hear you’re nuts.”
“A Savings Account? You?”
“My future has companions! But yours consists only of dirty money!”
“Once I find out, that’s when I’ll give you your answer!”
“I’ll handle this- and your part of it, too... you’ve done enough, Tetsuji...”
“M-Mom... H... Help me... please...”

Vvv

                When Molly Weasley knocked on her daughter’s bedroom door to wake her for breakfast, she did not expect anything out of the ordinary to occur.

                Ginny had been home for the last two weeks of school so that she could recover from her ordeal at the hands of the possessed diary that had been speaking to the eleven year old for nearly the entire year. Her daughter had been very quiet during her break from school, but in the last day or so she had begun to come back to herself. She had been eating more and sleeping regularly, and that gave Molly some hope that Ginny could go back to the way she had been before she had gone off to Hogwarts.

                So when Molly knocked on Ginny’s door and called out that breakfast was on the table, the last thing she expected to hear was a strangled sob from the other side.

                “Ginny? Ginny, dear, what’s the matter?” Molly immediately asked, worried and ready to burst into the room but wanting to give Ginny a little time to respond, just in case she wanted her privacy.

                More sobbing reached Molly’s ears, and then her daughter spoke, small and quiet and so weak that it broke her heart into hundreds of pieces.

                “M-Mom... H... Help me... please... it hurts...” Molly had no need for further prompting, and practically broke the door off of it’s hinges in order to get to Ginny as quickly as she could.

                The youngest Weasley was curled up into a tight ball on her bed, face scrunched up in pain and arms wound tightly around her stomach. There were no tears on her pale face, but she let out sobs in between long, shuddering breaths, and blood dripped from her open mouth, staining her faded yellow sheets. Ginny opened her eyes to look at her mother and coughed then, sending more blood flying down onto her bed.

                “Help... ugh... it- it hurts... so much...”

                “Ginny!” Molly screamed, rushing over to her daughter, her baby, wand drawn and tears gathering in her eyes. “Ginny, oh, my baby... don’t move, it’s going to be alright, just hold on...” Ginny shut her eyes and held her mother’s free hand in a vice grip, her face slackening as Molly flicked her wand in several directions, muttering unintelligibly under her breath.

                “It’s okay Ginny, you’re fine, you’re alright.” Molly told her child, running the tip of her wand in a circle around Ginny’s form, a silver trail of mist following in the wake of the wand. When the circle connected, it let out a flash of white light and Ginny suddenly became still, every faucet of her previously terrified and agonized state becoming calm and settled. It was mandatory for all seventh years to learn a stasis spell to use on those who were injured. As Molly pried her hand out of her daughter’s grip, she thanked every god she knew that it was so.

                Racing down the stairs, Molly headed straight for the fireplace, nearly knocking over the floo pot in her haste to throw the powder into the fire. Kneeling, she stuck her head close to the flames and called out for St. Mungo’s; moments later the face of a young man appeared and focused on her.

                “St. Mungo’s, how can I help you?” The young man asked promptly, squinting at Molly through the smoke and flames. Molly leaned back to give him some room even as her tears finally started to trickle down her cheeks.

                “It’s my daughter- I don’t know what happened, but when I went to wake her up she was c-crying and coughing up blood, and h-holding her stomach.” The young man’s face disappeared for a moment, but was back nearly as quickly. “I put her under the standard Oxnarian Stasis Seal- we’re at the Weasley residence near Ottery St. Catchpole.”

                “Please stand back ma’am, a team of three Healers will be at your location in a moment.” Scrambling up, Molly barely had time to back away before an older woman and two young adults stepped out of the fireplace. The eldest of the trio immediately turned to Molly and moved towards her.

                “I am Healer Cornwall, these are Healers McCarthy and Kumar. Where is the young lady?”

                “This way- please, follow me.” The climb up the narrow and rickety staircase was one of the longest of her life; they couldn’t reach Ginny soon enough in her opinion. Healer Cornwall entered the room first, setting to work without so much as a pause and flanked by the two younger healers. With the younger pair manoeuvring the still in-stasis child into a lying position and pushing up her night shirt, the kneeling Mediwitch was free to assess the damage. Molly waited anxiously by the door, gasping in shock at what she could see of Ginny’s stomach.

                Two horrible stab wounds marred her skin, one just to the right of her navel and the second only just visible in her side. Both were still sluggishly spewing blood, since the seal wasn’t meant to stop, only slow. As the Healers began flicking their wands over Ginny’s waist, it became clear that the blood was stopping, and soon enough it had been cleaned away entirely, so that Healer Cornwall had access to the wounds without any fluid obstructing her work.

                Watching as the Mediwitch started to heal the injuries from the inside out, Molly clutched at her heart as soon as it was over, and the two younger Healers started to levitate Ginny into the air. Healer Cornwall approached her with a neutral expression, not giving Molly any indication of her inner thoughts.

                “Mrs. Weasley, your stasis spell likely saved your daughter. I’m keeping it over her for the time being, I noticed something while healing her.” Molly’s blood ran cold at her next words. “I’m afraid that she has to be brought to St. Mungo’s. What is her name?”

                “Ginny. Ginny Weasley. Please, what’s wrong with her?” As her child was brought out of the room, Molly’s want to hear of anything wrong with her little girl warred with her need to be by that little girl’s side. Healer Cornwall motioned for her to follow the other healers down the stairs.

                “I think it would be best to discuss this when Ginny’s father is present. Is he? Present?” Molly took a deep breath, stopping herself from snapping at the healer to just tell her what was wrong. The mediwitch was right, it would be better if Arthur was with her when they were told what Ginny needed.

                “He’s at work right now. I could floo the Ministry and get to St. Mungo’s in ten minutes, would that be best?” They had reached the ground floor, and Molly watched as Ginny was levitated out of the house, since portkeys were the preferred transport method for those in stasis.

                “The best is whatever gets your daughter there faster.” Healer Cornwall replied evenly, readying the portkey at her teammate’s insistence. “I’ll have Healer Kumar wait for you in the lobby of St. Mungo’s.”

                “Thank you.” As soon as the group had been taken away, Molly turned on her heel and rushed back to the fireplace, throwing the floo powder into the flame with more force than she usually did. When Arthur’s face bloomed into view, he looked tired and satisfied, the same look he had whenever he finished investigating an interesting case.

                “Hello dear, sorry for the delay. You don’t normally call me at work.” Arthur observed, noticing his wife’s blotchy cheeks and wrinkled forehead after he had spoken, so Molly sniffed and shook her head.

                “Arthur- Arthur, it’s Ginny, she had to go to- had to go to St. Mungo’s, I don’t know w-what to do...” Arthur sucked in an alarmed breath and shuffling sounds were heard on the other end of the connection.

                “Wait right there dear, I’ll be home in a second.” Arthur disappeared from the flames, but \molly could still hear him telling Perkins where he was going, and then he was stumbling out of the fireplace, tripping over the rug as he sank to the ground and enveloped Molly in his arms. “Molly, dear Merlin...”

                “Sh- She was crying... and- and bleeding from her stomach and-“ Molly sobbed loudly into Arthur’s shoulder, and he tightened his arms to try and comfort her. “-and her mouth... Arthur I don’t know what happened! I just w- went to wake her up for- for breakfast! The healer said that if I hadn’t of cast the spell when I did-!”

                “Shh... we’ll figure this out Molly. Let’s just- let’s get to Ginny before anything else.” Soothing, Arthur brought both of them to their feet and turned on the spot, concentrating and apparating them to St. Mungo’s. Landing in the deserted waiting room, the couple were greeted by Healer Kumar who took them up the main staircase and up to the children’s ward where Healer Cornwall was waiting for them.

                “Mr. And Mrs. Weasley, please sit. We have a few things to discuss concerning your daughter.” The older woman went straight to the point, gesturing at a pair of chairs directly opposite the one she had yet to sit in.

                “What’s wrong with Ginny?” Molly asked as soon as they had seated themselves, nerves stretched so thin that it was a wonder that she hadn’t asked as soon as they had walked through the door. Healer Cornwall sighed heavily and crossed her arms, giving the young girl a sideways glance.

                “Miss Weasley has severe magic depletion, slight malnutrition and several lesions on her scalp hidden by her hair.” Molly’s hand flew to cover her mouth and Arthur’s fingers clenched from their place on his wife’s shoulder. “Though I managed to fully heal the lacerations to her stomach and side, she will need to remain in our care for at least the next week in order to get her back on the path to proper health... What concerns me more than her condition itself is how she came to be in such a state.” As the silence stretched longer and longer, Arthur took the lead and cleared his throat, pausing only briefly to look askance at Healer Kumar in the doorway.

                “Ginny was being... possessed. Nearly the entire school year, so far as we can tell.” He said slowly, keeping in mind what Dumbledore had told him not to mention. “It’s since been destroyed, but we really thought that was the end of it. If you need to, please talk to the Headmaster, he can tell you more than we could.”

                “That’s why Ginny was at home instead of Hogwarts.” Molly explained, not taking her eyes off of her daughter. “So she could recover, but then... then this...”

                Healer Cornwall nodded tersely, handing the Weasley couple a piece of parchment with a detailed schedule written on it. “This is the potions regimen Miss Weasley will be started on today, barring any changes made later. All will be fed into her through an insertion spell while she is under a magically induced coma. After her release at the end of the week, it will be your responsibility to have her follow a new regimen for her to reach full health.”

                “Yes, yes of course.” Molly told the mediwitch, tucking the paper into her pocket gingerly and moving her chair to Ginny’s side, Arthur following suit. The healer watched them for a moment before moving towards the door, turning to address Healer Kumar once the door had been shut behind her.

                “Please go and get me some floo powder. I’m going to call Headmaster Dumbledore immediately.” Healer Kumar nodded once and strode off, leaving her senior to walk sedately back to her office.

Vvv

                It was five days later that the rest of the Weasley children returned from Hogwarts, ferried back to the Burrow by the Knight Bus and excited for the beginning of summer. Upon entering their home, they found their father waiting for them at the kitchen table, the Daily Prophet spread out in front of him and a mug of gillywater in his hand. He asked his boys to put their things away and then come back down quickly, a task they executed with worry growing in their chests at the blatant tiredness dimming Arthur’s normally cheerful features. When those four of the Weasley brothers were sitting around their father, he pushed his drink and the newspaper to the side and gave a heavy sigh.

                “Something happened to your sister.” All four sat up rigidly at this; they had already been told about Ginny’s possession (save Ron), but they hadn’t been informed about anything else beyond that she was staying home to recover from it. “On Sunday, your mother found Ginny, and she had been stabbed twice in the stomach.” Alarmed looks painted his children’s faces, and Arthur held up a hand to stop them from speaking before he was done. “We don’t know who did it or how it happened, but thankfully she was healed in time. It did reveal a few lingering effects from the possession as well, so Ginny has been in a magical coma since then, taking many different potions to get her back to her former health. If all goes well, she’ll be able to come home within the next few days.”

                “Why didn’t you tell us?” Ron demanded, his ears turning red in frustration and his eyes narrowing dangerously.

                “You all still had school, and Ginny was in no danger after she got to St. Mungo’s.” Arthur nearly snapped; exhaustion and anxiety combining to make his usually soft countenance stern and irritable. “We had a choice between worrying you for the entirety of your final week or wait to tell you until you could physically be here with us, and her.”

                “Is- Is mother with Ginny right now?” Percy quietly asked, averting his eyes to study the dusty kitchen counter, no longer gleaming from constant use and constant cleaning, having been abandoned for almost a week. Arthur’s eyes softened as he looked at his middle child; Percy had been feeling so guilty for not telling anyone about Ginny’s troubles and Arthur knew that once she was released Percy wasn’t going to let her out of his sight.

                “She’ll be back soon, visiting hours end right around now.” Fred and George scowled fiercely, realizing that that meant they couldn’t see their baby sister right away. Arthur noticed this as well and was quick to reassure them, lest he start finding singed Gnomes out underneath their window. “Don’t worry, we’ll be going to St. Mungo’s tomorrow, you won’t have to wait much longer to see her. Maybe even-“

                Arthur cut himself off as Molly swept into the kitchen, frazzled and stressed but smiling and brightening even more when she caught sight of the rest of her family. The boys began bombarding her with questions, so loud that Arthur temporarily silencio-ed them before he could calm them down enough that their mother could speak.

                “They said that Ginny’s doing better than they could have expected.” Molly reported, the sheer relief she felt was clear in her eyes as she told them. “When we go tomorrow, Ginny will be awake. Healer Cornwall explained that she would wake her up before we got there because Ginny still has to take a few potions.”

                Arthur looked a little troubled, but nodded in acceptance. “If that’s what she thinks is best.”

                “When are we-“

                “-going to see her? Not too-“

                “-late in the day we hope.” The twins interjected, giving their parents equally pleading looks.

                “We’re going at noon, so we can bring Ginny lunch.” Molly said, finally sitting down heavily in the chair next to her husband. “I don’t feel up to cooking tonight.”

                “I’ll cook, dear, that is, if you don’t mind it being subpar compared to your meals.” Molly smiled at Arthur, content in the knowledge that tomorrow their life could start going back to normal.

Vvv

                Two years later, Jinnai Kouhei opened his eyes.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS ARE HERE

                When Jinnai Kouhei opened his eyes, he was unaware of anything except a blinding white light, and so he closed them again, preferring the fuzzy, incoherent darkness over painful awareness. After a few minutes of listening to his own breathing, Kouhei flexed his limbs and found he was lying on a rather uncomfortable bed, and not, as he had expected, a dirty alleyway. Confused, he turned his head to the side, away from the light, and opened his eyes again.

                He was in a hospital room, not unlike the one he had tried to find Teru in before he had been told that his friend was up on the roof. The only major difference was that this room’s accents were lime green, and the residual medical equipment that littered so many other hospitals was noticeably absent. The room was also devoid of people, whether it be patients or staff, which suited Kouhei just fine. Gritting his teeth, he pushed himself into a sitting position and experienced an odd sensation, like vertigo after a very long sleep. Vision still blurry and not completely lucid, Kouhei pulled his hospital shirt up to expose his navel and was extremely surprised to find scars where he had expected stitches, in the same places that Sonoda had stabbed him.

                Had he been unconscious long enough that his wounds had healed to such an extent? Kouhei remembered walking along that never ending wall, trailing blood and tears with every step as he tried to find someone who would help him. He remembered sliding to his knees, feeling the agony begin to fade and thinking of what Kyousuke was going to say, getting out of Juvie to find him dead. Had all that been an illusion, or had he come that close to death, only to be found and saved by someone he didn’t even recall? So caught up in his own thoughts, Kouhei didn’t even register the door opening until-

                “Miss Weasley! Healer Cornwall, Miss Weasley is awake!”

                With a jolt, Ginny spun towards the door, eyes wide and alarm plastered over her entire face. The two Mediwitches standing in the doorway raised their hands peacefully and Ginny relaxed somewhat, but she still felt incredibly confused and startled.

                “I’m sure you’re very confused, Miss Weasley.” The younger healer said gently, entering the room slowly so she didn’t startle her patient, the other healer waiting stoically by the exit. “You’re in St. Mungo’s, being treated for a number of symptoms caused by your possession. How are you feeling?”

                Ginny blinked lethargically and ran a hand through her hair, far longer than it used to be and bright red instead of the blonde she had been expecting.

                Her name was Ginny Weasley, she thought to herself with no small amount of scorn, the daughter of a Ministry worker and a house wife, the youngest child of seven and the only girl. She didn’t know anyone named Kyousuke, she hadn’t ever gone to a muggle hospital, and she most certainly hadn’t been thinking of joining the Yakuza... whatever that was. Despite her efforts, the dream that she had been caught up in refused to leave her thoughts, making it so she almost missed the healer’s next words.

                “Miss Weasley? How do you feel?” The mediwitch repeated loudly, or maybe it only seemed that was the case, as the woman had moved right next to her. Ginny pushed aside the unsettling dream about the Japanese teenager and gave the healer a strained smile.

                “I’m sorry. I feel fine, actually. Who are you?” The woman relaxed and lowered herself into the bedside chair, the other healer closing the door and standing at the end of the bed.

                “My name is Healer Darcy, and that’s Healer Cornwall. I’m your supervising Mediwitch, and Healer Cornwall is the supervisor of the entire St. Mungo’s children’s ward. You gave all of us a terrible scare young lady.” Ginny’s expression turned confused once again and she looked from one healer to the other, her brow pinched in a manner they had never gone before, giving her an oddly intense glare.

                “Scare? What do you mean? I don’t remember anything.” Healer Cornwall smiled tensely.

                “I expected as much. When you came to us, your mother had found you bleeding profusely from two stab wounds in your abdomen. We still don’t know where they came from.” Ginny gaped, not only because she didn’t recall being injured so badly, but also at the fact that Kouhei did remember it. “When I was healing you, I noticed that you were severely magically depleted, malnourished and had lesions on your scalp. Conferring with the Headmaster, it was determined that they were caused by your prolonged possession. You were put into a magical coma and were supposed to have been woken up after several days on a potions schedule... but you wouldn’t wake. You’ve been in this ward for almost two years, Miss Weasley.”

                Ginny’s mind went blank, and then a million thoughts were racing through her, tumbling over each other before they could fully process and making her head throb. Two years, she had been in a coma for two years? Where were her parents, what about Hogwarts, what about Luna and her brothers and- “What?” Ginny managed to squeak out, a sharp pain in her head and stomach stopping her from saying any more.

                She could practically see Sonoda drawing away from her, but he hadn’t attacked her, he had attacked Kouhei; but even so she could feel the agonizing burn from the knife in her side, and again when Sonoda stabbed her in the stomach. But instead of abandoning her to die like he had, he began to laugh, high and cold and exactly like Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort, the boy who had comforted her all year and let her write to him but who had also made her do so many terrible, horrible things. She saw him standing over her, waiting for the last of her magic to drain away and leave her a cold shell of who she used to be, alone in that forgotten chamber and dying of more than just magic depletion. Healer Darcy had started talking when Ginny had zoned out, and she was still talking, but Ginny could not decipher the words as she slowly drew the covers off of her legs and began to move them off of the mattress.

                “Miss Weasley, you shouldn’t be moving right now.” Healer Darcy said in what she probably thought was a stern tone of voice, looking put out at being ignored by her patient. For a split second, Ginny found herself wanting to sneer at the obviously naive healer, before she regained her thought process and noticed that the younger healer’s hand was hovering near her robes pocket. Ginny didn’t want to be stunned, despite the woman’s probably good intentions, so she schooled her expression into one of part embarrassment and part discomfort, hoping that she would be able to get out of this room with little difficulty.

                “Healer, I- uh, need to use the loo. Really bad.” Ginny voiced the first excuse that came to mind. “I’m sorry, but...”

                “No, it’s alright.” Healer Darcy said, pointing to the other side of the room with the hand that had been poised to grab her wand just a moment earlier. Ginny noticed that Healer Cornwall was frowning now, but at what the girl couldn’t tell. “It’s right through there. Tell me first next time, you’re still weak.” Ginny nodded and stepped fully onto the ground, only dimly aware that she hadn’t moved in two years, but strangely enough she felt stronger than she had in a long time. Declining Healer Cornwall’s offer of assistance, the redhead padded over to the door and bolted it shut behind her, immediately going to stare at the familiar face in the mirror.

                She really had been asleep for two years, hadn’t she? A part of her, when the healer told her how long she had been here, didn’t believe the older woman, preferring to think that this was all some elaborate dream or a prank by Fred and George. But she was taller now, by a good few inches; she was probably taller than Professor Sprout, and that at least she was happy about. She had lost a lot of baby fat, and her nose was thinner, her jaw more resembling her father than her mother who she had expected to take after. Her hair, which used to be only a little past her shoulders, was now nearing the small of her back, and she really needed to cut her finger nails.

                Pulling up her shirt, Ginny studied the two white scars on her middle, both in the exact spots that she knew Kouhei had received them. She ran her fingers along them and felt a tingling in the back of her mind, reminding her of a warning signal for some reason. Ginny wondered if Kouhei was really just a figment of her imagination, she had really felt as if she was him when she had woken up earlier. The longer Ginny kept her fingers on her scars the more prominent the tingling sensation became, but not enough for her to sense yet.

                Thinking hard, Ginny could suddenly remember a lot of information about Kouhei, a lot of things she normally wouldn’t retain from a dream.

                She could remember what Kouhei’s mother used to put into their Oden at Christmas, eating dinner with her son and then-boyfriend at home because they had been snowed in again, since they had lived in Hokkaido until Kouhei was seven. She could clearly recall Kouhei, still sore from another growth spurt and fiddling with his uniform cuffs in his grade six English class, being called down to the office and having no idea that his mother had just died of an aneurism in the middle of a local conbini. Kouhei, who had ruined his first middle school uniform shirt by fighting Tachibana Sousuke from Iraki Mid, who had felt confused and lost as Kiiko prattled on about his savings account and his dream, who had cut all ties with his friends afterwards in order to join the recently booming Snake Heads gang.

                The sharp pain returned to her, digging itself into her brain and stomach and absolutely unbearable, but Ginny couldn’t bring herself to move her hands. She was buying the loyalty of the other Snake Heads leaders, stewing on Touji’s report about Parko and Dangerers, becoming Tetsuji’s sworn brother, listening to Teru ream him out for his actions and realizing how much of a stupid gutless coward he had been, acting like some sulking little kid at the chance that his friends were growing beyond his reach.

                “Miss Weasley? You’ve been in there an awfully long time, are you feeling ill?”

                He was supposed to have gone away from that town with Tetsuji, start over again somewhere else where there was no Snake Heads, no Parko or Kiiko, no Teru and no Kyousuke and dammit all he had died! Kouhei screamed loudly, ripping his hands away from his stomach and clutching at his temples again, clutching at his too long hair with his too small hands that wouldn’t even be able to make a mark on Sonoda, the fucking bastard! Kouhei registered that the door had been wrenched open, but he was too lost in himself to care.

                Fuck, fuck, fuck! Where were his friends, where was Tetsuji, where were they, the only real comrades he had ever known, fuck, where was he? Sonoda slammed the knife into his side from his blind spot, coward that he was, but the pain wasn’t enough to bring him down yet, so the bastard struck again. Bleeding out and struggling to walk, Kouhei called out for anyone, please, help me! It hurts... ugh, god dammit, I’m going to die, mom...

                The last thought Kouhei had as everything went black was about the dream that Teru had told him about, and how he had never seen it come to fruition.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS OVER YONDER

                Ginny woke up all at once, one moment floating in blissful darkness and the next squeezing her eyes shut to block out the blaring sun. When the knowledge of where she was came back to her she grew very still and kept her breathing deep, until she determined that the only other presence in the room was the ticking clock in the far corner. Relaxing marginally, her hands creeped underneath her shirt and lightly traced her scars, and once again she found that Kouhei’s memories came to her uncontested.

                When Kouhei had entered middle school, still burned out emotionally from his mother’s death and with a body more suited to violence than ever before, he hadn’t expected to meet anyone worth his time, or even his notice. His first few months at Hama Mid. had been spent fighting a never ending well of opponents, from his peers at Hama to the seniors of various middle schools in the area. His fight with the seniors at Fourth Mid. would have been his worst loss, had Kyousuke not shown up out of the blue to offer him some help.

                Kyousuke had been his first friend, and the first that he could trust with his back and know that the other man would never abuse that trust. Kiiko and Teru had come next, and even closer after that he had met Parko, but Kouhei had always felt the closest to Kyousuke, something he hadn’t felt again until he met Tetsuji. Kyousuke would have ripped him a new one if he had seen him in the Snake Heads, but he would have given him a cigarette immediately after that. Kyousuke would have found him right away, would have dragged him back from where he had gone and forced him to change so that Kouhei wouldn’t have ever gotten himself stabbed in the first place. Kyousuke was what he needed right now, confused and alone in this fucking magic hospital, with the body of a fourteen year old girl and the sanity of a dead man slowly bleeding away without any familiar faces to ground him.

                What’s happening to me? Ginny thought, removing her hands from her stomach to rub at her upper arms. Am I Kouhei? No, I’m Ginny, but I don’t feel like- I can’t be- this isn’t how-

Ginny didn’t understand what was going on. She had been at home, it seemed like only a night or so had passed since then, but instead she had been in a coma for two years. Her body was different, her family was going to be different, everything was going to be so different and she couldn’t even take refuge when she was alone because she was different too. The stab wounds from Sonoda, memories from the life of another person, the foreign language that tried to slip into her speech and thoughts every time she let her guard down, all these emotions that she hadn’t experienced in months because of Tom, but now she was drowning in them. Ginny couldn’t process it; Kouhei’s mourning, his camaraderie with Kyousuke, the mutual respect and dedication he had with Tetsuji, the utter disbelief that Sonoda had actually stabbed him, the desperation to get help, the elation when he realized he would see his mother again. Ginny didn’t know how to process it; she had never lost a parent, or had such a strong friendship, or such a connection with someone that they had become blood brothers. She had never experienced any of this, and as her mind spiralled with so many emotions and memories one thing stood out above all others.

He needed to get out of this place.

With that one thought Ginny’s body kicked into overdrive, and she shot over the side of the bed and began stumbling over to the cabinets underneath the window, hoping to find some of her clothes there or a pair of shoes at least. Rummaging through the drawers brought Ginny more than she had hoped; several different jumpers and pairs of pants, probably brought by her parents for when she was going to wake up, and left here when she never did so. Her wand was also sitting on top of the neatly folded pile of clothes, and when Ginny touched it her hand glowed with the magic that suddenly coursed through her, filling her up with warmth and confidence and the good feelings that she had lacked for so long. When she picked up the jumper that her wand had been resting on, a small clinking sound reached her ears, and upon investigating she found that there was a bit of money in one of the pockets.

Looking at the clock in the corner, Kouhei’s memories supplied that hospitals normally brought lunch in around now, and that she likely had around ten minutes to make a break for muggle London if she were still so inclined. Stripping out of the thin hospital garb, Ginny paused for barely a minute so she could inspect her body; she noted with no small amount of surprise that despite the two years of inactivity, it looked to be about the proper weight and physical prowess for one her age, if she took Kouhei’s own... experiences into account. But it was also with distain that she realized that Kouhei had been right in saying that she wouldn’t even be able to make a mark on Sonoda. While Ginny hurriedly dressed and pulled her shoes onto her feet, a tight enough squeeze that she debated on leaving the shoes altogether, she quietly decided that she needed to change her weakness as soon as she possibly could.

The hallway was empty when Ginny poked her head out of her room, the only indication of life being the squealing laughter further down the hall, and faint footsteps coming from the main staircase. Closing the door quietly behind her, Ginny ducked into the door opposite her own just before the footsteps passed on the way to the commotion at the end of the hall, and then she immediately began racing upstairs.

From what she could remember, having come to St. Mungo’s once before to visit her maternal grandfather, there was a gift shop on the fifth floor and just past that was a service staircase that was left in relative vacancy. Pushing open the door to the shop, Ginny did her best to blend into the throng of customers as she swerved to try and get to the other exit. On her way, she spotted a hat stand tucked out of sight of the checkout counter, and so right before the door closed behind her, she found herself thinking about one instance back in Kouhei’s third year of middle school and had snatched one of the numerous green baseball caps right off the rack.

Ginny paused a moment to tuck her hair up and out of sight underneath the hat, just like Kouhei used to do before he cut his hair in what would have been his first year of high school. Not caring enough to check whether or not all of it was hidden, she adjusted his shoes one more time before starting down the stairs, taking them two at a time and nearly tripping when she heard a scream from the fourth floor.

If St. Mungo’s was anything like the other hospitals Kouhei had been to, Ginny knew that it was only a matter of time before any escape routes to the outside would be blocked, and all of her efforts would go to waste. Ginny slowed to a light trot as a young couple came into her sight, ignoring them as they passed her to enter the second floor. Once she was sure the door had closed she practically flew down the last two flights of stairs, rounding the last corner only to slow again so she could walk through the bustling waiting room.

Shoulders tensed horribly, Ginny manoeuvred her way through the complicated layout of the room, swerving every now and then in order to avoid one of the more abstract cases, those who couldn’t control their own movements or the like. When a man with a sentient ponytail nearly knocked her hat off of her, she picked up the pace until she saw the hospital exit. Finally passing through the barrier and landing upright in the street that lay beyond, Ginny didn’t give a second thought before she broke into a sprint, heading away from the building and ducking into the first alleyway that she saw.

Ginny paid no mind to where she was heading, only focusing on her immediate surroundings, placing one foot in front of the other and falling back into the mindset that had been Kouhei’s specialty back in elementary school. Back when he was too small and plucky to really make a mark against the local assholes, back before his first major growth spurt that had left him with a sturdy torso and a strong punch. Kouhei may have changed a lot since that time, but he still remembered just what movements to make in order to jump fences and vault above overturned garbage bins; just what movements he needed so that he could escape.

Ginny burst out into the middle of one of the busier markets in that borough and kept on running, although she did slow enough that it looked like she was jogging, instead of the intense sprint that Kouhei desperately wanted to fall back into. It was better overall for her; Ginny’s body, though it was in better condition than it should have been, was still tiring quickly, held up by her desperation and Kouhei’s will but not much else. Searching for a street sign, Ginny made a frustrated sound; she was still too close to St. Mungo’s and she didn’t know anyone here, there was nowhere for her to take cover in London that wasn’t magical. Back in Tsuchiura Kouhei had known a lot of people besides his four best friends, and whenever he had need of it he could call in a favour and get a place to lay low in. It was clear now that until she gained a few contacts here, she was at a big disadvantage.

As soon as a suitable alley turned up, Ginny ditched the market road and started sprinting until she reached a deserted courtyard, connected to the main road by a side street but only used for garbage pickup by the looks of it. Adjusting her cap again, Ginny pulled out her wand with her free hand and stuck it out in front of her, taking a short step back so she didn’t get run over by the purple three-decker that suddenly screeched to a halt in the courtyard. After a long moment, the bus doors opened to reveal a thin, scraggly youth perhaps around Charlie’s age, who hopped off of the step to land directly in front of Ginny. Kouhei had never seen anything like this before, so a sense of overwhelming disbelief filled her before she could stop it.

“Welcome to the Knight Bus!” The man said grandly, sweeping his left arm behind him to indicate the purple vehicle that he had just disembarked, and smiling at Ginny toothily. “Emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this evening.”

Ginny stared up at the man as he levelled her with an expectant look; belatedly she realized that Stan was waiting for her name. “Kouhei Jinnai.” Ginny said, nodding in response to the tip of Stan’s hat. “How much is it to ride?”

“Eleven sickles.” Stan replied promptly as Ginny dug into her pockets. “But for thirteen you get hot chocolate and for fifteen you get an ‘ot water bottle and a toothbrush in the colour of your choice.”

Pulling out all the coins she had, Ginny had to pause a moment to remember how to count them, as Kouhei had only ever used Yen as opposed to wizard currency. Quite carefully, Ginny counted out exactly eight sickles and made a frustrated expression, clicking her tongue.

“I only have eight sickles.” She said eventually, holding out her hand for Stan to see. “Could I stand during the trip? I don’t need a seat; really, I just need to get to the Leaky Cauldron.”

“The Leaky Cauldron? That ain’t even worth three sickles to go there!” Stan stepped aside and ushered Ginny onto the bus and into a squishy armchair near the driver’s seat. “Hey Ern’, let’s get going.” Bracing herself, Ginny’s breath caught in her throat as the bus gave a mighty bang and then lurched to a halt mere seconds later. Stan, who had remained standing for the short jump, reached over to Ginny’s hand and extracted two of the silver coins, plopping them in his waist pouch.

“Two sickles for your trouble kid.” The man said kindly, holding the door open for her as she stepped out onto the street. “Pay the full fee next time, y’hear?” Ginny nodded as the door’s closed, and stepped away from the curb so that the Knight Bus could shoot off without the risk of running her over. Once again alone, Ginny turned on her heel and faced the wizarding pub that hid Diagon Alley from the rest of London.

Now that she was here, Ginny had no idea what she was going to do. Sure, she had some ideas thanks to Kouhei’s memories, but Ginny was either too young or too weak for the vast majority of them, and for the rest they were simply too vague to go anywhere. A sense of dread lurched in her stomach as she froze in front of the door, shoppers all around her throwing irritated glances at her as they shouldered past. Ginny didn’t care, she was barely paying attention as her insecurities and a sudden mental overload piled together and made her feel nauseous and dizzy.

She shouldn’t have left St. Mungo’s, she shouldn’t have come to the Leaky Cauldron, she shouldn’t have frozen in the middle of the sidewalk, she shouldn’t have done anything! Had she just stayed asleep, stayed unaware, she wouldn’t be feeling like this and she wouldn’t have to think right now. She couldn’t even remember why she had thought this was a good idea, Kouhei didn’t know how to navigate anywhere with all this magic around, let along the capital city of a foreign country that he had never even learned much about in Japan. Ginny probably couldn’t get around London with all of Kouhei’s emotions weighing down on her, and even without those she had no experience with muggles at all. She felt her breath quicken, something that had never happened to either her nor Kouhei before and she had no idea how to deal with it, Kouhei was still reeling over that insane magic bus and the lime coloured not-doctors and even this bar that no one else could see-

“You ain’t panicking, are you, Jinnai? ‘Cos there’s no way in hell the man I chose to follow would panic over something like this!”

Tetsuji... Relief coursed through Ginny’s veins at Kouhei’s brother’s words, knocking her senses back into place with so little effort that she nearly felt the loss of him twofold, nearly thought that she had been Kouhei for a moment at how much Tetsuji’s voice had calmed her. Straightening to her full height, Ginny allowed herself to channel a bit of the demeanour Kouhei had held as the Snake Heads leader, and finally moved towards the door.

Entering the bar and inn and keeping her head down, Ginny mulled over a few of the half baked plans Kouhei’s memories supplied her as she weaved though the tables and went to the alley entrance in the back. Tapping the bricks methodically, Ginny hurried into the crowded street and let the people direct her destination, letting herself get swept up and not paying attention to her surroundings for a few minutes, only partly so that she wouldn’t suffer another information overload.

The tide deposited her at the far left of the steps that led up to Gringott’s. This wasn’t what she expected, but as she stared up at the old and imposing bank facade something told her that she could make it work. Various services offered by the bank, picked up over her years living in a wizarding household, swirled around her mind as she ascended the steps and walked past the Goblin guards. The interior of the bank was less bustling than she thought it would have been, so Ginny took the opportunity to head straight to one of the low desks at the very back of the long hall, standing at the nearest desk until the employee noticed her.

The female Goblin stationed at the Travel and Foreign Inquiries desk regarded her with an unreadable expression for a moment before nodding towards one of two chairs placed there for customers. Ginny sat down stiffly and then, Kouhei having grown up in a very polite culture and then gone through the motions of all manner of gang related politics, she extended her hand towards the bank employee.

“Kouhei Jinnai. A pleasure to meet you.” The Goblin looked surprised for all of two seconds before she smiled and returned the handshake.

“Stonebearer. What can I do for you today, Miss Jinnai?” Ginny felt a stab of annoyance at the ‘Miss’, but rationalized that it was only Kouhei being a man that caused the irritation, and anyway, Stonebearer didn’t know about Kouhei at all. Ginny could see clearly in her mind an image of Tetsuji bowing his head to Kouhei after their fight, and the way that Teru had talked about his dream, and of Kiiko supporting an injured and slightly out of it Parko, and knew then what she was going to ask.

“I need some information on travel to and from Japan, and also whether wizards require a passport to travel either magically or the muggle way.” Stonebearer nodded and took a minute to rummage through one of her desk drawers, soon emerging with two thick folded pamphlets which she passed to Ginny.

“Magical individuals may take international magical or muggle transportation with or without a passport; if they don’t have a passport then they simply need to apply for a travel permit either through the Ministry for Magic or any Goblin run bank in their vicinity. The minimum age required for this without parental consent is fifteen.” Ginny sighed but continued to peruse the pamphlets she had been given. “A magical individual may also apply for a muggle passport at the same institutions, but the minimum age without parental consent is eleven. A British passport lasts for 5 years for those under 16 and 10 years for those above 16, as opposed to a travel permit which is valid only for the travel it was designated for. The downside to applying for a muggle passport is that, due to most magicals not being registered in the muggle systems, nowadays it takes around year for the paperwork to go through.”

So either way she wouldn’t be able to find Tetsuji for at least a year, Ginny thought with no small amount of irritation. She would wait until the end of the talk to decide which travel method she would rather use, but so far she was leaning more towards a muggle passport, and not just because of Kouhei having been a muggle. If she applied for a passport now, she would be able to travel for five years before needing to get it renewed, but with a travel permit she would need to deal with the Ministry or Gringotts any and every time she wished to go anywhere.

“What about travelling to Japan, do you have any information on that?” Stonebearer nodded again.

“Indeed. There are several different magical transportation systems in place between the United Kingdom and Japan.” Stonebearer handed Ginny another, very thin pamphlet with a flying carpet embossed on the cover. “There are three areas designated for Portkey transport; in Sapporo, Kyoto and the last in Nagasaki. There are three mass floo ports, in Yokohama, Aomori, and Hiroshima. And Tokyo has an area that can be reached by the Knight Bus, as do most capital cities. Rough costs are listed in the pamphlet you are holding.”

Ginny slipped the paper into one of her inner pockets and took a minute to think over what Stonebearer had told her. She wanted to find all of Kouhei’s comrades as soon as she could, just to see if they were real, just so she could sort out whatever was going on with her and put it to rest. But she knew that it would get harder to do so once her family and schooling came back into the picture, and once they did then she might not be able to get to it at all until after she graduated, which didn’t sit well with her.

“Would I have to renew the passport through Gringotts or the Ministry when the time comes?” Ginny asked, inwardly decided but wanting to ask anyway.

“Yes, unless you possessed other pieces of muggle identification at the time, in which case it could be done through the muggle system... Would you like to apply for one right now?” Stonebearer had read her mind it seemed, and when Ginny answered in the affirmative the Goblin woman drew out two pieces of parchment and a quill.

“Simply fill these out and we will start on the process. If you have any questions feel free to ask.” Ginny took the quill and the paper as Stonebearer went back to her own paperwork and looked over the questions before she began to fill them out.

Name, date of birth, place of birth, gender, parents names... The forms were all quite vague, with no real specifics having to be outlined at all. Ginny thought that it was probably because a lot of wizards lived in places that muggles didn’t know existed. Surveying the second page, it had several paragraphs that put that wondering to rest; you answered questions about ethnicity, religion and places of residence so that the Ministry could make up a sufficiently convincing background in the muggle world instead of revealing wizarding locations, but there was also an extra page for those who knew what they wanted their background to be, which is the section that Ginny filled out. Kouhei Jinnai; 11 August 19XX; Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan; Female; Satsuki Jinnai and Seijuro Matsuda...

As soon as she handed Stonebearer the papers, Ginny set the rest of her life in a far different direction than it would have gone had she stayed in the hospital, or even had she not entered Gringotts in the first place.

Ginny had decided to use only her own birthdate for the forms, but had taken the rest of the information from what she knew had been on Kouhei’s birth certificate; granted she had chosen to use different characters for the names of his parents, but everything else remained the same. Ginny had initially been unsure as to what to put for her gender; it was true that she was biologically female but having a set of memories of a life as a male had thrown a bit of a wrench into that question. But in the end she had chosen female; ultimately it would lead to less confusion.

“Thank you. We will owl you after the paper work is sorted, as there will be one or two smaller matters that will need to be taken care of at that time. Is there anything else?” Stonebearer asked as she filed away the forms.

“No, that’s everything. Thank you very much.” The witch and Goblin shook hands again and then Ginny swiftly left the bank, keeping an eye out for anyone who might recognize her as she entered the crowd again.

This time Ginny wanted to get out of the alley as quickly as possible; she had been in the area for too long already, and it was only a matter of time before someone used the Familiae Locante spell. Despite the unexpected nature of the passport application, Ginny was satisfied with how it had gone, and only hoped that she had done the right thing in choosing to give more credence to what she remembered from Kouhei. As Ginny made her way out of the Leaky Cauldron and back down the streets of muggle London, she found herself growing increasingly tired, almost unnaturally so.

Stumbling, her feet came upon a large expanse of grass and she immediately fell to her knees, nearly unable to keep her eyes open for how tired she was feeling. She thrust her hands out before her to break her fall and managed to flip onto her back, alarm suddenly flooding through her system as her legs went numb and her vision began to turn black at the edges. She could still breathe properly, but when she tried to speak the words died before they left her lips, and then the tips of her fingers started to lose feeling as well.

What the hell? Ginny thought, mind flashing back to those few agonizing minutes before Kouhei had died; though this felt different from it, there was magic to worry about this time around, and spells could do a lot more than any knife. With one last burst of will, Ginny forced herself to keep her eyes open long enough to see a blurry, red headed figure start to approach her with their wand outstretched. An image of Sonoda came to her mind’s forefront and all she could think was, Fuck...

Fuck!

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS SPOIL THINGS

                Ginny woke again in her bed in St. Mungo’s, although this time there was one noticeable difference from the previous awakenings. The redheaded witch was now unable to leave her bed due to what seemed to be a high grade sticking charm that had been placed upon her. A few minutes of struggling had not yielded her an escape, so she simply stopped trying and frowned deeply.

                “Dammit.” Ginny swore in Japanese, letting her tongue form the achingly familiar words that it has been itching for ever since she had woken back up, her first time swearing in general but for Kouhei not by a long shot. “This is messed up.” A frustrated laugh tumbled from her lips as she felt a bubble of anger form in her chest, all of Kouhei’s hospital experiences coming back to her at once. “Dammit!

                Ginny just felt so angry right now, angry at the hospital staff who had restrained her, angry at herself for getting caught and wasting her escape efforts, just plain furious really. Before she had woken up, with two sets of memories and with two scars as the only proof she wasn’t going insane, Ginny had never felt anger to this extent. She had never asked for this, never wanted to wake up in this damned hospital, with all it’s confusing magic and people and trapped in this body, this girl’s body, three years younger than Kouhei had been and so, so much weaker than he had been.

She was especially angry at this fucking charm that she was under now. The Healers had probably cast it while thinking about her safety, but Kouhei had never given a shit about what doctors told him, even less so as he climbed the ranks of the Snake Heads and grew to resent others telling him what his limitations were, or presuming to give him orders. He had been restrained in a hospital once before, during that bloody and despairing period following his mother’s unexpected death, when his step-father had ordered the doctors to strap him down until he had calmed enough to listen to common sense. In the end he had yielded, but Kouhei had hated it then and she hated it now, but she also knew what the words ‘stragetic retreat’ meant, and as the door to her room opened and Healer Darcy poked her head in and gave a small shriek, Ginny smoothed her face into an expression of calm indifference.

Healer Cornwall came into the room soon after and spoke to her about the immobilization charm that they had cast to prevent her from leaving the hospital. Ginny’s ire rose as Healer Darcy chastised her for her disappearing act in the most condescending manner both the witch and the former gang leader had ever experienced, but Ginny held it in, cultivated it and internalized it so she could use it later, just like how Kouhei had done so many times before. Healer Cornwall promised her that the charm would be removed if she behaved herself, but Ginny scoffed inwardly; even she knew that they wouldn’t take it off until her parents allowed it.

When the mediwitches left the room in order to floo said parents, Ginny quietly resigned herself to seeing them sooner than she had anticipated, and tried to put Kouhei’s memories of being an only child aside so that she could focus on dealing with the however many redheads who were about to show up. She couldn’t go letting his residual impulses get the better of her, no matter how much she identified with them; especially not when she wasn’t sure how her family would react to Kouhei’s memories, and she wasn’t about to reveal them just yet.

As she waited for her family to appear, Ginny contemplated what she had accomplished with her escape a few days ago. She was going to get a muggle passport, and that meant she was going to be able to find Kouhei’s comrades in a year’s time. Kouhei had been raised in both Shinto and Buddhism, as most Japanese were even if many weren’t overtly religious, and that led her to think that this might be some sort of reincarnation. If it was, and Ginny would forget the implications of Kouhei’s presence in that case for now, then she would definitely be able to find out what had happened to Kouhei’s old comrades, his stepfather, his brother... and Sonoda. She wanted to fuck the bastard up something good for killing Kouhei, and Ginny knew the look on the coward’s face would more than reward any of the research it took to find him. She would not rest until she had found Tetsuji, not until she had Kouhei’s brother before her and could see him in the flesh, see just what he had made of himself in the time after his death.

Maybe she would find Teru and see if the other man had accomplished his dream; granted Kouhei wouldn’t be going there with a wife and children like Teru had wanted, but something was better than nothing, even if that something turned out to be an adolescent British witch.

Maybe this time he would see Kyousuke.

Ginny was absorbed in these thoughts when her mother and father burst into the room and enveloped her in their arms, closely followed by three of her six brothers.

Vvv

Ginny, though she logically understood that this woman had raised her for nearly twelve years, though she herself was incredibly emotional at seeing her mother again, found that Molly Weasley was quickly getting on her nerves just like every other Weasley seated around her.

Ginny loved her family, but Kouhei also loved his Kaa-san and Tou-san just as much. He had been an only child for as long as he had been alive, and neither his Kaa-san nor his Tou-san had ever been this... sheltering.

Part of the reason that Kouhei had started fighting was because Kaa-san had died so suddenly and he hadn’t been able to cope with it, channelling all his grief into his fists and only slowing when Tou-san, his step-father in reality, had stepped in and stopped him. But part of it was that he had found that he was good at it. Ginny, or whoever she was now, remembered being used to independence, to being taken seriously, to looking out for himself and not having anyone to fall back on, especially since joining the Snake Heads. Kouhei didn’t hold with coddling, or with people pussy footing around important issues, or with being looked down on due to his age. So when her family came into her room, worry and relief clearly on their faces but obviously avoiding mentioning several things, and still treating her like the eleven year old child that had fallen into this coma two years ago, it went about as well as could be expected.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Ginny asked bluntly, causing her parents to fall silent and her brothers to exchange uneasy glances. They were so obvious it was almost funny, so much easier to read than anyone had been back in Tsuchiura, but Ginny wasn’t laughing. “You’re not saying something, I know it. Where’s Percy, why haven’t you said anything about Hogwarts and why haven’t you mentioned my going home?”

“Now just hold on a minute Ginny, you’ve only just woken up.” Her father said in a soothing tone that set Ginny on edge, placing a hand on her forearm that remained still despite her wanting to jerk it back. “You should take things slow, it’s been... it’s been over two years.”

“I know that.” She said decisively, her brow furrowing in irritation. “I know that, and that’s why I want to know what you’re not telling me. If I get up to speed quickly then I’ll have an easier time catching up in the long run, and keeping me in the dark won’t make anything easier.”

Silence reigned for a long time before Ron cleared his throat. Her brother closest to her in physical age had grown even taller during her two year coma, his face more angular and his body far lankier than she thought it should have been. When Kouhei was his age, all of his peers had either been of a similar constitution to himself or beefier, and Ginny wondered to herself if it was because Ron was British or if it was because he was a wizard.

“Makes sense to me.” Ron finally said, smiling oddly at Ginny and then looking imploringly at their parents. “Dad, Mum, just tell her. It’s not like she’s not going to have to find out at some point.”

Ginny stared in some surprise at Ron; she would not have previously thought that Ron could sound so calm in his logic, but it seemed that more than his height had changed in the last two years. Their mother looked upset that Ron had essentially told Ginny that they were indeed keeping something from her, but Arthur nodded at his son’s words.

“Fred, go close the door so the privacy wards activate.” George went in Fred’s place, being closer, and when he had returned to his seat their father took a deep breath. “Well, Ginny, the last two years have been a little hectic to say the least...”

Her father proceeded to outline nearly every major event that their family had been connected to in the time she had been asleep, some they had been involved with only peripherally like the Triwizard Tournament, but others had involved them exclusively, like Arthur winning the Galleon lottery right after she had fallen into her coma. He also filled her in on a few other things, but mostly focused on what affected Ginny and their family, which she was grateful for. Ginny even forced herself to listen to anything she thought uninteresting; after all, how many times had Parko gotten in over his head when he missed something important?

It was when her father began to tell her about the end of Ron’s fourth year that Ginny didn’t even have to try to focus. Harry had won the tournament with Amos Diggory’s son dying, all because Voldemort had come back from the dead. The Burrow wouldn’t be safe to live in for more than half a year at this point, with all the different protection wards to set up, so the Weasleys were staying in London with Sirius Black. Also, both Arthur and Molly were a part of an underground resistance group from the first war known as the Order of the Phoenix that had been resurrected by Dumbledore in order to combat Voldemort again. And as for Percy...

“Percy... Percy and we have... had our differences since...” Arthur spoke slowly, a pained expression twisting his face. “A few weeks ago, Percy came to me and told me that he’d been promoted to Fudge’s Junior Assistant. Someone wants to keep track of us, and our connection to the Order and Dumbledore, and I told Percy as much... he didn’t like what I had to say, and he left the house.”

Ginny’s mother sniffed and wiped at her eyes hastily and Ginny frowned; that didn’t sound like the older brother that she knew. The same Percy who had been hyped up with worry when she had started showing signs of possession, even though he hadn’t known exactly what was wrong? The same Percy who had tried to tutor her all throughout her first year of Hogwarts, even with his OWL preparations to worry about? That Percy?

“But that’s... that’s behind us now.” Arthur finished heavily, wrapping an arm around his wife’s shoulders. “When you’re ready to be released we’ll all be going to Grimmauld Place. It was unexpected that you would come out of your coma on your own, so we’ll have to figure out your schooling when Dumbledore or McGonagall come for a meeting...”

“Hey, Dad? I’m pretty tired still...” Ginny interjected before her father could go off on a ramble, yawning for emphasis.

“Of course, dear.” Molly said, standing and leaning over to kiss her on the cheek. Ginny found that she nearly had to force herself not to make a face; Kouhei’s Kaa-san had never been much of a kisser, even when he had been a toddler. “We’ll talk to the Healer about your release on the way out and come back again tomorrow. Have a good sleep.”

Arthur also gave his youngest a kiss, on the top of her head this time, and Fred and George both semi-mockingly blew kisses at her on their way out. Ron stayed behind a minute, a conflicted expression on his face as he looked down at his sister.

“I’m glad you’re awake, Ginny.” He said, the tips of his ears slowly but surely turning bright red. “...I missed you.”

Ginny slowly smiled up at her brother, feeling a little bit better about everything when Ron smiled back. Actually, she really was feeling rather tired now, no longer being distracted by five different people, and all the magic talk was starting to give her a headache. “Thanks, Ron. I’m glad to be awake again too.”

Still smiling, Ron turned to leave, closing the door just as Ginny’s eyes slid shut.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS OF COURSE

                Two days, a lot of angry internal swearing and a number of exhausting magical tests later, Ginny was released from St. Mungo’s and into the custody of her oldest brother. Bill had taken the day off from work, and was picking her up from the children’s ward around lunchtime in order to apparate them back to the Burrow and then onto Grimmauld Place. Ginny, in all honesty, could barely remember what apparition entailed –and was thusly a little nervous about travelling that way –but she wasn’t about to mention that to anyone.

As she waited for Bill to finish filling out her release forms, Ginny took her time stretching her stiff body and ignoring her negative urges as she had done before. Much as she was inclined, it wouldn’t really do her any good to smash Healer Darcy’s skull in when any of the adults around could easily subdue her before she did much damage. Besides, that would only lead to a longer stay in the hospital, this time in the, as Kouhei called it, ‘mental ward’.

Better she waited until she really wanted to go postal.

Once she was finished stretching and had thoroughly inspected the entire room for anything she may have forgotten, Ginny paused to try and centre herself. After pulling on the same jumper and too-small shoes she had made her escape in and pocketing her wand, Ginny exited the room and came upon Bill just as he was finishing his last signature. When he saw her he smiled cautiously and stood up, motioning for her to walk beside him down the hall.

“Just need to hand these in, then you’re free, Gin’. Feeling alright?” Ginny kept her eyes to the floor and nodded shallowly, lying through her teeth bitterly because while she may have been alright physically, she knew that she was heading towards the point where her mental state was anything but.

“Just fine, thank you.” Bill’s smile gained an amused tilt to it; had he caught on to her dislike of the hospital so quickly? He opened the door to the small staff room a minute later and handed the papers to a tired looking Healer Cornwall.

“Here you go, all filled out. Ginny, why don’t you thank the healers for the two years they looked after you?” Ginny felt a twinge of something dark rearing up inside her chest, outraged at Bill; that he would dare put her in this position, that he would presume to give him orders as if he were his superior, his senpai, but Ginny quickly quashed it. This was not the time to exercise her want for respect; this was the time to play the dutiful sister and not fuck herself over. Bending at the waist in the barest semblance of a bow, Ginny murmured a quiet thanks to Healer Cornwall but excluded the annoyance; she was acutely aware of Bill’s surprised look directed at the top of her head.

Taking into account her self-preservation, nudged into existence briefly when she had been released from Tom’s possession and roaring to life with the appearance of Kouhei’s memories, Ginny was far more inclined to try and get along with Bill than she might have been for her other brothers. Bill had left home for Egypt when she had turned seven and this was her first time seeing him since then. It was hard for her to reconcile the plucky, eager teenager she remembered with the long-haired, muscular and so very adult Bill that was now saying his own farewells to the mediwitches. She hadn’t grown up with him before he had left either; Ginny had been born just before Bill’s first year of Hogwarts and as such she had only seen him during vacations.

So Ginny didn’t know how to deal with him; she didn’t know his limits, didn’t know his triggers or what to avoid saying to him, in essence she was flying blind.

Kouhei was quickly becoming her saving grace in situations like this.

Despite the fairly alarming rise in her temper and inclination for violence since gaining Kouhei’s memories, Ginny was more than glad for them at the moment. After a few minutes of Bill talking to her before she had been freed from the hospital bed, Kouhei’s memories of his seniors in high school and the one or two men he had respected in another fashion filtered into her own mind with startling clarity. What came with that knowledge was an unfortunate sense of irritation; as Kouhei had long surpassed those men and hadn’t been treated like an underclassman in an even longer time. Even so, every word, every bow, every deference and greeting and underhanded manipulation, and especially every double cross Kouhei had encouraged was practically her own when she needed it. She didn’t have to flounder at the idea of Bill being an unfamiliar family member, an adult who could easily expose her if he was so inclined, because Kouhei already knew how to avoid that.

So when Bill turned back to her and looked ready to speak, Ginny straightened her back and plastered a smile on her face in preparation; for what, she couldn’t be sure.

“Let’s?” he asked.

“Please.” Bill laughed and slung an arm around her shoulders, something Ginny was going to take as an easy was out of this place. She couldn’t wait to leave; not only had Kouhei’s hatred of hospitals completely transferred to her, but in the last two days Healer Darcy had not proven herself any less capable of infuriating her with ease.

By the time she realized that Bill had already brought them to the top of the hospital’s main staircase, Ginny was feeling oddly tense even as relief coursed through her at the thought of vacating the premises. Hospitals and their staff really didn’t agree with Kouhei, and she too had been feeling ill from the sterile smells and headache inducing lime green accents of St. Mungo’s. Bill was swiftly descending the stairs and Ginny was going to let herself be pulled along for the ride, Kouhei’s sense of dignity be damned.

Once they reached the exit to the waiting room, Ginny shrugged her brother’s arm off of her back and jumped through the barrier with relish. The bustle of the lobby had managed to make whatever instincts of Kouhei’s that were there go on high alert; snippets of knife attacks and garbled half thoughts about a lack of security still flitting through her mind even minutes afterwards.

“Ginny, are you sure you’re alright?” Bill asked worriedly, noticing that her skin had paled marginally after they had left the hospital. Really, it was only paranoia, Ginny reasoned silently to herself, but she knew the sweat on her brow was more than just nerves. “You look clammy...”

“Just nervous.” She answered promptly, trying her best to not give anything else away. “I’m not good in crowds. I’ll be fine once we get to the Burrow.”

Bill looked sceptical, but then he placed a hand lightly on her shoulder. “If you say so. Come on then.”

The pair walked further down the street, Bill keeping her close to his side again, and then they turned down an alleyway partially obscured by a large garbage bin. Bill offered Ginny a reassuring smile before he spun on the spot, sending the both of them into a dark, suffocating tunnel.

For a few seconds, Ginny felt as if she were being squeezed through a very tight tube, and tried to will away her own panic at the foreign sensation. It was her first time apparating, since side-along was dangerous for kids under a certain age, but although she knew Bill could be trusted with this she still had an awful feeling of terror rising into her throat. Don’t be a coward. She told herself firmly, even as her lungs opened up again and her knees gave out briefly. Apparition is... normal...

Ginny allowed herself a moment, leaning against Bill so she could regain her balance, before she took a deep breath and moved away from her brother. “We best be quick about it.” Bill said, waving his wand in order to unlock the simpler of the Burrow’s wards. “Mum wants you at headquarters before dinner. Want me to get your trunk for you? Dad said it’s in the attic.”

“If you don’t mind.” Bill smiled and opened the door for her, absentmindedly kicking away a Gnome that had ventured too close. Ginny followed her brother up the stairs but stopped at her bedroom door, waiting until Bill had ascended another floor to enter the room.

Her bedroom was exactly the same as she had left it, right down to the now clean yellow sheets that her mother had found her dying on. The only thing that had changed was Ginny herself; she couldn’t deny it any longer, she wasn’t even remotely the same as she had been when she had fallen into her coma. Ginny sat down on the nearest corner of her bed and cradled her stomach with her hands, directly over her and Kouhei’s scars. She was still so tired, waking up two years out of sync with her surroundings, with all these new emotions and instincts and expectations floating through her. Was this really some sort of reincarnation as Kouhei’s beliefs suggested? Ginny had been raised mostly nonreligious (though she did celebrate Christmas), so she had never even thought about issues like this before. If it wasn’t reincarnation, was it some sort of side effect of her possession? Had she possessed someone else during her coma, and upon coming out of it had retained their memories?

“This is so fucked up. What the hell am I even doing?” she muttered, wanting to scream.

Getting a muggle passport to try and find the comrades of a man who may or may not have even existed? Playing younger sister to Bill and the rest of her family out of some residual impulse to veil her actions with deception? Beating herself up over perfectly normal fears and worries because Kouhei had been a tough gangster and she was just a weak pathetic witch? Crying in her bedroom because she couldn’t for the life of her remember what she had been like before Tom had possessed her?!-

By the time that Bill placed her trunk in the doorway, Ginny had forced herself to calm down and had wiped away any remnants of her tears. Bill watched her throw the trunk onto the middle of her bed and then told her he would be waiting for her in the kitchen, and whatever the reason, Ginny was glad for the solitude at the moment.

Now began her task of sorting through her long forgotten possessions, starting with her thankfully small wardrobe and shoe collection. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to wear any of the shoes without even glancing at them, since if her feet had grown too large for her runners then the rest were an automatic bust.

Blessedly, her hips hadn’t widened much, but the several inches her legs had gained made it so that only the pants she had inherited from Bill and Percy would fit her now. Her bust had not grown much either; it was her shoulders and arms that caused all but the largest of her shirts to be eliminated. The only clothing that she didn’t have to sort through were her robes and undergarments, and although she would be packing the wizarding clothing she couldn’t see herself wearing them all too often. Something about them didn’t feel right, whether it was the looseness or how difficult they were to move around in –or maybe it was just the reminder of the entirely new concept of magic that Kouhei’s side of her brain was having trouble reconciling –but whatever the reason, the only advantage she could see was the room they allowed for items hidden on yourself. Perhaps later she would get used to them again, but for now she would only concern herself with getting better fitted clothing.

But past that, picking through her drawers had taken her half an hour, and then it was on to the rest of her room. Ginny wasn’t entirely sure what the accommodations would be like at Grimmauld Place, so she began the task with the mindset to take as little as she could manage; after all, it wasn’t as if she had a bottomless trunk, she had space constraints to consider. In the end, she packed about ten of her personal books (nearly all of them muggle books from her father), all her first year text books, her writing supplies and stationary, a ring her grandmother had left her, all of the money she had kept stashed away in her closet, and the portable radio she had received for her entrance into Hogwarts. She gave one last look around before she was satisfied, and then she dragged her trunk down the stairs and into the living room, where she found Bill reading the newspaper.

“That didn’t take too long.” He commented, folding the paper away and drawing his wand. Ginny shrugged noncommittally, holding her hand out so that she could take her now shrunken trunk from her brother. “You going to be good with getting there by apparition again?”

“Yeah, I’ll be okay.” Ginny said, trying to ignore the nervous fluttering in her stomach. “It just takes a little getting used to. Don’t worry.” If she had had the choice, then Ginny would much rather get to Grimmauld Place by other means, but that wasn’t feasible in this situation. So, with Kouhei’s experiences nagging at her to ‘man up’ and Bill holding out his elbow expectantly, Ginny swallowed any anxiety she might have been feeling and wound her arm with her brother’s. It was only a split second later that they were on their way, and Ginny was very happy with herself for not collapsing as soon as they arrived in London.

“Okay, now just think about that paper I showed you this morning.” Bill prompted, and Ginny did so. Almost immediately upon finishing, a door appeared in between the two houses they were facing, and then came along two dirty grey walls and a few sooty windows that looked almost as if they had been carved into the house instead of built in. Ginny’s jaw dropped of its own accord as a cobblestone walkway snaked its way from the doorstep to her feet, with two strips of crab grass infested sod unfurling along with it, ending with a wrought iron gate identical to its neighbours.

Bill smiled at her reaction, but Ginny wasn’t impressed by the display, far from it. Instead, all she could think was, ‘Fucking shit, more of this magic nonsense,’ which resulted in an awkward outward pause, as she debated whether to reprimand herself or to ruminate on how messed up she was that she even needed to be making this decision. Bill brought her back to reality, making an impatient sound in the back of his throat and using his free hand to gently push her forward.

Ginny went up the path first, taking only the briefest of moments to look up at the roof of the houses to see an extremely old owl perch hanging from the left corner. The door in front of her was also old, painted black with a silver number twelve bolted next to the door knocker and several scratches prominently placed near the door handle. Bill reached his wand over her head and tapped the wood once, and following a number of loud metallic clicks the door slowly creaked open; Ginny nearly laughed when Kouhei’s memories gave her an image of Teru freaking out at a similar scene from a horror movie they had watched.

Ginny stepped inside quickly, keeping in mind the brief warning Bill had given her along with the address of the base, and looked around the dimly lit hallway while the light from the outside allowed it. The walls were covered by dark wood paneling until they abruptly switched to peeling wallpaper about six feet in, the same point that Ginny started to see hanging portraits as well. A glittering, dusty chandelier hung overhead and there was a snake themed candelabrum on a table nearby; Ginny was disgusted to see the troll leg umbrella stand that Bill had offhandedly mentioned sitting directly underneath it.

“I’ve gotta go Gin, but tell Mum I locked up the Burrow, alright? Kitchen’s right down those stairs; I’ll see you next time there’s a meeting.” Bill gave her a head pat and then he was gone again, leaving Ginny standing alone in the middle of a dank and quiet parlour. Ginny fiddled for a moment with the edge of her jumper, hesitating on descending into the kitchen.

The decision on when to reveal her presence was made for her when her mother unexpectedly exited the room, saw her and practically shrieked in surprise. Ginny barely had enough time to greet Molly before the witch bundled her up in a hug and began fussing over her, moving her away from the parlour and down the stairs where the rest of her family already sat.

“Ginny!” A chorus of voices yelled as soon as she entered the room, and Ginny tensed immediately before she registered that the majority of the yelling was from her brothers. Hermione was also there, to her surprise, and Ginny really had to wonder just how much her father had left out of the explanation he had given her in her hospital room.

All of the Weasley’s managed to hug her at least once before Ginny was able to sit down, and even then she had Hermione to contend with; the older girl had mellowed out a little since Ginny had first met her but was still an intensely curious person, and she certainly hadn’t gotten any less talkative. Had Ginny been completely focused on the older girl she probably would have been itching to harshly bring her down a peg, but as it was she had others to pay attention to. Ginny was soon introduced to Sirius Black, the host and owner of the entire house, and after she got over the fact that he wasn’t quite what Kouhei was used to from ex-convicts, she found that she enjoyed his company immensely. He reminded her of Parko –or at least, he had Parko’s sense of humour –and unlike she expected he actually seemed to be going out of his way to treat her like an adult. It was a refreshing difference from her brothers’ subconscious ‘little sister’ treatment and her mother’s well intentioned but frustrating coddling.

Not much was said about her prolonged absence, but Ginny could feel that it was probably a subject either one or both of her parents had outright banned from conversation for tonight. She hoped that this wouldn’t become a recurring situation –although it would be at least common what with the Order not telling them anything. But that didn’t bother the youngest Weasley too much since she wasn’t all that invested in what the Order did beyond that her parents were members.

Overall, Ginny was able to deal with an hour’s worth of talking, attention, constant questions, and subtle avoidances, before she caved in to her weaknesses and asked to be shown where she would be sleeping. She dutifully followed Hermione upstairs to where they would be sharing a room, but it was only once she was lying in bed that she allowed her mind to drift back to what she had touched upon back in her room at the Burrow.

Kouhei, after he had deserted his friends to enter the Snake Heads, hadn’t had anyone to watch his back until Testuji had come along. Those six or so months, as lonely and difficult as they had been, had taught the Japanese teenager much and had also forced him to do a lot of growing up; even if in some areas he was still like a brat. You couldn’t survive on your own without gaining some semblance of maturity and independence, and as such Kouhei had a more developed mentality than others his age did.

Ginny, being the youngest girl of a wizarding family, was underdeveloped in those same areas. She had no street smarts, no concept of money beyond saving it, and with the magical community being as insular and old fashioned as it was she really had no experiences with any other walk of life than a magical one. She would have been content, before her coma, to have gone through an education at Hogwarts, move away from home once she graduated, and someday meet a nice man she might want to marry. She wouldn’t have had to think about passports to find old comrades, or checking her surroundings for escape routes, or how to talk with someone who treated her like a fourteen year old when Kouhei’s sensibilities were chomping at the bit for a chance to bash their brains out. She wouldn’t have had to manipulate conversations, or have back up plans that included a back stabbing, or have had to suffocate her fury to utilize later on.

Now she didn’t know what she wanted from her life; truth be told, that scared her more than two missing years ever could.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS FOR YOU MONSIUER

In the two weeks that elapsed between Ginny’s arrival at Grimmauld Place and the arrival of Harry Potter to the same house, not much had gone on besides a lot of cleaning and two Order meetings that Ginny was banned from. Whatever time she had to herself, Ginny had been using it to ask sparingly about Percy, inspect the windows of the house with the old notes Sirius had lent her under the guise of trying to clean them, and, after a few days, ask her mother if they could go into London to buy her some new clothes.

Molly hadn’t been too keen on it, tentatively suggesting that she transfigure Ginny some garments until they were better prepared, but Ginny was adamant. Kouhei had learned about both male and female needs in the bit of high school he chose to attend (not to mention the few women he had been involved with), and for girls, a properly fitting bra was one of the only ways to go to avoid future back problems (not to mention the sports bras that were ideal for what Kouhei’s rudimentary plans had in mind). Ginny would work to pay off however much it came out to later, but this was one thing she wasn’t about to budge on, and an intense debate with both Molly and Tonks eventually resulted in Ginny getting what she wanted. Tonks came along as both a helper and a guard, and soon enough Ginny was setting in her dresser a number of muggle-made undergarments, pants and shirts that were to be her fourteenth birthday presents. But besides all that, the only other task she had set upon was preparing herself for the ‘show’ she was going to put on for the month of August.

Each day she woke up just a little later than the last, went to bed earlier as well, and while she did what was asked of her during her waking hours, she did so in a way that she hoped made it look as if she were having a hard time. By the end of the first week, she was sure that Ron had noticed, and the day before Harry showed up was the day that her mother finally brought it up at dinner. Inwardly satisfied, Ginny arranged her expression into an uncomfortable one and laid the bullshit on thick; she was feeling sluggish, she was having trouble sleeping at night, she was having headaches if she woke up too early or stayed up too late. Her mother looked so worried, and when Ginny tentatively asked if maybe she could just take it easy until school started, the Weasley matriarch was ever so quick to agree. A part of Ginny curled up with guilt, but Kouhei’s experiences showed that a little deception would go a long way, as long as you didn’t get caught. A little guilt was paltry; she was going to have an even more stressful time keeping up the charade for a full month.

Her mother even went so far as to move her to a one person bedroom on the second floor, which Ginny had never expected. But it worked out all the better for her, as it would make her future escapes much easier.

The reason Ginny was going through so much trouble to have a specific facade ready and waiting was because it would simultaneously keep her under scrutiny and yet allow her to get away with much more. On the one hand, her family’s worry would have them keeping a close eye on her, always ready to lend a hand or fuss. On the other, her feigned lethargy and longer sleeping hours would make it so that she could easily either escape from any situation she was uncomfortable with, or say she wanted to be left alone and have that wish respected. It was a fine line she would be walking, one that she was confident she could keep up as long as she needed to, if she put in the right amount of effort. It would let her do as she pleased, and as soon as Harry got here and Moody (the twins had told her in passing about his magic eye) had vacated the premises, then she was going to put her plan into effect.

After all, there had to be some way she could earn some money while she was in hiding, and she wasn’t going to let her family’s overprotective nature stop her from furthering her own goals.

Vvv

Ginny watched from an obscured alcove on the second floor as her mother led Harry up the stairs and deposited him by the door that would lead him to Ron and Hermione. Down below them, in the kitchen, the Order meeting was about to get underway, and Ginny forced herself to relax as she moved from her hiding place so she could listen to the conversation that was about to take place up here. If she seemed too tense or made any unusual moves, Moody might get suspicious, and her goals would suffer if she was placed under that much supervision. Besides, she only wanted what would make her ambitions flourish right now, and her goals involved only herself and Kouhei; she wasn’t about to get embroiled in a war resistance anytime soon. Instead, she took far more interest in how her brother and his friends were going to interact after what Ron had said was a very... turbulent fourth year.

As the normal chatter wore on inside the room, Ginny leaned against the wall beside the door and closed her eyes. Though Percy was the brother she had always felt the closest to, Ron was not too far behind, especially once he had grown into his brotherly instincts around nine or so. Bill and Charlie were too old for her to really connect with and the twins had always stuck with each other, so for all of her childhood she had been with Percy or Ron whether she wanted to be or not. Sometimes he could be a brat, sloppy and downright prejudiced, but he was still her brother; and the conversation they had had a few nights ago had only cemented that connection further in her mind.

“Ginny, can I talk to you a minute?”

“Ah... nani?”

“Huh?”

Looking up from the window she was prying open, Ginny withdrew her hands swiftly and it slammed back down, missing her fingers only by a few millimetres. Her brother had sat down awkwardly on the couch furthest from the window, and was silent while Ginny cleaned her hands of the abundant soot and grime that they had accumulated. He was still staring at the floor when Ginny sat beside him.

“What do you need?” If anything, Ron seemed to get even more uncomfortable; his ears turning red were a sure sign of either embarrassment or anger. If it came to the latter (Ginny was prepared for a scenario in which someone saw past her deception) she had her wand on her person, but the former was far more likely, if also more uncertain in how she would deal with it, or why it had come about. Finally, Ron took a deep breath, attempted to calm himself, and then blurted his question out with his usual subtlety.

“DoyoustillhaveacrushonHarry?”

Incredulous, Ginny’s mouth hung open without her permission for just a moment, and then just as quickly she was bent over, laughing hysterically. Ron’s entire face was red, and as her laughter continued Ginny had no idea why she found the question so funny. Maybe it was because her crush on Harry (and all her other crushes before him) had been just that; puppy love. Maybe it was because, unbeknownst to Ron, she had the memories of a seventeen year old male swimming around her head, and he had been moderately experienced with the ‘fairer’ sex before his death. Or maybe she was just finally cracking under the pressure of keeping up appearances, and this was a good chance to let loose without attempting to beat someone to a bloody pulp. That last one was a bit of a worrying thought that had been surfacing in her mind at odd times lately. After a few minutes she calmed down enough to listen to what Ron actually had to say, but she was still a little giggly and let out a hiccup every so often.

“Thanks, I’m asking for your benefit you know.” Ron grumbled, looking anywhere but Ginny now that she had thoroughly embarrassed him and his efforts. He was smiling though, so Ginny assumed that he was happier about her laughing at him than he let on.

“Sorry, go on, what is it really?”

“Do you still like Harry?” Ginny snorted again but kept herself in check for the sake of Ron’s dignity.

“No, Ron. Even if I hadn’t woken up two years out of sync, crushes pass quickly.”  Ron looked relieved, which made Ginny suspicious. “Why?”

“Well, it’s just... I was an arse to Harry for a lot of last year, and I’m not proud of it. Now we’ve had to leave him at his relative’s all summer and Dumbledore’s said we can’t write to him about what’s going on...”

“So you wanted to tell me that the guy I liked might not want to be friends with you anymore.” Ron turned scarlet at his sister’s blunt statement and nodded morosely, and Ginny pondered for a moment on what to say to that. She wasn’t sure if she could trust anyone yet when it came to Kouhei’s memories... but she could still be completely honest with him about her feelings on the matter –or rather, her and Kouhei’s feelings.

“Yeah. I just... wanted you to be prepared? He has the right to... n-not...” Ron trailed off into silence and Ginny sighed heavily; so be it.

“If someone didn’t want to be my friend anymore because I was a misguided jackass for a while and followed Dumbledore’s orders while my family was in hiding, even after following that someone through a lot more than any other teenager would be expected to, then I don’t think that the relationship was worth the abuse unless they were very, very important to me. Just because Voldemort’s after him personally doesn’t mean that he’s the only one with problems or expectations to live up to.” Ron winced at ‘the name’ but Ginny ignored him, fully taking advantage of the fact that Kouhei knew what to say, but she was the one with the means to get it across to Ron. “... friendships aren’t a tit-for-tat system; they should be based on respect, dedication and generosity. I don’t have a crush on Harry anymore, and you best remember that if you guys need someone to talk to, I’ll listen without judging.”

Ron looked at her, really looked at her for a minute, and Ginny could almost hear the gears turning in his brain. A few minutes later he left the room, but not before he hugged her and thanked her quietly.

It had put a few things in perspective for Ginny, and not just in her own life. She was beginning to understand what Kouhei had with Tetsuji, what he had gotten from his friendships with Kyousuke, Kiiko, Parko and Teru. When it had come to his friends and brother, with those five people, Kouhei had truly tried to be as respectful, dedicated and generous as he could be, without expecting anything in return beyond the relationship continuing. That those men had returned the dedication in spades proved to Kouhei that with personal relationships, his method worked; his connections within Snake Heads on the other hand, had eventually led to his demise, and Ginny wouldn’t be repeating the same mistakes.

So she really hoped that Harry wouldn’t disappoint her, because if he did she might have to intervene despite the risk it posed to her work. Ron was her brother, and though Kouhei’s bond with Tetsuji ran truer, her bond with Ron was hers. Idly, she wondered if it was normal to get so invested in which experiences were her own in this kind of situation, but she could think on that another day.

“Of course he doesn’t think that!”

Ginny tensed and focused fully back on the voices of the slightly older(?) teenagers behind the closed door. If Hermione was sounding so strained, then Ginny wasn’t too hopeful for the outcome of the argument, but she had to be sure before she took any action.

“So how come I have to stay at the Dursleys’ while you two get to join in everything that’s going on here? How come you two are allowed to know everything that’s going on?”

“We’re not!” That was Ron, his voice heavy with exasperation and something raw. “Mum won’t let us near the meetings, she says we’re too young-“

“SO YOU HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE MEETINGS, BIG DEAL! YOU’VE STILL BEEN HERE, HAVEN’T YOU? YOU’VE STILL BEEN TOGETHER!” Ginny jumped a mile and swung around to stare at the door, through which every word of Harry’s tirade could be heard clear as crystal. The impulse to burst in came over her, but she stopped herself; from the sounds of it, things could still be salvaged on their own as long as Harry didn’t go too far. His frustration might be based on pure loneliness after all. “ME, I’VE BEEN STUCK AT THE DURSLEYS’ FOR A MONTH! AND I’VE HANDLED MORE THAN YOU TWO EVER MANAGED AND DUMBLEDORE KNOWS IT – WHO SAVED THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE? WHO GOT RID OF RIDDLE? WHO SAVED BOTH YOUR SKINS FROM THE DEMENTORS?”

Harry was just frustrated, his friends had seemingly abandoned him, he had been alone with his relatives without any contact for four weeks, and he was in an unfamiliar place with no prior information given to him beyond ‘go upstairs’... well, presumably none. Ginny could understand that, never mind the bubble of irritation inflating slowly in her chest.

“WHO HAD TO GET PAST DRAGONS AND SPHINXES AND EVERY OTHER FOUL THING LAST YEAR? WHO SAW HIM COME BACK? WHO HAD TO ESCAPE FROM HIM? ME! BUT WHY SHOULD I KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON? WHY SHOULD ANYONE BOTHER TO TELL ME WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?”

“Harry, we wanted to tell you, we really did-”

“CAN’T’VE WANTED TO THAT MUCH, CAN YOU, OR YOU’D HAVE SENT ME AN OWL, BUT DUMBLEDORE MADE YOU SWEAR-

“Well, he did-”

Ginny had felt like this too before, when all her brothers were gone from home and were learning magic, leaving her with their mother and a too empty house for ten months. When Tom had revealed himself to be the one who made her do all those terrible things in her first year, all for his own benefit with no thought to what it would do to her mind. When the Healers had put her under a charm and all she could do when she lay awake was stew on the two years she had missed out on and how much everything had changed. Ginny’s hand idly scratched at her scars and the irritation flared brightly, now fuelled not only by her own feelings, but also by Kouhei’s. She unconsciously clenched her jaw, both to ward off the stinging in her brain and to prevent herself from doing something she might regret.

“FOUR WEEKS I’VE BEEN STUCK IN PRIVET DRIVE, NICKING PAPERS OUT OF BINS TO TRY AND FIND OUT WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON-”

“We wanted to-”

Kouhei had felt like this more times than he could remember; when Kaa-san had died, while his stepfather was having him strapped down, when Kiiko confided his dreams to him, the entire time that Parko and Dangerers were doing their best to undermine the Snake Heads. Everyone had the right to feel this way; Ginny told herself, Harry was just exercising that right. Ginny told herself all of this, repeated it in her mind as she listened to Harry go on, but she was no longer the little first year who couldn’t look him in the eye without blushing and stammering. She wasn’t the same little girl who had allowed herself to trust a fragment of Voldemort’s soul without thinking of who it really was in that diary, without thinking of her own father’s steadfast policy on such things.

“I SUPPOSE YOU’VE BEEN HAVING A REAL LAUGH, HAVEN’T YOU, ALL HOLED UP HERE TOGETHER-”

She wasn’t the same.

“No, honest-“

“Harry, we’re really sorry!”

The door to the room slammed open, and in the ringing silence that the unexpected action caused, Ginny took her time stepping through the door and surveying the room. Harry was standing near the dresser, fists clenched and staring at her in shock, and Ron and Hermione were both standing a few feet away, next to the bed. Hermione’s face was splotchy and she looked just about ready to cry, and Ron was ashen coloured, his shoulders scrunched up defensively. The both of them were also staring at her, but Ginny put them out of her mind for the time being. Instead, she turned a cold stare in Harry direction and wrenched him out of the room by his arm, ignoring his protests and offering only a parting line to her brother and his friend.

“He’ll be back in a few minutes, stay here.”

Ginny bypassed the main staircase and marched down the hall, her grip tightening to the point of pain when Harry attempted to pry her hand off of his arm, and she was glad she didn’t hear anyone attempt to follow them. She didn’t say a word until they were inside the same sitting room in which Ron had spoken to her a few days prior, not until she had pushed Harry over towards one of the couches and locked the door behind them. Harry wisely chose to stay sitting as Ginny turned back to him, one of his hands cradling the area she had manhandled and still staring at her in bewilderment. Ginny realized rather belatedly that Harry probably hadn’t known that she was awake.

“Ginny! You-You’re here! Awake!”

“Yes. Now, listen closely.” Ginny’s glare turned to ice and she loomed over the other teen, forcing him to back away as much as he could. “You are not Ron’s brother.”

Harry looked extremely confused. “What? Of- Of course I’m not! What does that have to do with-“

“Shut up.” Miraculously, Harry did. “I know that, I didn’t mean it that way. You are not Ron’s brother, no matter how much he may consider you as such; you do not get to speak to him in whatever fashion pleases you, and just because you’re feeling betrayed does not mean that you can act like a sulking little brat.

Harry gaped at her, but then something changed and just as quickly he was glaring. “What does it matter if I’m not his brother? I’m always the one who does all the work, and now that Voldemort’s back Dumbledore thinks it’s just peachy to keep me in the dark.”

Ginny stared at Harry in mild bewilderment, unable to fully process what she had just heard him say to her. ‘What does it matter?’ ‘He does all the work?’ Something stirred inside her, similar to the feeling she had had earlier when Bill had told her to thank the healers back at St. Mungo’s. But this time she didn’t squash it down. “I’ll tell you why it matters. Brothers by bond stand by one another, support one another, bleed for one another. All that stuff you were screaming about back in there? That showed me that you’re not worthy of being Ron’s brother at all. Who let himself get taken out by a chess piece during your first year? Who stole Dad’s car and broke you out of your aunt and uncle’s house? Who stood up to Sirius when you all thought he was a mass murderer? It certainly wasn’t you who did all of that work!”

“What do you know? I can talk to them however I want, because they’re still the ones who left me alone all summer! Don’t give me anything about ‘they didn’t know’ or ‘Dumbledore’s orders’!” Harry retorted, absolutely irate.

“What do I know? What do I know?!” Fury flared in Kouhei’s mind brightly, how dare this fucking kid tell him what his knowledge extended to? Even Ginny knew a lot fucking more than he did about this –and in that moment, every time she had been forced to hide her new self or pretend to be just fine surfaced in his mind –he was fed up with all of it. “What the fuck do you know? Do you even know Ron’s middle name? Yet you fucking- I’ll tell you what I fucking know!” Kouhei roared, a small part of him thankful that the Order meeting was sound-proofed tonight. “I know that no one under seventeen is allowed in on the Order meetings, and they enchant the door so that no one can eavesdrop! I know that Dumbledore has decades upon decades more experience than anyone in this entire house, and if I were him, I sure as hell wouldn’t allow anyone to send you letters either, and you wanna know why?!” Harry seemed to have realized that he had done something terribly wrong, and his expression was something like fright as Kouhei reamed him out. “I wouldn’t because 15 year olds are impulsive and can fuck up, I wouldn’t because any owl can be intercepted at any time by anyone with half a brain, and I wouldn’t let anyone tell you shit because the lives of the entire Order are worth far fucking more than your entitled need to stay ‘informed’ for two! Fucking! Months!

Ginny was seething with the combined fury of two people; red-faced, teeth clenched, her body tensed like she was ready to leap forward and pummel the ‘boy-who-lived’ then and there. She was remembering the seven months that Kouhei had shunned his friends in favour of isolation, the two years that she had lost from her life, the eternity it took for them to slip down that wall and leave the world behind; and it made her all the more pissed that Harry was harping on about four weeks. It felt so gratifying though, to let everything go and terrify the piss out of whomever her anger was intended for. Kouhei had been good at intimidating people, but Ginny revelled in it; now that she had an outlet, a way to direct it all that hadn’t been available to her before, there was no need for her to keep it all locked away. Ginny got right up in Harry’s face, let the memory of Hermione’s scared voice and Ron’s resigned expression fill her mind, and then let the last of her anger out all at once.

“You so much as presume that your words don’t have consequences again, and I’ll kill you myself. Ron is my brother and I won’t stand for someone shitting on him or Hermione when they were just doing what they had to in order to protect their family. Haven’t you noticed? We’re all basically in hiding. This isn’t some leisure trip to London, and you had better get a clue before you say the wrong thing to the wrong person and end up with a knife in your gut.” Ginny let out one last huff and then straightened, immediately turning for the door so she wouldn’t act on the impulse to kick Harry in the stomach for good measure. “If you’re thinking of telling anyone about this conversation, don’t even bother. No one would believe you anyway.”

Ginny left Harry in the sitting room and then retreated to her bedroom, where she collapsed on the bed almost as soon as she had locked the door, shuddering and chilled down to the bone. She had known that Kouhei’s inclinations leaned towards the violent, but until just now she hadn’t even fathomed how unhinged the other could become. It had always been there; she had wanted to smash Healer Darcy’s face in with a lead pipe for the crime of being naive and overbearing, for fuck’s sake. Worst of all, Ginny had enjoyed the release of the anger, the way she felt it throughout her entire body, and she had even allowed herself to entertain the idea of physical violence. She wasn’t built for situations like that, not like Kouhei had been, what if she actually found herself in a position where she needed to knock a few teeth out? Clearly the question to be asking right now wasn’t whether or not she would morally abide by violence, but whether or not she could perform it when necessary.

Moody wouldn’t be gone from the house for another few hours at the least, maybe she should take the opportunity to rectify this. It would also distract her from the pressing notion that maybe Kouhei wasn’t the only one who could turn slightly unhinged if infuriated.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

Ginny spent the rest of the night sketching out a tentative long term work-out routine, one that would hopefully (if implemented immediately) prepare her body for any fights she might have to be involved with in the future. It took longer than she had originally thought it would, simply because she wasn’t the only one writing it. An hour into the first draft, Ginny had grown annoyed by the near constant snippets of exercises and garbled fitness facts slipping through her thoughts, and had placed her non dominant hand on her stomach scars to see if it would make the distractions lessen. Surprisingly, it had, but at the same time it had make the knowledge impossible to ignore, so it was basically the same in either situation.

It wasn’t until nearly midnight that she started to hear the telltale signs of life emerging from the kitchen, but by then she was far too tired to even think about heading out of the house. Instead, she opened her door a crack and listened down the hall for anymore yelling from Harry; she didn’t hear anything like that, but she did catch Hermione’s shriek and subsequent berating of the twins, and that at least made her smile.

As her eyelids slowly crept closed, she could hear the twins explaining their Extendable Ears to Harry on the landing, but she couldn’t catch any of Harry’s responses, he was speaking so quietly. Smugly, Ginny wondered if he was quiet because he had listened to her or because he just didn’t want herto hear him.  She was just about ready to hit the sack when she heard Percy mentioned, and that caused her to completely forget about her tiredness.

“Because every time Percy’s name’s mentioned, Dad breaks whatever he’s holding and Mum starts crying.” Fred said. “Well, except when Ginny asks after him, but that’s a whole other...”

“I think we’re well shot of him.” Said George, his voice scratchy in the way Ginny knew meant he was restraining himself from saying something nasty.

“What’s happened?” Harry asked, and Ginny too wanted a more detailed explanation than what her father had given to her, so as discretely as she could she nudged the door open a bit more and moved closer to the hallway. The first little bit of the explanation was par for the course, Ginny had already picked up on much of it, but her brothers soon got into the specifics of the event.

“He came home really pleased with himself – even more pleased than usual, if you can imagine that – and told Dad he’s been offered a position in Fudge’s own office. A really good one for someone only a year out of Hogwarts: Junior Assistant to the Minister. He expected Dad to be all impressed, I think.”

“Only Dad wasn’t.” Fred said darkly.

“Why not?”

“Well, apparently Fudge has been storming round the Ministry checking that nobody’s having any contact with Dumbledore.” George replied.

“Dumbledore’s name is mud with the Ministry these days, see.” Fred continued. “They all just think he’s making trouble saying You-Know-Who’s back.”

“Dad says Fudge has made it clear that anyone who’s in league with Dumbledore can clear out their desks.” Ginny wasn’t sure if that was legal, but she supposed that the Ministry probably had slightly different laws on that sort of thing when compared to the Japanese parliament. She wondered, right around the same time as Harry, what all this had to do with her brother.

“Dad reckons Fudge only wants Percy in his office because he wants to use him to spy on the family – and Dumbledore.” Ginny scoffed; the Percy she knew would never sell out his family, no matter what they were involved in. All those times he had tattled on the twins –she had a feeling that everyone had forgotten that the twins were about to do something Percy had perceived as dangerous. The other times, well, he hadn’t been made a prefect for nothing.

“He went completely berserk. He said – well, he said loads of terrible stuff. He said he’s been having to struggle against Dad’s lousy reputation ever since he joined the Ministry and that Dad’s got no ambition and that’s why we’ve always been – you know – not had a lot of money, I mean -”

What?” Harry spat in disbelief, with part of Ginny right behind him. On the one hand, it was their father Percy had spoken ill of, a father that had loved them both equally and had supported all of them even when he had to work so hard to get the little he did. But on the other hand, Ginny could see where Percy was coming from; their father’s reputation wasn’t the best, and had Dad possessed a bit more ambition when he had been younger, he probably could have gotten a better job, or at least have had the tact to not go around talking about how fascinating muggles were in a workplace that passively discriminated against muggles and muggle-sympathizers.

“I know.” Ron said lowly, so that Ginny had to strain to hear the rest. “And it got worse. He said Dad was an idiot to run around with Dumbledore, that Dumbledore was heading for big trouble and Dad was going to go down with him, and that he – Percy – knew where his loyalty lay and it was with the Ministry. And if Mum and Dad were going to become traitors to the Ministry he was going to make sure everyone knew he didn’t belong to our family any more. And he packed his bags the same night and left. He’s living here in London now.”

As Harry swore and the rest of the talk petered out into other topics, Ginny closed her door again and slowly let out the breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding. Percy sounded incredibly different from how she remembered; she almost couldn’t believe that it was the same person they were talking about. Ginny had always known that Percy had bigger dreams than their parents, bigger plans for himself after Hogwarts. He always talked to her about someday starting his own life away from Arthur and Molly, he wanted to gain independence so that he could be just as impressive as Charlie or Bill; who he’d always looked up to. Obviously he had gone about it a different way than Ginny would have expected, but at the same time it wasn’t as if she were shocked. Percy held the government to a high standard and she knew that he would never have joined a vigilante organization, no matter that all his family were involved with it.

Something about what he had apparently said to their parents didn’t sound right though, and Ginny knew that if she wanted to get everything straight, she would have to talk to Percy herself.

Vvv

The next day, Ginny didn’t officially wake up until nearly one o’clock in the afternoon, and for the whole day she did her best to look as if she was attempting to work even though she was ‘struggling’. It was rather easy actually; her mother fussed over her without really checking if anything was wrong, Harry avoided her like the plague and where he went so did Ron and Hermione, and the only other people in the house, Sirius, Fred and George, were too busy attacking the Doxies to pay her any mind.

Dinner was at six, and Ginny went to bed soon after, but what no one at the dinner table knew was that as they talked Ginny was leaving a misleading note on her bed and shimmying her bedroom window open. She activated one of Sirius’ old charms (one that she had found when reading through the notes he had lent her) that would let her jump from the second floor window to the stable roof safely. Sirius had set it into the house wards when he was a teenager; from what Ginny had gathered of his family, she was sure that he had utilized it often and with relish. As soon as she was on the roof, her window shut with a soft click, and the jump down to the ground from there was pretty tame in comparison.

Before she left the alley, one that led to the road at the back of number twelve, she double checked that there was no one in the street, and then she started running. She had to restrain herself from sprinting like she had after escaping from St. Mungo’s; Kouhei’s methods would only take her so far in this part of London, as they were more suited for the alleys and clustered street layouts that weren’t present around here. She had pinned her hair up underneath the hood of her sweatshirt (she really needed a haircut) and had put on one of her new runners, so she really did look the part of a jogger. It was only when she had reached a deserted park a few streets away that she deemed it safe to stop and take out her wand.

While underage magic was still illegal, Ginny knew a few ways that she could perform magic without being reprimanded by the Ministry. The Trace didn’t tell the Ministry who cast the magic, simply where they were, what they used and when. If a child in a magical house used magic, the Ministry ignored it because all the magic around them might have activated it instead, and so they generally only responded to muggle-borns breaking that law. What no one knew unless they were steeped in wizarding culture, like Ginny had been, was that there were a few spells that the Ministry had placed on an ‘overlook’ list; that is, if they were performed, no matter where, they were automatically dismissed.

One of those spells had been taught to all the Weasley children before they had even been able to ride a broom; the Familiae Locante charm. Essentially, if you said the words followed by the name of the person you were related to (it was limited to close relatives), regardless of whether you had a wand or not, the spell would show you where that person was. The Ministry ignored it because they knew that children got lost and if they investigated it anytime it was used, it wouldn’t be feasible. Or at least, that’s how her father had explained it to her when she was five.

But anyway, Ginny had a way to find Percy that didn’t rely on shoddy directions pilfered from her parents, and if she became scarce immediately after the casting, then even the off chance that someone responded wouldn’t be a problem. Ginny took one more glance around before whispering the spell, and moments later a little ball of light, one that only she could see, appeared in front of her face and didn’t move until she did. Ginny immediately began running again, half her attention on the ball of light and the other on the deserted sidewalk. It was still light out, but Ginny had the time of day on her side in that most people were either having dinner or at work right now. She hoped that didn’t include Percy, because she didn’t want to encounter her brother at some random restaurant, or worse – at the Ministry.

The ball of light was still going steady 10 minutes later, so Ginny slowed her paced to an easy speed walk and wiped the sweat off her forehead. Her body was healthy for a witch her age, thanks to the potions she had been given while comatose, but Kouhei’s standards far exceeded the wizarding world’s. It had been a bit of a problem last night, finding a work out that would both get her closer to the ex-gang leader’s satisfaction while still being feasible in the amount of time she had given herself, that being one year. She was glad that Kouhei had never undergone any formal martial arts training that she would have to pick back up; it was clear to her that his fighting prowess was due to his instincts, something that she might be able to pick up on if she were so inclined.

She still wasn’t too sure how this dual memory situation was affecting her; she had noticed some things, like the temper, the way she experienced his memories with more clarity when she touched their scars, and the – almost alarmingly intense – way that she was suddenly valuing her brothers, mostly Ron. Other things had stayed the same; she still tended to cry under stress, she still found her father’s muggle obsession endearing, she still knew how to deal with Fred and George’s pranks. She didn’t know if she would lose any of the memories as time went on or if she would regain the sense of self she had had before her possession.

Ginny walked along, pondering herself and Kouhei and where she was heading both currently and in the grand scheme of things, oblivious to the fact that there were also some things that she didn’t notice about herself. When she slept she dreamed in Japanese, she tensed when seeing unfamiliar magic, she started tasks with no thought to asking for help; in her mind, she didn’t have anyone to ask. Ginny walked along, oblivious to the fact that once she had woken up in St. Mungo’s, her whole life had been irrevocably changed.

Ginny had to stop momentarily, when the ball of light tried to lead her up a flight of stairs on the side of an old apartment building. For a second she hesitated - what if Percy had company over, what if he didn’t want to see her, what if she had performed the spell wrong - before she resolutely cut her thoughts off. Unlike Bill, Ginny had actually grown up with Percy; she didn’t have to flounder at all when it came to simply talking to him, because she had already been doing that for years.

“I can do this.” She said to herself as she climbed the stairs. “Even without Kouhei I can do this... I can do this.” The ball of light led her down the third floor hallway, around the corner and all the way to room 315, and then dissipated, leaving Ginny staring at the closed door with a suppressed sense of trepidation but an even larger feeling of determination creeping up within her. Mentally steeling herself for the last time, Ginny raised her fist and pounded three short times on the door, and then quickly stepped back so that Percy could immediately see who was calling.

It took less than a minute for her to receive a response –that being the sound of footfalls from within the apartment –and then the door swung open to reveal her brother, shock plain as day on his face and dressed in slacks and a tattered, slightly too big sweater. Ginny smiled at him a bit shyly; Percy too looked older, worn out and different from the sixth year who had so earnestly tutored her in between his own homework and Prefect duties. She opened her mouth to say something, anything at all, but then Percy lurched forward and grabbed onto the arms of her sweatshirt. She nearly kneed him where it hurt, but then she came back to her senses and realized that he had pulled her inside and into a crushing hug, a gesture he hadn’t done since before she had left for Hogwarts.

“Ginny! Dear Merlin- you- you’re here, Ginny!” For the brief, horrifying moment before Percy spoke again, Ginny came to the conclusion that her parents hadn’t informed their middle child of her recent recovery. “I-I was planning on going to- to visit you, but- how did you get here?”

Percy pulled away and held her at arm’s length, running his eyes over her face as if he couldn’t believe she was real. “We’re staying in London, and, uh... I used Familiae Locante because I wanted to see you, because no one would tell me anything about where you had been staying.”

Percy laughed a little hysterically before pulling her into another tight hug, one which Ginny reciprocated this time. It only lasted for another minute before Percy pulled back again and fixed her with a reprimanding look. “You mean to tell me you walked here at this time of night in the middle of muggle London? Ginny!”

“It’s still light out.” Ginny muttered, but Percy was still frowning. “Besides, Mum and Dad would’ve never let me come here even if I had asked. Mum still cries whenever your name is mentioned.”

Ginny was a little glad to see a suitably cowed expression pass over her brother’s face. “Ginny, that’s... that’s not -”

“That’s not the point, I know. Can’t I just visit with you? Please? I haven’t been awake in two years... besides, I did leave a note.” Percy didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and then he sighed heavily and nodded. Ginny grinned triumphantly and immediately set about taking off her shoes while Percy moved further into his apartment, watching her with an odd expression and playing with the hem of his sweater.

“It’s –good to see that you’re doing so well.” Percy started off haltingly. “I mean, Dad owled me to let me know you were awake –but I wasn’t expecting it –this.” Ginny moved her shoes off to the side of the entranceway and followed Percy further into his little apartment. Looking around, Ginny could tell right away this was the home of a wizard –the cauldron in the corner only one of the big giveaways. Percy also had a desk littered with little magical hints; a quill here, moving picture there, his Gryffindor red expandable journal peeking out of the top drawer. Percy chattered away awkwardly in the background, making up a pot of tea and a platter of food, but Ginny wasn’t paying attention. Moving closer to the pictures on the desk, she saw that there were three –one of their family on their trip to Egypt, an older picture of her and Percy out at the Burrow, and her brother standing with a small group of men and women, dressed in a familiar uniform and laughing like she hadn’t seen him do in a long time.

“Ginny, I’ve got some tea –oh, don’t mind any of that.” Percy came over and ushered her away from the desk and pictures, ears beet red. “Everything must be so different for you, I can’t even imagine... are you planning on going back to Hogwarts this year?” Ginny scoffed under her breath, drawing an odd look from her brother.

“Mum’s... mentioned it. An accelerated learning program or something. I wasn’t really paying attention.” Ginny fell quiet, wondering what she wanted to get out of this visit besides her brother awkwardly attempting small talk. “I’m not going to edge around this, Percy. What happened when I was asleep? Why does Mum cry over you and why do you look so tired? Nobody will tell me what I want to know.”

“It’s- It’s not-” Percy began, looking anywhere but her, but Ginny cut him off firmly.

“Don’t tell me it’s not my business or that it’s complicated. I’m your sister. Tell me what’s been going on.” Percy struggled with his words, seemingly shocked into silence by the command in her tone. Frowning, Ginny stubbornly kept silent as he figured out what to say –she wasn’t going to be the one to break if she could help it.

“If I tell you... will you tell me why you’re acting so... different?” Ginny froze inwardly. Percy was the first to call her out on her new behaviour, probably the only one to notice that it wasn’t just her getting reoriented after her two year lapse in time. She knew logically that as she interacted with more people who knew her before, something would slip, but she hadn’t expected to be found out so early on –she hadn’t even been able to work on any of Kouhei’s plans!

“...I won’t promise anything, but I will consider it. I’m the one at a disadvantage here.” Ginny reminded him neutrally, hoping that the compromise would give her the time to decide on whether or not to actually tell him, whether or not she could trust him. Percy didn’t look happy with the arrangement, but he eventually nodded with a sigh.

“I was Bartemius Crouch’s assistant for all of what would have been your third year. I still felt very guilty about not –not telling anyone about my concerns over you when you were being –possessed, and that only made me want to work harder to prove myself to anyone who ever doubted me... whether that be Ministry workers or our own family.” Percy took his glasses off and rubbed at the bridge of his nose, suddenly looking so much older than nineteen. “So I started something, started to become something I never thought I could. When Mr. Crouch turned up dead –that just... spurned me on, I suppose, made my dedication to my goal all the greater.”

Ginny wondered what it was he was leaving out in this explanation, what fact he was carefully tiptoeing around making clear mention of. She wondered if it had anything to do with the picture on his desk, of himself and four others in familiar (so familiar but she couldn’t place it –Kouhei’s unwillingness to embrace wizardry clouding her memory more than she cared to admit) uniforms, smiling and looking proud of themselves in the few seconds the photo captured. “Then I was offered the job in Fudge’s office, as well as... another. I was going to tell them but I got cold feet, only told them about the first –they think I’m an idiot Ginny.” Percy looked at her imploringly, like he thought she was going to say something that disregarded him.

“They just think that being promoted into Fudge’s office was the whole story, that obviously I didn’t know why I was being put there, that I would tell Fudge the minute he asked me about anything related to the Order. That I’m foolish enough to believe the Prophet without a second thought, that I would –that I would betray my own family even after they raised me for nearly twenty years!” Percy was ranting some, but Ginny thought it best to let him go the way of a frustrated Kiiko –get it all out at once so he didn’t snap and try to kill him during a friendly fist fight. “I wouldn’t side with the Order, they’re vigilantes, taking the law into their own hands, and as an A... and I don’t condone that. I told them as much, and I admit, I may have said a few things to Dad I now regret, but I stand by my beliefs.”

Percy was breathing a little faster than normal, and looked shocked that he had just bared all of his recent insecurities without so much as a minute of convincing from his sister. Nothing was said for a few minutes in the kitchen, during which time Ginny ruminated on what her brother had told her and Percy himself took a few mechanical sips of his tea, but eventually Ginny decided that the best way to handle this unfamiliar (both to her and Kouhei) territory... was the truth.

“You have your reasons... and they have theirs, I won’t begrudge either of you for that. But like I told Ron, if you ever need anyone to talk to, or to just listen, I won’t judge you for anything you tell me... it would be pretty hypocritical of me.”

“Ginny?”

“...I’m going to tell you something, Percy. You’re my brother, I trust you, and beyond that I think you deserve to know. But you are the only person I have told so far.” Ginny stared at her older brother –and wasn’t that something to behold, an older brother –seriously, an odd, uncomfortable feeling building in her chest. “You can’t tell anyone else unless I say. This is important to me, Percy. I’m trusting you with it, so please don’t make me regret this.”

Percy nodded silently, looking apprehensive and very confused, and Ginny took a great breath. She was really going to do this wasn’t she? Weeks of acting, countless hours of planning and researching, all of Kouhei’s self-preservation instincts telling her this was a bad idea, she shouldn’t risk it –and yet here she was, disregarding all of that because even if half of this strange new self she had transformed into was a hardened gangster, half of her was still a little girl recovering from a horrible possession. She may have been putting more credence into Kouhei’s memories and experiences, but she wasn’t the same as him, and he had never had an older brother like Percy.

Percy had always been there for her, when she was very little and Ron picked on her, when she was older and friendless (besides Luna), even when he had been away at Hogwarts. Bill had never been around, Charlie wasn’t much better, the twins had alternated between ignoring her and teasing her, and Ron had been a right terror till he had turned eight or so. Percy was the other oddball of the family, concerned with appearances and hard work, tidiness and his own goals. He was book smart and awkward and the twins had always, always teased him just that little bit too far, so that instead of growing closer to them he had only further grown away. Yet he had been there for her, always, and though sentimentality had been written out of Kouhei’s blood, it was still deeply entrenched in Ginny’s.

“When I woke up in St. Mungo’s... for a few minutes I thought I was someone else.” Ginny began cautiously, holding up a hand at Percy’s alarmed expression. “I didn’t think I was Voldemort. I was... I thought that I was a man named Kouhei Jinnai. When I woke up in that hospital bed, I couldn’t understand why I was alive. I had just been stabbed by a... former subordinate, Sonoda. I remembered stumbling down a dirty alleyway, pressing my hands fruitlessly against my stomach to try and hold the blood back and calling out for anyone to come and help me... I remember the feeling of dying, Percy.”

“What... Ginny, that’s –that sounds horrible.” Percy said, voice barely a whisper.

“It hasn’t been too bad since my first breakdown, really. When I touch these scars, both in the exact same places that bastard left them, I can remember everything. Usually Kouhei’s memories are just simmering in the back of my mind –they slip to the forefront if I need them, but unless I’m touching these I have to concentrate.” Ginny shrugged and lifted her shirt up so that Percy could see them standing out stark and pale against her skin; he let out an odd noise, as if he hadn’t ever seen stab wounds before. “Percy, I’m still your sister, but now I’m... more than that too. Kami, I remember so much that I never had to before, but I still know who I was before this whole coma thing happened.” Ginny couldn’t help spilling to him; she needed someone to talk to before she went crazy, trying to reconcile a twelve year old witch with a seventeen year old gang leader wasn’t the best for one’s mental state.

“...tell me about it?” Percy asked, voice tight and smile strained but still here, trying, and offering to her just what she needed.

Fuck, everything’s just so messed up in my head.” Percy scooted his chair closer to hers, so their arms were touching; she took that opportunity to lean against him. “I talk in Japanese if I’m not careful, and there’s always this underlying nervousness in crowds or when I can’t see all my surroundings ‘cause of that fucker Sonoda. Kouhei had such a temper and sometimes I really have to stop myself before I do something I regret, ‘cause a lot of the time if I’m not paying attention I forget who’s who and- Kami you should’ve seen what I did to Harry.” Ginny barked out a laugh, and Percy looked so startled by the sound she just kept on laughing for a good minute. Scaring Harry out of his mind had been far more satisfying, but telling Percy all of this made her near giddy with relief.

“I can differentiate better when I’m remembering stuff from when we were younger.” She continued after sobering. “Kouhei’s father left before he was born, and his Mum and Stepdad never actually got married. He never had any siblings either, so it took me a little time to shove that aside –I was ready to kill the twins when they visited me in St. Mungo’s –probably would have if I hadn’t been restrained.” Bitterness crept into her words, but she tried to push past that lest it lead to some of Kouhei’s more unsavoury methods of coping with anger. “He lost his Mum too, right around when he was thirteen. I said it would be hypocritical of me to judge you? That’s because Kouhei did a lot of... morally questionable things before he died. He –he basically tried to have all his former friends killed once they started to actively oppose his goals.”

“Oh, Ginny.” Percy said sadly. “You’re not him, you-”

“But I think I am.” Ginny cut in quickly; she had made some peace, as Kouhei had done, with his actions, but right now she just needed someone to listen. “Reincarnation, Percy. The same year, the same day, not even an hour after Kouhei died, do you know what happened? I was born. Two scars come out of nowhere, the same places Sonoda left them, a few weeks after I nearly got my soul sucked out by Voldemort’s ghost? Jinnai and Ginny? I –I even look like him, Percy. And all these feelings, all these memories; Tetsuji and Teru, Kiiko, Parko, Kyousuke, Tou-san, Kaa-san, and the Snake Heads and Parko and Dangerers, Tsuchiura and Togoku –all of it’s just so real.” Ginny let out a frustrated sound and held her head, putting her elbows on the table and closing her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see Percy’s reaction.

She felt a hand tentatively touch her shoulder, and when she didn’t flinch away it settled comfortingly. “Is this why you broke out of St. Mungo’s?” Percy asked quietly.

“I had to get out of there. You know I’ve never much cared for hospitals, but Kouhei loathed them with a burning passion and all his emotions and experiences were just so fresh and strong.” Ginny took a deep breath to steady herself. “And I want to find them, Percy. I want to so badly. I want to tell Kyousuke I’m sorry for dying while he was locked up, I want to visit Kaa-san’s grave and see if Tou-san’s still around  . I want to beat Sonoda to a bloody pulp, see Oyaji and Kiiko and Parko and visit Teru –I know he’s accomplished his dream, there’s no way he didn’t, though I won’t be going to him with a wife and kids like he wanted. Tetsuji –Kami, and what about Tetsuji? He’s my brother and I don’t know where he is or if he’s even still alive after fourteen years-”

Ginny stopped talking when Percy pulled her around for a hug, and she felt so, so much better when she saw that he was crying too. The part of her Kouhei influenced –the part she had been trying to ignore, the part that insisted she ‘man up’ –it sort of gave a little huff of resignation in the back of her mind and settled down back into the faraway, fuzzy feeling it usually took. Ginny was glad for it, because after a minute she began crying in earnest into Percy’s sweater; all her frustration, helplessness, self doubt and stress piled up and up and now was crashing down around her, leaving her original intentions buried underneath and forgotten.

“I can see why you wouldn’t want to tell anyone this.” Percy said after a few minutes. “Thank you, for deciding to tell me.”

“You were the only one to say anything.” Ginny mumbled wetly. “And you’ve always been there for me. I didn’t want you going around feeling guilty for something you had no part in.”

“Hm.” Ginny pulled back and wiped at her eyes with her sleeve, embarrassed but ultimately feeling better for it. “I thought you were going to tell me there was something wrong at home.”

“It does get frustrating sometimes. Mum fusses over me way too much, since I scared Harry he’s avoided me like the plague, and while I would like to talk to Si –to our host more often, Mum doesn’t like him much and keeps him busy with cleaning. Actually, that brings me around to why I came here in the first place.”

“Yeah?” Percy sounded interested, so Ginny took a second to organize her thoughts before she turned to him with a request.

“I wanted to know if you knew any muggle businesses around here that were looking for someone to hire.” Ginny smirked at Percy’s dumbfounded expression. “Of course, if you don’t I can find work using other means. Japan in 19XX isn’t too much different from a lot of areas in London nowadays, from what I’ve gathered, and if I go about it right I should be able to do just fine-”

“No, no, I know a few, I know a few!” Ginny laughed again at Percy’s outright panicked outburst.

“Don’t want me walking around London alone, Perce?” Percy’s ears were blazing.

“You said yourself that this... Kouhei did a lot of things you –he –whatever, that one shouldn’t be proud of doing! I just don’t want you to have to be in a position where that happens again. I’m aware you can take care of yourself... you can, can’t you?”

The look in Ginny’s eyes was all Kouhei when she answered. “I remember a lot of things. Being a target surrounded by meatheads is only one of many.

“That’s a little unnerving, Ginny. Maybe refrain from doing that around Dad –or a lot of people really. You looked like a Dark Lord.” Percy chuckled at that, and maybe Voldemort was back, maybe he wasn’t –but Ginny counted this as some sort of victory. “Alright, back on to what you asked me. There’s two just near here, both of them muggle places like you said. I go there on my way back from work occasionally, since they’re a bit out of the way, but I at least know the owners a bit. The first is Castella’s Diner over on East 5th, it’s owner is Mr. Wair-Singh and he’s been looking for a busboy for a few weeks now. Then there’s Del’s Coffee on Aberwall; it’s run by Ms. Cobble, she’s just started asking for someone who can put together pre-packaged meals for her lunch crowd.”

“Both of those could work, really.” Ginny said, considering. She glanced at the clock and was glad to see that it was early enough that they might still be open. “Up for a bit of a walk, Percy?”

He wasn’t, but he agreed to go anyway.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

Contrary to what he was sure Parko and Dangerers had believed, Kouhei had not in fact been coasting those seven months on stolen or dirty money, back when he had split from his friends and stepfather and had struck out on his own. Just because his four friends had known of his ambitions didn’t mean anyone else in Tsuchiura did (not even Tou-san) and that meant that he had still been able to find work despite his more... unsavoury connections. Kouhei had worked a number of different places in that short amount of time, all of them varying in clientele, services and working hours, and as such had become well versed in keeping up appearances and staying well rested despite his many responsibilities.

But even all the odd chefs and eccentric eateries in Japan couldn’t quite prepare her for the experience that was a British run diner.

“Jinnai! Table six needs to be cleared right away, I have a party of twelve waiting just inside the doors and no other tables to spare!” “Jinnai, warm me up some number eight curry sauce right now or we’ll fall behind on table one’s orders!” “Jinnai, Mr. Cott at the end wants another coffee, go deliver it to him and then take his wife’s order!”

Ginny sorely missed the subdued nature of Japanese customers.

But she couldn’t say she didn’t enjoy working at Castella’s. A week after Percy had brought her to meet with the owner and she was finally getting into the swing of things, no longer having to ask where things were and being trusted with more and more with each shift she covered. It was gratifying, that certain kind of trust, and Ginny could already tell she would miss working here once it came time for her to go back to Hogwarts.

“You did a good job today, Jinnai. Sorry for asking so much of you.” Mr. Wair-Singh said, placing the expected cup of tea in front of her as he joined the after closing chat. “I dread your absence already.”

Aman Wair-Singh was a stout, calm man in his mid-fifties, the owner of the bustling restaurant and also one of four waiters. He had very dark skin and always wore a bright orange turban, and though his diner had the name of an Italian it only featured vegetarian dishes from Punjab, where he said he had been born and raised. Ginny had liked him immediately when, after Percy had introduced them, he had put her to work for the last two hours of that day’s shift to see how she fared in the restaurant. In the week since, he hadn’t disappointed her; he had called her Jinnai without hesitation, spoke to her as if she were his equal instead of an ignorant kid, and respected that she could give him no explanation for her uncompromising availability.

“If you’ll have me, I’ll try and come back during the Christmas holidays.” Ginny said over the lip of her cup, making the older man laugh.

“I’ll keep that in mind if you make sure to get your brother back in here sometime. I enjoy talking to him, but he’s been so stressed lately.”

“New job. He’ll be back to normal eventually.”

Ginny knew that wasn’t really the case, but after all Percy had done for her lately she was going to respect his privacy until he wanted to talk to her again. Not only had her older brother managed to get her this job, he had been able to convince Ms. Cobble to give her a chance her as well. The young, business-minded woman hadn’t been too keen on the idea of a home schooled kid working in her establishment, despite the lengths she went to hide it, but Percy had gotten her a trial period and Ginny hadn’t let him down. By the second shift with the straight forward woman, she had managed to prove her worth by drawing on a mix of her past experiences, some from her and others from Kouhei.

Ginny had always helped her mother with making meals, ever since she had been old enough to stir a pot, and she knew how to make big batches of things without magic from all of the muggle cookbooks Molly had lying around –gifts from Arthur from back when Bill was still at home. Kouhei’s mother had been a veritable genius when it came to making bentou –and he had helped her make them all throughout primary and middle school, right up until the morning she had died. When Ms. Cobble told her to follow the (rather bland looking) instructions on one of the lunch boxes to start out with, she had left the shop for errands and come back to Ginny finished and moved on to some of the others on the list. Now, a week later, she had warmed up to Ginny some, and let her do as she pleased when it came to the packaged meals so long as she did it all within the set time limit.

“How are you faring over at Del’s? Working two jobs so young cannot be easy.”

“Not as bad as it might seem. Both you and Ms. Cobble are good employers, and I enjoy the work anyhow.”

Ginny had planned out a strict schedule for herself on how she was going to balance being at Grimmauld Place and working her two jobs at the same time. The hours at Castella’s were from seven till eleven thirty, including cleanup, and then she stayed for a few minutes for tea just as the rest of the late night staff did. Then she went back to either her brother’s apartment or Grimmauld, it depended on how she felt, and once there she could sleep for a few hours and make an appearance in the kitchen under the guise of a ‘midnight snack’. Then, once five o’clock came around she went back out again to get to Del’s Coffee by five thirty, and she was there until eleven thirty when she would immediately head back to Grimmauld Place to get there by noon. It was a tad precarious, and based purely around the privacy she had acquired only recently, but Ginny was willing to risk it in order to get what she wanted.

And what she wanted was the funds to get to Japan in a year.

“Oh, right. I can fill out that form now, Mr. Wair-Singh, the other paperwork finally went through.”

All those funds were going to be in a muggle bank only rudimentarily connected to Gringotts but with several branches in Japan; that way if wizarding Britain became embroiled in a full scale war with Voldemort’s forces, she would still be able to access her money when she needed it. Really, it would have been foolish if she had put all of her hopes in magic –Ginny was continually grateful for the muggle perspective Kouhei’s memories offered her, if nothing else.

Vvv

The day of Harry’s trial dawned much the same for Ginny as the day before. She slipped quietly out of her temporary bed on Percy’s living room couch and dressed in her muggle work clothes swiftly, ignoring the chill on her back in favour of the toast Percy had left for her underneath a warming charm. Muggle London was dark and quiet at five fifteen in the morning –but Ginny didn’t feel nervous as she jogged towards Del’s. Kouhei knew how to deal with ‘undesirables’, and as a particularly unruly customer at Castella’s just last night had proved, his skills in disposing of them without force had not gone to waste in the years left unemployed. Ginny knew they would only grow if she continued on with her work outs as she had been.

That morning at the shop wasn’t anything special, although she did receive several compliments on the meals from customers which made her feel very proud indeed. By the time she had finished her work load for the day it was fast approaching eleven thirty, and with a hasty goodbye Ginny threw her apron in the hamper by the back door and took off, glad that Ms. Cobble wasn’t the nosy sort when it came to her employee’s personal lives. Kouhei’s very first boss, Akaba Shuu, had been that way and they hadn’t parted on the best of terms.

Indeed, it was actually a wholly unremarkable day for Ginny overall, even when she returned back to Grimmauld to find Fred and George doing some sort of war-chant, Sirius sulking in the background, and everyone else doing their best to clean while being  very giddy about Harry having been cleared of the charges. Ginny was glad for him as well, to be sure, but when three years ago she might have joined in with the merry-making, now she had appearances to keep up –dancing around like a drunk Kyousuke wouldn’t do her any good.

Of course, it was late that night after her shift at Castella’s that she was presented with something to take note of; that being a stressed out and distracted Percy coming to pick her up at the restaurant just as they were finishing the nightly tea.

“Percy? What’s wrong?” Ginny asked right away, standing and going over to her pale older brother. He opened his mouth to respond but didn’t manage more than a distressed expression before his face closed off and his back went from straight as an arrow to a dejected slump. Ginny nodded to herself and turned around to face the concerned gazes of Mr. Wair-Singh and her coworkers.

“I’m going to leave now, Percy isn’t feeling too well. I’ll see you all tomorrow.” A chorus of goodbyes and well wishes followed the pair out of the door, Ginny using her brother’s compliance to steer him down the street as fast as she could without jostling him. The night air didn’t do the near-twenty year old any good; his slump only worsened the longer they walked, his face turning paler and to further distress the closer they got to his apartment. By the time they actually walked through the door Percy was shivering and sniffing some, and Ginny didn’t even bother taking off her shoes or jacket before she drew him into a hug mirroring the one she had received from him mere days before.

“Sorry, Ginny, sorry –it’s just the trial –and I couldn’t even –say anything, I was, I just –just did what I was there to do and –and god, they all make me sick!” Ginny let out a noncommittal hum, but that only seemed to spur Percy on. “-and then Dad was waiting for Harry at the end –even after all I did –I didn’t even talk to him, but he just –didn’t react at all and I just felt so awful  but I still hated what he had said, what he thought about me and my being a-”

Percy abruptly cut himself off, going almost unnaturally silent in the wake of his gasping emotion, and then he let out a deep, shuddering sigh. “Sorry, Ginny. I d-on’t know w-what came over m-e.”

“Don’t apologize.” Ginny admonished seriously. “That was the first time you’ve seen Dad since you left.”

“...yeah.” Percy mumbled, trying to pull away but unable to with Ginny’s grip around his middle. “I was fine for the entire day after that –I saw him this morning. But I was coming up to the diner, thinking I’d pick you up and I just sort of –I don’t know.”

“There’s... nothing wrong with crying sometimes. Don’t look at me like that, it’s hard enough for me to say that as it is.” Because Kouhei may have acknowledged that he had been acting like a child the last months of his life, but even he hadn’t cried until his final moments. Ginny still did cry –often late at night, when she was stressed out and deprived of sleep –and it was scary how much of her Kouhei was affecting even subconsciously. “You probably haven’t let yourself think too much about it –I don’t when it comes to having to go to Hogwart’s in a few weeks. And whatever you’ve been avoiding talking about probably isn’t helping your stress levels when you have the Minister to deal with at the same time.”

Percy was silent after her words, but his face gradually reduced itself to a less intense shade of blinding red, and he soon didn’t seem as if he had been crying at all. It wasn’t healthy bottling it all up, Ginny knew from Kouhei, so she hoped her brother would sometimes let himself go before it got to be at too bad a point.

Because Kouhei and Percy were remarkably similar in their drive for their own goals; Ginny knew how that had turned out for the gang leader, and if she could prevent anything like that from happening to Percy without having to tell him about Kouhei’s less than admirable ambitions, she was going to do her damnedest to try.

Vvv

The holidays passed quickly for Ginny, what with her busy schedule, but the days slipping by did not get any easier for her, even when out of sight of the wizards in the Order. With the way she excelled at her jobs, she took on more responsibilities in the time that she had, and at Del’s was even charged with preparing a new employee to take over her tasks once she inevitably left the coffee shop behind. At Castella’s she sometimes had to sub in for one of the line cooks, which was a difficult task for her to adjust to, and more often than not she found herself falling into a deep, dead sleep each night as soon as she had returned from one of those shifts.

And even when she was back at Grimmauld Place she couldn’t really relax –she still had to keep up her tired charade until the last few days of August, when she had to make it look as if she had made a sudden, natural recovery from the lethargic state. She may have just been getting paranoid, but she could swear that both Harry and Sirius were watching her closely, and it was tough for her to be in any room alone with them at all, as they made Kouhei’s survival instincts go haywire, not to mention her own that had festered ever since she had been discarded by Tom.

She kept herself going these days through sheer force of will, luck, and the occasional bout of crying (alone where no one could see). She and Percy were getting along better than ever since he had gotten back home the day of Harry’s trial, thankfully most of the residents at Grimmauld were leaving her to herself, save for her mother’s worried fussing whenever she caught her in the kitchen at midnight, and she knew that she herself was getting stronger by the day, keeping up with her set routine as she was. The only thing that could possibly, possibly dampen her recent accomplishments –was the gaping hole by her side where she knew she wanted her old friends and her brother to be.

She had saved a fair bit of money in the bank over the past four weeks, and wouldn’t Kiiko be surprised at how pleased she felt over it, when Kouhei had dismissed Kiiko’s excitement over 40,000 yen so easily. She had a family now and was close to two of them –Teru would like it if she were to bring them to his place for dinner when she found him, paying with the money she had earned herself and laughing with him freely. The stronger she got each day, the more enjoyable it would be to get into it with Parko, like they’d always used to do, testing their strength against one another and then dragging the loser out for ramen. Kyousuke... she would say she was sorry, she would get down on her hands and knees and beg forgiveness from the man for leaving, for causing so much trouble while he had been unable to talk sense into him; because while Kouhei may have still found the practice beneath him, Ginny knew very well how far repentance could take her. And Tetsuji-

Tetsuji...

Kouhei had left so much to Testuji, even before that final fight in the warehouse, where he had given the other man over to Ono in an attempt to secure his safety. That night before, that night, what had that horrible feeling been? Had it really been a premonition of his own death, or had it just been his latent nerves at having to end the fight against his former friends? Regardless, Kouhei had confided in Tetsuji everything he had ever kept close to his chest, close to his heart –his forgotten past in Hokkaido and Tsuchiura, his aspirations long into the future, his reservations of fighting his once friends... other, more personal things he knew that his brother would take to his grave, things he had never told anyone else, not his Kaasan or Tousan, not Kyousuke or Teru, not anyone.

Then, Tetsuji had told him even more, about his own family and birthplace, about how he got involved with Hacchou, about where he wanted to go, who he wanted to be –and what he really thought of him. Kouhei had coaxed his brother’s true thoughts from him, they had revealed themselves like scars, those confessions; Kouhei had taken all of it in stride and reassured his brother, the man who had sworn his life to him, that nothing would ever go wrong between them, that he would have his back through thick or thin if only Tetsuji would do the same. And he had.

Now those promises between them echoed through her mind and around her head more and more with each passing day. The closer she got to the stalling of her endeavours, the worse it became, because she had broken her end of the bond. Left that world, left her brother behind and now it was fourteen years later and even though she was progressing, her heart still ached for the full year or longer it would take her to get to him (if she ever did).

This was her mindset on the morning they were to leave for Hogwarts; that morning that she had snuck out of Grimmauld one last time to say goodbye to Percy, who had hugged her tight before she went back and told her he would be sending Hermes to her as often as he could. She hadn’t slept well during the night, having been plagued by the echoes of her friends and their disappointment, but she could at least say that she was ready for the inevitable chaos of leaving the house –everyone trying to pack and say goodbye and get organized all at once while she had been able to stay off on the sidelines simply watching. She couldn’t wait for when they would leave, only because she knew that they wouldn’t have to walk, as she had planned the whole thing out beforehand using Percy’s phone.

When they finally managed to get out the door, her mother, Sirius and Harry going first with Tonks, she stuck close to the open entranceway to watch them as they were approached by one of three taxi drivers, who said their fare had already been paid for by one Bill Weasley that morning. Ginny could tell her mother was apprehensive, but eventually conceded to the lift when Tonks gestured at her wristwatch, getting into the car quickly and then being shuttled off to King’s Cross. The same thing happened with the other two groups, a feat which made Ginny very proud of herself for thinking of it without even having used Kouhei’s muggle memories to help her. When Moody finally managed to track down Bill about all of this, she knew he would end up blowing a gasket at the revelation that her oldest brother hadn’t actually set up the taxis; Fred gave her an odd look at her stifled bark of laughter.

They arrived at Platform 9 ¾ with ten minutes to spare, Moody grumbling about ‘brats acting without clearance’, but overall they were better off than they would have been had they taken the twenty minute journey to the station on foot as had been the plan. There was a rush of hurried goodbyes from all sides, with Ginny getting fussed over by her parents a tad longer than she thought needed, and then they were crowding into the train hallway, luggage and all.

Ginny couldn’t believe she was back here after all this time, and completely missed the departure of several of their group while engrossed in her thoughts, until Harry tapped her hesitantly on the shoulder, an odd expression on his face.

“Er –everyone’s gone already, Ginny.” He said haltingly, eyes staring out of the window where the platform had been minutes ago. “Look, I just wanted to –I mean, you made me think...”

“Let’s talk about this when we find a compartment, huh?” Ginny interrupted, already feeling eyes on them from all directions, making the hair on the back of her neck (still too long) stand on end. “Too many people here.”

Harry seemed to have realized he was being watched by now as well, and it only got worse the longer they spent walking down the corridor. Sheep, the lot of them. Ginny couldn’t help but think scathingly; the teenagers now were so different from the ones Kouhei was used to, and yet so similar in some ways. Where was the dedicated comradery that had been so common for those in Kouhei’s age group? The bonds that had been forged so deeply and normally back in Tsuchiura? Here –here he couldn’t see anything like it anywhere. Even Ron and Harry, whom she had thought were thick as thieves in their second year, even their relationship didn’t ring as true as some of those Kouhei had seen, and Harry had know Ron for years longer than Teru had known Ryuushin, or than he had known Tetsuji. Yet at the same time Kami knew that delinquents gossiped like housewives, and even from behind glass barriers she could see that wizards were the same, whispering to each other when they caught sight of them; one of the pair was Harry, but Ginny was the girl he had saved back in his second year, the one who had gone into the coma. It was probable that at least some of these people were chattering on about her as well.

It was in the last compartment that they met a familiar face in Neville Longbottom, standing awkwardly in the corridor and looking for all the world as if he was a nervous first year rather than a long standing fifth year student. Ginny really had to wonder whether her waking up had been told to anyone besides the Weasley’s and the Order, because Neville nearly dropped his toad in shock when he caught sight of her.

“Ginny! You’re awake!” He was panting with the effort of dragging his trunk around, but he looked happy enough that it was almost like he wasn’t bothered at all. “It’s good to see you... and you too, Harry. Sorry for blocking the way, I can’t seem to find a seat.”

Ginny caught his nervous glance at the compartment behind him, and deftly pushed past so she could open the door herself. A blonde head stared up at her from behind a brightly coloured, upside down magazine, and for the first time since she had awoke in St. Mungo’s, Ginny felt a stirring of easy fondness in her chest at the sight of a familiar face.

“Luna, can we sit here?” Ginny asked her old friend promptly, dragging her trunk inside even before the other girl had answered. Luna’s wide eyes stared at her unblinkingly, an unfamiliar look in her face, while Ginny held still and Neville shifted awkwardly from behind her, before the Ravenclaw nodded once.

“Thanks.” Ginny said, and with little effort she hoisted her trunk up and into the luggage rack, turning back around before the boys could protest and doing the same with Hedwig’s cage. While Harry and Neville took care of their own trunks, Ginny sat down across from Luna, the blonde’s eyes following her every movement but not making her feel uncomfortable.

“You’re... here. Ginn-ei.” Ginny stiffened minutely at the odd pronunciation of her name, halfway between Ginny and Jinnai, but she shrugged it off after a minute and chose to smile at the awestruck(?) girl.

“I woke up in July.” Luna nodded again, ducking her head behind her magazine once more as Harry sat down beside Ginny and Neville took the seat next to Luna.

“So, uh –I was saying something earlier, wasn’t I?” Harry started, eyes anywhere else but on Ginny and cheeks flushed pink. “Well, it was that you –made me realize some things. I really was just sulking... and you were right about the headmaster, too, I just didn’t want to think about it that way. I’m –I’m sorry I said those things to you.” Both Neville and Luna were paying attention to Harry curiously, but Ginny pushed them out of her mind.

“I hope you’ve said as much to Ron and Hermione as well.” Ginny said seriously, making Harry duck his head. “I don’t care about what you said to me, I can handle all that. But Ron isn’t me, and neither is Hermione. Both of them have basically sequestered themselves away from making a lot of other friendships by virtue of being your friends, especially with your reputation this year. During my first year, a lot happened to them when you weren’t with them because of how the school saw you... just keep in mind when bad things come your way, that it doesn’t only affect you.”

Harry nodded humbly, and then turned to talk to Neville while Ginny settled back against the seat contemplatively. Harry had done some kind of reflecting, that she was glad for, but she could tell that his thinking was a bit self-oriented even with this growth he had done. There were a myriad of ways that his problems concerned Ron and Hermione just back in their second year, not even counting the other years they had been his friends. She had been a bit distracted (to put it lightly), but Ginny clearly remembered walking in on Hermione crying several times from older students bullying her, telling her she was going to be next and calling her so many nasty slurs. She also remembered Ron, twelve years old, talking to Percy frantically one day weeks after Christmas, scared that she, Ginny, was going to be targeted since the Slytherins called them blood-traitors.

“-azing defence mechanism. Here, hold Trevor for me...”

Ginny turned towards the two fifth years just as Neville held up an oddly bulbous plant and poked it with a quill, having given his pet toad to Harry for safe keeping. The next she knew, all four of them were covered in an awful smelling, dark green liquid that slopped off their bodies thickly, leaving behind a gelatinous, slimy layer of the stuff. Ginny had managed to shield most of her face, but that didn’t stop the rest of it from dripping down from the top of her head, covering her forehead and trickling onto her cheeks. Luna had been mostly saved by her magazine, but Harry and Neville had both of their fronts splattered very generously.

“S –sorry...” Neville gasped, coughing rather violently. “I haven’t tried that before... didn’t realize it would be quite so... don’t worry though, Stinksap’s not poisonous.” Harry didn’t seem to comforted by the reassurance, wiping his glasses with one hand and glaring at Trevor, who he was holding in his other.

Ginny herself didn’t say anything until whoever the Chinese girl was had left, and Neville had whispered a small apology again, evidently convinced he had done something unforgivable.

“Never mind all this. Just go fine someone who can use Scourgify and everything will be clean again.” She said diplomatically, inwardly cringing and repeating in her mind, damn magic, damn magic, damn magic. Neville volunteered to go, with Harry following after him a moment later, so soon enough Ginny was alone with Luna, who kept staring at her as if she were some sort of puzzle.

“...I can use Scourgify.” The Ravenclaw said a minute later, holding up her wand so Ginny could see. Ginny smiled and made a ‘go on’ gesture, and with a few waves of the stick the entire compartment was clean and only smelt faintly of rancid manure and... tingling. Luna stared at her a few seconds longer, shoulders hunched, before she spoke again in a mild tone that was somehow both accusing and hesitant at the same time.

“Who... are you?”

“...Ginn-ei.”

Luna stared, but Ginny didn’t say anything else. She was feeling awful, no longer being able to work to her goals, hearing phantom words from her comrades at every turn, and now another person was seeing her true colours, even if it was Luna who she was at least familiar with. She idly wondered, as Harry and Neville returned with Hermione and Ron in tow, how many of those around her would learn of Kouhei by the time she decided to leave for Japan.

The rest of the train ride was quiet, Ginny falling asleep in her seat not long after the Stinksap debacle and only awakening when Hermione shook her so they could change into their uniforms. In her tiredness she nearly followed the boys out to wait for her female friends to be done, but soon remembered that right now, she was in fact in a girl’s body and probably shouldn’t do that. It was only minutes later that they pulled into Hogsmeade station and Ginny paid barely any amount of attention to where she was going, too distracted by the throngs of students that put her so on edge. Just like back in St. Mungo’s, split second flashes of memories flew by her the longer she was in the crowd, images of dark alleys, blood splatter, the gleam of a knife and the ground rushing up to meet him as he fell.

Luna must have noticed something was bothering her, because she resolutely steered her towards one of the horse-drawn carriages without a word, pulling her up and inside when she didn’t respond fast enough to do it herself. More than a little annoyed with herself –she would forever be a walking target if she kept getting tunnel-vision in crowds –Ginny thanked the blonde and resolved to work on it in the future, since it wasn’t as if she didn’t have the time to do so now.

They made it up to the castle in no time, and though she was sure she should have felt something more, Ginny couldn’t muster up more than a faint feeling of familiarity for the school. Luna waved goodbye to her before she drifted off towards the Ravenclaw table, and Ginny was pulled over by some of the fourth year girls to sit at the Gryffindor table with them –it only resulted in an awkward silence when they realized she didn’t remember who more than half of them were.

The Sorting took a long time, at least to Ginny, and even longer was the feast and unexpected speech from their new DADA Professor. It was a relief to finally make the last long journey up to the Gryffindor common room –another place she could barely feel anything for –but that relief was cut short when Hermione tried to lead her up the stairs to the girl’s dorms... and they slid right back down again, only having made it up ten steps at the most.

“What...? Harry, if you’re under that cloak of yours it’s not funny!” Hermione hissed to empty air; but Harry came into the common room just then with Neville, and the new prefect turned pink at her new assumption they had been pranked by someone else.

They tried again twice, but both attempts led to the same result. Hermione was nearing apoplectic, and all the while Ginny had just sort of resigned herself to it –she knew why this was happening, and it was far from one of Fred and George’s pranks. When Hermione finally determined (after two more tries at the stairs) that it only happened when Ginny tried to climb up, she told her to stay right where she was while she fetched Professor McGonagall to sort this all out.

Ginny was tired.

The head of their house couldn’t deduce the real reason behind the stair’s behaviour, beyond that it wasn’t from any spell on Ginny or on the stairs themselves. The entire time the two women theorized over it, Ginny leaned back on one of the couches and stared up at the ceiling, pondering all the worldy things she thought she hadn’t given enough attention to lately. Like how tired she was, the pointlessness of the stair’s enchantment, that she still had ten months of this shit left to go, what Percy was doing now, what Tetsuji was doing now, and eventually just Tetsuji. Tetsuji. Tetsuji Mayumi. Mayumi, Mayumi, Mayumi...

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

Hermione woke her up the next day; having left her to sleep on the couch but wanting to tell her that sometime that morning McGonagall had come back and removed the enchantment on the stairs altogether. Since they couldn’t exactly move her to the boy’s dorm this was the best option; she wasn’t to tell anyone of course, the other students could figure it out themselves in due time.

Ginny didn’t care either way –so long as the bookish girl didn’t start thinking too hard on why the stairs were acting off, any solution was acceptable. She was far more preoccupied by the sudden and undeniable fact that she was about to enrol in schooling again –and the part of her Kouhei held sway over didn’t like it one bit. She had put off thinking about it until now, but her musings the night before had brought it all to her with sharp clarity, and now she was going to have to make sure she didn’t punch someone in the face –or worse.

Nevertheless, she soon found herself sitting at the Gryffindor table for breakfast, waiting dully for McGonagall to inch her way over to her end and give her the schedule she would be following. She was accompanied only by a few of the shier first years –the girls in her own year were quick to cluster together somewhere else since the night before had gone so stiltedly.

“Ah, Ms. Weasley, there you are.” McGonagall said curtly, handing her the paper in her hands without preamble. “This will be your schedule for the foreseeable future, so please do your best to follow it. Your classes start tomorrow, so please use the time you have today to reacquaint yourself with the castle. If you have any concerns or questions, simply seek me out.”

“...thank you, Professor.” Ginny ground out to McGonagall’s retreating back, grimacing as she unfolded the slip of paper so she could see her fate. She took a few minutes to go over it to make sure she knew what it was she had been signed up for –and then let a hiss of air escape her at the fact that the schedule really wasn’t too bad.

Personally she didn’t mind it, but as she read it over she had to calm herself down a few times because of Kouhei’s sudden surges of emotions. Not only was he frustrated at going to school (since high school wasn’t mandatory in his time), but he also was immensely incredulous at the fact that this school didn’t offer anything like maths or sciences or phys ed –the subjects he had actually enjoyed back in middle school. She had two classes a day, one in the morning and one after lunch; each of them were in reality a one on one tutoring session with the teacher of that particular subject. If she were starting today, she would have had Charms first and then DADA; over the course of the next four days she would also cover Potions, Transfiguration, Astronomy, History of Magic, Herbology and two electives (Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Muggle Studies or Study of Ancient Runes). To allow the teachers and herself some room to breathe, they were staggering each class’ start date, so that each week three of the classes would begin, and those that started first would also end earlier come June. That was alright with her, but first she had to pick her electives, and since she didn’t even know what some of them were she was fairly complacent when Hermione shuffled over and asked to see her schedule so she could explain it.

“Well, I for one love Arithmancy, Ginny –I’d highly recommend it, even if it isn’t the most popular of classes since it deals with numbers and not magic. Care is... alright, I suppose, though you just came out of your coma so such a physically strenuous class may not be the best choice.” Hermione chattered on, but Ginny was at least getting some information out of her so she couldn’t find it in herself to be annoyed. “Divination is a load of codswallop. Muggle Studies is quite interesting, even if some of the students are woefully misinformed about the subject matter. Ancient Runes is also a worthwhile class to pursue –the study of ancient magical script and the like.”

“Hmm...” Ginny absorbed the information and then tapped the classes she wanted with her wand –Arithmancy and Muggle Studies. Kouhei was the main influence for the decision –he’d always been a right hand at maths, and Ginny had enough knowledge of the muggle world from him to keep herself afloat. Hermione saw it and practically squealed in delight that someone would take her advice (or so Ginny presumed) and proceeded to natter on about the classes and that she would help Ginny out with questions if she needed it. The youngest Weasley deftly tuned it out in favour of mentally mapping the route to the Charms classroom, but it seemed that even her best attempts for peace were going to be ignored today.

“So, the vegetable’s turned into a muggle lover just like her father? What a surprise.” A voice sneered in passing –beside her Hermione bristled like a cat, but Ginny only looked at Malfoy blankly, exceedingly unimpressed. His smirk faltered at her impassive stare for the briefest of moments and she turned back to the table.

A different blonde was behind him, straddling a moped and looking as if he had just crawled out of a dumpster. He hadn’t given Kouhei a straight answer then –“Lucky for you I’m in a hurry, so I’m just gonna let you slither off today. Later!” –but that meeting with the ‘golden wolf’ had been the beginning of the end for the Snake Heads. He had never acknowledged that man, but the blonde had made a deep impression on him in those short seconds.

Malfoy didn’t even begin to compare.

“Your prick’s supposed to be in your pants, not your personality, Malfoy.”

“Ginny!”

“What did you just say to me Weaslette?!”

“You heard me. Now piss off, I need to get going.” Ginny could feel eyes on her back, following her every move –but she didn’t allow herself the luxury of a quick getaway. She had a sinking feeling that this incident would come back to bite her later on.

Vvv

For the most part, Ginny’s first month back at Hogwarts went by without incident. Or at least, that’s how she presumed it went, as she hadn’t served any detentions yet. In those weeks her lacklustre had pervaded her entire being, and had prevented her from retaining any memory of the weeks at all; so that by the time October rolled around she could barely muster up the energy to get out of bed, let alone outside as Hermione kept worriedly suggesting.

Her grades had suffered a little as a result of this lapsing memory, and even hanging around with Luna didn’t raise her ever low mood. She stopped working out in the mornings after the first week, unable to wake up in time to do so and get to her first period. She picked at her food –dosed when she wasn’t sleeping –was constantly aching –and avoided the concerned glances of her brothers and teachers like the plague. She felt unmotivated, apathetic even, and she was beginning to worry about this feeling –was she sick? Was it all the magic, the long wait to find Mayu –her old friends, was it Kouhei? It felt eerily similar to how she had been during her possession... it felt far too much like Kouhei’s worst days for her liking.

But even with Luna as a companion now, she wasn’t about to bring it up –she especially didn’t want to worry Percy when her older brother was already anxious enough. Though his letters never went into too much detail, she could tell that he was still going through tough times on his own. So all month she kept herself going, but with each day that passed, another worry edged into her mind. She wasn’t sticking to her plan. She wasn’t going to be healthy enough when she went back. She was acting weak again. Ron kept shooting her looks that she probably would have found annoying six weeks ago but now were almost subtle for how little she paid attention to them. She kept thinking about it so much that she circled back around to apathy and stopped thinking about it altogether.

In the coming years, she would thank every Kami he had ever prayed to that Luna decided to get involved.

It was during Saturday’s lunch that Luna approached her and asked for something she normally didn’t even think about, to talk with her in private. Not feeling at all hungry anyway, Ginny agreed, and within a few minutes they had sequestered themselves in one of the abandoned classrooms on the second floor, as far from the Great Hall as possible. Luna looked hesitant, something Ginny had never seen from her before, and so the redhead stayed silent as her friend gathered the wherewithal to begin.

“Ginn-ei... you’re depressed.” Luna said shortly, partly seriously but still in that airy manner she tended towards. She didn’t give her yearmate any time to respond before continuing. “I thought you might be at first, back on the train, because you reminded me of how daddy used to get. So I’ve kept an eye on you all this time. You’ve been in a bad mood since that first morning, haven’t expressed anything beyond irritation from what I’ve seen, you barely eat, fall asleep during meals –and I can’t be sure, but I think you’ve had trouble remembering things and might even be getting phantom pains.”

Ginny stared uncomprehendingly at the Ravenclaw, not sure how to take the sudden switch from eccentric to firmly concerned that Luna so seldom exhibited. Depressed? Was that what this was? But Kouhei had never felt like this over nothing, even when his closest friends had forsaken him he kept an iron fist over both his subordinates and himself. The only time he had experienced this was warranted; it had been after  his mother had died. Was –was it because she was weak? She had been weak and foolish during her possession and that had –felt just like-

“I don’t think that’s right, Luna.” Ginny choked out, unknowingly looking extremely troubled.

“And why not?” Luna asked immediately, sounding genuinely curious.

“Because –because-” Because Kouhei wasn’t like me. Now that I have Kouhei’s memories, this kind of thing shouldn’t happen. I should be able to handle it, like he did.

“There’s no reason why not. I know what it looks like, Ginn-ei, and you are in the early stages of depression. I don’t want to see you when it gets really bad.” Ginny looked at Luna, who averted her eyes slightly and was staring past her as if she wasn’t even there. “You –you’re different than you were in first year, Ginn-ei. Please, let me help. Even if you don’t go to Madam Pomfrey... I could listen, if you need to talk. I want to help you.”

“Help?” Ginny couldn’t seem to get her head around anything Luna was saying. For all the emotional and mental turmoil that gaining Kouhei’s memories had resulted in, she could honestly say that they had been far more a reassurance than a hindrance these past few months. Had they not been there, she was sure she wouldn’t have lasted very long without completely breaking down, and the constant pressure of them in the back of her mind –ready for her to need them or to come to her unbidden when she touched their scars –had helped her confidence and health. Had they not been there, she wouldn’t have sought Percy out, she wouldn’t have knocked some sense into Harry... but if they hadn’t been here, would she still be feeling like this? Would she still be –depressed?

Luna was waiting for something –an answer, a reaction. Ginny looked down to the floor, mind in turmoil over –why was she so bothered by this? Her hands cradled her stomach unconsciously, right over those same wounds that had started this over two years ago. They sparked warningly with sensation, but she could endure that for the ease with which it gave way to Kouhei, whose experiences washed over her mind comfortingly.

That period after his mother’s death, full of fighting and arguing, blanks in his memory and aches all over his body, that had ended with his hospitalization –it had been the worst time of his life. He had raged against the unfairness of his mother leaving, fought tooth and nail against his stepfather who had only been trying to help; after all was said and done, the doctors had diagnosed him with depression, advised on a drug regimen and therapy, and he had disregarded them all. He had gone back to fighting, never went to the psychiatrist, and eventually cut himself off from his stepfather. He had been close to giving up when he had met Kyousuke, but with time he had recovered on his own. He never wanted to have to feel that way again.

Luna could be like... Kyousuke.

Would Luna be able to accept them as they were? Percy hadn’t had much difficulty, but he had been family. Luna was practically a stranger to them now; even the weeks in her company hadn’t given way to friendship in the normal sense. A stab of pain brought Ginny back to herself and she felt an unfounded sure of anger surface when she removed her hands from her stomach.

“Fine, fine. You want to listen to me, I’ll damn well tell you what’s wrong.” Luna didn’t look surprised –she took a moment to sit down, silent, and then looked at Ginny expectantly.

“What’s wrong is that I’m not Ginny anymore. I’m Kouhei and Ginny and I thought I was dead before I woke up in that thrice damned hospital. I’m not just Ginny and yet I have to be just her or risk getting sent to the fucking mental ward! I have to get used to all this magical bullshit where before I was a muggle and I’m almost three years younger than I was when I died, and I’m a girl now!” Ginny spat this all out rapidly, not taking any time to really explain things to Luna, just wanting to get the emotional crap done and out of the way as fast as possible. “I’m not a girl, but I’m not a man anymore either, and I can’t exactly say that to anyone, not even Percy, because there’s another reason to think I’m crazy. And I won’t be able to find Tetsuji until I get my passport, which will take an entire sodding year! An entire year before I can tell him I’m sorry –and I can’t wait that long Luna, I can’t –I feel so bloody useless sitting here in a school! I feel awful! I’m tired and angry and hurting and you’re the only one I can tell anything to now! Kami, Luna, how do I make it stop!?”

Ginny didn’t cry this time; she felt almost as if she had cried herself dry the last few times, but by the end of her tirade her eyes hurt and her chest ached and her scars were throbbing even more. But she was so desperate –she wanted to feel normal again, she wanted to feel as strong as Kouhei again –and Luna knew what was happening to her. Luna was staring at her, and Ginny almost felt bad for unloading all of this onto her until the other girl surged up and hugged her tightly.

“It’s going to take a while, Ginn-ei, and hard work.” Luna said determinedly. “But I’ll help in any way I can. If you really want to feel better, I promise you you will!”

Ginny felt like a hypocrite. She had told Ron that just because Harry had Voldemort after him didn’t mean that Harry was the only one with problems. She had told Harry that when bad things happened to him, he wasn’t the only one affected by them. Yet here she was being so blindsided by this... depression that she was practically breaking down to anyone who showed her even the smallest concern, as if Percy and Luna didn’t have problems of their own, as if Ginny was the only one hurting.

Luna drew away and with a start Ginny finally recognized that expression that had flitted over her face before, on the train. It was the same face she herself had had in first year, before finding Tom’s diary; nervous, ready to defend, who-is-this-why-are-they-here-are-they-a-threat? Luna smiled at her, and Ginny suddenly realized that despite their differences, the years since they had been eleven hadn’t been kind to Luna either.

Kyousuke was similar to me because he knew what it was like to try and dull yourself to pain. Luna is like me because she knows how it feels to be too weak to make the pain stop. She isn’t our Kyousuke –she’s our Luna.

“So, I should probably explain what that jumbled mess of a confession really was, huh? Then you can tell me what you’re going to be having me do. You were right in that I’m not going to go to Madam Pomfrey.”

Vvv

The weeks following that discussion/heart-to-heart went much smoother than the first month for Ginny. Luna’s strategy for overcoming depression (learned originally so she could help her father) consisted of six things, some of which Ginny found easier than others.

Firstly, she had to make an effort to be more outgoing socially; this entailed interacting with her yearmates, her family, and sending more frequent letters than she had been doing. She didn’t particularly mind sending more letters, neither did her parents or Percy for that matter, but she was struggling with being more familiar with those around her –half the time she still wanted to crawl into a hole and wait for the year to be over. But any time she wanted to do that, she was kept occupied by the second strategy, a meaningful hobby, where she had to dedicate herself to something sincerely. For this she chose religious research (all sorts but mainly Buddhism, Shinto and the bits of Ainu Animism he had been taught by his grandparents) –hoping to find an inkling of why she had regained Kouhei’s memories if her theory of reincarnation was true. Regular exercise, while a chore to her fatigued mind, was something she was at least mildly prepared for, and her three week long break from the work outs was pushed aside with her renewed –if grudging –focus.

Then there was the obvious, a diet consisting of healthier foods than Hogwarts was known to serve. For this they had gone down to the kitchens and Luna had politely requested the slight menu additions, so now Ginny was eating far better than she ever had before –even when she had been Kouhei. The last two strategies were the simplest of the lot but also the hardest to acquire; exposure to sunlight and good quality, restful sleep.

The United Kingdom, for all it’s worth, wasn’t exactly well known for its beautiful weather. Even during the summer months it tended towards clouds more often than not. But Luna assured her that as long as she at least made time to relax outside everyday it would be fine. And then there was trying to get a good night’s sleep.

The Gryffindor dorms were not the quietest of the houses. That was especially true now that several older girls had noticed that the enchantments on the stairs were down, and they could have sex and butterbeer drinking contests and other such things in their rooms instead of the common room or the boy’s dorms. But first Ginny had to actually get to sleep, which was about as easy as pulling teeth.

So it was hard going, but Ginny was determined to power through it –she wasn’t weak.

Vvv

The only thing that had put a damper on the week was her DADA tutoring session and the absolute bitch that was in charge of it –the class was one of three postponed until October since Umbridge was new to both the school and teaching. It was the third last of all the staggered classes for her to take on –there was only Muggle Studies and Arithmancy to deal with getting used to now.

“Now, I have been informed of your circumstances, Miss Weasley, and I must say I am quite looking forward to guiding your learning –what with you being practically just introduced to proper schooling when your youth was so cruelly snatched from you.” Ginny had been in a slight state of shock from the state of the classroom, and she had barely registered the prattle of the pink clad woman at first. “I must inform you of course, that I only expect the very best from all of my students. This applies to your schoolwork, your preparation, and your behaviour. I expect to be given respect as your teacher, and in turn I hope I can nurture your growth in this subject as if you were a normal student.”

That got a bit of a rise from her at least, but she resolved to ignore it. There was no point antagonizing a teacher at a boarding school –when he had attended Japanese public schools he could just skip class or walk out without having any real consequences since high school was optional (was it still?), but that had been a different country, a different situation.

“I trust you have your copy of Wilbert Slinkhard’s Defensive Magical Theory? Yes, there it is. Alright, I want you to read the first chapter, and then start a reflective essay on the chapter. The essay should be four feet long and will be due next week. If you have any questions, raise your hand Miss Weasley, is that clear?”

Ginny had nodded, causing the woman to tut disappointedly.

“That won’t due, Miss Weasley, although I will excuse it since this is your fist class under my tutelage. When I ask for your input, I want you to respond with ‘yes, Professor Umbridge’ or ‘no, Professor Umbridge’. Now, is all of this clear?”

Unsure whether to be dumbfounded or infuriated, Ginny had simply answered as the teacher required. The rest of that class had been her attempting to read the complete drivel she had been assigned and the occasional fantasy of taking a lead pipe to the Professor’s knees. Umbridge reminded her far too much of Kouhei’s former teachers –the pretentious attitude, complete focus on grades and demand for the respect they didn’t grant their students. Treat them as an authority or they won’t treat you like a person, Kyousuke had always said –ironic considering their overall amiable relationship with Fujioka-oyaji, where they most certainly didn’t treat the older man as an authority even after he had become Kyousuke’s parole officer. She was sure that if Umbridge knew she had been a muggle a lifetime ago, she would be faced with similar prejudice and bigotry as Kouhei had experienced from the teachers that knew of his Ainu heritage. Umbridge hadn’t yet expressed much anti-muggle sentiment directly to her face (she seemed to concentrate more on the anti-creature opinion), but a few remarks her housemates had muttered about in the common room made it clear the Ministry woman thought as highly of muggles as she did of breeding cattle.

By the end of that tutoring session, if you could call it that, Ginny’s blood was boiling underneath her skin and she felt as alive as she had ever been –coursing on the high of stewed anger and ruminating on the parallels of slights against both her and her past self. When classes let out for the day for everyone else, she was near vibrating with restrained energy, and sought her three brothers out immediately with demands for a game of pick up –anything to get this urge to beat someone up out of her system. Luna ended up tagging along, a vacant smile on her face the whole time but the sort that Ginny had come to recognize as being one of approval (the redhead felt a familiar stab of gratitude for the Ravenclaw at the sight).

They ended up being out on the Quidditch pitch long enough that they nearly missed dinner altogether, but Ginny thought it was worth it when she collapsed boneless into one of the couches in the common room, for once completely relaxed even when surrounded by people she still didn’t feel comfortable around. The common room was warm, emptying for the night, and she was surrounded by easy chatter –if she kept her eyes closed she could pretend that she was far away from here, in the presence of the ones she desperately wanted to see.

“Oi, Kouhei, your hair’s getting pretty long, huh?”

The middle schooler scowled at the one who had pointed it out –Parko was waiting for him across the street like he always did, a shit eating grin plastered on his face. He probably thought he finally had something to hold over him... or he was drunk, Kouhei had never been too good at telling the difference with the other teen.

“Fucking hilarious coming from you, you marimo-permed weirdo.”

“Shut the fuck up!” Parko yelled, but he fell into step with Kouhei all the same. “I wasn’t making fun of you, bastard, I was gonna ask if you were gonna get it cut since it’s summer now.”

Kouhei absently twirled a lock of faded brown hair around his index finger. “It is getting a little out of hand. Asuna even commented on it.”

Parko twitched at the name of Kouhei’s latest girlfriend, but otherwise didn’t explode like he normally would. Kouhei occasionally thought that if he got rid of that ridiculous haircut and stopped wearing jinbei outside of his house, he might have a chance with a woman... and then he really thought about it.

“...nah, you’re hopeless enough as it is...”

“The fuck did you say, baldy*?!”

Ginny twirled a lock of red hair through her fingers, glad she had finally gotten Luna to give her a haircut. Really, hair that nearly reached her ass was just impractical, and though she wanted it even shorter (and back to blonde), she figured she could make do with her old middle school haircut until she was ready to go find Tetsuji. It would upset her mother less at the very least.

“Ginny? There’s something I wanted to speak with you about.” The redhead opened her eyes and turned to regard Hermione, who was looking at her expectantly from the couch opposite.

“Mm? What is it?” Emboldened by her acceptance, Hermione drew herself up and looked extremely proud and nervous, prompting Ron to join in as well.

“As you might have noticed, Umbridge is teaching us exactly nothing in her classes-“ She glared at Ron when he sniggered, huffing in irritation. “-and anyways, I had the idea that Harry would teach us Defence in her place, in secret. I wanted to invite you to join, not only because you’re going to need all the help you can get, no offense, but because I feel that it would do you good in other ways. If you want to come, we’re all going to meet at the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade on the weekend to see how many people will be signing up.”

“So even you’ll admit that she’s a minging bloody bint?” Ginny asked, partly teasing, laughing when the two fifth years and the twins stared at her agape for a moment at her language. “Sure, sounds interesting. But is the Hog’s Head really the best place for such a secret meeting?”

In one of her rare lucid spells about two weeks ago, Ginny had wanted someone to talk her ear off about something inane (she still wasn’t sure why), and so she had asked one of her dormmates about the shops in Hogsmeade. The other girl had been surprised at the question, but had soon been contentedly filling her in about every shop and sight she could remember in the all-wizarding village, starting with the eateries and ending with the Shrieking Shack. From Kouhei’s experiences, warehouses and abandoned factories (while not the safest) were the best places for large group meetings, especially once the police went on their guard. That was why it was only the upper officers of the Snake Heads that had met in the basement of that restaurant –and even then they had cleared the place out beforehand.

“Anyone can walk into a bar and listen in –and before you say anything, it’s obvious you’re worried about that, otherwise the group wouldn’t be a secret and you’d be meeting in the Three Broomsticks or something... I’ll come either way, but keep that in mind.” When she left a few seconds later, Hermione was deep in thought and scribbling away on a spare sheet of parchment while her brothers looked on.

Luna would be glad to hear that she was about to get involved in something other than brooding at least.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

Ginny continued on to her other classes for the rest of the week, still fatigued and listless but at least determined to concentrate and remember her schoolwork. They were still going over the first year curriculum, so it wasn’t as hard as it could have been, and by the time she entered her Muggle Studies class on Friday morning her dislike of Umbridge had been mostly forgotten.

And she even found herself... not enjoying the class, per say, but at the very least not finding it troublesome. Professor Burbage was a good natured, middle aged witch who had amiably talked about the course work for several minutes before giving her a sheet of questions to determine what year she would start in. Ginny felt she did rather well, for all that her knowledge was a decade and a half out of date –when it came to how things worked and what the internet entailed, she was still quite clueless –and she was started in on 5th year work.

Arithmancy followed that afternoon, and it was both... like and not like Ginny had expected. Professor Vector was a no nonsense sort of woman, who efficiently told her what each year covered (basic maths, advanced maths, arithmetic, numerology, and pure arithmancy) before handing her several work sheets and telling her to get to it. Vector had ended up pronouncing her ‘adequate’ and had assigned her to the regular fourth year studies without pause.

                Then the weekend had come around, and much to Ginny’s satisfaction Hermione did indeed take her advice into account; come Saturday the rather large group of students had convened in the back room of the Hog’s Head to go over the relocation, and had split off into random clusters to make their way over to Madame Puddifoot’s. Surprisingly it had been Cho to suggest it, saying that the romantic cafe wasn’t frequented by anyone other than couples very often and even had a few private dining rooms in the back for Valentine’s parties.

Harry had been visibly agitated when he first saw the large gathering, but on the walk over had seemed to calm down exponentially. By the time they were all situated in the private room with butterbeers and scones and the like, he had stopped shooting Hermione exasperated looks and instead was stuck on ‘reluctantly agreeable’, which was a vast improvement if Ginny’s past experience with his moods was anything to go by. Ginny stayed mainly at the back of the room with Luna, forcing down a couple of sandwiches on the blonde’s insistence, and kept silent all through the introductions, explanations and inevitable disagreements –she was going to keep an eye on a few attendees in particular, but she wasn’t about to get involved unless she absolutely had to.

Even with her attention mostly focused on the conversation going on, she couldn’t stop her mind from wandering. Once again she found herself ruminating on the differences between the wizarding youth of today and the teenagers she had known as Kouhei. Back then, their united front had been a given against society’s expectations of conformity; they had rebelled the only way they knew how, and had taken comfort in the fact that they weren’t alone by forming groups and factions. Maybe that was why their bonds were forged to be unbreakable in such short amounts of time? They may have been different as people, but their ‘oppression’ was the same and so was their rebellion –they could instantly relate on a basic level, and that was enough to smooth over any other differences.

“You’re shittin’ me.”

Teru laughed loudly, drawing the attention of the other diner patrons for a moment before they lost interest again. The pair was sitting at their usual table, once again waiting on Kiiko and Parko but not too bothered by the others’ lateness as they hadn’t had a good chance to talk one-on-one since the three had returned from Toarushi. Unsurprisingly, Kouhei was rather taken aback by the sudden revelation that his good friend had went and found himself a man to call his brother in such a short absence.

“What can I say? He sure made one hell of an impression.” Teru said easily, smiling like an idiot. “At first I just thought he was some tough guy keeping an eye on his turf, but when we fought-” Teru gestured wildly, an expression on his face unlike anything Kouhei had seen from him before. “-I never believed in that ‘connected through fists’ shit before, but that’s what happened! How could I refuse when he asked?”

“Ah...” Kouhei didn’t know how to react to Teru’s glowing praise. “Sounds like the kind of guy you’d get along with.”

What was it about this Ryuushin that made Teru look so proud? “You’d like Ryuushin too, Kouhei, if you met him. A lot of those guys from Toarushi were a riot, you should ask Parko about Katayama...” Somehow Kouhei didn’t envision himself asking. “How about you, Kouhei? I feel bad –we haven’t really seen each other since before I went off with Kiiko and Parko. Did you get a brother while we were gone?”

Kouhei felt his face redden against his will, and his mind drifted briefly to one particular man he had recently been introduced to by Hacchou. “No, of course not! I’m not an easily trusting moron like you!”

Here in the British Wizarding community however, not only were the people different in their goals, beliefs and backgrounds, but their ‘oppressors’ weren’t the same, and neither were their methods of resisting that conformity. The adults were split between wariness of the Ministry, Voldemort or muggles, and there were so many different ways they tried to oppose them that no one crossed paths along the way, let alone interacted enough to form bonds. The students were divided even further –the Ministry, Umbridge, Voldemort, their families, the houses, the years, Purebloods, non-Purebloods, Muggles. And most students weren’t inclined to the same type of resistance; some wanted to stay under the radar, others wanted to wreak havoc, there was this ‘secret study group’, there were probably some who agreed with Umbridge, then there were a lot who didn’t know what to think and wanted to stay as far from the issue as possible.

Ginny was sure that was the reason behind the discrepancy between the similar age groups. The kids at Hogwarts were just too divided, they didn’t have any real common ground other than magic –and that wasn’t much of one, because almost as soon as they got to the goddamn magic school they were segregated into the houses. Even the Snake Heads, for all they had been a gang, even they had had friendships outside of the team –if he remembered correctly for one, Yukio’s older brother and best friend were both high ranking officers in the Manji Empire.

Thinking about it made her head ache, made her wish for the simpler times when a one-on-one could solve disagreements between entire gangs, where two faction heads becoming brothers could usher in ceasefires that encompassed entire towns, where even after he had tried to take down Parko and Dangerers he had still been invited to welcome Kyousuke out of Juvie with them. She really didn’t see the appeal of this insular community anymore.

“They don’t exist, Neville.”

“Oh, yes, they do!” Luna said angrily, drawing Ginny out of her and Kouhei’s melded thoughts and back to the situation at hand.

“I’m sorry, but where’s the proof of that?” Hermione retorted, making Luna puff up irritably. Ginny had to wonder if her bad mood that first month hadn’t rubbed off on Luna a bit, as she had never been quite so defensive about her beliefs back in first year... though that may have had more to do with being constantly treated like a duffer at every turn than anything Ginny had to say.

“There are plenty of eye-witness accounts. Just because you’re so narrow-minded you need to have everything shoved under your nose before you-“

Okay, that was definitely Ginny’s frustrated muttering influencing her there. Trying for a quick diffuse, the redhead imitated Umbridge’s stupid ‘hem, hem’ cough fairly accurately and chuckled when several people whipped their heads around in alarm. “Aren’t we getting a bit off topic?”

“Yes!” Hermione said at once, flustered. “Yes, we were, you’re right, Ginny.”

“Well, once a week sounds cool.” Lee Jordan said.

“As long as-”

Ginny tuned the rest of the conversation out to turn to Luna, who wasn’t looking at anything anymore and still gave off an air of being upset at Hermione’s disagreement. She wanted to say something to the other fourth year, cheer her up or whatever, but she couldn’t think of what to tell her.

Before she could decide on a course of action, Hermione passed her and Luna a piece of parchment to sign; it felt odd when she touched it, and without even noticing what she was doing, one of her hands laid over her stomach and she could suddenly feel a tingling shooting up her arm from the quill as she wrote her name down. She had felt that same sensation before, somewhere, and her uneasy approach to all things wizard made her corner Hermione about it before the older Gryffindor could leave.

“Y-Are you sure you felt something, Ginny?” Hermione asked, a slight tremor in her voice. Ginny nodded and raised an eyebrow, staring at her brother’s friend until she broke. “I-I put a jinx on it, so anyone who told-well, they would be instantly recognizable, the word ‘SNEAK’ would’ve been written on their forehead. It’s just a precaution.”

Ginny was quite unimpressed, Kouhei was downright disappointed –all this magic business, and wizards didn’t seem to have any creativity or common sense. “First off, make a new sign up parchment. Don’t give me that look, make a new one and put a spell on it that prevents people from snitching, because with this we can still be ousted. If you can’t do that, then you might as well find a different punishment, because this is both shaky and a feeble consequence. On that note, you either tell the others about the next jinxed parchment, or I will tell them about both.”

“What?”

“Keeping a secret like this from before we even get started will only lead to strife if it ever comes out later. You don’t have to tell them about this first jinx, but one of us will when it comes to the improved one. As well, how about you spell it so that only you can read it or locate it? Then it won’t matter if you leave it lying out.” Really, no common sense. Hermione even had the audacity to look surprised at the suggestions, but she at least promised to think them over before Ginny and Luna took their leave. If Kouhei had had access to magic back when he ran the Snake Heads, he would’ve been able to accomplish so much more than any wizard-raised could even begin to dream of-

Luna still looked upset.

Ginny didn’t like Luna being anything other than content. Maybe it was because Kouhei had treated his friends pretty awfully for a long time and Ginny had had Molly as a nurturing, cares-too-much, motherly role model, but whenever Ginny saw Luna upset since their big confrontation –well, it made her feel far too compassionate for her emotionally-stunted dual mind to process properly.

What she was trying to say was; though it didn’t sound like it, any reassurances she gave sounded far too mushy to her even when they just came out as stilted.

“Luna, you shouldn’t mind what Hermione says. She’s always sceptical of stuff like that.” Neither Ginny nor Kouhei had ever been the comforting type, ‘This is so awkward, fuck’. “Which is fucked up, y’know? I mean, she’s muggleborn isn’t she? What exactly did she think when she got the Hogwarts letter? ‘Of course, this magical shit is completely logical and I should take it seriously even though I’ve probably only seen easily written off accidental magic as evidence?’ No, she probably thought magic was a load of bullshit at first too, I know I –er, Kouhei did.”

Ginny didn’t think she’d said anything too special, but Luna was smiling again, so it was some sort of victory.

Vvv

The first meeting for the ‘secret study group’ came after three days of sudden changes, frustration in all four houses, and uncertainty on all fronts. Umbridge had been able to pass an Educational Decree which basically outlawed all manner of student organizations –which Ginny hadn’t predicted but she still felt vindicated on some shallow level. The Gryffindor Quidditch team in particular had been especially irate because of the delay in their team restoration, and Ginny had cussed them out under her breath on more than one occasion on just Monday alone.

So it was something of a relief that they were finally there, in what Harry called the Room of Requirement, ready to start whatever-this-was and get some much needed practice. Hermione brought up the issue of a name, and for a moment Ginny thought she was going to have to make good on her threat of telling everyone about the jinxed paper, but luckily for her it didn’t come to that; her brother’s friend soon told them about the new secrecy jinxed list. The second piece of parchment was quickly passed around, this time bearing the heading of ‘Dumbledore’s Army’, and once everyone had signed Hermione slipped it into her bag and assured them she would be the only one able to find it.

Harry soon had them starting on the Disarming Charm –predictably, Ginny partnered with Luna and wasn’t very good at the spellwork. Another day, another issue to dwell on, it seemed; though this one was easily reasoned on being due to Kouhei’s tendency for physical fighting and his distaste for magic in general.

The ‘study session’ passed by in a blur, but not an unpleasant one. By the time Harry was calling a halt to the spell fire it was ten past nine and Ginny was already realizing a big flaw in their location.

Before Harry could even take a step towards the door with that map of his, Ginny had whispered the suggestion to Luna (if she were the voice of reason too often Hermione would get suspicious) and the Ravenclaw had loudly called for their ‘leader’s’ attention. When Harry asked what it was, Luna only pointed to three small doors that had appeared suddenly on the opposite wall of the room, each done in house colours and leading, upon inspection, directly outside their respective common rooms.

“That’s brilliant, Luna! Here, let me check if there are any teachers around there...”

Vvv

Ginny refused. She was not going, no matter how many times Hermione tutted at her worriedly, no matter how often McGonagall pulled her aside for a conversation laced in subterfuge, no matter how many times her mother insisted on it in her letters. She wasn’t going even if she lost Gryffindor every last house point it had, even if she got issued detentions from now to Christmas, even if she was banned from every Hogsmeade weekend until her seventh year. She. Was. Not. Going.

To clarify, after the second tutoring session Ginny had decided that Umbridge was too intolerable for further exposure, and had deftly informed her head of house that she wouldn’t continue the classes to save her life. As she had said so in the middle of the Great Hall at dinner on the Monday night of what would have been the third session, it was no surprise that the statement had spread like wildfire through Hogwarts practically overnight.

It was now two and a half weeks after the fact, and despite Umbridge’s best efforts –which for whatever reason did not include an Educational Decree –she hadn’t gone back to the tutoring period, nor any of the detentions the pink clad, simpering woman had attempted to assign her. It was, frankly, both liberating and a great boost to her overall state of mind, as Luna had approvingly pointed out a few days prior. It also garnered the approval of a majority of her yearmates and otherwise, the most notable exception being Hermione; even Percy had only asked her if this was really what she wanted to do before accepting it.

On their way down to the Quidditch pitch, Ginny happily spoke with Luna about her day and answered a few of the blonde’s questions about Kouhei; mainly things like ‘what does Ainu heritage mean?’, ‘had he ever seen a Tengu?’, and ‘why would he dislike magic so much?’ All the queries were interesting but made her think hard or have to do a lot of explaining, so Ginny was glad when they made it to the pitch and had to cease the 20 questions while they found a seat. 

The match was frustrating, and altogether interesting for the wrong reasons. It was nice seeing her brothers’ play and she cheered on the team with the best of them, but the Slytherins rendition of ‘Weasley is our King’ put a sour note on the entire event and made Ron lose his confidence faster than she had ever seen before. It made her blood boil to hear it.

Then she overheard that a bunch of the more dedicated fans were going down to the change rooms, so they could burst onto the field the moment Gryffindor won and celebrate with the team. Without really thinking about it, Ginny bade Luna goodbye and joined them, thinking to use the opportunity to tell Ron he did well and maybe even get a scathing remark in towards that pillock Malfoy.

Cormac Mc-something was leading the contingent, and once he shouted that Harry had caught the snitch, the fifty or so Gryffindors spilled out onto the pitch and zeroed in on the group of landed players, all of whom looked surprised and elated at their approach. Ginny was just swept along for the most part, dampening down her crowd nerves for the greater good of Ron’s self esteem, but in the end, she didn’t make it that far. She was deposited on the opposite side of the pack from Ron, nearby to Harry, Fred, George and Malfoy –and while at first she thought it might be a good time to bring him down a peg, then she caught on to what he was spewing.

“But we couldn’t find rhymes for fat and ugly-we wanted to sing about his mother, see-”

Ginny froze on the spot at that, unsure if what she had heard was right. The fire that had been slowly burning since ‘Weasley is our King’ began was stoked right then, but Ginny tried to stamp it down. ‘Don’t go postal, don’t go postal, he isn’t worth it...’ Fear and anger battled in her mind with equal force –it wasn’t just Kouhei’s temper anymore, somehow she had started thinking like this too...

“-we couldn’t fit in useless loser either-for his father, you know-”

“Leave it!” Angelina shouted at her brothers. “Leave it, Fred, let him yell, he’s just sore he lost, the jumped-up little-”

“-but you like the Weasley’s, don’t you, Potter?” Malfoy sneered, but Ginny didn’t hear ‘Potter’, she heard ‘Jinnai’. “Spend holidays there and everything, don’t you? Can’t see how you stand the stink, but I suppose when you’ve been dragged up by muggles, even the Weasley’s hovel smells OK-”

In their peripheral, Harry had grabbed hold of George and Fred was being held back by Angelina, Alicia, and Katie all at once. Malfoy was laughing openly, and the roaring in Ginnei’s ears grew the more they ran Malfoy’s words over in their mind, Jinnai superimposed over Potter more prominently each time.

“Or perhaps-” Malfoy said, making Ginnei’s eyes snap to him and their fists clench so tightly the skin was ready to break. “-you can remember what your mother’s house stank like, ([Jinnai]), and Weasley’s pigsty reminds you of it-”

Harry didn’t even have time to release George before Ginnei was pushing past them both and sprinting towards Malfoy. They had lost all semblance of rationality, falling back into the crazed mindset that hid behind the calm front, the same one that had been born after their mother’s death and had put so many men who had opposed them into the hospital for weeks and months. They had completely forgotten about keeping a low profile, did not care that the entire school and all the teachers were watching –they wanted to beat Malfoy to a bloody pulp. With no one to stop them they drew back their fist and slammed it as hard as possible into Malfoy’s nose, following up seconds later with a punch to the blonde’s gut.

“Ginny! Ginny, stop, stop!”

Some of the girls on the field screamed, Malfoy cried out as he toppled to the ground and Ginnei kicked him hard in the crotch before dropping down to straddle his stomach, continuing to wail on him with their fists. This was how it felt to be alive again, they realized, completely fused –the full force of Ginny’s pre-possession single-mindedness and Kouhei’s ferocity and ruthlessness as the Snake Heads leader. They moved to the side after a crack to Malfoy’s chin just as a red spell flew into their chest, and a whistle was blaring in their ears as they felt hands grab their arms and shoulders and begin to wrench them off of the blonde.

“Don’t think you can just insult my mother to my face like that you shit-faced little pissant!” Ginnei spat as Fred and George forcibly dragged them away from the bleeding and moaning boy curled up on the pitch. “Get up and take it, bitch! Fucking take what you brought on yourself or go crying to your father like the gutless coward you are! Eat shit and die!”

“Ginn-ei, please, stop!”

Luna appeared in front of them then, looking scared and apprehensive –of them? She was frightened of them? Slowly, Ginnei stopped trying to thrash and stared at their friend unblinkingly until the Ravenclaw relaxed minutely, and they could feel an answering slacken in their brother’s hold on them. But Ginnei didn’t try to get back to Malfoy. The crowd murmured uneasily around them, yet Ginnei wasn’t paying any attention to it; Hooch screeched about going to McGonagall’s office, and Ginnei only moved when Luna grabbed their elbow and tugged along with Fred and George. Nothing was said between them during the walk up to the office door, not until McGonagall herself came marching down the hallway towards them, looking as livid as Ginnei had ever seen her.

“Inside!” She barked, following their group inside, slamming the door and drawing herself to her full height once she had strode behind her desk.

What is the meaning of this?” She demanded. “Miss Weasley, I have never seen such a horrendous and disgraceful display of violence! Explain yourself immediately!”

“Malfoy was talking shit about my mother.” Ginnei ground out.

“Language, Miss Weasley!” McGonagall shouted, looking even more furious if it was possible. “Provocation is one thing! Of course he would say such things, he had just lost hadn’t he? What on earth did he say that justified that brutal exposition?!”

“He insulted my parents!” Ginnei snarled. “And Harry’s mother! Practically called us garbage to our faces! The son of a bitch brought it on himself!”

Language! But instead of leaving it to Madam Hooch to deal with, you decided to put on a show of muggle duelling!? I have half a mind to suspend you this instant!” McGonagall bellowed. “Have you any idea what you’ve-?”

“Hem, hem.”

Ginnei would have spun around and taken a few of Umbridge’s teeth out if Luna hadn’t been holding onto their elbow so tightly. As it was, the DADA professor stepped into their line of sight wearing a green tweed cloak and a horrible, ominous smile that did nothing to quash that raging fury that still clouded Ginnei’s vision.

“May I help, Professor McGonagall?” she asked sweetly. Ginnei wanted to kick her in the throat.

“Help? What do you mean, help?”

“Why, I thought you might be grateful for a little extra authority.”

Fred and George shifted oddly on either side of them as McGonagall reddened. “You thought wrong.” She said curtly, before returning her focus to Ginnei. “Now, you had better listen closely, Miss Weasley. I do not care what provocation Mr. Malfoy offered you. I do not care if he insulted every family member you have ever had, and I do not care if he deserved it or not. Your behaviour was reprehensible and I am giving you two week’s worth of detentions! This will not be excused and if you ever-”

“Hem, hem.”

Ginnei barely listened as Umbridge took over the conversation by revealing another of her Educational Decrees. Luna still gave off the air of a cornered animal, and that was really all that was worth paying attention to –Ginnei had caused that, it was all their fault and they couldn’t take it back.  Umbridge rolled up the Decree a few minutes later and concluded with a flourish;

“So... I really think I will have to ban Miss Weasley from playing or viewing Quidditch ever again.”

Their brothers sounded horrified, Ginnei didn’t care. Their broom back at home would be confiscated and new enchantments would be placed on the pitch to keep them from watching. Umbridge left a silence in her wake, one that didn’t break until McGonagall told them all they could leave.

Vvv

Luna was scared, terrified even, as she took Ginnei from Fred and George and swiftly tugged them along towards the come-and-go room. She was terrified that it was going to happen all over again, that she hadn’t got to Ginnei fast enough, that Ginnei wouldn’t recover from this and go farther than her father had after her mother had died. Luna didn’t want that to happen Ginnei –she had thought she could stop it from happening!

Ginnei was unusually cooperative as Luna manhandled them onto a squishy couch near the room’s fireplace and draped a thick, soft blanket over their shoulders. She grew more concerned; was it already too late? Not knowing what else to do, Luna sat down beside her friend and cradled their hands between her own.

“Ginnei? Ginnei, please, what’s wrong? Please talk to me, please, I want to help.”

Ginnei didn’t react for a few seconds, but then they turned horribly blank eyes in Luna’s direction and said-

“Ginny.” Luna stopped breathing. “I’m Ginny. I’m sorry I scared you, Luna. It’s not going to happen again. I’m myself now. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“G-Ginny.” Luna said. The girl beside her nodded and Luna felt horrified. Ginny had forgotten Kouhei? Luna had listened to Ginny talk about how she was struggling with Kouhei’s violent inclinations, his powerful instincts, his over protective moods. Ginny had shut Kouhei out and was sorry she had scared Luna –was this her fault? Did she do this to Ginny because she hadn’t properly told her how she felt about the whole situation?

“Don’t cry, Luna. I’m fine now, see?” Ginny tried smiling, but it didn’t look right with her eyes like that. “See? No need to cry, everything’s back to the way it was. Please don’t cry, Luna.”

But Luna couldn’t stop even if she wanted to.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

                Ginny carried on as she did before, but for Luna (who spent all of her time with the redhead), it was obvious that a part of her friend was broken, and she didn’t know if it was beyond repair or not.

After the Quidditch pitch incident, everyone walked on egg shells while Ginny was in the vicinity, even the teachers. Malfoy had been legitimately held up in the Hospital Wing for two days after his run in with Ginnei, a fact that had set the Hogwarts rumour mill to blazing. It had been another two days after his release when he revealed the reason why –his nose had needed to be re-grown entirely, and until that was done Madam Pomfrey hadn’t been able to heal any of his other injuries due to the clashing magic. Several of those who were wizard raised didn’t know what a ‘hyphema’ or an ‘orbital blowout fracture*’ was, but by the time they did barely anyone outside of Luna and her brothers even went near Ginny.  Luna wasn’t sure whether Ginny even noticed the hesitancy everyone employed towards her with how out of it she was.

                Ginny seemed to be trying to act... ‘normal’, but far from succeeding she was only causing Luna to fret over her even more. She was listless, blank, hollow –depressed, she had relapsed even with Luna’s best efforts to the contrary, even when Luna was doing her best to keep her in the same mindset as before she had beat up Malfoy. When Ginny had tried to attend DADA tutoring again, Luna had skipped class to stop her, knowing it would only make things so much worse for the Gryffindor without Kouhei acting as a buffer. When she had attempted to reason her way into the detentions she had skipped out of spite, Luna went and prevented that as well, having heard the whispers of ‘blood quill’ in the halls and classrooms. Whenever Ginny tried to do anything to force herself back to normal, Luna tried to be there to stop it –maybe if she showed Ginny that her actions with Kouhei were better for her, she might be able to heal on her own.

Because Luna was not about to let her only friend damage herself when she wasn’t in a rational state of mind. Because no matter how often Ginny assured her of the opposite (and that was one of the first tells), the redhead was not rational. Luna had seen the empty stares during conversation (stilted, forced) lulls, the bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, the absence of food on her plate until Luna had decided to simply bring her to the kitchens every day. Because Luna was the only one who could get Ginny to keep doing anything; exercise, eating, relaxing, homework, and all of that was only due to the fact that Ginny had promised to do it all for the depression treatment. Because whenever Luna (rarely) tried to bring up anything at all related to Kouhei, Ginny either had no clue what she was talking about or shut her out entirely.

Luna was more concerned over Ginny than she had ever been worried over anyone else besides her father, and she didn’t know how to make it better.

Vvv

Ginny didn’t particularly want to get back up that evening. She knew she had Astronomy in a few minutes, the only class she shared with Luna and the only class she attended on Wednesdays, but she still didn’t want to get out of her bed. She knew staying would only get her more detentions that Luna wouldn’t let her go to for some reason, but she couldn’t bring herself to feel that bad about it.

The entire day she’d been having this ‘off’ feeling, like she had nearly tipped over in her chair and was suspended in that sensation, and her stomach had been hurting the entire time; it was the main reason why she was contemplating missing the late night class. She didn’t know if it was something she had eaten or whether it was one of Fred and George’s pranks, but she didn’t like it. It reminded her of right after she had woken up in St. Mungo’s, when she had been so affected by the potions that she’d needed to be restrained until her head cleared. Not that it really did any good –ever since she had been released she had been having trouble remembering things.

She probably wasn’t going to feel any better in the next few minutes, so she would just have to go to Madam Pomphrey. Luna would understand if she explained tomorrow –Luna was such a good friend that way, she was so understanding and was so helpful even though Ginny didn’t think she was depressed anymore; she knew Luna only wanted to be completely sure. Maybe she should tell Luna on her way to the Hospital Wing? That way the Ravenclaw wouldn’t have to worry about it all night, and she could tell Professor Sinistra why she wasn’t coming at the same time.

With that decided Ginny swung her legs out from under her comforter, stood up so she could get a move on... and promptly wobbled and fell to the floor.

A minute passed, and then Kou-chan pushed himself up off the hardwood and looked around, his bottom lip wobbling and his stomach hurting really badly. “Kaa-san?” He called out; he tried to stand up but felt weird and sleepy, and bigger than he remembered. “Kaa-san? Tou-san?!” He called again, this time more urgently. When no one answered, Kou-chan whimpered and did his best to stand up, succeeding after a few tries only to fall over onto the bed beside him. He sat up and looked around, not recognizing anything in the room, and with a quickly growing panic he started crying.

The five year old cried for a solid ten minutes, occasionally calling out for his parents or his grandmothers or even Yamamoto-sensei, who wasn’t very nice but would always help him when he needed her to. When his tears had run out and he was left sniffling and alone and cradling his tummy, he became frightened. Kou-chan didn’t know whose bed he was sitting on, but they weren’t here right now so he was sure it was okay for him to hide under the blankets until they came back, and maybe then he would find out where he was.

Kou-chan didn’t want to be here, he wanted to go home! It was Christmas the day after tomorrow, he wanted to eat Kaa-san’s Oden and hear about how Tou-san and Kaa-san had met, like he had been promised! He wanted to go to his day care’s Christmas party and give Shoukichi-kun his secret Santa present, he wanted to go visit Oji-san in Obihiro and learn how to ice fish, he wanted his parents!

Kou-chan fell asleep sobbing, and the next morning Ginny woke up feeling exponentially better and wondering why her eyes were puffy.

Vvv

“I’m a bit worried about it. I wonder if I should go to Madam Pomfrey and ask her to take a look.”

It was the first day of December, and the Sunday morning brought with it a sudden frost and major drop in temperature. The castle was now ever lit with fires and warming charms, and nearly all the students could be found bundled up in mitts and scarves from dawn until dusk. Ginny and Luna were both sitting at the Gryffindor table, breakfast having left several minutes earlier along with most of the population, discussing the recurring stabbing sensations Ginny had been experiencing ever since she missed Astronomy the week before.

“I... don’t think it’s a bad idea.” Luna said neutrally. “Does it really hurt so badly?”

Ginny thought for a moment and shook her head. “I guess not. It’s just... a bit annoying.” To Luna, anything other than apathy coming from her friend was something to be encouraged at this point.

“Well, tell me if it gets worse. This sounds like what Daddy had during one of his worse episodes.”

“If you want me to.”

Luna looked away, trying to focus on her Charms essay but failing miserably. She was practiced when it came to dealing with her father, but Ginny’s low mood was on a whole other level –it wasn’t as easy to see the point in writing about the Gloom Jinx when Ginny exuded the same results naturally. At the same time, Ginny was dutifully copying down the review for her placement quiz in Charms tomorrow, but just barely. She had received a rather odd letter yesterday from Percy, asking about her classes and whether or not her ‘plans for the summer’ had changed. She didn’t know what that meant and it was a distracting thought, certainly more distracting than a lot of other things.

Well, it still placed a far second behind the throbbing in her stomach, but she had just told Luna it wasn’t that bad, she couldn’t go back and change her mind so soon. Not even with this nauseous feeling creeping up on her as she thought about it –‘What the heck?’  Ginny lurched forward suddenly, feeling like she was going to throw up. Beside her, Luna was asking what was wrong, but for some reason it sounded garbled in her ears, like she was speaking a different language. Ginny pressed her forehead to the tabletop and squeezed her eyes shut, shoulders tensed and fingers clasped over her mouth –oh no, she was going to puke, she was going to puke –

Kouhei’s eyes snapped open. His stomach didn’t feel very good, but more concerning was that he didn’t recognize the clothes he was wearing. Someone, a girl, was speaking to him in... English? Raising his head, Kouhei looked around the enormous chamber in awe before his gaze found the worried looking girl sitting next to him.

She was older than he was, probably in middle school or her first year of high school, and was so blatantly gaijin that Kouhei couldn’t help himself from staring. He had never actually seen hair that colour in real life, only on television, and the fact that she was staring right back at him only bolstered his confidence. She was wearing weird earrings, a weird necklace, and weird black and blue clothes –glancing around the room again, there were other people wearing the same clothes but with different colours. Kouhei knew he wasn’t supposed to talk to people he didn’t know... but he didn’t know anyone here.

“Hey lady, where am I?”

Instead of telling him, the girl looked surprised and asked him something in English. “Ginnei? Is that you?” Kouhei was only in 3rd grade, so he wouldn’t start English until middle school, but he was pretty sure ‘Ginnei’ wasn’t an English word. Was that just how gaijin pronounced Jinnai?

“No, I’m Jinnai. Jinnai Kouhei. Who are you?”

Now the girl looked alarmed –was that not what she wanted to hear or something? She didn’t answer him either; instead she stood abruptly and grabbed his hand. Kouhei blushed minutely but followed along behind her nonetheless, starting to think that maybe he was having another fever dream when he looked around and saw the paintings on the walls move.

They climbed a bunch of stairs in silence, and while he trailed after the blonde, Kouhei finally noticed that besides his stomach hurting, his legs were longer and his hair was the wrong colour –it fell in his face and was a bright, burnt red as opposed to his closely cut black hair. Upon inspecting the hand that was holding the girl’s, he found that the scar he’d gotten when skinning that rabbit with Karasuno-jiji was completely gone, and so was the burn on his pinky from helping Kaa-san with Tayako-oba’s daily tea. He was wearing the weird black clothes as well, though his were edged in red, his least favourite colour; he would’ve gotten green or purple edging if he’d had a choice. This must be a dream, he concluded right as the girl stopped outside a wooden door, and the nine year old decided a second later that he wanted to see what would happen, so he’d just go along with it until he woke up.

Just through here, uh... Jinnai. We’ll figure out what’s going on in a second.” The girl was still talking to him in English, and Kouhei was starting to get frustrated with it, he wanted to be able to understand what was going on. But before he could say anything about it she pulled him through the door and all the way over to a tiny man sitting behind a big desk.

Professor, I need your help with something.” The girl said to the man –Kouhei suspected he was some sort of teacher, sitting at such a big desk and all.

Why, hello, Miss Lovegood. What is it you need my help with? Is it a question about tomorrow’s assignment?” The blonde shook her head in response to whatever the teacher had spouted in his squeaky voice.

No, you see, Ginny was hit with a spell just now; I think it was a prank. She can only speak Japanese.” Kouhei perked up at ‘Japanese’, because he at least knew what that meant; did the man know Japanese or something?

Oh, dear. Yes, I can see how this would be a problem. Not to worry, I’ve a translation charm that should work until the original spell wears off. Let’s see here...” The tiny man plucked a stick (???) from on top of the desk and waved it towards Kouhei, who felt an answering trickle of something cold go down his throat. He coughed awfully for a few seconds while the girl beside him spoke again.

“Thank you very much Professor. I need to get Ginny to the Hospital Wing now... you see, that’s where we were headed before this happened.” Kouhei whipped his head around to stare at the girl –who he could now understand perfectly.

“Of course, of course. I hope you feel better, Miss Weasley. Please feel free to come back if there are any problems with the spell!” The man waved as Kouhei was bodily dragged from the room and down the hall, and then into another, this time abandoned, room.

“You can understand me now, Jinnai?” The girl asked immediately, and Kouhei nodded.

“Y-Yeah. Who are you?”

“My name’s Luna. This may seem like an odd question, but do you recognize the name Ginny Weasley?” Kouhei shook his head and Luna’s expression grew troubled. “Well then... how old are you? What’s the last think you remember?”

“I –I’m nine. I was just taking a nap, cause I’ve been out fishing with my Dad since this morning, and Mum wanted me to get some sleep before we went out for dinner. Shouldn’t you already know this?” Luna looked at him confused, so he explained. “This is a dream, shouldn’t you know what I was doing?”

“A... dream. No, it’s not that simple, Jinnai.” Luna seemed to debate with herself on whether or not to continue, but eventually she sighed, defeated. “See, you’re in the body of my friend, Ginny. She told me that she’s your reincarnation. But something bad happened and she shut her memories of your life out completely... I don’t know why you’re here now.”

“I’m going to be a girl in my next life?!” Kouhei demanded, embarrassed. Girls were weird and giggly and liked pink... but then, wasn’t it a good thing to be reborn as a human in the first place? Monk Hiraki at the temple was always saying stuff about this kind of thing, so he supposed it wasn’t the worst thing to happen –he could’ve been a sea cucumber. “Well, okay. What’s going to happen now?”

“It’s Sunday luckily, so there’s no school for either of us. I’d say we should occupy ourselves for the day and if you’re still here tomorrow, then we’ll go to the headmaster.” Luna said neutrally. “It’s a bit cold outside, so why don’t you come with me and we can play some games –oh, are you hungry?”

Past the twinging in his stomach, Kouhei could feel that it was emptier than the lunch he’d just eaten would suggest. “Yeah. Can we eat first?”

Vvv

After Luna brought Kouhei down to the kitchens (and subsequently waited until he had both eaten and gotten over his awe of the house elves), she took him on a tour of the castle. They started with the towers and worked their way down through the rest of the floors, moving leisurely to try and burn daylight and keep themselves busy. Kouhei was a bit overwhelmed by the whole situation, and still partly convinced he was just dreaming this all up, but he paid attention when Luna was talking, didn’t comment when she sometimes called him Ginny, and overall tried to be less of an ‘over excited sugar crazed hellion’ as his neighbour once called him.

Even if this was a dream, the whole ‘magic castle’ business was amazing! Luna said she was a Ravenclaw, the ‘smart house’, and Kouhei believed her because she knew a lot about everything they came across (and a few things they didn’t). She told him funny stories about a few of the portraits, made a challenge out of avoiding the rest of the students and faculty, and eventually –once they did get around to playing board games in a room she called the Come-And-Go room –she even told him about Ginny and the kind of person his reincarnation is.

Kouhei didn’t think he liked her too much. Luna sounded sad when she described her, and Luna was nice to him so he didn’t think it was right for her to be so sad. He told her as much and was glad when she smiled at him, even if she still seemed a bit down afterwards.

When dinner came around a few hours later, they didn’t go back into the hall that he had first shown up in that morning, instead they went back into the kitchens where they were able to eat in peace at a small table in the corner. Even though he found everything super cool, Kouhei was a little disappointed that he was missing dinner with his parents –they had been planning on East Indian this time and that was his favourite. He was about to tell Luna about it when he choked on air and fell backwards out of his seat, his vision going black as Luna made a startled noise at the sudden movement.

“Luna...? Where are we?” Ginny asked, pushing her upper body off of the floor and holding the back of her head. Luna stared down at her from her seat at a table, and when Ginny looked around she saw that they were eating in the kitchens. “Luna?”

“Ginny! You’re back!” The blonde exclaimed, hurrying to stand out of her seat and help the redhead up. “I was so worried!”

“Back? What are you talking about? I didn’t go anywhere.” Ginny said, sounding confused. She stared at what they were eating for a second. “Wait, is it dinner already?”

“Y-You don’t remember.” Luna said hollowly.

“Luna, you’re acting strange.” Luna sniffed miserably in response but sat back down, plastering on a smile to cover up her disappointment.

“Sorry, it’s nothing. I’m just a bit tired, that’s all.”

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

In the days following what Luna would later come to think of as a ‘takeover’, Ginny continually affirmed that she could remember nothing from when Kouhei’s nine year old self had occupied her body, and eventually decided she had passed out at the table and spent the entire day asleep in the Hospital Wing. Never mind the fact that there was evidence to the contrary, but Luna let her believe what she wanted so long as it wasn’t going to turn into something dangerous. The Ravenclaw wondered if it would happen again, the body takeover –and what kind of Kouhei would show his face if it did. From the little Ginny had told her of the gangster himself, she knew that he had experienced several periods of hardship, and she could only hope she’d be stuck with one as agreeable as the third grader had been.

Regardless, the two of them went along as they did before, with the only change being that that Luna spent some time in the library... preparing for another appearance, and Ginny was more receptive to Luna’s interfering with her classes and the like. Whether it was a remnant of her past self shining through or just the result of continuous exposure, Luna didn’t know, but she was glad for it nonetheless.

 So when the entire school week passed and there wasn’t another incident, Luna found herself breathing a sigh of relief. It was one thing for it to happen on a Sunday when they were free, but had Ginny left again on a school day there would have been some problems.

“Luna, Luna!” The Ravenclaw turned around to see who was calling her from down the hall, growing uneasy when she saw that it was Ginny’s older brother Fred running towards her. He didn’t look very calm and was trailed after by a nervous and fretful looking Hermione.

“What’s wrong?” She asked immediately.

“Ginny’s been –well, we think she’d been jinxed or something. She’s only speaking Chinese and’s been freaking out ever since! We figured –well, you got her to calm down after the Malfoy thing...” Fred stopped speaking awkwardly, a conflicted expression on his face.

Luna wondered if it was healthy to be so invested in a friend’s issues that you were the one people looked to even above family to sort them out. “I’m not busy, best get going now.” Fred and Hermione gave her equally relieved looks and started jogging back down the way they came. On their way there, Luna decided that this probably wasn’t very healthy behaviour, but that it would be worth it if she could get Ginny back to normal.

When they entered the Gryffindor common room (this would be the first time Luna had seen it) she saw right away what they meant by ‘freaking out’. George was holding her still, but she was spitting like a cat in Japanese, writhing and trying unsuccessfully to scratch or kick him enough that he released her, and nearly succeeding in hitting him in the nose with the back of her head. Drawing her wand, Luna ignored the curious onlookers and waved it over herself, speaking a variant of the spell Professor Flitwick had used on Kouhei only days before. She stepped in front of the irate boy and kept a composed expression when his eyes zeroed in on her face.

“Kouhei, are you alright? I’m sorry this happened again, but if you calm down we can work it out.” The boy looked at her as if she had grown a second head and everyone in the crowd started muttering.

“What did she say?”

“Does anyone know what they’re talking about?”

“Who the hell are you? Tell this shithead to let me go!” Luna felt her mood drop suddenly –was Ginnei going to be afflicted with memory lapses no matter which person they were?

“My name’s Luna Lovegood. It might be hard to accept, but right now you’re in the body of my friend Ginny, your reincarnation. The ‘shithead’ keeping you from running off is Ginny’s brother George.” Kouhei looked down at himself suddenly, squawking upon catching sight of his chest. “You were here when you were nine as well, although it’s obvious that you don’t remember. If you promise not to do anything, I’ll tell George to let you go and I’ll explain a bit more. Deal?”

Kouhei looked anything but happy at the prospect, but nodded after a minute, grumbling uncharitable things under his breath directed at everyone in the room. Luna turned to George and smiled sweetly while asking him to let his sister go, and as soon as Kouhei had been released she grabbed his arm and told the crowd that they were going to get Ginny sorted out by a Professor. There were a few protests, asking what they had been talking about, but Luna disregarded them all so she could pull Kouhei out of the portrait hole.

Once the fat lady had closed on the entrance to the room, Kouhei’s compliance vanished and he swung at Luna with his free arm. The only reason she didn’t get punched in the face was because his angle was off –his fist had barely brushed her hair before she whirled on him and smacked him near the crown of his head without hesitation.

“Stop that right this instant or I swear I will take you to a Professor and tell them you’re an evil spirit possessing Ginny against her will! That’s already happened once to her so I can promise you they will take it very seriously and it will not be at all comfortable for you!” Luna glared right back at Kouhei’s murderous expression for a minute before tugging him off down the hall with more strength than he expected her to have.

A few minutes later they were a couple of corridors away and were heading straight to the Room of Requirement, though in those minutes Kouhei had angrily tugged his arm out of Luna’s grip and was following her with an intense scowl on his face. He didn’t even seem to notice all the magical things going on around them –not even when they had to jump a missing step on one of the staircases. Neither of the pair spoke again during the journey, Luna preferring to make sure no one spotted them so close to curfew and Kouhei too stubborn to break the silence.

“Just through here, please.” Luna said icily once the door to the room had materialized, staring the disagreeable boy down until he turned red and complied. Inside was the same room that Luna had taken Ginnei to after they had beaten up Malfoy, and without preamble Kouhei flopped down onto the same couch near the fire and looked up at her impatiently.

“Well? Get on with it!” Luna raised an eyebrow and took a seat on the opposite end of the couch, suddenly wishing for nine year old Kouhei’s bright eyed wonder to return.

“I already told you the basics, so just tell me what else you want to know and then I’ll... ‘get on with it’.” Kouhei’s expression grew further sour and he crossed his arms –Luna briefly thought he looked like a cat that had just been sprayed with water.

“I’m in my reincarnation’s body? How’s that even possible? And how is it that you know about this ‘Ginny’ being my reincarnation, let alone her? You’re not supposed to remember your past life when you’re reborn! And where the fuck am I?!” Luna thought about it for a moment.

“To work backwards, you’re currently in Scotland. Ginny explained to me that even she didn’t know exactly why she remembered you –just that one day she woke up with the same wounds that –that had killed you and two years later she woke up again with all of your memories. I don’t know why you’re here either; you don’t remember when you came here when you were in third grade and Ginny didn’t remember anything about you taking over her body. The reason I know about you is because Ginny is depressed and needs someone to vent to, and you understandably came up.”

Kouhei hadn’t reacted to anything Luna said until she mentioned Ginny being depressed, which drew a small flinch from him and an unsure look. “Why’s she depressed?” He asked in a low voice, staring at the fire.

“The best reason I can think up is that... you, that is your future self, had just died, and almost immediately after that he had woken up and been two people, but fourteen years out of sync. All his friends and loved ones are far away and they still don’t know what happened to any of them.”

Kouhei frowned a little less severely but offered no more questions, so after a few minutes of quiet Luna decided to speak again. “How old are you now? Your nine year old self told me that he had come in from fishing with his father before he woke up here...”

“I... I think I remember doing something like that. But I never came here. And I’m twelve now.”

“Do you mind if I ask what you were doing before you woke up here this time?”

“...” Kouhei looked conflicted, and none too gently kicked at the carpet. “...I was visiting someone. I must’ve dozed off or summat, cause then I was sitting on a couch in that red room and I couldn’t understand anything what was being said by anyone.” Further fidgeting. “C-Can you tell me what you know about what happens to me? In the future? I mean, I’m not going to remember it anyways...”

“I don’t know very much, to tell you the truth.” Luna warned, starting to see why Kouhei had suddenly changed demeanour when she had mentioned Ginny’s depression. “The furthest back I know about... did it just happen recently?”

There was no mistaking the flinch –Kouhei’s mother must have died not too long ago.

“Well, I suppose it really wouldn’t hurt.” Kouhei turned to face her in interest, so Luna went on to detail every little piece of information she could recall from her and Ginny’s scattered conversations weeks ago. She knew that when Kouhei entered middle school he would make friends with Kyousuke, Kiiko, Teru and Parko, and that Ginny had described those short years as being the best of Kouhei’s life. She talked about how three of his friends had gone to a nearby town on some sort of manhunt, and had come back with dreams, ambitions and a brother, and by then Kouhei would have already been involved with the gang, Snake Heads.

“Really? An actual gang?” Kouhei asked, his sombre mood already forgotten. “Do you know what kind of position I was in?”

He seemed incredibly proud that he was the leader of a real life gang in his future, and his good mood almost made Luna wish she knew more about that time of his life so she could keep telling him about it. She didn’t though, so she went on to tell him that he and his friends had gone through a falling out at some point, he had eventually asked a man named Tetsuji to be his brother, and after the Snake Heads had been decimated... well...

“Ginny never said exactly when you –he –died, and I never thought to ask –I didn’t want to bring up bad memories.” Luna lied, wishing she knew so much less than she did. “I’m sorry.”

But Kouhei surprised her and shook his head. “No, it’s –thank you. I’m sorry for trying to hit you earlier. I –I haven’t been doing very well, since she d-died, but now I know that I get past it –that really helps. I’m looking forward to meeting these friends, having a brother –if what Kobanzame-senpai says is true then it’s an honour to have a capable person as a blood brother.”

“...will you tell me a bit about yourself?” Luna asked, slightly hesitant. “It’s just, I don’t know how long it’s going to take for Ginny to recover, and I always enjoyed hearing about you from her...”

“...sure, I guess I could. Maybe I’ll start off from when you last saw me?”

Vvv

The two of them had slept well into the next morning there on the couch in the Come-and-Go room, having talked late into the night about anything that crossed their minds. When they woke up, Kouhei was gone and Ginny was again left confused at why she was in the Room of Requirement and not the Gryffindor common room. This time Luna fibbed and told her that she had been jinxed again last night, but instead of staying in the Hospital Wing she had asked Luna to stay with her here.

Ginny believed her and they got back into their routine, with no one but the Gryffindors who had seen it even realizing that Ginny had been acting oddly the night before. Though she felt a little guilty for it, Luna found that she was enjoying the brief reprieves from Ginny’s apathy that Kouhei offered, even if they came with stress of their own to deal with. It helped ease her conscience about the whole thing when, only a day after twelve year old Kouhei had left, Ginny seemed to be getting even more back to herself –still blocking out Kouhei entirely, but Luna wouldn’t complain about something that was actually helping her friend.

“Luna,” Ron had approached her after a bit of time had passed, his ears red as he came up to her in the hallway. “Look, I know I haven’t –I mean, you’ve been doing a lot for Ginny these past couple months, more than me or my brothers have for sure. Whatever’s going on with Ginny, I don’t really understand it and Harry won’t tell me anything that he knows about it, so I’ve just tried to keep back so I don’t make anything worse –er, what I’m trying to say is, thank you, for doing all of this. You don’t have to do it, and I really appreciate it.”

“Ginny’s depressed, what she needs right now is support.” Luna said bluntly, grateful for Ron acknowledging that his relationship with his sister was lacking, but not so grateful that she wasn’t going to tell him just what exactly she was dealing with. “If she comes to you for anything, just be as accepting as you can. And for me, I feel I do have to do all of this for her. She’s my best friend after all.”

Ron had taken the advice surprisingly gracefully, promising to do as she suggested if Ginny ever came to him. “Have to do the same as she did, after all.” He said vaguely just before trotting off to class.

Since Ginny and Luna didn’t have any classes together what with the redhead’s atypical tutoring schedule, they had gradually developed a system of walking with each other and meeting up for breaks and meals whenever they could. Thankfully since Kouhei’s first takeover, Ginny had stopped attempting to go back to DADA and Umbridge’s detentions altogether, and during that time slot simply waited in the Room of Requirement for Luna to get out of class for the day (as it was one of the only places in the school Umbridge didn’t know about). From there they would go down for dinner in the kitchens –where lately Ginny had been eating as much as she ever did before the whole troublesome debacle began –and then would go somewhere quiet to try and slog through their respective homework, which got done twice as quickly when they helped each other out.

That was where Luna was headed on Monday evening, just out of Transfiguration and in an exorbitantly good mood –started because Ravenclaws had that class with the Hufflepuffs (who were nice to her generally) and bolstered when McGonagall praised her spellwork and let her leave a bit early as a reward. She was planning on getting to the room quickly and suggesting to Ginny that they go out in the snow for a walk before it got dark, but when she finally pushed the door open, she didn’t immediately see Ginny anywhere.

“Ginny? Where are you? I got out of class early, so I thought you might want to go out for a bit of a walk?” Silence for a minute, and then the redhead came striding around the corner, hair pushed out of her eyes with a headband and a confused expression on her face as she asked;

“Sorry? I only understood a bit of what you just said, and none of it made sense.”

“Kouhei.” Luna said, deflating a bit. The man nodded calmly, and Luna inwardly sighed in relief that this version of him at least seemed to be more amiable than the previous had been at first. She held up a finger while she rummaged in her bag for her wand, but instead of using the translation spell on herself like last time she flicked it over to her friend’s past self and got closer while he coughed at the odd tickle of magic down his throat.

“Hi, I’m Luna Lovegood. You’re Kouhei Jinnai, right?” The other’s eyes widened in shock at being able to understand her now, but once his coughing fit had passed he nodded.

“Uh –yeah, that’s right. Am I dreaming or something? Feels a bit too real to be a dream, but this room’s too crazy to be real.” He looked around sceptically as he said this, and Luna sat down on the couch quietly, gesturing for him to join her after a second.

“No, it’s not a dream I’m afraid. You see...” Luna gave the man a brief rundown of everything she had told his two counterparts; his reincarnation, where he was, how she was nearly as clueless as he was, and about the other two times she had met him. “How old are you this time? The only common thread I can find with all of this is that you fell asleep before coming here –am I right in thinking that’s true for you too?”

“I’m almost sixteen, just about to go into high school. Me and my friends were fighting some bastards from the Basement Rats who wouldn’t quit trying to recruit us –last I remember, someone was swinging a lead pipe at my forehead.” Here he rubbed the mentioned area, feeling a phantom ache that he didn’t remember experiencing. “How about you? You don’t look more than a few years younger than me.”

Luna winced sympathetically. “Ah, I’m fourteen at the moment, the same as Ginny. Were your friends Kyousuke and them?”

Kouhei looked startled at her question. “Yeah. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised you know about them, you knowing my reincarnation and all...” He paused and then laughed tensely. “That’s a fuckin’ weird thing to say. Man, this is nuts.”

“How do you think I feel?” Luna half muttered, making Kouhei laugh a bit more easily. “Do you have anything you want to ask me about? I ended up telling your twelve year old self all I knew about what would happen to him before he died...”

Kouhei considered the offer for a minute. “...there’s a Yakuza group based out of the next town over called Togoku, I’ve heard that they’re keeping an eye on a few smaller groups in our area. Oyaji said that the big wigs at the main station weren’t going to let them come into town if they could help it... he’s been pretty worried over it. Did... Ginny mention anything about that?”

Luna took a breath to steady herself before she launched into another explanation. “She did. She said that at some point when you were in high school you got involved with the Snake Heads, and... ended up becoming their boss, somehow.”

What?” Kouhei asked, incredulous at the very thought. Luna was struck at the difference in reaction a few years could bring about. “That doesn’t sound right...”

“It’s what Ginny told me.” Luna said neutrally. “I don’t know if you’ll like hearing the rest. Ginny didn’t like talking about it much, and I can understand why.”

Kouhei looked troubled, as if he was trying to mentally work out the scenarios in which he would agree to lead an offshoot gang of a Yakuza faction and didn’t like what he conjured up. “Yeah, let’s just forget about all that future shit, I don’t think I want to know how I die just yet.”

“That’s fair.” Luna replied, relieved. “I don’t know how long you’ll be here, Kouhei, do you want to get something to eat? I think Ginny missed lunch today...”

“That’s a good idea, I’m starving actually.”

This Kouhei was far easier for Luna to deal with and seemed to have calmed down exponentially from the last time she had met him, so she decided that they could afford to eat in the Great Hall tonight if they sat at the same table. They took their time making their way down, Kouhei asking the odd question about something that caught his eye, but otherwise told Luna he was content to listen to her talk about whatever she wanted to. They entered the Great Hall just as dinner was starting, but as it wasn’t a feast night there were only about half of each house there along with most of the teachers. Luna led Kouhei over to the Gryffindor table and sat beside him opposite the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione.

“Ginny, I heard that you skipped Umbridge’s class again today. I know you’ve already said you won’t go back, but are you sure you want all these skipped detentions on your record?” Hermione asked without preamble, making Ron on Harry’s other side groan in frustration.

Kouhei was a tad distracted by all the foreign foods that Luna was scooping onto his plate, but answered the bushy haired girl nonetheless. “Well, school’s not the most important thing in the world. If I’m not going to –Umbridge’s class, why the hell would I go to the punishments?

“You know what Umbridge does in her detentions, Hermione.” Luna commented, sounding slightly scathing; Hermione turned an interesting shade of pink and shot a glance at Harry.

“I’m well aware of her barbaric practices, thank you. It’s not that I think you should go through that, Ginny, it’s just I don’t think it will help you in the long run to skip them.” Kouhei listened and nodded in acknowledgement, but was still more focused on the food at the moment (he recognized only a few dishes). The girl’s worry reminded him a bit of Oyaji’s good intentioned lectures –something he listened to so the older man would stay in a good mood, but generally not advice he’d follow in real life. “And I –I disagree, I think that while you’re in school, it is the most important thing you need to focus on. If you don’t do well in school, the rest of your life is going to be affected negatively.”

Kouhei chewed and idly wondered if this chick was fishing for an argument; Tomoko (his most recent girlfriend) had been that way and he couldn’t say that he had liked dealing with it. “It’ll only be ‘affected negatively’ if you let it. There are a million ways to get to where you want in life –school’s only one of ‘em.”

“Don’t get into it now, Hermione, it’s dinner!” One of the redhead twins chimed in, leaning around his brother to grin at Hermione like a Cheshire cat. “After what happened to Malfoy, I’d hate to see anyone try to make Ginny do anything she didn’t want to.”

“We figure enough time’s passed that we can talk about it around you without setting you off, Gin’.” The second twin supplied helpfully, shooting Kouhei a mirrored grin which he answered with a shrug since he had no clue what they were talking about. “You’re not going to go off on us, are you?”

“Not planning on it. Luna, what is this stuff?” Kouhei held a glass full of dark orange liquid in front of the blonde.

“Pumpkin juice. Don’t worry, it tastes good.”

The other Gryffindors shared an unreadable look as Kouhei tested the drink himself, and the conversation petered out after that. When the majority of them finished close to twenty minutes later, Luna suggested that Kouhei might go back up to the Gryffindor dorms to get to bed early, since it might bring Ginny back a bit faster than waiting around all night.

The next morning when Luna went to get Ginny up for their morning workout, Kouhei was still there.

“This is strange.” Luna muttered as the two of them sat at the Gryffindor table for breakfast. “This is the longest you’ve been around so far.”

“Maybe it’s because I was knocked out?” Kouhei suggested before pouring himself a mug of tea. He had pushed through the strength training with an efficiency that told of being used to doing such tasks. “Not like I mind sticking around –it’ll be like I was never gone once I wake back up in Tsuchiura.”

“...I suppose you’ll just have to take the classes for Ginny. Luckily you only have two tutoring sessions today –Potions and Transfiguration.”

“What are those again? And y’know, I don’t exactly have magic –will I even be able to use that thing?” Kouhei gestured down to Ginny’s bag, out of which was poking the handle of her wand.

“I’m not sure? I know that back before Ginny shut you out, she was feeling more sensitive to magic because you had never experienced it before, and she was having a bit of trouble learning new spells, but I think that was more of a mental block on your part. You should be fine in Potions at least, it’s sort of similar to cooking –and Transfiguration is changing one thing into another.”

Luna ended up accompanying Kouhei down into the dungeons so he wouldn’t get lost, and promised to meet back up with him after the class was finished. Potions, overall, wasn’t too difficult for the fifteen year old; he was far from stupid, and knew how to follow instructions even if the ingredients he was preparing were unfamiliar. When the Professor inspected the finished potion at the end of the hour long period, he even managed an ‘adequate’, although the man stared at him suspiciously the entire time he was preparing it.

When Luna came to pick him up a few minutes later, they mutually agreed to take a walk outside during her free period instead of sitting around wasting time. While out, Luna told him about the grounds and the other classes Ginny was taking, and a bit about the ‘Malfoy’ thing George had mentioned the night before. She didn’t know what to expect from the older teen, but him busting out into laughter wasn’t it –he told her after he calmed down that he had actually done the exact same thing many times before his stepfather had intervened back when he was twelve and that he wasn’t surprised that it had happened again.

“It’s only cause of Oyaji that I’m not in Juvie or some shit –the man’s put his neck on the line too much for me to keep on that way. Kyousuke on the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got hauled off within the year, crazy shitbird that he is.” They had stopped on the edge of the lake briefly so Luna could point out all the areas on the grounds. “Does he?”

“I don’t know. Ginny didn’t mention him as much as the other three.” Luna skipped a stone across the as yet unfrozen lake, letting the man ruminate on the lack of information.

Kouhei was silent for a good while, staring out at the tree line with a neutral expression on his face, hands folded in his pockets. “...how old am I when I die?”

“Seventeen.”

Kouhei let out a hiss of air. “How?”

“You were stabbed in the stomach. Ginny never told me who did it, or why, just... that you remembered it very clearly.”

Kouhei took that statement in, one hand extracting itself from his robes to curl against his middle, near the spot where the scars were located.

“...let’s go back inside, it’s getting cold and we don’t want to miss lunch.” He suggested after a few more minutes of silence, making a move to walk back towards the castle; he didn’t look to see if Luna followed, though she did after a moment.

The rest of the day went about as well as it could. Kouhei stayed in an introspective silence through much of it, telling Professor McGonagall that he wasn’t feeling too well when it turned out that while he could make the wand react, he couldn’t make it do the magic he wanted it to do. He spent the time that Luna was in class sitting quietly with a borrowed book in the Great Hall, and was there when dinner started and those from the day before showed back up to eat.

“You seem down today, Gin. Lose your favourite quill or what?” One of the twins (Kouhei couldn’t tell which) asked from a few seats away.

“Just reminded of something from a long time ago, nothing to worry about. Luna,” Kouhei leaned in to whisper. “I need to ask you something, can you switch us back to Japanese?”

“Oh, sure, just a second.”  Luna put down her fork and knife and reached down into her bag, bringing her wand up swiftly and muttering the spell over the two of them. “What is it?”

“Did Ginny ever tell you...” Kouhei paused. “Did she ever mention where my friends were, when I died?”

“She said they had been fighting, but were alive and well when you last saw them. It’s one of the reasons you reacted so badly to waking up fourteen years later –you didn’t know where they were or what had happened to them afterwards.” Luna looked at him in concern. “You don’t look so good, Kouhei...”

“Yeah, these scars are a right pain.” He ground out, shuddering just after he finished speaking and throwing an arm around his stomach. “I –we should go, I think I’m going to be sick.”

Luna stood and grabbed both of their bags, briefly explaining that Ginny wasn’t feeling well when Ron asked what was wrong. They made it all the way up three flights of stairs before Kouhei’s knees gave out and Luna had to lower him to the floor before he hit his head.

“Luna, did I get jinxed again?” Ginny asked a few minutes after regaining her lucidity.

“Yeah, pretty badly this time. You don’t remember anything from today, do you?”

Vvv

Two days before the end of term, the DA held what would be its final meeting until after the holidays had passed. Luna and Ginny were the first to show up in the Room of Requirement that evening, after Harry, and they caught him taking down a bunch of decorations that he explained were put up by the house elf that he had helped free from the Malfoys in his second year. Luna spent a bit of time pointing out to Ginny which pieces of mistletoe were most infested with Nargles while more members trickled in through the doors, and by the time ten minutes had gone by the room was full of every last member they had (even Marietta, who didn’t like coming all that much).

Harry told them that they were going to do a review of everything they had learnt that term since there would be a three week break before they met again, and they dutifully split into pairs to begin. Ginny had an easier time about it than she ever had before, performing all the spells she’d previously had trouble with near effortlessly, earning praise from Harry and feeling better than she had in weeks. By the time the hour was up they had cycled through all the lessons well enough, and after a few rounds of ‘happy christmas’es and ‘have a good break’s the room started clearing through the doors leading to the common rooms.

“See you tomorrow, Luna.” Ginny said before the blonde could leave. “Hey, I was going to write my mum tomorrow, do you want to come over some time during the hols?”

“Of course, that sounds great. Maybe you could stop in at my house too? I’ll ask Daddy about it.”

“Yeah, alright! G’night, Luna.”

“Night, Ginny.”

Vvv

Hours later, Ginny was woken from a deep sleep by someone shaking her urgently and softly calling her name. Blinking the sleep out of her eyes, she sat up and turned to see that it was Professor McGonagall who had pulled her out of her slumber, and that the teacher looked extremely distressed.

“Miss Weasley, you must get up and come with me immediately.” She said promptly, patting Ginny on the shoulder to keep her from nodding off again. “It is urgent, please.”

“Professor, what’s going on?” Ginny asked, something churning in her gut at the expression on the woman’s face –she had seen that look somewhere before –where had she seen it before?

The professor seemed to struggle with something a moment, before sighing and looking upon the fourth year with –pity.

“Miss Weasley, your father has been gravely injured while on Order business. Please meet me in the common room while I fetch your brothers, you have to come with me to the headmaster’s office...”

McGonagall continued talking, but Ginny didn’t hear a word. That look –she had seen that look of pity, she had seen it back then, back on the worst day of... the worst day of –the worst day of his –when the woman swept out of the dorm room a moment later, Ginny stared frozen at the wall opposite her in silence, feeling something near her navel snap and pain split her head open as if hit with an axe –and then her vision went dark.

Kouhei was fiddling with his uniform cuffs, trying hard not to fidget in his seat while the teacher went on about English verbs and conjugation. It wasn’t easy –he had grown another two inches within the past two months and was as sore as he’d ever been, and now his uniform didn’t fit at all. His parents had been promising a new set for a while now, but wanted to wait until he had finished growing –of course, he didn’t feel like he was going to stop anytime soon, so he was probably going to have to get used to the too-small clothes whether he liked it or not.

He was just wondering whether or not he could ask Kobanzame-senpai for an extra shirt at the least, when the door to the room slid open unexpectedly and the principal’s secretary poked her head inside, looking distressed and like she had aged several years overnight.

“Excuse me, Tanaka-sensei.” She said quietly, scanning the room before looking back to the teacher. “I need to bring Jinnai Kouhei-kun back to the office with me immediately, it’s extremely important.”

Kouhei felt the eyes of his classmates zero in on him as he awkwardly stood and started to move to the front of the room. “You should grab your things, Jinnai-kun.” The secretary said before he got too far, and after he’d done so he quietly followed her out of the room and down the hallway. His chest filled with dread, wondering what he’d done or what had happened for him to get called to the office in the middle of class.

When they got to the cluster of rooms, the secretary opened the principal’s door for him and ushered him inside without a word. The first thing he saw after she closed the door behind him was his stepfather standing with Sakurai-sensei, shoulders slumped and eyes bright red and puffy, and when they turned to face him Kouhei’s stomach dropped out at the look of pity on the principal’s face-

“Kouhei-“

“Where’s mom?” A few tears escaped his father’s eyes and Kouhei felt a lump form in the base of his throat. “What’s happened to mom?!”

“Kouhei-” Koutaro strode over to him and hugged him close. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, she’s gone.”

She’s gone. She’s gone. She’s gone. She’s-

“Hhaaah!” Kouhei gasped out loud and felt tears gathering in his eyes as he stood up abruptly, going for the door with a determination he hadn’t felt in a long time. She said he wasn’t dead, she said he wasn’t dead, Ginny’s father wasn’t dead but he swore to Kami that he wasn’t going to let her experience that loss if he turned out to have died on the teacher’s way to fetch them. Kouhei tore down the stairs at a breakneck speed and landed in the common room just as McGonagall emerged from the boy’s staircase with Fred and George trailing behind her, looking shell shocked.

“Come along, quickly. We can’t waste any time.” McGonagall said briskly as she moved towards the portrait hole. Kouhei took the briefest of moments to push Ginny’s brothers into action before he followed suit. No one spoke as they nearly ran through the corridors, and the suffocating silence was only broken by McGonagall giving the gargoyle guards the password into Dumbledore’s office.

When Kouhei entered after Ginny’s brothers, he saw that Ron and Harry were already sitting in the room, one looking close to passing out and the other as if he had seen a ghost.

“Ron –what’s going on?” The seventeen year old asked, speaking English through Ginny’s memories. “McGonagall said something about Dad being hurt-”

“Your father has been injured in the course of his work for the Order of the Phoenix.” Dumbledore explained, cutting off his question. “He has been taken to St. Mungo’s Hospital and is currently being treated. You are being sent to Sirius’s house to keep you closer to the hospital than you would be at the Burrow. Your mother is going to meet you there.”

Kouhei sagged in relief at that –the situation wasn’t looking so bad after all. Ginny had been close to going into a full panic attack –the stress of keeping their memories separate having taken its toll over the weeks and then to be told something so traumatic out of the blue –had he not completely broken the wall between them when he had, she likely would have needed to be hospitalized as well. Kouhei joined the others when they drew closer to Dumbledore’s desk, and touched the kettle-portkey quickly before it could leave the office without him. Seconds later, there was a tug behind his navel and the ground vanished; and he kept his eyes closed tight until it was all over and they were safely landed in number twelve’s kitchen.

The conversation continued around him, but Kouhei wasn’t one to pay much attention to it. Instead he closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down, tried to put aside the memory of his mother’s death for the time being and keep Ginny’s swirling emotions in check before they could surge up and overwhelm him like his tended to do to her. He’d had a bit of time to grow, in the months he’s shared Ginny’s mindspace and the few times he had taken over during the past weeks; though his essence had remained the same, he had accepted many things his quick death hadn’t allowed him to fully think over, and in that time had also come to be invested in Ginny and Luna. He was going to keep them safe until they could do so themselves –and once Ginny was ready, he didn’t want to be a pair of vulnerable minds any longer; he wanted them to grow stronger together.

In the minutes he’d spent centering himself, someone had moved him to sit at the table with everyone and had summoned a butterbeer for each of them. Just as Kouhei was shaking himself out of the trance he’d been in, there was a flash of fire in the air and a scroll dropped onto the table along with a glowing golden feather.

“That isn’t Dumbledore’s writing,” Sirius said, passing the roll to George who practically ripped it open. “It must be a message from your mother-”

Dad is still alive. I am setting out for St. Mungo’s now. Stay where you are. I will send news as soon as I... can...” George looked up from the parchment. “Still alive... but that makes it sound...”

Kouhei decidedly did not think about the wording.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

By Ron’s watch, it was ten past five in the morning when a pale Molly Weasley entered the kitchen and delivered the best news they could have heard at the time.

“He’s going to be alright.” She said, sounding tired but relieved. “Bill’s with him now –he’s sleeping. We’re all going to go see him later.”

Kouhei allowed himself to slump back in his chair, having not gotten any sleep the entire night for fear of being shut out again. Deep inside him he almost felt as if Ginny was crying in relief, and thought that maybe now that this ordeal was over, the two of them could begin to heal.

Sirius and Harry started to go to make breakfast, but were sidetracked when Ginny’s mother tearfully hugged Harry and thanked him, and then informed Sirius that they would all probably be staying for the holidays. By the time the food was served and they had all eaten and expressed their relief, Kouhei was feeling dead on his feet –he hadn’t really had to shoulder this much emotional weight alone in a while. He excused himself soon after and slunk off to the bedroom he’d occupied during the summer –practically collapsing on the mattress as soon as he’d closed the door.

His thoughts were in a whirlwind, but their mind was far calmer than it had ever been before. When he slipped into sleep, he did not find himself disembodied as he had the last several weeks, but instead experienced sleep like he hadn’t since before he had died. It was like he was alive again, fully, and when he woke a few hours later to calls for lunch and he felt himself being prodded tentatively back so Ginny could emerge, he did so easily –and found there was no wall separating them anymore. They were as they had been before Malfoy had goaded them into violence –no, they were  actually closer than they had been. Ginny wept in relief when she fully realized this, fully realized what she had done to themselves and how it had affected those around them. But she also sobbed because they were going to come back stronger from this separation, the both of them together, and that she wanted to go the same way as Kouhei did so very, very much.

When Ginny calmed down, she found her trunk had arrived from Hogwarts while they had slept, and before she went downstairs she changed out of her pyjamas and into her favourite sweater and pair of jeans, reasoning that she could take a shower when they returned from visiting her father. Lunch was a rushed affair, just a bunch of sandwiches cobbled together and served with whatever drinks could be found, but Ginny didn’t mind, simply glad that she wanted to eat again.

Everyone was ridiculous on the journey to St. Mungo’s –from Fred and George’s too small sweatshirts to Mad-Eye’s tilted bowler hat and Tonks’ bright pink hair –but it was a good kind of ridiculous, the uproariously happy kind that Ginny let herself get swept up into like she hadn’t for so long. She was the only one besides Harry who didn’t get caught in the ticket dispensers on the Underground, but once they were out of there she fell to the back of the group and let them lead her to the Wizarding hospital. Strangely, she wasn’t feeling nervous about going back there at all, as if the mere fact that Kouhei was back with her was bolstering her confidence and pushing out her fears all at the same time.

The bustle of the waiting room was just as she remembered from her brief time here those few months ago, and she didn’t think anything had changed even a bit. While her mother talked to the WelcomeWitch about where Arthur had been transferred to, Ginny looked around the room and mentally traced out the escape route she had employed previously, but in reverse, before they all followed her mother up the main stairs to the first floor. Down the hallway just a little ways, then through the door that read ‘Dangerous Dai Llewellyn Ward: Serious Bites’, and they were there.

Entering directly in front of Harry and her mother, Ginny looked around the ward with a critical eye –and found herself not too impressed with the apparent ‘finest health care centre’ of magical Britain. Standards must vary greatly between floors because this room was small and dingy, with little natural light, dark wood panelled walls and a portrait of a wizard that would have never been allowed if this place had common sense –the portrait could talk and potentially violate doctor-patient confidentiality.

“Hello!” Her father called cheerfully from his bed, propped up by pillows and reading the Daily Prophet. “Bill just left, Molly, had to get back to work, but he says he’ll drop in on you all later.”

Ginny moved to stand beside her father’s shoulder, and realized rather suddenly that he really was alright. Even to this day Kouhei still ached over the suddenness of his mother’s death and the closure he had never got to have –and Ginny was able to not only see her father alive, but know he was going to be alright. She felt tears spring to her eyes at the thought and relaxed into Arthur’s awkward one armed hug as best she could, doing her best to not completely break down again.

An odd sensation washed over her then, and as she perched just on the edge of the mattress, her father’s good arm still looped around her waist, she also felt herself moving in. Her vision doubled –but the second set of eyes weren’t really hers right then –and they breathed out slowly, letting this new feeling settle both inside and beside them, together.

This wasn’t a second chance for the two of them separately; this was a great blessing for themselves as one. To not be put through that hell again, the utter agony of a loved one’s death, was all Kouhei ever wanted for Ginny, and as Ginnei sat there next to their very much breathing father, surrounded by family they hadn’t known back in Tsuchiura –they relaxed completely and fell back into a treasured memory.

“Kouhei.”

“Mm?”

Tetsuji looked up at the ceiling in deep thought, a frown upon his face as he pondered what he was about to ask. “Why did you come here tonight?”

Kouhei didn’t answer for a long time, and Tetsuji almost thought the other man had fallen asleep before he shifted and sighed heavily. “I had a bad feeling about tomorrow.”

Tetsuji didn’t pry –he knew his brother wouldn’t react well to it if he tried; instead, after a minute of shuffling Kouhei lit a cigarette and took a long drag, blowing the smoke towards the ceiling fan almost lazily.

“It was the same feeling I got right before I found out my mum had died. Right when the principal gave me that pitying look –I knew she was gone.” Kouhei twirled a stray lock of blonde hair around his index finger and took another drag. “If something happens tomorrow, I didn’t want there to be any walls separating you and I. You swore your life to me; nothing will ever go wrong between us. I’ll have your back through thick or thin if only you’ll do the same.”

“I’ll follow you wherever you lead.”

Kouhei smiled and held his hand out to his brother, who grasped it just as he had the night they had fought their last. “Wherever I go, then...”

“Ginny, dear... you’ve got to go wait outside with your brothers.”

Ginny shook herself out of the memory and the dual sensation, blinking at her mother and letting herself get shuttled out of the room after remaining unresponsive for a minute. When the door closed behind her, she looked to Fred and George for an explanation, but they were busy rummaging in their pockets for their Extendable Ears.

She didn’t feel like listening in really –that memory had been exceedingly comforting and was a much more attractive option than more Order business –but she accepted one anyway and leaned in with the others. Hers took a moment longer to find the door, her lazy movements probably the cause of the delay, but once it did she could hear the conversation just as well as the rest of them.

“Yes,” her mother was saying. “You know, Dumbledore seems almost to have been waiting for Harry to see something like this.”

“Yeah, well, there’s something funny about the Potter kid.” Moody said gruffly. “We all know that.”

“Dumbledore seemed worried about Harry when I spoke to him this morning.” Molly whispered, making Moody growl back in reply.

“Course he’s worried, the boy’s seeing things from inside You-Know-Who’s snake. Obviously, Potter doesn’t realize what that means, but if You-Know-Who’s possessing him, that just means a risk of a security breach for our side!”

There was a flurry of movement from Ginny’s left which she vaguely understood to be her siblings looking over at Harry, but she was more focused on the reaction to the ex-auror’s absolutely unfounded statement from Tonks.

“Possessed? He’s being possessed?” She asked in a shrill whisper, sounding disturbed. “How are we going to have meetings if he’s-”

“He’s not in meetings, but those boys of yours and their inventions, Molly-”

“We’re not discussing this any longer!” Her mother said loudly, causing Fred to jerk away from the door and grab the Extendable Ears so quickly she nearly didn’t catch the movement. They all backed away from the doors right before the adults came marching out of the ward again –serious looks on their faces as they told them they were headed back to Grimmauld and to say goodbye to Arthur.

All the way back to the Order’s base, Ginny kept her eyes on Harry. He looked as if he’d just been told he was about to die and she couldn’t bring herself to blame him. Her mother fussed over him the entire trip and Harry seemed overwhelmed by the attention –whether it was because he wasn’t used to it or because he was in shock, Ginny couldn’t tell. When they got back to Grimmauld Place he vanished from their company on her mother’s orders; ‘sleep’ she had told him, but Ginny knew he wouldn’t.

“Harry.”Some time after she had slipped away from the rest, Ginny announced her presence and leaned against the open doorway, surveying the frazzled fifteen year old as he jumped and looked at her like she was a ghost. His trunk was lying on the floor halfway to the door and he was half facing the empty picture frame on the wall, looking for all the world as if he had just had a screaming match with whoever occupied it. “I’m coming in, and you’re going to listen to me.”

A scowl briefly flickered over his face, just for long enough that Ginny squared her shoulders, but it passed after a second and he sat down quietly on the bed. Ginny stepped into the room and closed the door behind her, feeling a pressure in her stomach that wasn’t unpleasant, but rather reassuring.

“I understand how you’re feeling right now. Being possessed by Voldemort is pretty awful, I can tell you.”

Harry froze at the blunt statement, staring at the floor and then looked up at her over the tops of his glasses almost guiltily. “I forgot.” He said quietly.

“Unfortunately I haven’t, just put it behind me.”

“I’m sorry.” He said, sounding sincere. “Do you... do you think I’m being possessed?”

“Can you remember everything you’ve done lately? Are there any lapses in your memory, big blank periods where you don’t know what you were doing?” Ginny asked, closely watching as he flickered through several emotions.

“No, I can remember.” He whispered.

“Then you aren’t being possessed.” Ginny said bluntly. “When someone else possesses you forcefully, you don’t remember anything that happens while they use you. I used to find myself in places and not know how I got there or what time of day it was, and I certainly didn’t remember what I’d done. The only reason I started to figure it out was because I saw chicken’s blood on my robes, and Tom couldn’t explain that.”

“But... Moody said...”

“Whatever is happening with you isn’t possession, and as an Auror, Moody should know that.” Ginny reiterated. “If you need proof, ask Ron what you were doing when you saw it happen. If you had been possessed, you would have had to be out of your bed for at least the few minutes it took to attack Dad, but even then you would have had to get to where he was somehow. Youre not being possessed by Voldemort, and you’ll feel better if you go to Ron and ask.”

Harry still looked unsure, but that was fine; Ginny walked over and pulled the unresisting teen to his feet, and then out the door and down the hall to where Ron was waiting for him in the sitting room. Once she had done that, she closed the door behind him and made her way back up to her room for the second time that day, heaving a great sigh of relief when her back finally hit the mattress and she sunk into herself, letting her and Kouhei’s sections of her mind meld together and draw them into another memory as their body went to sleep.

“It’s morning.” Kouhei observed quietly.

The other man glanced to the window, eyes tracing the rays of light peeking over the tops of the nearest house. “Today’s the day. Will you be able to face them wholeheartedly?”

“I must. Otherwise everything I’ve worked for has been for nothing.” Kouhei pushed himself up and strode over to the door without preamble. “I’m going to call Yukio –want to go grab something to eat before shit hits the fan?”

“Mm.” But Kouhei didn’t exit just yet; he stood in the open door with his back to Tetsuji, waiting for the other to say what he needed to. “What will you do, if you succeed?”

“Keep climbing.” Kouhei answered without hesitation.

“And if we fail?”

“...” Kouhei didn’t miss the significance of Tetsuji’s phrasing, and his shoulders visibly relaxed. “We’ll leave this town and start over somewhere else. No Snake Heads, no Parko and Dangerers, no Hacchou. You and I will make our mark, one way or another.”

O

“Kouhei-kun, your father called me today.”

“Tch. You didn’t tell him anything, did you Oyaji?”

The police officer frowned at the youth crouching on the steps of the small station, newly dyed hair pushed out of his eyes and high school uniform ruffled but otherwise unmarred. “I told him how you were doing, of course, the man is only worried about you after all. But no, I didn’t tell him any more than that.”

“...” Kouhei frowned and fiddled with his uniform cuffs like he had the entire time Fujioka had kept an eye on him –nearly three years now. The old man wondered briefly what he would fidget with when he no longer had a fitted uniform to wear –or maybe he would have outgrown the nervous action by then. “Thanks, Oyaji.”

Fujioka sighed and reached down to muss up Kouhei’s pushed back hair, making the teen squawk indignantly. “You’re welcome, brat. Make it up to me by staying in school?”

Kouhei grumbled and thread his fingers through his hair to get it back to how he liked it, but kept his head ducked so the old policeman couldn’t see his grin. “Like hell, you old miser!” He laughed when Fujioka tried to cuff him, rolling out of the way and hopping the fence so he could laugh at the man from a safe distance.

O

“Kouhei, can you pass me that spatula? Thank you, sweetheart.”

Kouhei sat back down at the kitchen table and watched his mother prepare that day’s dinner. Tousan wouldn’t be back from his important business meeting for another hour, but Jinnai Satsuki was already well underway with the man’s favourite dishes –Chinese style stewed pork and eggplant, and plain fried rice seasoned with turmeric. As his mother bustled away at the counter, Kouhei couldn’t stop himself from asking her something that had been bugging him for a while.

“Kaasan, if you love Tousan so much, why don’t the two of you get married?”

His mother paused only briefly in her work, her eyes seeking him out in the reflection of the mirrored tiles on the wall. “Well, Kouhei, sometimes marriage isn’t the best thing for two people to commit to.”

“Is it because of Otousan?”

Satsuki set down her knife and turned the burners on low, and then moved to stand in front of him, eye to eye. “Kouhei, I loved your Otousan and married him. He hurt me greatly when he left us, but that isn’t the reason your Tousan and I aren’t getting married. I love Koutaro-san more than I ever loved Seijuro, and that made me realize that you don’t have to get married when you love someone. Sometimes, just being with that someone is more important than all of that. Do you understand?”

Kouhei was only ten, but he thought he might.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

The next day they started on Christmas decorations, and Ginny received a small push towards her and Kouhei’s mutual goal.

Around lunchtime the residents of number 12 congregated in the house’s basement kitchen to eat. Harry was there with them, looking better than he had the night before and smiling at Sirius, whose Christmastime cheer was infecting even Kouhei’s hard won indifference towards western holidays. Ginny’s mother was rushing about, absolutely in her element as she flicked her wand to and fro to summon plates, silverware and glasses for those who sat at the table.

The general mood was high even with the notable absence of the Weasley patriarch, mostly because Molly had promised a visit to St. Mungo’s if everything for the holidays was set out with no incidents (though Ginny knew she would take them anyway). It was a good tactic too –the twins had even managed to finish cleaning out the drawing room they had left alone since August. When Ginny heard that, she felt as if she should be remembering something about it, but neither her nor Kouhei could put a finger on what that was exactly. So the morning had gone on merrily and there had for once been no yelling in the house, and then it was lunch and the basement room was as full of cheer as it had ever been.

“Oh, where did I put that platter?” Her mother said distractedly, simultaneously levitating a whole swath’s worth of sandwiches and moving from cupboard to cupboard, opening doors to reveal empty and dusty shelves but no serving platter.

“Molly, it’s alright, just put them down on a few plates instead.” Sirius suggested, waving around a breadstick as if it were his wand. “Ginny, you’re a girl, talk to her.”

“Shut up, Sirius.” Ginny said flatly, but pushed her chair back regardless. Just as she was standing, there was the sound of breaking porcelain and her mother screamed in terror before a great, wet sounding thud had everyone at the table silenced as effectively as any spell.

Turning, Ginny stared at her mother, but also at the corpse of her father that was lying in front of her mother. Arthur Weasley’s eyes were glassy and his entire neck was torn out, and Ginny experienced a split second of real panic before Sirius spoke, sounding shaky.

“Molly, it’s just a Boggart.” Ginny briefly closed her eyes, centering herself like Kouhei had done when he had taken over.

“Riddikulus.” Her mother said, voice trembling. There was a crack and Ginny opened her eyes to see her own corpse lying in front of her mother, bleeding heavily from the mouth and stomach and as dead as the previous scene of her father had been. “R-Riddikulus!” Another crack and it was Percy, no discernible injuries but a look of terror on his face that spoke clear enough of what had happened. Ginny didn’t even hesitate to move –before Molly could attempt the spell again she had already strode forward so that she was standing in between the creature and her crying mother. There was a crack and the Boggart swirled darkly for an endless second –and then settled on a simple presentation of two gravestones sitting side by side.

No one else in the room could read them, but Ginny knew what they said; one was Jinnai and the other was Tetsuji. She stared the scene down for a moment, and then with a deep breath she drew her wand and thought about something that had always made her laugh when she remembered it –and the Riddikulus spell made the Boggart change into the green-permed, jinbei-clad Parko from middle school (fucking ‘emerald wrecking crew’ his left foot), who drunkenly yelled in Japanese about Kouhei being a ‘shitty womanizing miser’ before losing his balance and falling forwards onto his face.

“Sirius, could you get rid of this thing?” Ginny asked over her shoulder, disregarding the cursing Boggart-Parko in favour of steering her mother to the nearest empty seat and making her sit down. “Mum? Mum, it was only a Boggart.” Ginny tried to soothe, ignoring Sirius as he stepped past them to face the creature. “Oh, Mum... Dad’s fine, I’m fine, Percy’s fine. Nothing’s going to go-” Ginny cut herself off from making that promise again. “We’re going to get through this, yeah? We’re all still here...”

“Ginny, oh, my baby.” Molly gulped, arms reaching up to tug her daughter into a hug. “Oh, I thought you were dying when I f-found you like that, oh-oh you could have died back then! Arthur n-n-nearly died this time! Percy –he still won’t-won’t listen! I worry about you all s-s-so much!”

Ginny wished she could assuage her mother’s fears, make it so that she didn’t have to go through this at all. She wished her family didn’t feel obligated to fight for this society –selfishly, she wanted to take them all with her to Japan, to wait this war out on the other side of the globe where none of them had to risk losing family. But she knew that even with her mother’s fears, she wasn’t the type of woman to abandon what she knew to be right, and Ginny would never be able to convince her to flee the country.

Ginny felt a tap on her shoulder after a few minutes of silence and turned her head a little to see Ron towering over her, a crumpled expression on his face. She shifted her mother’s arms a little and slipped out of her hold, letting Ron take over for her in comforting the still emotional matriarch.

“Ginny, are you alright?” Sirius asked quietly, having gotten rid of the Boggart while she was occupied. “Your fear...”

“I can deal with it.” She assured him, placing her wand back on the kitchen counter. “Let’s just get this cleaned up before it starts attracting ants or something. We can always make more sandwiches if we want to later on.”

Vvv

Hermione arrived at Grimmauld around six o’clock that evening, and ensconced herself with Harry and Ron up in their bedroom almost immediately with only a plate of sandwiches and drinks to accompany them. Molly was still feeling off from the Boggart incident and so hadn’t made a formal dinner in favour of having a well deserved rest, and all of the other residents of the house were either talking down in the kitchen (Sirius and Remus, who had escorted Hermione to the house) or holed up in the drawing room plotting (Fred and George).

All, that is, except Ginny.

The renewed confidence from her and Kouhei’s now cemented common ground had dimmed it, but the encounter with the Boggart had brought their massive, swirling desire back out into the open from wherever it had been hiding. The whole reason the depression had hit them so hard was because at school, it had fallen to the wayside so abruptly it pulled them out of sync with each other. But they were back now, where they could work at it again and formulate new plans and focus on that all consuming goal of getting to their family in Japan.

But now it would be the kind of consuming priority that was healthy for a dual mind to focus on, one that they could continue to work towards even when at school instead of being forced to put it aside to their own detriment.

So while Grimmauld Place was quiet and cozy in the midst of the evening snowfall, Ginny had propped open her bedroom window and slid out into the semi-darkness. Dressed in the muggle coat she’d had the mind to purchase back during the summer, she was quite comfortable walking over to her brother’s apartment that night. London was awash in cheer and lights so close to Christmas, bell ringers near many a corner and festive garlands hung from almost every door she passed. She had taken this route so often in the summer that by now it was well ingrained in her mind, and in no time at all she was shaking the snow off of her shoulders and knocking on Percy’s door.

“Ginny!” He exclaimed in shock a minute later, face breaking out into a wide smile as he surged out into the hall to throw his arms around her shoulders. With a start, Ginny realized that she was nearly nose to nose with her brother, who had always been the tallest in their family (though Ron had started getting up in inches). Percy seemed to have noticed this as well, for he pulled back and held her out before him by her shoulders, just like the first time she had shown up out of the blue like this. “I didn’t expect you so soon! Didn’t term just end today? How did you get back so quickly?”

“Hey, Percy.” She said, grinning.

“Here, let’s get you inside, it’s far too cold out to be doing this in the open hallway.” Percy immediately said, pushing her gently towards the door and shutting it behind them quickly. “Are you hungry? Raymond –er, a friend from the office –gave me a batch of stew and I was planning on heating it up for dinner tonight.”

“That sounds great.” Ginny told him as she pried her boots off and lined them up against the wall. “Can I make tea as well? I haven’t eaten since lunch.”

“Of course you can, you know where everything is.” Percy replied, wand already twirling and setting things flying around the kitchen; he was dressed in one of his old Christmas sweaters, the faded orange ‘P’ on the front denoting that it was from the year before she had gone to Hogwarts. Ginny took a bit longer than she normally would to hang her coat up in the closet, content to watch him flit around, but soon she too entered the kitchen, ducking on occasion while she rummaged around in her brother’s cupboards and set the kettle to boil. It only took a few more minutes for the two of them to get everything on its way; when the stew was simmering and the kettle was sitting on the burner, Percy brought her over to his kitchen table to wait.

“You’ve grown so much taller since the summer, Gin’.” He said, sounding impressed. “Keep it up and you’ll be taller than Bill, maybe me.”

“Not quite there yet, I saw him yesterday after visiting Dad.” Ginny was almost relaxed until she caught the quizzical look on Percy’s face. “You, were sent a letter about Dad, right?”

“No... what’s happened? Is he alright?” Percy suddenly didn’t look so cheerful, turning pale at the apprehensive look Ginny knew was plain as day on her face. “Ginny?”

“He’s fine now, but he is in St. Mungo’s. I don’t know exactly what happened, but he was doing something for the Order and –and got attacked rather badly. Mum says he’s going to recover.” Percy blinked with wide eyes, hands hovering over the tabletop for a moment before beginning to fiddle with the hem of his shirt. “It only happened the day before yesterday, Percy...”

“He’s alright, really?” Percy shook his head rather violently. “That’s good, no, that’s great news...”

“Percy.”

“...why didn’t they owl me right away? He’s my dad too –you all already know.” Ginny scooted closer, wrapping an arm around her brother. She had come here knowing that she might have to act as a bit of a rock, but she hadn’t thought that Percy didn’t know. “I mean, I might not agree with them, but that doesn’t mean... that doesn’t mean I don’t care.”

Ginny wasn’t one for comforting; even with Kouhei back, her mental state balancing itself once more and all the times she’d been put in these positions over the last few months, she could decidedly say she was still more than a little behind in that department. One could probably say she outright hated having to comfort others and not be too far off the mark. But when it was someone she cared about, one of her own family (especially the ones Kouhei had never had before or had lost)...

“They should have told you. Or I should have, or Dumbledore. Someone should have thought about you in all of this, Percy, I’m sorry no one did. Of course you still care about Dad.” She squeezed his shoulder and was glad despite everything that he hadn’t started crying, though this might have been worse. “I won’t push it, but I’m sure if you went to visit him-”

“No. No, it’s quite clear he doesn’t want me there.” Percy said, more to himself than his sister. “I’ll not subject myself to that. But, thank you for telling me, Ginny.” He smiled tightly at her just as the kettle started whistling, and extracted himself from her arm to take care of it.

“So,” He continued after a few moments. “I haven’t heard from you in a few weeks, how have you been finding school? You said you were doing alright in your last letter but then you didn’t write for a while.”

“Oh, I was... just really busy, I got distracted.” Understatement. “Mostly I’ve been waiting to get out of there. It really is surreal going to school after one part of me lost two years and the other part only went to high school for... half a year? And that was almost sixteen years ago.”

 “I can imagine.” Percy said neutrally, face relaxing slowly and turning around with a platter carrying their food and drink. “Do you really dislike it so much?”

“Uh, yes?” Ginny shrugged and accepted the bowl of steaming stew once the tray had been set down. She added the right amount of sugar to her tea before continuing. “I’ve told you about Tetsuji before, but I don’t think I’ve even scratched how much of a loss this whole situation was for me –for Kouhei. The night before he died, he –they, er... well, Tetsuji basically asked what he would do if they failed, and Kouhei was pretty set on them staying together either way –so he said, ‘we’ll leave and start over somewhere else.’ He didn’t even get to say goodbye and next he knew he was waking up in St. Mungo’s, with me.”

“I mean, it’s not as if I’m going to die if I stay the rest of the year, but it’s frustrating not being able to do anything. Tetsuji’s my goal and I can’t get any closer to him, to any of them, until the summer.” There was a comfortable silence as Ginny ate and Percy thought about what she had told him, the clock ticking steadily in the corner telling of how long she had been there (not very).

“You know... Mr. Wair-Singh hasn’t quite replaced you since you’ve been away.”

“Oh?” Ginny grinned –she had hoped for that, but to have it so promptly confirmed was gratifying. “How’s Ms. Cobble doing?”

“It would be Mrs. Canterbury now, I’m afraid, she got married just last month. But her shop is doing quite well for itself, I still stop in occasionally and your replacement is an absolute marvel at her job.” Percy pointed at her with his spoon, mockingly accusatory. “Disappointed?”

“Not really, I liked working for Mr. Wair-Singh just a bit more.” Mentally, Ginny resolved to go tomorrow and inquire on taking her old job back for the holidays, if she could manage to get away from the base.

“And you’ve been doing alright?” Ginny then asked, not wanting to make the entire conversation about her. “Eating properly? Taking breaks from your work before you pass out?”

Percy laughed lightly at that. “Yes, it’s been difficult, but I’ve been getting better at managing myself. I’ve got people to help me now, too.”

“That Raymond you mentioned?”

An odd look passed over Percy’s face fleetingly, gone before Ginny could decipher it, but she thought that ‘wistful’ might have been a good place to start. “Yeah, Raymond’s a bit of a clown at times, but he’s quite a good friend to me...” He swallowed. “He’s the brown haired man in the picture you saw when you first came over –I’m sure you’ve given it more than a glance when you kipped on my couch.”

“I did... they seem good for you.” The lot of them reminded her a little of Kouhei’s group, as a first impression. “Tell me about the other three?”

“The woman is Meredith. She’s very precise, dislikes it when any of us are late –she’s put alarm jinxes on all my cloaks so I know when I have to get home in the evenings. The stocky man is Isaac, he’s gruff but is always up to helping me out. And then there’s Marcus...” Percy swallowed again. “He’s the leader of the task force. The Auror task force. I’m an Auror, Ginny.”

Ginny choked on her tea, and spent a minute sputtering and coughing. Suddenly the robes’ familiarity was explained –Auror dress robes weren’t the most commonly worn, and she had only seen them a scant dozen times going in to the Ministry with their Dad. When she had finally recovered she stared at Percy, this revelation explaining exactly what he had been inching around and avoiding saying the entirety of August.

“...can’t say I was expecting that.” She eventually settled on saying. “When did you become an Auror? It had to have been before I woke up, but no one ever said...”

“It was a little under a month before you woke up that I was sworn in.” Percy told her, relaxing as he kept on talking. “The task force I’m a part of was set up by Rufus Scrimgeour, it’s to protect the Ministry from threats, both internal and external. You wouldn’t have heard of it though –no one knows about it except those who are in it, Scrimgeour himself and the Minister, and two civilians we choose to tell at our swearing in. You’re the only one I’ve told... the row I had with Mum and Dad, I was going to tell them then, but it didn’t go through.”

Kami, Percy. I knew you were taking on more than just your assistant position, but I never...”

She trailed off into silence. None of her family had been Aurors, or at least none that she had ever met, and the sudden inclusion of one threw a wrench into her ordered perceptions of her family. Suddenly there were dangers, real dangers that she hadn’t had to take into account –suddenly it looked far less likely that she would be able to convince Percy to come to Japan if war ever broke out in magical Britain. He was far too loyal to abandon something he knew to be right –he took after their Mum in that regard. Heart sinking as one by one her family seemed to get farther from her; she deftly pushed those fears to the side and reached out to lay a hand on her brother’s forearm. She wasn’t the one who needed reassurances right now.

Vvv

The next day, Ginny slept in as long as she could afford, and then went downstairs to assist with the last of the Christmas decorating. Sirius was still in a full holiday mood, and made sure no one went very long without something to do or at least someplace to be (he especially made sure that Molly was always accompanied by at least one of her children at all times). Once they were done at around three in the afternoon, Ginny deftly turned down his inquiries on whether she wanted anything else to do and begged off back to her room, citing a sore stomach but dropping a hint to the older man that it was actually due to the Boggart from yesterday (it wasn’t).

Once again she extracted herself from the bedroom through the old charms on the window, but this time she also hid her hair underneath her old cap. The snow that had been gently falling the night before had at some point stopped, and left in its wake a very pretty looking layer of flakes and frost on everything Ginny passed on her stroll. Soon enough, her clodding steps brought her to the familiar facade of Castella’s, and then inside and straight up to the owner of the currently deserted place –who had been sitting at the counter chatting with Esmerelda, but upon seeing Ginny walk in had stood and moved to embrace her in a crushing hug.

“Jinnai! I had been wondering if you were going to come back to us!” He exclaimed, alerting the cook staff behind the divide of her presence –she received warm greetings from all but the newest of them. “That is, I hope?”

“I’m here until the tenth, if you’ll have me.” She said politely –it wasn’t often that things worked out so easily for her, and even rarer for Kouhei.

“Of course, you were a wonderful employee. Same schedule as before?”

“Actually, I think I could be here from five to eleven in the morning as well as from seven till eleven thirty. I don’t have my job at Del’s this time, but if you don’t need me for that long, I understand.” As she thought, the older man was more than happy with her suggestion, agreeing to it readily as well as her starting the day after tomorrow. Ginny felt bad about having to leave so soon, especially when the man was being so generous, but she reasoned to herself that missing the Gringott’s appointment wouldn’t be the wisest of decisions.

Compared to St. Mungo’s, Grimmauld Place was practically a stone’s throw away from Diagon Alley, if in the opposite direction from where Ginny frequented. So it didn’t take very long for her to make her way back through the streets of London to her destination –though it did result in her having nearly a half hour of free time before her appointment. With nothing much she could do, she wandered the Alley with her cap low and her head down, just in case someone she knew was around.

Kouhei itched to go into Knockturn Alley, as some habits apparently couldn’t be broken, and he had always been more comfortable among his own ‘kind’ –Fujioka-oyaji notwithstanding. But Ginny rather doubted that the seedy parts of the Wizarding World overlapped with the Japanese Underworld much, especially not in the UK, so she squashed the impulse and instead distracted herself with a flyer hanging in the window of one of the smaller shop doors, advertising new advances in cosmetic magic. Curious and more than a little interested in what that could mean for her, Ginny ascended the rickety staircase to the second floor salon and greeted the friendly receptionist cordially.

“For now I’m simply browsing. If you aren’t busy, could you tell me what services you offer and at what prices?”

Tanner, as he introduced himself, was a talkative but sincere young man who reminded her of both Kiiko (in a good mood) and her brother Charlie. He was exceedingly knowledgeable about what his coworkers could do and had obviously been doing this job for a while. By the end of the rambling but informative spiel he gave her, Ginny had decided to actually make an appointment for later in the day; there was a type of ‘Hair Swap Charm’ they could teach where with a word you could change between two different haircuts, and there was also a tattoo artist set up in the very back of the shop. She wasn’t sure if she should get Kouhei’s old tattoos again, but she knew that she wanted to; while there hadn’t really been any special significance to the partial sleeves, he had very much enjoyed the experience of having them and knew that she herself would as well.

Ginny walked into the bank some ten minutes later, heading straight to one of the nearest tellers to inform them of her appointment with Stonebearer, a goblin from their real estate office, and a supervisor for the Muggle Affiliates branch, Ironclaw. She didn’t have to wait very long; she stood awkwardly before the counter for only a few minutes before the Goblin she had spoken to returned and ushered her through one of the doors to his left.

“Miss Jinnai, I hope you have been well.” Stonebearer said once they were sitting opposite each other in one of the meeting rooms in the back, the two male Goblins beside her nodding politely but remaining silent.

“I have. Thank you for responding to my letter so promptly, it was much appreciated.” There was a flicker of something on the other Goblins’ faces that reminded Ginny of the last time she had been here and the still fresh memories that had been bombarding her at the time. Luckily it was even easier for her to pick through Kouhei’s experiences now, not even having to touch their scars to feel the instincts shaped by his culture and previous gang affiliations. “Is there much needed for the passport?”

“No, it is going smoothly and should be ready by early August if we stay on top of it. Gringott’s has also taken the liberty of pushing through a citizenship request with the Japanese Ministry –I only need you to sign off on a preliminary background for both, along with a few waivers for Gringott’s.” Ginny took the offered papers and read them through thoroughly, making a few changes to the background they had prepared but otherwise finding everything in order. She signed her name with Kouhei’s old Kanji signature, which rather curiously came out perfectly if she used her left hand as opposed to her right.

“If you need me for anything further, an owl would be well received.” Ginny said, handing Stonebearer the completed documents and quill. “I do have school, but I’m sure something could be arranged if it’s important.”

“Of course. I will keep that in mind, good day Miss Jinnai.” She and the Goblin shook hands before parting, leaving Ginny alone with the other two Goblins. The older looking one quickly introduced himself as Ironclaw and his companion as Granthok.

“I understand that you have no wizarding account, but rather have chosen one of our Muggle Subsidiaries?” He said without preamble, and Ginny nodded in response. “What is it that you need taken care of today, Miss Jinnai?”

“I need the forms for a Living Trust, preferably independent from the Ministry and officiated by one of Gringott’s employees.” Ironclaw didn’t even attempt to hide his surprise this time –and Ginny idly wondered if it was caused by her words or how she said them. “I also need to set up an international portkey for the end of this summer and arrange payment for the services already rendered and any yet to come.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem. If you will wait here, I’ll have one of your banks supervisors assist you with all you need.” Ironclaw said, shaking her hand as well before leaving. This left her with Granthok, who went through what she needed with a practiced speed and a good eye for detail. Once he too had left the room, Ginny allowed herself to sink into the stiff couch in relief that it had all gone so well. She had done some research on this early on in the year alongside her regular hobby that Luna had encouraged, but it was only yesterday that she had sent a letter out to Gringott’s asking for a meeting –she was surprised but ultimately glad for the quick response. She knew now that by the time school began again in September she would be far away from the United Kingdom, but it wasn’t as if she wanted to abandon her family completely.

The supervisor arrived not ten minutes after Ironclaw departed, introducing himself as Coppershield and immediately setting to work with her on what she needed done. The trust was actually a fairly simple affair; it only required her to give instructions on a) the bequests, b) the beneficiaries, and c) the timeline –as well as specifying whether or not she wanted it to be revocable, and giving the option of being an anonymous benefactor. She worked through it swiftly; Molly and Arthur Weasley, Percy Weasley, and Luna Lovegood, irrevocable, and anonymous. Each would receive a set amount of money one week after she left for Japan, regardless of political climate, wizarding laws or personal refusal (she knew they would likely try to decline, and would not be having that).

Then the portkey was set up, only legal because she would have turned fifteen by then as well as been issued her passport. She chose to be let out at the Kyoto point, having never gotten to see that part of the country before but recognizing an opportunity where there was one. Coppershield brought out one last form (for service payments) and she was on her way, bidding farewell to the Goblin before setting out to go back to the Salon.

Hours later, Ginny walked home alone, feeling so incredibly relieved from taking care of so many things that day. As she walked (hair cut short, magicked to be pushed back like Kouhei had done before his death and bleached back to blond), she allowed that dual sensation to settle over her like a warm blanket, minds melding as they ruminated on the last few hours.

In the end, they had decided not to get the tattoos at the moment, what with funds still so up in the air as they were. But after the haircut and learning the activation of the Switching Charm they had sat with the bored woman for at least two hours, going over prices, the magical procedure compared to the muggle one, and sketching out a rough plan for when they did want to reacquire the lost body art. The woman had even thrown in a good deal hinging on the promise that they would eventually get them, so that another of their long list of to dos was done.

When they got back to Grimmauld Place, Ginnei took a second to switch the haircut back to how it had been before their outing, and then scaled the side of the stable, using the bare steel trellis as they had so many times before. They tapped their wand on the bricks under their bedroom in just the right pattern and smirked to themself when the pane popped open with a click. Taking care to check the room before clambering inside (just in case), as soon as they closed the window again they figured that they deserved a nice, restful sleep, and fell back onto the bed with a relieved sigh.

Vvv

“I’ll be over at the Burrow checking on the wards. When you’re done, just Floo over and we’ll get back to the house, okay?” Tonks said, standing with her at the gate to the Lovegood’s house and seeming as if she wanted to do anything but check on the house at the moment. Ginny adjusted her backpack minutely and nodded, anxiously glancing up to the odd looking house as she did.

“Sure. Thanks again, for doing this.” The older woman grinned bashfully, as Ginny had been thanking her profusely the entire morning (Tonks having been the only one available or willing to take her here).

“No problem! Have a good time there, Ginny.” Hair briefly flaring turquoise, the woman turned on her heel and disapparated with a loud crack, leaving the redhead alone to do what she needed to.

Ginny was as nervous as she had ever been before while she trudged up the frozen garden path towards the front door, only now thinking that a surprise visit might not be the best way to reveal her recovery to her best friend. She hoped that it would go well, but she was also prepared for a scenario in which Luna reacted... not so well. Let it never be said that she went unprepared, though underneath it all she truly did hope that they could mend their friendship from whatever damage she had brought onto it.

She didn’t hesitate to knock loudly on the door, although part of her did want to, and so it was a very short amount of time that had gone by when the door was finally opened by Luna –first slowly, and then practically thrown open when her friend realized that it was her. Ginny smiled crookedly at Luna and the blonde girl froze, eyes widening as she breathed out;

Ginnei?

“Hi, Luna.” Luna didn’t move, and Ginny experienced a brief stab of uncertainty in her gut before Luna quite nearly shrieked and enveloped her in a tight hug. Ginny wrapped her arms around the blonde’s waist quickly when she realized that Luna was sobbing into her shoulder, awkwardly manoeuvring them so that Ginny could step into the house and close the door behind them to shut out the cold air.

“I-I thought –I thought you might never get better!” Luna choked out, arms still tight around Ginny’s shoulders, clutching at her plaid shirt like a lifeline. Ginny squeezed back in what she hoped was a comforting gesture –and let Kouhei settle in her mind without hesitation. “I was so worried, I hoped I was wrong, but you didn’t remember any of it –and I just, I was so –I started to think –that –that-!”

“I’m so sorry.”Ginnei said ardently. “I shouldn’t have put you through that, Luna. I should have been a better friend to you.” They loosened one of their hands to perform the Hair Switch charm, and then gently pulled Luna away from their now thoroughly damp shoulder to look her straight in the eye. “Thank you so much, for everything you did for me. I wouldn’t have made it if not for you.” Ginnei hugged Luna tightly again, grateful for the other’s distraction –Luna probably didn’t even notice the tears dripping onto the crown of her head.

A few minutes passed before Luna pulled away of her own accord, sniffling and rubbing at her cheeks but smiling like Ginnei hadn’t seen in ages. “Thank you for apologizing, Ginnei. I-I’m really glad you’re back.”

“You aren’t the only one.” Ginnei smiled back brightly, feeling light as air even though Luna hadn’t actually accepted their apology. Maybe one day she would, but for now this was more than Ginnei could have ever hoped for, and they weren’t about to push it.

“Here, come in out of the doorway.” Luna said, pulling away fully and using that as an excuse to dry her eyes completely. “I just boiled some water, we can have tea and you can tell me how this happened. Daddy’s not home right now so you don’t have to worry about that.”

“I think that sounds great.”

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

CAN THEY EVEN BE CALLED SPOILERS WITH A FRANCHISE EVERYONE KNOWS AND A FRANCHISE NO ONE CARES ABOUT

The rest of the Christmas holidays passed in a blur of hard work but general good cheer for Ginny.

She had explained everything about themself to Luna that day, from Kouhei’s childhood in Hokkaido to why the Weasley children had been pulled out of Hogwarts early, and what their plans for the future fully entailed. The two of them had talked for so long that in the end Tonks had needed to come back to the Lovegood house herself in order to fetch Ginny, though thankfully the older woman had professed to understanding the need for a long ‘girl’s chat’, so to speak. Luna had laughed at the face that Ginnei had made at that statement, but they had parted amiably with promises to get together again before the holidays ended.

In regards to her job at Castella’s, that had turned out to be a better deal than her two jobs during the summer had been combined. After the first week or so, Mr. Wair-Singh had compiled her hours and looked over her wage, and had decided to raise what he had paid her during the summer –from a bit below the minimum wage, to a bit above it. Originally he had taken her on in good faith, so the reduced wage was a bit of a fudging, a way to get out of the paperwork that a magical didn’t have for finding muggle work –but now that she was working there ‘on a fixed schedule’ they could pay her the required amount and not even need to file anything, even though she had the needed paperwork now. Ginny didn’t truly mind what others might perceive as ‘getting less than her work’s worth’; because she knew that at fourteen it was incredibly lucky for her to even have a job at all.

 It was also surprisingly easier for Ginny to sneak out when compared to the summertime. Not only was her mother making almost daily trips to St. Mungo’s or the like, but whatever the Order still thought about Harry, it was keeping them busy as well (or at the very least, keeping them from having as many meetings in the old house). It was rather odd in fact –Sirius did occasionally stare in her direction suspiciously from time to time, but where during the summer there had been the occasional time where someone had come upon her sneaking down to the kitchen for food, now no one ever seemed to notice her absences. Well, Ginny wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, and until it kicked her she would take advantage of any opportunity given.

The only hiccup in her routine had been at Christmastime; Mr. Wair-Singh closed the restaurant for Christmas Eve and Day, so she had taken the time to make an appearance for dinner at Grimmauld and then had snuck off to go and see Percy. Since she would be busy all the next day, she had brought along his gift for him to unwrap –it was an earring that he could either clip on or get pierced, and was enchanted so that it would instantly translate any language he needed to hear or speak (he would still have to learn to read and write it). Ginny had got the idea while chatting with the tattoo artist, and had been able to order the gift in at half price so long as she entered into a contract with that artist for her old tattoos.

Percy had been beside himself –apparently it was actually quite difficult for him to grasp spoken language even with the help of wit-sharpening potions, and he had been thinking of buying something similar for a while. Though his gift had been just as appreciated –a windup pocket watch with a tiny enchanted panel on the inside of the lid that would act sort of like a telephone if you said the name of the person who had a matching panel, which Percy had gotten installed in his own watch. The charm wasn’t as versatile as the one that powered two-way mirrors, so it wasn’t as well known, but Marcus had been able to get him a deal on them after Percy had informed him of having told Ginny about the task force. And it wasn’t only that it would make it infinitely easier for them to stay in touch (and also gave her ideas in other areas), but there was also the significance in British Wizarding culture of being given a pocket watch when you came of age.

“I thought you deserved it.” Percy said, muffled against their shoulder as Ginnei practically squeezed the life out of him. “You might not be there yet legally, but you’re grown in my eyes, Gin. Makes me a bit sad, I’ll admit, but you know what you want for yourself and I’ll support you anywhere you go.”

Ginnei seemed to be getting over their aversion to crying at the least.

For Christmas Day it had been more gift giving and receiving, though Ginny had split her budget with Percy for the rest of those she was buying for, as well as factored in who was receiving a bit of help after she left for Japan. Ginny explained it as having ordered them through Luna and picked them up during her visit, but in reality she had just gone with Percy to make the purchases in Diagon Alley over the last week. Tonks, Sirius, Harry and Hermione –those she wasn’t as close with –had all been given novelty muggle chocolates from a specialty store a few blocks past Gringotts. Bill and Charlie had gotten scarves in black and white with their names stitched on them –and the witch who had sold them to her had even put in some runes that would keep them warm and last longer. Fred and George were next –she had played a bit of a trick on them by giving them a card and a five sickle coupon to Zonko’s, but their real present would be given to them later.

She had purchased Ron a proper wallet, one with anti-theft charms and a spell to call it to you if you forgot or lost it. Luna’s gift would wait for when she went to see the other again, and for her parents she had bought a book on international wizarding cooking and household charms for Molly, and an actually accurate ‘wizarding guide to muggles’ for Arthur.

There was a slight incident when Molly found that Percy had sent back his sweater, but Ginny knew why he had done so and only concerned herself with comforting her mother.

Their visit to St. Mungo’s in the afternoon didn’t go so well as the gift giving, admittedly. Arthur had been enthralled with the book; it taught about international muggle achievements and technology, proper pronunciation, how to use, how not to use, and had wizarding equivalents for comparison’s sake. But it had gone slightly downhill from there when Ginnei had noticed the clean bandages their father had tried to hide –and heard that some stupid Trainee Healer had tried to sew him shut.

So before their mother had even been able to blow up on Arthur as Ron would later recount, Ginny had left the room, walked down the hall to that floor’s Supervisory Healer’s office and reported the gross misconduct of the trainee. At first Healer Smethwyck was unsure whether or not to take them seriously, but after Ginnei had gone through in precise detail exactly why the trainee putting stitches in their father was a bad idea (no training, easy infection with cloth thread, uneven scarring) and what they would be bringing up with the squad that would no doubt be called in to investigate the legitimacy of St. Mungo’s entire staff, he had wised up and immediately gone to check the problem. Ginnei had thought about going back to the room after him, but in the end decided against it and instead made their way up the main stairs to the Children’s Ward.

“’Lo, Healer Cornwall.” Ginny greeted, having separated fast as soon as they remembered their collected dislike for the Healer Darcy. The older healer was currently sitting outside her office with a cup of tea and a little girl dozing against her chair, supervising about a dozen other children playing a game of Quidditch-Tag.

“Ginny Weasley, I didn’t expect to see you here again so soon. No more prolonged sleeps, I hope?” Cornwall said, looking up from the crowd to where Ginny was standing a few feet away.

“Not a one.” Ginny replied, leaning against the wall as the healer’s eyes returned to the children. “Visiting someone else, this time. Thought I might thank you again, for looking after me all that time.”

“It’s nothing to be thanked for, I assure you. But you’re welcome anyhow.” She took a sip of her tea before she spoke again. “You’re at Hogwarts, aren’t you? How are you finding catching up?”

“’S’alright. Easier than I thought it’d be, in some ways. And you’re still the Supervisor here?”

“Oh yes, not going to be retiring for a long while, I’m afraid. But that’s not so bad.” Cornwall pat the sleeping child on the head gently. “It’s nice to settle down a bit, once you find your lot in life.”

Vvv

The Weasley collective had left St. Mungo’s soon after, and as she still had the rest of the night off, Ginny had trudged over to the room Fred and George had holed themselves up in so to give them their actual gift. They had been quizzical upon receiving another envelope without explanation, but as they had read the documents inside their eyes had gone as wide as saucers.

“I’m not going to be getting you two anything else for a long time.” She told them straight out, smirking as their wide eyed stare turned from the papers to her. “For that matter, neither is Percy. Head over to Gringotts before we go back to school and ask to meet with Granthok from the real estate branch, he’ll get you fully set up for the rest.”

Yes, let it never be said that Ginny wanted her family to flounder if she could do anything at all to prevent it. Her meeting with Granthok had been to scope out a cheap place around Diagon Alley to rent for the twin’s joke shop. Once they had pooled their money together and calculated out acceptable rates, she and Percy had managed to afford to rent them a narrow but well-kept street level shop just past Gringotts on the left. With rental prices falling with the general paranoia in the Isles on account of the split between ‘Potter believers and deniers’, they had been able to rent it for six months –whenever Fred and George’s initial rental ended –and all they had to do was go and set it in motion.

“What do you mean, Percy?” Fred asked hesitantly, George still puzzling over the papers. Ginny didn’t quite feel like outing herself, but there was a time and a place.

“I’ve been mailing him since the summer.” She said in lieu of the whole picture. “When I heard about you two looking to start up a business, I thought it might make for a good gift, and Percy agreed to help me set it up. Prices are rock bottom right now, really, so you two should go in and work out how long you want the initial lease period to be as soon as possible.”

“Bloody hell.” George said. “Bloody hell.

“Seems like an apt reaction. Just don’t tell anyone where it came from or I’ll k-hex you.” She switched to the wizard threat rather late, but she knew that it wasn’t really needed. The look that her brothers were giving her told her that they wouldn’t say anything anytime soon.

The rest of the holidays had been pretty blasé compared to those two days, though she was fine with that, as at least it hadn’t given her any trouble. She had visited Luna again only once, a week before they were to go back to the school, and they had exchanged gifts at that point. Ginny had bought Luna a pair of translation earrings similar to the one she had given Percy, but after he had given her the pocket watch she had taken the jewellery back and had the shop add in a similar enchantment. Now Luna only had to tap one of them twice and say ‘Jinnai’ to call her, and the earrings were also charmed so that no one else could remove them or even use them at all.

Luna had purchased Ginny a chest binder.

There had been a shocked silence after Ginny had opened the gift; Luna was slowly turning red and Ginny and Kouhei melded in about two seconds flat, so that they could try and comprehend the piece at twice the processing power (it wasn’t working). After about a minute had passed with no reaction, Luna stutteringly explained the logic behind her choice.

“I thought about it first, back in September, when you said you weren’t a girl but you also weren’t a boy, and when I was learning about –about depression, to help Daddy, I learnt about people who felt the same, that they were neither or both or switched.” Luna’s face was almost an unhealthy red now, clashing horribly with her pale hair. “And –and they said that sometimes, if they put one of those on, it helped with their –and I thought... so I learnt a measurement spell, and maybe if you ever feel you want to, you could try wearing it to see-”

“Luna, you are a goddess.” Ginnei interrupted before their friend could blow a gasket. “This is one of the best presents I’ve ever been given. I never even thought about getting one of these before, I wouldn’t have even known where to look!”

“I’m so glad you like –it!” Luna shrieked the last word and started laughing as Ginnei hugged her and swung her around a few times. “Ginnei! Aaaaah! Ahahaha, Ginnei, stop –I’m going to be sick! Aah!”

“No you aren’t!” Ginnei retorted, but obliged in setting her back down. “Luna, I want you to call me Kouhei. Ginnei’s not really my name, and it’s only fair that you should get to use my first name while I use yours.”

“Alright, I will.” Luna smiled. “Now go try it on! If you want to wear it for a long time you have to train yourself to get used to it! But no hard exercise while it’s on, okay?”

“Okay, okay. Be right back.”

After Luna had told them the proper way to put it on and they had adjusted themself accordingly, Ginnei walked out of the bathroom to show Luna how it was. It was an odd compressed sensation around their breasts, one that made them wince a bit the longer they moved around in it, but the look of it made a warm curl of satisfaction shoot through them, like a piece of something missing slotted into place. It wasn’t even thirty minutes before they felt they needed to take it off, but it was with a certain elation that they folded it up and into their bag for later.

Then in no time at all, it was over. Ginny bid goodbye to Mr. Wair-Singh and the rest of her coworkers, knowing that when summer came around she probably would have to look for employment in Ottery St. Catchpole; that was made easier by the phone number Mr. Wair-Singh gave to her so she could have something of a reference. The night before they left, Ginny went again to Percy’s apartment and waited for him to get back from work, making dinner in the meantime –an easy recipe for hamburgers that Kouhei had learned from Fujioka-oyaji. Then she headed home and repacked whatever she had taken out of her trunk during the break.

They were on their way back to Hogwarts when morning came around, all of them clambering onto the Knight Bus with Lupin and Tonks as guides, and then as quick as could be, they were there. But this time –as they trudged up to the large, imposing castle through the snow of early January –Ginny didn’t feel any dread for the coming months. Instead her resolve, and Kouhei’s too, burned brightly and she knew that this time she would make it through and only grow stronger from it.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

As January continued into February and the school year steadily ramped up again after the long break, Ginny made the most of her newfound purpose by directing it towards every avenue she came across.

In her classes she made sure to copy down the information and tackle the assignments quickly, and after several days she could feel herself getting back into the rhythm of it. She knew she was only putting in enough effort to be considered ‘average’, but that didn’t bother her much as grades had never mattered to Kouhei in the grand scheme of things. The real advantage of the class time was that it gave her and Kouhei regular intervals to stay intertwined –especially during Muggle Studies and Arithmancy –as their immediate goal was normalizing the admittedly off-putting sensation enough that they would soon become inseparable. Not going to Defence also offered up another boon; they were getting back into the habit of evasion that Kouhei had once been so good at, as Umbridge seemed even more determined now to catch them and force them into her detentions.

Finishing her homework immediately also meant that in her off hours she had more time to work on the important things. She stepped up her physical regimen to include nightly workouts on top of the morning ones –it was closer to the daily exercises that Kouhei had been used to, and there was something satisfying about running an extra lap further than the week before or lifting several more kilograms easily that she was fast becoming addicted to.

The increased exercise encouraged her to eat three hearty meals a day down in the kitchens with Luna, which was when they decided to do their homework as the Ravenclaw was experiencing a subtle pile up in her own assignments. Though they generally didn’t have the same course work it still speeded things up to work together, and the House Elves didn’t mind their extended presence at all; indeed they were very accommodating, bringing a tray of tea, cheese and crackers over if they stayed more than an hour past dinner.

But during the day, when Luna was in class and she couldn’t go out running, and really there was nothing for them to do at all, Ginny spent that time in the Come and Go room. Oh, there was still the occasional DA meeting to attend of course, as well as those times that her brothers roped her into a game of chess or the planning of a scheme, but that room was where you would find her above all others. Generally she wore the binder as well, to try and get themself used to it for longer periods of time or ease the still commonplace discomfort with her body. What was wonderful about the room was that it was quiet, private, and could give her all the information she needed instantly; and they took advantage of that fact fully.

They started with reading the books that detailed modern muggle history over the past fourteen or so years, paying special attention to the sections that concerned Japan because they wanted to know what they had missed in Kouhei’s absence. Once they had exhausted the room’s supply of that content, they moved on to the few it presented that concerned the internet and advances in muggle technology. The amount of books on foreign culture specifying Japan was staggering, and eventually they resorted to skimming those, keeping an eye out for mentions of Ainu but not finding very much in that respect.

Over the course of those first weeks back, Ginny continually encouraged Luna to call her Kouhei (or Jinnai if she wanted) as Ginny thought it imperative that she get used to responding to those names again if she were to be returning to Japan come September. Ginnei also started to mentally refer to themself as Kouhei, though they still slipped sometimes as they had grown somewhat used to ‘Ginnei’, if not overly fond of the name –and compromised by using Jinnai at first so as to ease themself into it.

Luna made liberal use of the translation earrings (even getting her ears pierced a second time so she could still wear her favourite Dirigible Plums) and applied herself to learning how to read and write the language with Jinnai’s assistance, mainly during lunchtime. They weren’t surprised by how fast she was making strides in that endeavour –Luna had always shown a penchant for excellence in the most unexpected of places, and this was no different.

And every Sunday night without fail, Ginny sequestered herself away from Luna, her brothers, and her dormmates and pulled out Percy’s Christmas gift to her –the enchanted pocket watch. The two of them spent a good hour each week keeping up with each other, making sure the other was eating properly or going to bed at a reasonable time. Ginny reported on her school work and how she and Luna were doing, the sudden aches she was getting now from her earnest training and her still growing shoulders and legs, and the general state of the school with Umbridge gaining more of a foothold. Percy rambled on about his work (mostly in the department as opposed to the ‘secret’ part) and his colleagues, the new hobbies or potions he was trying out and how he was stopping in at Castella’s more often now that he had some free time.

“Oh, and I got a letter yesterday.” He said near the tail end of one of their conversations in late February. “It was from the Japanese Ministry for Magic, asking about you.”

“Yeah? What did it say?” Ginny asked, having a vague guess already; this might have been due to one of the questions she had filled out on her visit in December.

“It was from their citizenship office –they wanted me to answer a few questions on who I was and whether I was fine with being put down as your legal guardian when we’re not related?” Percy sounded a little confused at that part and Ginny nearly hit herself for neglecting to tell him of this possibility.

“Right. Well, remember that I told you I applied for a passport at Gringotts back when I broke out of St. Mungo’s? Between then and Christmas they saw fit to push through a citizenship request as well, and when I went to see them during the hols they had me sign off on a few things.” Ginny shrugged even though Percy couldn’t see her and leaned back against the chair cushion. “One of them was a backstory. I tweaked it so my mother and father were both mixed –I was born there, but moved here when they separated, and when my mum died I stayed here with you because you were a family friend. Gringotts said I might need an option for a legal guardian for the citizenship to go through, so I put your name down without thinking. Are you okay with that?”

“Of course! I just didn’t know what they were talking about.” Percy assured her quickly, and so the issue was dropped.

Vvv

The day in March that they practiced Patronuses under Harry’s tutelage had been a good day indeed. Ginny had managed to stay as Jinnai for the entire day without feeling the least bit mentally worn out as they normally did after too long, and had discovered a few nooks around the second floor to hide in when they had been evading one of the more tenacious Prefects sent after them by Umbridge. Their classes had yielded no homework for them that day, and the weather had cleared up enough from the recent constant squalls to allow for a nice meander out by the lake. Gringotts had mailed and informed them of their citizenship being granted and of the passports near completion, and after an inquiry Ginny had sent several weeks earlier they had finally received a reply back from the tattoo artist in Diagon.

Then the meeting had come around, and though they were starting to feel the mental strain they pushed through it so they could try the spell out together –as Harry had emphasized a truly happy memory and Ginny hadn’t as many outstanding ones as Kouhei. They and Luna stayed off to the side of the room, near the exits that let out by the common rooms, and Jinnai waited to see how Luna fared in her own attempts before they tried.

“Oh, my. It’s so springy.” Luna commented as her hare hopped around the two of them, trailing silver vapour in its wake. “I wonder why it’s a rabbit –though I am glad it’s no Nargle.”

“Who knows, I just hope mine isn’t a Tanuki or something.” Jinnai said, trying to find a memory that might work best for the spell. “Expecto Patronum.” They said, and a wisp of smoke shot out of their wand but didn’t materialize into anything.

“I think a Heliopath might suit you, Kouhei.” Luna said in a straight voice, but smiled tellingly at the sceptical look Jinnai shot her. “Maybe a Crup?”

“Magical animals aren’t very common for a Patronus, actually.” Hermione told them from a few feet over, directing her otter into lazy backflips above her head with her wand. “Your father told me that his is a weasel, Ginny, so yours might be similar?”

Jinnai didn’t respond with more than a considering hum, too focused on remembering something happy. An image came into their mind then –of him sitting in a diner with Teru, talking over something or other, and then glancing out the window to see Kyousuke and Tetsuji approaching from across the street, talking calmly with each other and waving when they caught sight of Kouhei looking.

It wasn’t a memory, this image –to Jinnai it might as well have been a dream, as Kyousuke had never met his brother and Tetsuji had only interacted with Teru, Kiiko and Parko during their campaign against the Snake Heads. But they felt happy at the thought that it might have happened had Sonoda not stabbed them, that it was something they would try to make happen now that they were back, and took the opportunity to raise their wand yet again and try the spell out.

At first there was nothing, and then slowly the silvery mist congealed into a long, thin shape; concentrating harder, it took about thirty seconds and then suddenly there was a four foot long rattlesnake, similar to what had previously adorned Kouhei’s back, lazily slithering through the air around them and Luna.

Jinnai grinned in triumph and looked up to see if Luna had noticed it, but the blonde was focused on something in the middle of the room and her hare had dissipated in her distraction. Kouhei separated abruptly but kept his mind focused on the spell (something they had tried out during Charms) while Ginny followed Luna’s gaze to Harry and a frightened looking House Elf who appeared to be trying to wordlessly tell him something.

“Umbridge?” Harry demanded, making the entire room tense. The Elf nodded furiously and then tried to hurt itself, but Harry stopped it before it could. “What about her? Dobby –she hasn’t found out about this –about us –about the DA?”

Luna turned to her, and in her own mind Ginny thought for the other exits to let out right next to the common rooms, and for all evidence of the DA to disappear from the room. Harry confirmed that Umbridge knew about it with a great bellow, and a second later there was a rush for any of the exits, and a general feeling of confusion and fright took over them all. Ginny grabbed hold of Luna’s arm and it snapped Kouhei out of the spell and back into alignment with her, and while they saw that some people had run for the main exit instead of the more sensible ones they couldn’t bring themself to care. At the rush of students yelling the password the Fat Lady threw herself open and frantically questioned them on what the hullabaloo was all about –but everyone was so preoccupied with clambering into the room beyond that she didn’t get an answer.

No one uttered a word for a good hour –except at the beginning, where they had counted who was there and who wasn’t. Along with Luna there were three other non-Gryffindors who had been caught up in the scramble, and there were several of their own housemates missing as well. Notably Harry, Ron, Fred and Lavender were gone –and while the group hoped they had just been swept into another house they had all noticed some people going through the seventh floor exit. After the first hour, George wondered in frustration how Umbridge had found them out –Hermione still had the list of their names and the jinx against betrayal was still holding true.

Harry returned sometime around eleven, escorted by McGonagall to the portrait. He stared at them all looking as if he’d seen a ghost, but simultaneously he was very angry and short with them about their many questions. Hermione ended up smacking him and yelling at him to tell them what was going on as ‘he wasn’t the only one who’d had a rough night’, and that seemed to snap him out of his funk.

“Dumbledore’s gone from the castle.” He’d said. “She found out about us from the House Elves. They didn’t tell her everything –but they said enough. She’s got a bunch of the Slytherins working for her now too... I got caught by Malfoy.”

Jinnai and Luna had gone up to the fourth year’s dorm after that, and Luna had used a handy duplication charm to make a functioning bed for herself beside Jinnai’s. Rather than go to sleep though, they had silenced the curtains and stayed up well into the night practicing their Patronuses –feeling acutely for the first time that year that there might be a need for the skill as more than just a precaution.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

Things in the castle changed practically overnight after Dumbledore left them, and none of what was happening was particularly good.

Umbridge, on authority of the Minister of Magic, replaced Dumbledore as the headmaster the following morning –it was the only topic anyone seemed interested in talking about, and inevitably popped up in the common room every night after that. She had apparently been refused entry by the official office, which was fun for everyone to make fun of for a little while, but the establishing of her Slytherin-run Inquisitorial Squad dampened any merriment they managed to scrape together incredibly quickly. Eventually all anyone ever had to report were the number of times they had seen the Squad members unfairly abusing their power, and a general sense of unease and rebellion was brewing where the DA once curbed it.

When it came to the IS, Jinnai was having a slightly difficult time managing to avoid prosecution; some days he wouldn’t be able to do much more than go to breakfast before some uppity member of the Squad decided to try and corner them to force them into their accumulated detentions. Other times in the days that followed Umbridge’s takeover, Jinnai had been walking to class or even once just coming in from their morning workout and had needed to take refuge in the secret passages or the Room of Requirement for the rest of the day. They had heard of what went on in Umbridge’s so called ‘detentions’ and weren’t keen to start attending any time soon, and it was fast becoming a grim game between Ginny and Luna for how long the redhead could go without being spotted by the tenacious Squad members.

Then, about a month after the start of her reign, Fred and George flew the coop, startling everyone in the castle with no exception save perhaps for Lee Jordan. Ginny had been squirreled away in the library with Luna when the first explosion sounded several floors below them, but beyond asking a few passing students if they knew what was going on neither she nor Luna had felt inclined to go and investigate. It was through the talk of the students during dinner that Ginny actually found out about her brother’s escape –her letter to them afterwards was short and demanding but ultimately resulted in Jinnai ordering them to implement their joke shop as soon as possible to get to financial stability.

That night Jinnai had lain awake for a long time listening to the echoing whoops of his fellow Gryffindors, unable to sleep for how fast their mind was whirring away; the thought that none of their family would leave this place was fast becoming a reality.

But Jinnai didn’t really mind thinking about all of that, and mainly tried to focus on going about their day without being caught by the new lawmakers of the school. They didn’t particularly care much about their grades –they did well in the classes they liked simply because they enjoyed them –because having conferred with an employee of the Ministry’s Muggleborn Un- and Re- Integration Office, they now realized that for all that magic saturated Hogwarts, an education centered around it didn’t mean anything for them.

The man he had corresponded with, Caldus Borghenheld, had been kind but very frank with them when he had laid out the fact that re-entry into the muggle world was possible, but incredibly difficult to sustain because a Hogwarts educated person had no real assets to offer in a nonmagical job. Magic was restricted around muggles which prevented many from using it to give them an advantage, which meant the longer they tried to coast along in a muggle job with a false education record, the more they slipped up and inevitable got fired. The more it happened the less likely they were to try again, hence why their Office started with Un- and then offered Re-. That meant that since Jinnai wasn’t looking to have a job that had anything to do with magic, there wasn’t much reason for them to continue putting effort into such a useless endeavour. As of right now, they were mainly using the class time to avoid the IS and Umbridge as much as to pass the time.

May passed by in a blur of exam preparation, warmer weather, and extraordinary leaps in growth for both Jinnai and Luna. In their off hours Jinnai fell into their training with an easy grace, but when they needed to take a break they found it fun to experiment with how they could manipulate magic While Ginny still had an easier time at it for the most part, she found that if Kouhei was closer to the surface then it became a lot more difficult to access unless she concentrated. It was during their dual mind sessions that it really began to work for them –they could split midway and keep up two separate incantations, which wasn’t going to matter once they became inseparable but was an interesting discovery nonetheless. Luna on the other hand was making strides in her classwork and self study on Japanese, taking a page from Kouhei’s book and also starting to make backup plans for the inevitable unrest in the UK.

Jinnai remembered those days not for the work, but due to the further melding of their two separate beings, and how it had very quickly become apparent that they would be hard pressed to split up at all soon. Even now they were beginning to feel more uncomfortable apart then together. By the time June was upon them and the exams were well underway, that feeling was nigh unbearable, making it hard for him to sleep or concentrate, but thankfully not rekindling Luna’s worry for him since he explained exactly why he was acting so out of it.

Those same exams came and went with little incident beyond Ginny refusing to sit the test for DADA out of her own sense of pride –luckily there was some sort of overlap between hers and Harry’s exam times, so Umbridge spent nearly all of that time watching the fifth years like a hawk, which let Jinnai off the hook once again. They didn’t feel as if they had done incredibly well based purely on the faces of their examiners, but then again it didn’t matter so much, and instead they devoted their energy to helping Luna with her studies.

So when Jinnai fell asleep on the night of June 17th, and awoke suddenly the next afternoon only to find that the barrier that had kept separate the two parts of himself was finally gone

“Luna!” Kouhei yelled, making his friend jump in surprise as he caught her coming out of the examination hall. He was approaching quickly, but she still managed a moment where she looked at him in confusion before he swept her up and spun her around just the same as he had done at Christmas.

The pair of them garnered a few looks from their surrounding peers, but Kouhei was so caught up in elation that he didn’t even notice, simply moving to set Luna back on her feet and then envelope her in a great embrace.

“I feel like I’ve never lived before now, Luna!” He gushed to the still puzzled Ravenclaw, uncharacteristic in his memories but feeling now as if it was the perfect thing to do. “It’s gone! Whatever was keeping it from happening just went away! We’re –I’m whole again! Kami, Luna!”

“Kouhei!” Luna exclaimed back, smiling as bright as Kouhei had ever seen before. “That’s wonderful! I’m so happy!”

Kouhei couldn’t help but grin, almost trembling with all the excess energy running through his veins. He felt like he could sprint a mile, battle and win against that blonde bastard Harumichi, hop on the Knight Bus and find Tetsuji right now –he felt like none of the shit that had plagued Ginny or Kouhei was weighing him down any longer.

He and Luna decided right then to go up to the room of requirement, since Luna’s last exam had finished and she needed a few minutes to wind down. They made it all the way up to the sixth floor in relative peace, before shouting reached their ears and they recognized (or Kouhei recognized) who was making such a ruckus.

“IF YOU THINK I’M JUST GOING TO ACT LIKE I HAVEN’T SEEN –”

“Sirius told you there was nothing more important than you learning to close your mind!”

“WELL, I EXPECT HE’D SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT IF HE KNEW WHAT I’D JUST –”

Kouhei opened the door to the classroom, making the three Gryffindors laying beyond whirl around and point their wands directly at him. Luna trotted into the room after him, and silenced the doorway so that no one could listen in on whatever was about to be said.

“What the hell is going on here?” Kouhei asked bluntly, arms crossed over his chest. “We heard you all the way down the hall screaming about Sirius.”

“Never you mind.” Harry said harshly, though he looked as if their sudden entrance had pushed him out of some sort of fit. Kouhei raised an eyebrow and glared fiercely at him, making the older boy flinch.

“No, not when anyone and their mother could have come around here and heard you yowling about your escaped and on the run godfather. Calm down for a single second and think.” Harry turned red, but just as quickly his face drained of colour and he seemed suitably cowed.

“Now, what is going on?” Luna asked airily –Kouhei eyed her slightly, as he hadn’t heard that tone of voice from her in some time.

“It’s... nothing you can help with...” Harry started, but Hermione cut him off.

“Wait, Harry, maybe they can help.” Everyone in the room turned to look at her at once and she straightened under their attention. “Listen, we really need to establish whether Sirius really has left Headquarters.”

“I told you –”

“Shut up and let her speak.” Kouhei said dangerously, and Harry tensed up but followed the order.

“...please, Harry, let’s just check that Sirius isn’t there before we try and gallivant into the Ministry.” Hermione asked imploringly. “If he’s not at home, then I swear I won’t try to stop you. I’ll come, I’ll d-do whatever it takes to try and save him from V-Voldemort.”

Kouhei didn’t know the full story here, but Hermione seemed to have stunned Harry speechless with her declaration. Just in case it hadn’t penetrated his skull though, Kouhei caught Harry’s gaze and frowned severely.

“Be careful how you respond. You have people here who would face adult wizards who have murdered and practiced dark magic for longer than you’ve been alive. Do not take that lightly.”

Harry swallowed heavily and looked to his two best friends, both of whom looked scared but nodded in acknowledgment of Kouhei’s words. “How?” He asked, “How are we going to check?”

“We’ll use Umbridge’s fireplace. We’ll be able to connect with Grimmauld that way –it’s the only fireplace in the school connected to the floo.” Hermione looked terrified at the very thought. “Lure Umbridge away and head in while she’s distracted. But we’ll need lookouts, and that’s where Ginny and Luna –”

“No.” Kouhei said, the pieces of their stilted conversation coming together quickly. “Maybe in January, but after Fred and George set up that fake Acromantula nest in her office during their escape? It would be easier getting into Buckingham if I know anything about her.”

“Then what are we supposed to do?” Harry demanded, worry etched in his voice –Kouhei was quiet for a moment.

“I know a way. But you have to stay in the castle and let me handle it, otherwise it won’t work.” Kouhei stated, waiting patiently for an answer.

“...you’ll be fast?” Harry asked.

“As fast as I’m able. I’ll send a message through these –” Kouhei tapped Luna’s earrings. “-so, Luna, stay with Ron, please. In thirty minutes, get ready for my call from Percy’s, and I’ll be nearly there.”

Percy?!” Ron exclaimed, but Luna had agreed and so Kouhei was already out the door. Truth be told, he really hadn’t wanted to get involved in any of the trouble that seemed to follow Ron and his friends around, but if the alternative was Ron charging off on some harebrained rescue mission for Sirius Black-

Well, Kouhei knew how possessive he used to be of those he considered important, and he wouldn’t say it had dimmed in the intervening years.

The first place that Kouhei went to was the room of requirement, where he summoned up that strange collection of stashed away items that must have been accumulating for years. The room was incredibly helpful here, immediately shoving forward the extra clothes he had left behind and disregarding the rest –the jeans he was able to move around in the best, a plain white tshirt and his favourite brown jacket. From there Kouhei thought about where he wanted a passage to, and followed the new tunnel down into the lower floors of the castle, all the way over to the statue of Gunhilda of Gorsemoor.

Here he encountered a brief blockage in the way of Gregory Goyle standing guard, but a silent stunner from the unseen exit of Kouhei’s tunnel took care of that just fine. He made his way to it and followed the directions that Fred and George had imparted to him months prior; merely five minutes after having left the classroom on the sixth floor, Kouhei was down the proverbial rabbit hole and on his way to Hogsmeade.

It took ten minutes to get there, to the basement of Honeydukes, and another five to sneak up the staircase and out the door without drawing too much attention. Of course, in an all wizard village Kouhei was sure to draw a bit of staring, but all he was focusing on was summoning the Knight Bus so that he could get to Grimmauld as quickly as possible.

He absentmindedly switched his hair to blonde as the three decker bus screeched to a halt in from of him, and paid the required fare without as much as a by-your-leave, taking a seat in the middle of the first deck.

Kouhei hadn’t expected his day to go this way, but then again it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. The worst thing that could happen would be Harry getting too impatient and disregarding Kouhei’s instructions, which would put both Ron and Luna in danger as Kouhei’s friend would be sure to stick with them after he had asked her to. That was the situation Kouhei wanted to avoid the most but he had a sinking feeling about that phrase ‘the best laid plans could go to ruin’, and this plan was merely hanging by a thread.

He arrived a block from Percy’s apartment, switching his hair back to red, and strode purposefully the entire rest of the way, surely startling many passersby with his height and the glare etched deeply into his face. He didn’t even bother knocking –a wave of the wand with the right password and the door opened for him immediately. Then a sealing charm for the duration of the call –a stabbing pain accompanying the rush of magic –because Percy never safe guarded his home to Kouhei’s liking, and Kouhei was ready to contact Luna back in Hogwarts.

“Kouhei, they’re being so stupid!” Was the first thing Luna whispered when she picked up, and Kouhei felt his stomach drop like a stone. “They cleared the hallway and broke in almost as soon as you’d left –I tried to stop them but they didn’t listen!” Luna huffed out a sob and Kouhei didn’t sit still a moment longer. “I was keeping watch, but Crabbe took my wand! N-Neville barged down the hall and there were Inquisitorial Squad members everywhere –I knew you were going to call so I punched Bulstrode and hid –”

Kouhei swore, but hurried to reassure Luna that she hadn’t done anything wrong. “What’s happening now? Where is everyone?”

“I don’t know!” Luna whispered –Kouhei suspected she must have been in a closet or something similar. “I heard yelling, and then Professor Snape left, and a few minutes after that Umbridge came out with Hermione and Harry- aah!”

“Luna? Luna!” Kouhei was running now, angry at his brother and Harry and Umbridge and just –there was never getting away from this shit was there? There was always going to be a Parko and Dangerers, a Sonoda, a possessed diary, a two year coma, or some stupid fifteen year olds who didn’t know how to stay put GODAMMIT.

Grimmauld Place was in view by the time that Luna’s voice crackled back to life over the line –she sounded so frustrated and close to tears, and Kouhei took out his own anger by hammering on the door with all of his might. “They, Harry was told by Kreacher that no one was there, that Sirius was in the Department of Mysteries, Neville and Ron went after them, they’re not listening! I can’t get them to stop!

“What the devil- Ginny?” Remus Lupin emerged from behind the opening door holding his wand aloft, but Kouhei wasn’t about to be slowed down; he pushed past the thin man and didn’t even stop to care about the screeching portrait or the clattering troll leg or any of it, because he was furious and Albus Dumbledore sitting like a beacon of calm at the kitchen table made him see red.

“Ms. Weasley –”

Where is Sirius Black.” Kouhei demanded. Luna’s voice was tiny with the watch clenched in his fist.

“He’s only just gone up to the study, my girl, if you would only calm down a moment and explain how you managed to –” Kouhei cut the headmaster off.

“Well then, why is it that when Harry flooed this place he was told by Kreacher that Black wasn’t here? Why did Kreacher say that Black was being held in the Department of Mysteries?! Whoever’s responsible for this is going to die, because if Harry gets it in his mind then Ron is going to follow that bastard to the Ministry on some fucking misguided rescue mission to save Black from Voldemort!”

Dumbledore’s face had gone from placid to as stern as a general’s as Kouhei had went on into shouting, and by the time he was done the old man had stood and waved his wand, conjuring multiple patronuses that he sent off a second later bearing the message that Kouhei had just delivered. Not even a minute after that, footfalls thundered down the staircase and Lupin came into the kitchen in a flurry, followed closely by the very man himself, Sirius Black.

“Albus, what’s going on?” Remus asked immediately. “We saw the Patronus going by –”

“I’m afraid that Voldemort has seen fit to strike.” Dumbledore said gravely, motioning Remus and Sirius further into the room; Sirius ended up standing next to Kouhei, and he eyed him as if this was their first time seeing each other. “From what I can gather, Harry is convinced that Voldemort is holding you hostage in the Department of Mysteries, Sirius, and has mounted a rescue operation in accordance.”

Sirius’ expression wasn’t one that Kouhei could describe, but he knew what it meant all the same. “So Harry’s heading into a trap? Well let’s get go–”

“Sirius, I know you wish to help –”

“’Wish to help’?! That’s my godson about to walk into certain death! I’m not going to sit here and twiddle my goddamn thumbs while you all go and get them out of this!”

“Sirius please, listen –” Remus pleaded.

“No, he’s my gods –” CRACK!

Dumbledore and Remus both stared at Sirius lying crumpled on the floor, Kouhei standing behind him holding a wooden roller by his side. “I’ll watch him.” Kouhei offered, insides burning. “I’ll keep him here and out of trouble. Go.”

To Kouhei’s frustration, neither of the wizards hesitated even a moment.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

                Luna was transported to Grimmauld Place several hours later, and before there could be any questions or apologies, Kouhei squirreled her away in one of the upstairs bedrooms and held her tightly as she raged out her frustrations at being unable to stop anything that had happened. Kouhei had never been so out of his depth, and the only thing he could do was continue to reassure her that everything was fine, nothing irreversible had happened, and that she had done all that she could do without a wand to aid her. It seemed ages had passed by the time that Luna was calm enough to actually try to give an apology, and by then Kouhei was feeling a bit more comfortable with the situation at hand and was able to rebuke her attempts easily.

In the quiet time after her breakdown and before they were called into the kitchen by Kouhei’s mother, Luna explained what exactly had gone on after he had left –from Harry growing impatient, to her hiding in a broom closet where Ron and Neville had found her, and eventually ending with her trying to dissuade them from taking the Floo in the Three Broomsticks to the Ministry, only to have been held off by a seventh year level barrier that Hermione had erected before she could grab the floo powder from them. She had gone back to Hogwarts through the Honeyduke’s passage, and hours later had been approached by Madam Pomphrey and escorted to Dumbledore’s office where she had been given a Portkey and told not to mention it to anyone from the Ministry.

Kouhei could feel his anger stirring again, but refrained from showing it –there was a part of him still nervous about scaring Luna after that disastrous episode on the Quidditch Pitch back in November. But then, there was a larger part of him still that despaired at Luna’s discontent that wanted this to be as simple to deal with as Hermione being close minded about Luna’s beliefs. Alternately he struggled with the concepts of keeping her comfortable or keeping her safe, and in the end he tried distracting both her and himself from the worries and stress of barely half a day prior, by rambling on about the new feelings he had experienced since melding into one completely.

“It’s not that we were ever separate, but there was a wedge driving me halfway into two, yeah? Still one at the base of it all, but our higher functions were different –if it hadn’t been for you, Luna, I might not be here now.” Kouhei said quietly, not wanting any passing person outside the door to be able to hear. “And I’ve got this new outlook on so many things, or is it a new outlook? I look at things that used to infuriate me and don’t notice, and the opposite’s true as well. And even my anger’s new –back when I led the Snake Heads it was always all-consuming, like I lost my mind if there was something standing in my way. But I feel in control of it now... I think that might’ve been because you chastised my younger memory-self so much when he tried to mess with you.”

Luna laughed, voice a little strained even after a while’s rest. “He was such a brat, I didn’t know how you –Ginny, you –could have come from Jinnai, you. But I’m glad I helped, even a little bit.”

“You help, Luna. Even when you think you don’t.” Kouhei assured again, and then took a breath to broach a topic that he had steadfastly avoided mentioning the past few months-

“Ginny! Luna! Come down to the kitchen please?” Mrs. Weasley called from a floor down, and Kouhei simultaneously cursed and thanked her timing. Luna wiped her eyes one last time while Kouhei switched his hair back to the less favoured red (he was going to get rid of it entirely by September), and beyond a brief hesitation they were trudging down the staircase within minutes, ready to face whatever interrogation Dumbledore had cooked up for them.

True to form, the elderly headmaster was sitting at the head of the table, and to his left sat Kouhei’s and Luna’s parents, while to his right were Sirius, Harry, and Remus Lupin. With nowhere else left, Kouhei and Luna took the two seats opposite the Professor, and there was silence for several seconds before Dumbledore began speaking.

“Ms. Weasley, to start off on the right foot, your actions last night may have saved the lives of your fellow students, and at large helped us to finally reveal the truth of Lord Voldemort’s return to activity to the general wizarding public. As we speak, your brother, Ms. Granger and Mr. Longbottom are all recovering nicely in the Hospital Wing, and the Ministry is currently undergoing efforts to formally announce the events that occurred last night in regards to the attack. Thank you.” Kouhei nodded in acknowledgement, his back straight and his arms folded across his chest, and then Dumbledore grew more sombre. “On the other hand, I am deeply concerned as to why you felt the need to act yourself instead of contacting one of the Order-allied teachers, as well as the violence you resorted to in the case of Sirius wanting to head to the Ministry as well.”

“I, as a minor, was not privy to the knowledge of which teachers were members of, or sympathetic to, your Order. You made it extremely clear that it was not my business, and I respected that.” Kouhei said coolly, noticing that both his mother and Remus cringed slightly. “As to why I felt I needed to do something myself, it is simply because I knew that had I not, the night would likely have played out either the same, or worse. You had no idea what was going on before I informed you, and the only way to do that was either use the floo in Umbridge’s office –which would not have worked –or the next best option, coming to you in person. Sirius, as suicidally eager to ‘help’ as he was, deserved it.”

“I deserved to be knocked out and tied to a chair for trying to help my godson?!” Sirius asked scathingly, and Remus scolded him quietly.

“You would not have helped.” Kouhei scoffed bluntly. This was beginning to feel like one of his old meetings with Hacchou –full of not-so-subtle power plays, cold glares and the full force of his restraint being utilized so that he didn’t punch someone, namely Sirius. “You are an adult wizard, but that wand you use is subpar at best. You are not healthy in mind or body, you are a wanted criminal regardless of your innocence, and your position as Harry’s godfather is worth far more alive than dead. If I had stunned you it would have worn off quickly due to my lesser magical training, and you would have been able to escape in your dog form.”

Sirius looked unnerved and Harry was staring pointedly at the wood grain of the table –Kouhei continued on and paid no heed to whether or not they were feeling uncomfortable about what he was saying. “What I did was as justified as it could have been, and had some people did as they were told then it would have gone off without a hitch, and the only drawback would have been that the Ministry might not have acknowledged Voldemort’s return. Even with the problems it had, I still had Luna stay at Hogwarts as a backup, and had something gone awry, which it did, she alerted me and I was able to change the plan accordingly. What you should be doing is finding out who, exactly, led Harry to believe that Sirius wasn’t in the house when he clearly was, and deal with them.

Smugness bubbled up in Kouhei’s stomach at the suitably cowed expressions on a few faces around the table. “Now, if this was everything you wanted to discuss, I just want to make it clear that I will not returning to Hogwarts with you. I will be staying here up until the summer holidays after the ordeal that I just endured.”

“I –Daddy, I don’t want to go back at all either.” Luna said loudly, staring imploringly at Xenophilius Lovegood, who let out a surprised noise at the statement.

“Why, Luna my darling, if you don’t want to then you shall not! Your exams are finished and you’ve made me prouder than I can say. Perhaps we’ll take a trip abroad during the summertime to try and put this behind us?” He suggested easily, making Kouhei smile gratefully at him and Luna nod emphatically. He didn’t want to be separated from his friend just yet, as they had a lot to discuss when it came to what Kouhei’s plans were for the next few years.

The small group split up then, with Sirius, Remus, Harry and Dumbledore moving into the upstairs drawing room to discuss their game plan to clear Sirius’ name now that the Ministry was on their side again. Molly and Arthur both seemed incredibly proud of Kouhei’s actions under pressure; while his mother started on a quick meal for them all, Kouhei’s father filled him and Luna (who had moved her chair to be closer to Xenophilius) in on what had happened after Dumbledore had sent out his Patronus charms.

Apparently Harry and company had only managed to just enter the Hall of Prophecy when they were confronted by a contingent of Death Eaters, and thanks to Kouhei’s timing they had only needed to hold their own against the older wizards for ten minutes at the most before the reinforcements from the Order arrived. There had been a mite confusion due to the students having been split up, which had led to the injuries that Ron, Hermione and Neville were recovering from –and in the end Dumbledore had come across Harry, Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort himself in the Atrium, leading to a grand scale firefight when Ministry officials barged in half way.

“It’s going to get a lot easier for the Order in some ways, now that the public will know that You-Know-Who is back.” Arthur said, yawning loudly before he could stop himself. “But that’s beside the point. Madam Pomphrey says that Ron’s injuries aren’t life threatening, and he’ll be able to leave after a few days.”

Kouhei would be having words with his brother as soon as he was healthy enough.

After eating and getting filled in on a few of the more minor happenings that were going to transpire in the coming weeks, Kouhei soon appealed to his mother’s baser instincts in order to be excused, and after Luna hugged her father goodbye she too followed along upstairs –ostensibly to get some rest. But Kouhei knew that in order for this summer to continue on with as little problems as possible, he had to be honest with his dear friend –and so upon their returning to his room he asked Luna to put up a few privacy ward and then tugged her down to lay on the bed with him.

“I’m leaving at the end of August.” He said bluntly, mood burgeoned when Luna didn’t act shocked, but nodded in acknowledgement, if a little sadly. “I’ll be going to Japan to try and find them all, and won’t be returning for a while, unless they really don’t exist. In the meantime I’m going to either return to my job at Castella’s, if Mr. Wair-Singh will have me, or find work in Ottery St. Catchpole if we’re at the Burrow. I’m going to visit you as much as I can before I leave.”

“And what if they are real, and everything goes as well as it can? What will you do then?” Luna asked, disconcertingly serious and staring straight into Kouhei’s soul.

“I have... tentative plans.” Kouhei admitted, not quite sure how to broach them. “I have no idea of what they could be doing, beyond that Tetsuji will likely be involved with the Yakuza and Teru will have probably opened up a restaurant if he got what he wanted. As of now, in my mind, there are no resources for me to draw upon and nothing for me to do.” Kouhei sighed deeply and curled in a bit on himself. “But, if there is something, anything I want to do, it’s get my family and others to safety if everything really does blow up. I was thinking you and I could do that with Percy’s and George’s and Fred’s help.”

“I’m listening.” Luna declared, attention completely on Kouhei.

“Alright, well, I was thinking something like this...”

Vvv

Percy called sometime late that night, voice scratchy with worry and exhaustion, having been holed up at the Ministry with the taskforce trying to curb some of the fallout from the reveal of Voldemort’s return. He had returned home only to find his wards torn open, a hole blasted in one of his throw cushions, and the faint feel of Kouhei’s magic lingering in the air –and he demanded to know what on Earth had happened.

With Luna’s help it didn’t take long to explain what exactly had been running through Kouhei’s mind during the past twelve hours, and after asking all the questions he wanted Percy tiredly accepted that Kouhei hadn’t done anything wrong... besides worrying him of course. Kouhei promised that he would keep Percy updated on what was going on, and would come to his apartment as soon as possible in order to explain the same ideas he and Luna had just worked out.

Vvv

With Sirius indisposed for some amount of time at the Ministry, getting his name cleared once and for all, several things changed for Kouhei at the beginning of that summer. Firstly, the Weasley’s moved back to the Burrow for the last bit of work at Grimmauld, which involved complex detangling and reapplying of ward magic that couldn’t be done with people living there. Secondly, it had been discovered that Kreacher had been the one to betray Sirius and lead Harry into misunderstanding, and the elf was currently somewhere secure awaiting a decision on what would be done with him. Harry had been sent back to the Dursley’s until such time as Sirius was considered innocent and fit to act as a guardian, which apparently the teen wasn’t too happy about but couldn’t be helped.

Then, Kouhei had settled herself back into her room at the Burrow with a certain feeling of nostalgia, not having seen this same place since that time when Bill had brought her there to retrieve her things, and before that not since before she had fallen into her coma. It was a strange, but ultimately not unpleasant sort of feeling, one that Kouhei wasn’t too bothered by.

Ron returned home at the end of the Hogwarts school year, arms bandaged up from shoulders to wrists and gauze keeping wads of absorbent padding securely pinned to several places on his neck and collarbone. Their mother had fussed and fretted, wound herself up going over the potions he was supposed to take and the bandages Pomphrey wanted him to wear for the first few days to ‘avoid infection’, and by the time dinner was done Molly had outright sent Ron to bed with explicit instructions to sleep. Kouhei took the opportunity and slipped into Ron’s room after her mother had settled down in the living room with her sewing and the radio.

“Ginny.” Ron acknowledged her, ears red and an expression on his face that indicated he knew exactly why she had come in. Kouhei took a seat on the second bed, looking at Ron’s hunched over and banged up form anxiously waiting for her to start the conversation.

“I was terrified when Luna told me where you had gone.” Kouhei stated. “But I was also angry that you had done so even after I put both mine and Luna’s wellbeing on the line. I didn’t involve myself in this out of generosity, I didn’t go to Grimmauld on my own for Harry’s sake, I did it for you. I’m disappointed.” The silence that followed was tense –Ron was frowning and avoiding looking at Kouhei, clenched fists shaking slightly. “You’re not an idiot, Ron. You’re brave, and loyal to the ones who matter. You love your family. But you have got to stop and think. I know you’re nervous about saying the wrong thing and losing Harry’s trust again, but is that more important than keeping him from getting himself killed? From getting yourself killed? The way I see it, you all could have died –it’s a goddamn miracle you didn’t!

“Ginny, please... I know.” Ron choked out; Kouhei jolted at the tears that shuddered out of her brother, the hiccups and heaving breaths so uncharacteristic of him. “I’m sorry. I should have said something, anything. I got Hermione and Neville hurt because I let myself get caught up in Harry’s pace. I wanted to get caught up, I was so sure we could handle it.” Ron wiped his face with the heel of his palm, but by now his cheeks were ruddy and his expression twisted, so it didn’t do much besides make him sniffle harder. “But it was terrifying, and they were so much stronger than we expected, and I don’t even remember much after I got cursed but I can still see that brain heading straight for my neck whenever I let my guard down. We were so stupid –we didn’t even help ‘cause Sirius wasn’t even there-

“Ron, calm down.” Kouhei said, moving to sit on her brother’s bed and put a hand on one of his forearms; Ron stilled at the touch and stared at her like he was lost. “It’s done, it’s over. No one died, you’re all okay, and I don’t hold any of this against you. I shouldn’t have said it the way I did, I’m sorry.” Ron finally managed to stop crying, though he still frowned as if he was about to start up again –Kouhei blushed and leaned forward to give him a light hug around the shoulders, careful not to jostle his wounds. “All that other stuff doesn’t matter, I just wanted you to promise me that whatever happens now you’ll try and keep safe. You’ve got Harry and Hermione to take care of, but you shouldn’t neglect yourself. I was scared, but now you’re safe. It’s only ‘cause I love you, yeah?”

Ron nodded against her shoulder and when she tried to pull away he dragged her back in, holding on tight and occasionally letting out a soft hiccup. Kouhei shifted to get herself more comfortable, and though nothing more was said on the subject she eventually left the room feeling as if a great weight had been lifted off of her shoulders.

As the summer began, Kouhei once again forced back her guilt (such a very small, tiny amount of it compared to a year ago) and lied bold-faced to her mother that she was planning on trying out for the Quidditch team come the new school year, and thusly would be going on long jogs and flying stints throughout the daytime, most likely to Luna’s house and then on from there. Her mother had accepted the deception with complete trust in her, never realizing that the Lovegood’s was usually the last place she went during her day, if she managed to get there at all.

As said, Kouhei had plans that needed to be cultivated, none of which had anything to do with Quidditch.

Firstly, she made the eleven sickle trip to Percy’s apartment via the Knight Bus on his day off, and had imparted some of her more general ideas for the next few years onto him. He had been a little sceptical but more than happy to offer any future help if she needed it, and the visit was short but it was a good one.

From there she had trekked over to the Leaky Cauldron, and had dressed in her most unassuming wizarding robes, switching her hair to red and placing the tinted glasses Luna had given her as an early birthday gift on her nose, determined to use her appearance to her advantage in order to blend in with the rest of the alley. That trip hadn’t been even the slightest bit nerve wracking when compared to later trips to be completely truthful –the wizarding community hadn’t yet started their rapid decline in security nor the rapid rise in deaths and attacks quite yet.

Kouhei was being cautious for this trip, but upon hearing of the new waves of violent anti-muggle sentiment that would pop up in the coming weeks she would then do her best either to completely avoid notice or stay out of the magical areas entirely.

That trip to Diagon had been extremely productive, and resulted in many another eleven sickles spent before August 31st came about. At Gringott’s she had finalized all of the paperwork for her citizenship, passport and travel plans to Japan on September 1st, as well as doubly confirming the small financial help that would be sent to some of her loved ones come the new school year. At the Diagon Hair Salon she had met with the same tattoo artist who had discussed her old designs with her, and made an appointment for late August along with taking care of paying the deposit required for the appointment. Then there was a bit of complex cosmetic magic done to her hair –so that the blonde look would become her natural hair and the red would be the material illusion, fading to nothing in three months time as per the spell parameters. And Kouhei had stopped in at Castella’s to discuss returning later in the summer when the Weasleys moved back into Grimmauld, though there were no concrete dates just yet.

All in all, a good start to the summer, and a day that raised Kouhei’s morale when it came to the ever approaching date of her ultimate departure –the day that she would find out once and for all if those she cared for most were even real. But that date was still some time off, and so for now Kouhei poured her entire being into preparing for that day, be it fiscally, physically, or mentally.

Vvv

In the time between moving back into the Burrow and going back to Grimmauld Place, Kouhei had managed to find some work in Ottery St. Catchpole, bussing tables at the sole diner of the small town and then bagging groceries at the only grocer. It wasn’t glamorous work, nor as enjoyable as Castella’s had been, but it put money in his pocket and so Kouhei wasn’t complaining. Not to mention that it was helping with working on his upper body strength; he was nearly at the same point that his former self had been at fifteen, which was much better than he had expected of himself. And anyways, Parko would be over thirty by now –surely Kouhei could still take him on and come out on top, right?

Luna and her father did end up going on a long, extended trip to the continent in late July, weeks after she and Kouhei had discussed their plans for the future. Luna had been completely supportive of Kouhei’s suggestions, and helped tweak some of the finer aspects that would be her responsibility if the time ever came. Since she wouldn’t see Kouhei for some time after he left to go to Japan (ideally, at least), Luna had also started to figure out how to bring it up to her father, as he would be indispensible if some of their plotting were to come to fruition.

Kouhei was so consumed with his own affairs that when Sirius’ name was finally cleared in the middle of July, right after Luna had departed for France, he hadn’t noticed at all –it was only Harry and Sirius showing up on the thirty first for Harry’s birthday party that clued him in. The fact that Sirius was dressed presentably and had shaved his long hair down, and that Harry was practically glowing with satisfaction at ‘never having to go back to Privet Drive’ was something Kouhei had caught immediately upon seeing them. He was happy for them, truly –they may have been idiots who couldn’t follow simple instructions, but they were idiots who deserved to have some semblance of family, with how their own was either ignorant or on the other side of the war.

Their appearance at the Burrow also marked the day that the Weasley’s returned to Grimmauld, Dumbledore finally having stripped away the Fidelius and which Kingsley reapplied, so that the Auror was now the Secret-Keeper and Kreacher’s deception had been repaired as much as it could be. The extra wards now surrounding the place (only possible with Sirius’ legal matters cleared up so that he was now fully the head of his family) added another layer of security, which meant that nothing like this would ever happen again if all went off without a hitch. Kouhei didn’t have any reason to care; the move brought him back into London where he was closer to both Castella’s and Percy, and that, at the moment, was all that he really needed.

Similar to the summer a year ago and yet worlds away; Kouhei left multiple times a day to work at Castella’s, crashed at Percy’s apartment, and traveled to Diagon Alley on his own to take care of what he needed to. His mother and father were still under the impression that he wanted to train for the Quidditch tryouts, so he called in sick to work one morning and made sure that his mother found him doing pushups in the downstairs drawing room, which gave him an excuse to nap whenever his shifts wore him down and convinced them of his authenticity. Sirius and Harry were so absorbed in their own affairs that they paid him no mind for the duration of his stay in the old house, and his family were so busy with the Order that there was nothing more for him to worry about beyond his future.

And about two weeks before September first, Kouhei took time off from work, snuck out of the house late in the day after having dinner with her family, and took the fastest route she could to Diagon Alley. For the next six hours she was under the influence of a mild numbing potion while her tattoos from her previous life were magically re-carved into her skin, taking less time than they would have if done the muggle way and with less pain overall –but as a downside she would have to limit her casting of magic for at least three months after they healed completely and would be incredibly sensitive to any form of magical transportation from now on. When she returned to Grimmauld early in the morning, sore and tired but feeling almost high from regaining something that had become integral to her being in her past life, she made it in through the window and had enough time to be grateful that she had booked the following day off as well before she crashed and slept for nearly eight hours straight.

The end of August approached with a blinding speed, until the day finally came that would be Kouhei’s last in the wizarding world.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

The night of August thirty-first closed quietly, dark and warm as the other late summer evenings before it, and Kouhei finished their last shift at Castella’s with a notion of satisfied finality that they rarely felt these days. Mr. Wair-Singh was sad to see them go one last time, but this had been a long time coming and they parted amiably –with a promise to keep in touch around the holidays at least, if nothing else.

From there Kouhei made their way to Percy’s apartment, meeting up with their brother a few blocks away and continuing on in a companionable silence. This final visit was brief (Kouhei didn’t want their mother to accidentally discover their absence if she decided to wake them early tomorrow morning) but Kouhei enjoyed it immensely nonetheless; it was just tea and a natter, a mere hour of face-to-face conversation and then a tearful goodbye on both of their parts for however long. It felt special though, that short time together, the surety that eventually they would meet again but until then they would only be able to speak through the watch in Kouhei’s pocket.

The following morning, Kouhei roused himself early and pulled his trunk out from where he had been keeping it at the foot of the bed. Inside of it was his entire wizarding wardrobe, school books, potions supplies, parchment, quills, and a muggle backpack that Luna had purchased for his birthday from the continent –it wasn’t a bottomless bag, but instead it had seven compartments that were each twice as big as the actual bag, and no matter what you put inside (as long as the bag could close) then it would never weigh more than ten pounds at the most. Inside the backpack were all of his muggle clothes, books, important documents, miscellaneous things, two meals he had made up sometime last night, and of course the select few wizarding items he should probably have with him, such as the portkey he was taking to Kyoto and his wand.

This Kouhei shouldered, and before everyone else in the house got to running about in a time crunch he checked that he had split up his possessions properly and then brought the trunk down into the main foyer, careful to avoid any noise that would wake Mrs. Black’s portrait. He waited in the kitchen with his mother and helped her make breakfast, and when his father came into the room he tried to divide his attention between the two, tried to get as much time with the both of them as he was able. He had been preparing for this day for a long time, was ready to do what he needed to do in order to get his way, and he knew that his abrupt absconding would probably hurt his parents greatly –but Kouhei was by nature a very selfish person. He was possessive and didn’t like to let go of those he considered his even if it would cause more trouble that way, and moreover, he was as stubborn as a mule.

And these people were two of his parents –maybe the only parents he had left depending on what had happened to his Tou-san in the last decade and a half. If his death had occurred at another time, if his regaining his memory had gone any differently, he might not have been in this position; he might have chosen to stay with the Weasleys and put his old life behind him or forget about it entirely.

But that hadn’t happened. So if Kouhei was acting selfish and wanted to keep Molly and Arthur’s attention on him, wanted to soak up a bit more of their presence than he did anyone else’s, wanted to draw these last few hours out just a bit to keep him going for however long he would be away... that was his own business. And if it made his chest ache to do it, to be selfish like this, well that would just have to be his punishment for being the cause of Molly and Arthur’s soon-to-be distress. There was a letter, a single piece of paper in an envelope hidden in a charm that would deliver it to this kitchen table in exactly two day’s time and not a moment sooner, and he could only hope that it would give them some consolation when they finally received it.

Ten-thirty approached with alarming speed, and it seemed no time had passed at all before Kouhei was wheeling his trunk through the barrier between platforms and then beckoning Luna over from further in the crowd. With fifteen minutes until the train departed, Kouhei let his older brothers say their farewells first while he loaded his and Luna’s trunks into one of the compartments near the end of the platform, and when Kouhei went back to say goodbye Luna came with him so she could see off Xenophilius.

“Have a good term, Ginny.” His mother said, pulling Kouhei in for a crushing hug. He hugged her back with a lump low in his throat and when they drew apart his face was splotched with red. “Do your best, but don’t push yourself too hard. I don’t want to get any letters from your Head of House telling me you’re laid up in the Hospital Wing.”

“I promise, Mum.” Kouhei said, giving her another quick hug before reaching out to his father. “I love you both, and we’ll see each other again before you know it.”

“Christmas isn’t as far off as it seems.” His father agreed, ruffling Kouhei’s hair affectionately. “You’ll do great this year, Ginny. Keep Ron out of trouble?”

Kouhei smiled tightly. “I’ve talked to Ron, he’ll be fine.” He glanced at the clock and then at Luna who was waiting patiently by a pillar a few feet away. “I should get on the train. Bye Mum, Dad.”

Molly and Arthur waved as he and Luna began walking down the platform, and with five minutes to spare Kouhei rather anxiously adjusted his bag straps and the thin robe he had chosen to wear over his muggle clothing. Luna pulled him up onto the train step but no further, and wasted no time in throwing her arms around his neck and practically strangling him with the force of her hug. He was suddenly extremely conscious of every tremor through her shoulders, and just how small she was now when compared to a year ago –just how strong she was to stay while he left.

“I’ll let you know when things have blown over here.” Luna assured him quietly after pulling away, tapping her earrings. “After that I want to know how things are going over there. Keep me updated when you can, and keep yourself safe. Once everything’s sorted out, we can work on how we’re going to pull it off.”

Kouhei grinned, both fond and somehow sad. “I will. You’re like a sister to me, Luna. I love you.”

It sounded awkward to say out loud, but by the expression on Luna’s face it had struck more of a chord than Kouhei had anticipated. But the one minute warning whistle blew and Kouhei hastily shed his robe and switched his red hair to the blonde, so by the time Luna had collected herself he had dragged her in for one final hug and hopped back onto the platform, into the obscuring smoke of the steam engine. He waved as the train pulled away, gradually moving back from the edge and closer to the walls of the station –and when the express had finally rounded the corner Kouhei slipped into the restroom nearest to him and then into one of the stalls, wiping half heartedly at his face.

Ten minutes later he emerged into the now deserted station, having shed his jacket in favour of a plain black shirt –hoping that on the off chance he saw someone he knew that the combination of muggle clothing, glasses, tattoos, binder and blond hair would be enough to let him go under their radar.

It was easy to get back into muggle London, and once he was standing alone with half an hour to kill and only his goal in front of him, the expression that spread across his face as he abandoned King’s Cross made many on the street give him a wide berth. He cut through alleys and parks swiftly, as he didn’t have long to dawdle with the portkey travel point a good way off from the train station and the bustle of daytime London impeding his speed somewhat. Eventually he came upon the place with five minutes to spare; a tiny shop on the opposite end of Diagon Alley to the Leaky Cauldron, which was a muggle travel agency firstly and a portkey point underneath that.

“The Familiae Locante charm is inherently flawed.” Ironclaw had told her in the time they were waiting for Stonebearer to return with Kouhei’s completed passport and such. “For instance, it only works if the person one is searching for still considers the name used as their name, so if a woman’s surname changed from Smith to Jones after marriage then Smith must still be used for the spell until she has made the switch in her mind. And while it does work in a large range for such a localized spell –it’s not generally used outside of northern Europe –there is still a range, something of one hundred fifty kilometres for an average wizard.”

“I wondered why it wasn’t used more for general searches, had they been able to get a family member to cast it.” Kouhei commented.

“For whatever reason, magic is not particularly adept at tracking specific people.” Ironclaw continued. “Even the most advanced modern locating spells still require a magical signature –something that naturally smudges when in a magically saturated environment and only clings to those things one uses for a very long time.”

Kouhei showed the receptionist his slip from Gringott’s before heading into the back room, deserted now that the summer had ended and most people were back to regular working hours. A young woman came into the room a few minutes before his departure time to go over some simple safety regulations and determine how well he knew the muggle world (they couldn’t just send off magic-raised without even attempting to inform them of what to expect), dropping the issue when he told her that he was a muggleborn.

One minute till, she had him secure all of his belongings and stand in the centre of the room, and with fifteen seconds to spare she walked out and sealed the door, not returning until after Kouhei had long gone.

Vvv

Kouhei landed in the middle of a wood paneled room, nearly falling over with how sudden the stop was after several minutes in a windy, tumulus vortex, his arms feeling like they had been set on fire. There was no one else there at the moment, but the walls were obviously thin with how he could hear the faint noise of traffic and a city bustling all around him. Kouhei spent a few minutes calming down and rubbing at the sensitive tattoos, then making sure nothing had come loose, retrieving his passport and placing the spent portkey in a small bin next to the door that was halfway filled with other similar items.

When he finally felt prepared enough to leave, he found a quaint waiting room beyond the thick oak door, one populated by a small family and the calmly typing receptionist. She noticed his arrival and smiled at him politely, waving him over to stand in front of her before taking a few papers from her desk drawer and handing them over.

“Welcome to Kyoto, Jinnai-san, I hope you feel well after traveling through us.” She also gave him a pen, and as Kouhei looked the forms over they appeared to be just a few waivers and a questionnaire. “We hope you will continue to use our service whenever you are in need of inter-continental portkey travel. If you would be so kind as to fill out a few waivers and a short survey, you can be on your way.”

“Of course... Manami-san.” Kouhei said easily, shifting away to take a seat across from the little family probably waiting to travel themselves.

A part of Kouhei, come into being during his less-than-stable teenage years but unlikely to ever fully leave him, was pushing him to get going as fast as he could; walk out of this place without a care for forms, storm through the no doubt throngs of pedestrians and find the first place he could to try and gather information. Some small corner of him wanted the little kid across the room to cower away from his glare, wanted to get into a knock out fight like he hadn’t had since Malfoy but an actual challenge instead of a lively punching bag, wanted to do as he had already done once before and slip off the radar into a dark place that this time no one would be able to pull him out of.

But those thoughts, urges, wants –they didn’t matter to the Kouhei now. He wasn’t that same man who would have done all of those things without a second thought. No longer was he so callous as to cultivate bonds with Luna and Percy and then abandon them for a fleeting taste of liberation from his worries, for those brief times where he had been all alone in the world and liked it. He was different now; he was rational, he knew what his own limitations were and he knew when to keep himself in check. As he was now, as he had been since he had been Ginny in her mind and then been two separate people and now that he was one person again so perfectly –he would never return to being that cold-hearted self from so long ago.

So he filled out the papers methodically, returned them to the receptionist without fanfare and once she had given him the go-ahead, he left with a polite goodbye. The street beyond the waiting room was full of people even at eight in the evening, and Kouhei let the tide carry him for several streets before stepping off into a little alcove and just letting himself take in that he was finally here.

The sky was dark, but the streets were so lit with neon and lamps that it could have been high noon and he wouldn’t have known any different. No one paid him much attention, consumed with their own lives, but that suited Kouhei just fine –the achingly familiar chatter of so many people speaking Japanese filled his ears, and while there were signs written in English there weren’t all too many. The air was warm and cars passed on the streets, bicycles lined the sidewalks and around the little park across the road, and just within sight was a tiny koban with a bored looking policeman sitting outside reading the newspaper. Kouhei felt a pang of worry over Fujioka-oyaji, one of the few people he cared for from his past life that he hadn’t thought much about –was he still alive, even though he must have been approaching fifty in Kouhei’s middle school years and nearly twenty years had passed in the meantime?

“Excuse me?” Kouhei asked the officer, hands relaxed at his sides and letting his shoulders slouch unthreateningly –the middle aged man started slightly and hastily folded the newspaper up.

“Ah, what can I do for you young man?” He asked, standing and grinning a tad sheepishly.

“If you could help me out, I need to find a nearby hostel to stay for the night.” Kouhei said simply. “I’ll be taking a train out tomorrow morning, but until then I’m a bit stranded.”

“...Yes, that’s no trouble at all. Wait here a moment...” The man ducked into the small station and returned less than a minute later with a laminated map covered in small dots. “This is us, here on Karasuma –if you walk back that way two blocks and then onto Machida there’s a small place called Hostel B that will put you up for the night, guaranteed. Will you be able to manage or do you want me to show you?”

“I should be able to find it. Thank you for the assistance.” The officer tipped his hat once and then retreated back into the koban, and Kouhei quickly checked what street he was already on before heading off in the indicated direction.

Hostel B wasn’t incredibly busy with how out of the way it was, and was situated in a very tall, very odd looking building directly across the street from a tiny 24 hour internet cafe. The woman at the front desk (security by her uniform) sorted him out quickly, charging him 3400 yen for a night’s stay in one of the private single rooms and then promptly losing interest after handing him the key. Kouhei met no one on his way up the four flights of rickety stairs, and the room he had been assigned was clean and empty, if not particularly cozy.

Kouhei stripped off his old clothes and extracted cleaner ones that would probably let him blend in better, being dark jeans, a white shirt and the thin purple sports jacket he had bought with some of the money he had received as a birthday gift. He took only the bare minimum he needed from the bag –his wallet, about 6000 yen, his passport and a small notebook and pen. Wedging the bag into the farthest corner underneath the bed, he left just as quickly as he had come, walking without preamble across the street and into the little cafe to try and get some answers.

He paid for a half hour’s time on one of the computers, and bought something he hadn’t had since he was a kid –Kagome vegetable juice, which back then had been his favourite and wasn’t too bad twenty five years later. It took him a few minutes to figure out how to use the damned machine (things sure had advanced from the fax machine in Fujioka-oyaji’s office when he was fifteen) but eventually he pushed through his confusion and managed to open up the search engine.

‘Fujikawa Teru’ was the first thing he tried, and immediately he found what he was looking for. Staring at the results –facebook, tabelog, TBS –he wondered if it was supposed to be this easy.

The facebook profile wasn’t actually for Teru himself, but the restaurant that he owned in Tsuchiura, called Chisana Su (Little Nest). There were pictures of the inside and a few of the dishes they served, one of the outside of the place and another of the sign and the street it was located in, and the brief description mentioned that it dealt in traditional cuisine, was closed only on Saturdays, and had been up and running for the past eight years. Tabelog was kind to it, giving it generally good reviews although a few of them mentioned that the restaurant was frequented by ‘unsavoury types’, whatever that meant. And the brief TBS article was from six years ago, talking about how ‘shokudo’ restaurants like Teru’s were going out of style but could still find business in some places; the article included a picture.

Teru was older, looking tired but happy in a white shirt and brown apron, his arm around a shorter woman with dark brown hair who was heavily pregnant and yet was balancing a toddler on her hip. Kouhei felt a lump form in his throat as he studied his friend –he was real, he was real and alive and had a wife and children and a restaurant –and he couldn’t stop himself from thinking about what he might have been doing at this moment if Sonoda hadn’t stabbed him all those years ago. Would he be somewhere faraway making a name for himself, returned to Tsuchiura to visit, been called Ojisan by Teru’s kids, maybe even settled with Tet-

Well, there were a lot of ‘what ifs’ that would never come to pass, but there were more that he could actually have if he was given even half of a chance. Checking that he still had time, he tried plunking in Kiiko’s name, but nothing came up that was even remotely similar to his friend. The same with Parko, but then again those two were the ones that Kouhei wouldn’t have ever pegged for being too interested in social media. ‘Kizu Kyousuke’ actually did bring up a single picture of his friend; it was a Kyousuke that didn’t look too much older than he had the last time Kouhei had seen him, standing with Fujioka-oyaji in front of the older man’s koban and wearing the same uniform as the old man.

That was not what Kouhei would have expected, and looking past the picture to the news article it was hosted on did not offer anything to him other than a sickening feeling of dread. It was from ten years ago, and far from being a piece on a young officer-in-training as he had thought, it was actually detailing the mysterious disappearance of the newly arrived co-op recruit Kizu Kyousuke, and instead of including closure there was only a small note from seven years ago which mentioned that the case was still open.

His heart in his throat, Kouhei tried to search for Tetsuji.

Vvv

Early the following morning, Kouhei purchased a ticket for the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Tokyo, unable to take in Kyoto’s sights as she had initially planned with the burning urge to get back to Tsuchiura as soon as possible clouding her mind. The trip took just over two hours, and while she dozed in her seat she allowed her mind to wander to the still blank spot in her life that was Tetsuji Mayumi, and the single clue to his existence that she had managed to find. A single line in an article on a closed case from years back that said one Tetsuji Mayumi (maybe not even the same as her Tetsuji) had been tried and sentenced to a year in prison. It was frustrating.

The train let off at ten in the morning, so from there Kouhei wandered around Tokyo station for a bit of time, exchanging the majority of her Pounds for Yen and eating the second of her packed lunches at the station’s food court. She hadn’t had the wherewithal to research train schedules the night before, so it was a surprise when she approached the ticket booth only to be informed that there were no trains going from Tokyo Station straight to Tsuchiura, and that the nearest place she could catch one was at Ueno Station. Luckily it would take her less than ten minutes by train, otherwise she would have had to make a forty-five minute trip there by foot and that would not have improved her mood at all.

The transfer at Ueno Station was prefaced by some amount of anxiety on Kouhei’s part. This was the final journey she would have to take –a year and change later, a whole different person than Ginny or Kouhei had been those months ago, fifteen years after she had last been there and now she was just suddenly... almost back again. Only one definite person awaiting her, only one place she had to go, only one man she could go to for any information –that being Teru, who had a life there that Kouhei hadn’t been a part of, who may not even believe Kouhei once she decided to reveal herself. This was the end of her goal, the place she had held in her mind as a shining light for the past thirteen months, which had pulled her through almost everything even when it simultaneously beat her down.

If this didn’t work out –if Tetsuji was dead, if Teru rejected her, if Kyousuke was gone –or worse, if they existed but didn’t remember her, if her being alive prevented her from living in their memories, Kouhei didn’t know what she would do. Perhaps go back to the United Kingdom, but what then? What would she do if the one thing she had prayed for turned out to be the one thing that she couldn’t have?

Kouhei got on the train, but would never admit to anyone how hard it had been to do so.

Vvv

In her time away, Tsuchiura had demolished several of the warehouses down by the water’s edge and changed them into office buildings, but that hadn’t been the fate of the place where he had been killed.

Kouhei had let memory take her from the small station though the residential streets surrounding the main drag, all the way down to the centre of town –the pier, which still had a bustling market and fishery even after so long. For it being the ‘centre’ it was actually located on the far right of the water front, and those abandoned or seldom used factories that had been where she had spent her last hours were all the way on the opposite end. Kouhei meandered down the boardwalk, jacket off so she could feel the nostalgic spray of salt water and the wind around her arms, and when the wooden path ended and the cement one began she barely noticed except to make note of where her feet had carried her.

There was no longer a graffitied shipping container resting directly on the edge of the docks, and instead of leaving cement slabs as the only protection from the water, the town had installed metal railings at waist height. There was no litter around the offices, and there were several gardens installed around the front of the newer buildings; but even with some of it replaced Kouhei could still see exactly where the old town rested, and that was where she found it.

Behind the even older Nakazaki Factory, down the long alley and right before it turned onto the next street, this was where the Kouhei from back then had breathed his last. She followed the same route he had, hand on the wall, the grass past her ankles and the middle of it caved in from sheer age, until she stopped exactly where he had fallen and just stood there.

She felt... surprisingly empty, all things considered. Not in a despairing way, but in the same way you might look at the scene of a murder after the fact –where if you didn’t know that person who died you might feel that it was a shame it had happened, but it wouldn’t draw any real feeling from you. No one had been here for years, and even if they had been then there was nothing left of their presence to show it.

“I’m going to take back what you abandoned.” She said, eyes blazing at what only she could see. “You were foolish to throw it away for Hacchou, for the promise of some life away from here that wouldn’t include your true comrades. It was only near the end that you began to see your mistakes, but even then you were planning to leave them. I’m not going to make the same mistakes.”

No one answered her, but then she hadn’t expected them to.

“-someone over there.”

Kouhei’s senses heightened as she registered the footsteps of a small group approaching her from the factory doors. Turning, she came face to face with a gaggle of about five slightly older boys, all of whom were wearing rust red kerchiefs on some part of their bodies, with the leader having tied his around his face like a medical mask. She regarded them lazily and without much outward expression, but inwardly she knew her tension was rising and she couldn’t help but subconsciously shift into a position ready for a confrontation.

“Oi, this is Blooded Axes territory. You got business here jackoff?” The one in front asked roughly, taking a step forward in a way that was probably meant to be intimidating but just fell flat in the face of the one it was directed at. The sensible portion of Kouhei’s brain simultaneously pointed out three things; she might not want to get into it with the local groups so early into her stay, she could potentially use this for finding out about how the scale of power had shifted in the years past... and it was a good thing that she hadn’t felt like wearing her binder today.

“None that concerns you.” Kouhei said, smirking and taking a second to throw her jacket and bag off to the side, an action that made the rest of the little group tense in response. She was forever grateful that she had managed to get both the tall and stocky genes in the family, so that her training hadn’t been even more difficult than it already was and she could fight in much the same way as she had in Kouhei’s past body.

“You had better fuck off.” One of them in the back said lowly, arms crossed casually –opposed to his companions, he actually looked as if he might be a challenge, but Kouhei didn’t let her thoughts show on her face. “We’ll take you on if we have to.”

“Y’know, I’ll give you a chance to back out of this since I’m feeling generous. But after that you won’t leave here in one piece.” Kouhei retorted, the one in front growing visibly agitated, and those behind him shifting to look between the presumed leader and the one with his arms crossed. Kouhei gave a feral grin and decided to mess with them by mirroring the ‘intimidating step’ they had tried earlier –and she was delighted to see that at least one of them jumped visibly right before the leader snapped and rushed at her.

That was fine –Kouhei had always had an easier time dealing with the ones who had lost their composure, and while a man barrelling towards her wasn’t the greatest first day back, she also wasn’t about to waste this golden opportunity.

He made a move to swipe for her head, but Kouhei had already gone into a crouch and launched herself at him, driving the sturdy part of her head into his chin and using the momentum to kick his legs out from under him. The knock to his head shocked him into stalling for a brief moment, but it was long enough that Kouhei managed to avoid being caught by his grabbing hands –and when he hit the ground she drove her boot into his stomach hard enough that he was pushed away a full foot.

He didn’t get up.

She used the surprise of his companions to her advantage, and before they even knew it she was within their midst. There was a slight difference between her fighting style now when compared to before in that she used her speed to its fullest potential, where the Kouhei of back then had relied heavily on his ability to take a great number of hits without it wearing him down. Kneeing the nearest one in the groin and swinging a fist directly into another’s ear seemed to knock them out of their stupor somewhat, and the uninjured two sprang away while their comrades groaned and swayed. Kouhei sent a knee into the first’s face when he bent over in pain and then seized the other by the hair and drove his forehead into the wall, and in the ringing silence afterwards she swivelled slowly to look at the remaining two.

One wasn’t smart, and went the way of the first when he charged her, gaining an elbow to the chin, a boot to his shins and a likely broken wrist for his trouble. The last was the one who had told Kouhei to fuck off; he didn’t move a muscle while Kouhei advanced towards him until they were nearly a foot apart.

He made the first move, stepping forward and throwing a punch square into her right shoulder to try and throw her off balance, and followed it up immediately with an elbow to the chin, mirroring her attack on his friend before. Hissing, Kouhei spun away and attempted to kick her opponent’s legs out from under him, but while it did make him curse he wasn’t going down. They traded what could only be called ‘testing blows’, keeping just inside the other’s space as if to gauge their respective reach and power. Whenever Kouhei made a move to knee him in the side he just used her own momentum to send her off course, while if he tried to get her in the chin again she was able to use it to bring herself close enough to nearly headbutt him in the nose.

Kouhei was exhilarated –this was the best fight she had had in ages, and while it wasn’t as personally satisfying as smashing Malfoy’s face in had been, something was better than nothing. It only spurred her on when she noticed the same glint in her opponent’s eye, and she actually laughed when he caught her by surprise and sent her stumbling back from a glancing blow to her cheek. While she regained her footing he swung around to try and kick her in the side while at the same time bringing one of his fists upwards to go for another hit to her chin. At the last second Kouhei reeled away from the blow, just fast enough that he barely managed to clip her glasses, and brought her arms down into her stomach to catch the kick before it broke her ribs. As the blow was cushioned somewhat, Kouhei was able to use her lower centre of gravity to wrap around the teen’s leg and throw him face first into the ground, landing with her elbow in the small of his back and knocking the wind out of him.

He cursed when she released his leg only to go for his arm, twisting it back around and so high up that it was practically nestled in between his shoulder blades. Kouhei then sat on the arm heavily and planted one foot on the ground for balance and one in the vulnerable crook of his other arm.

“You’re going to tell me a few things about this town.” Kouhei said smugly, digging her heel into the arm when it felt like he might try to buck her off. “And depending on what you say I just might not decide to break your arm for the fun of it.”

Vvv

Tsuchiura was busy on this Tuesday afternoon, even with the students back in school and many people busy with their jobs, and Kouhei chose to keep wandering around the pier after that rather satisfying fight rather than try to find a hostel to stay at. Quite by accident she ended up sitting on the curb a few feet away from Fujioka-oyaji’s old koban, and as she watched the shoppers leisurely pass her on the opposite sidewalk she thought about what Sugawara had told her not half an hour ago.

The most respected gang in town was the small (and only) Yakuza group called Dokukyoukai, who were based behind a loan office in the east quarter of Tsuchiura, something of five or six blocks away from Teru’s place. He hadn’t known many specifics about them, but when Kouhei had pressed he had revealed that the Yakuza’s boss had been the one to finally drive out the remnants of Togoku-gumi back when Dokukyoukai had first set up shop here five years ago.

The largest gang –yet simultaneously the least liked –was Hedoro, still around even after all these years. Due to the tendency for their bosses to overstay their welcome, they were only in their sixth generation, and lately had been having so many internal conflicts that there was talk that they wouldn’t stick around to see their seventh; it warmed Kouhei’s heart to hear it. Eren Academy was next, and in Kouhei’s time it had been the most well connected of any group simply because it sourced students from every corner of Tsuchiura. These days it was still like that, but was locked in a constant conflict with Seihoin All-Girl’s Technical School, a newer institution that was being heralded in some circles as the sister school to Suzuran over in Toarushi.

Then there was her informant’s team, the Blooded Axes, who were small and had a rather limited sphere of influence but apparently had a very strong inner circle of members as opposed to most of what she had just encountered. They kept mostly to themselves and tried not to get involved in the wider conflicts of the area, and had only been established for a few years –they had just been passed the torch from the first generation six months ago. Finally there was the Talon Alliance –a defensive pact between neighbouring gangs Raven’s Wing and the Dread Claw Group that had been kept active nearly since their formation.

“There’s no other notable ones, maybe a small group or two at most. I’m not an officer of the second, so I don’t pay much mind to a lot of the specifics of these things.” He said, oddly resigned despite the fact that he was still glaring at her something fierce. “Man, let up already, I gotta go into work tomorrow; it feels like you’re going to dislocate it.”

Kouhei considered this, and then slowly shifted so she was sitting on his lower back, and though his arm twitched violently she kept a firm hold of it and didn’t allow it to untwist. “Fine, not like there’s much more I need anyhow.” Feeling generous, she eased the teen’s limb out of its position slowly, knowing how badly it would hurt otherwise, and though the boy whined like she hadn’t heard anyone do in a long time she kept at it until it was lying straight and only slightly twitchy at his side. “What’s your name anyway?”

The teen’s face relaxed, but he looked at her like she had grown a second head. “What’s it to you?”

“Hey, if things go right for me here I’ll probably see you around. Might as well get the name of the guy who gave me the best fight I’ve had in years.” Kouhei told him, purposefully laying it on a bit thick. “I’m Jinnai Kouhei.”

“...Sugawara Rinzou.”

“Alright, Sugawara, there’s only one more thing you’ve got to do for me. Tell whoever’s in charge that you guys just pissed me off. I’m not group hunting or whatever you call it these days.”

“...What?”

“I don’t have any beef with your team, shitbird.” Kouhei said, exasperated, and gave his ear a yank to make sure he knew it. “So when you inevitably explain why you five are beat to hell, don’t fucking misinform them and say I did shit I didn’t do, savvy*?”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it, I got it!”

One of the best things she had heard recently was that Togoku had been driven out of Tsuchiura –time and reflection had solidified her opinion that the other group would have been nothing but trouble for her town if they had actually managed a permanent foothold. She would have to track down this Dokukyoukai and convey her thanks at some point.

She stared sidelong at the outdated koban –it must not have gotten another refurbishing since the one Kouhei himself had assisted with in middle school –and she belatedly found herself thinking of what had happened to himself after his death. The family plot was all the way up in Hokkaido, but he had been the last living member of his mother’s family and he rather doubted that his Tou-san would have wanted his remains shipped so far away, not even considering the fact that Kouhei’s mother was buried up in the east quarter so it was likely where he had been laid to rest as well. Tou-san’s family had held a plot in that cemetery, and the Jinnai name had been given its own stone in the Yamato’s section only out of necessity, and not because it had ever been planned.

Eyeing the big clock affixed to the side of the station, Kouhei pushed herself up from the ground and shouldered her bag again. She was feeling restless, the adrenaline from the fight already beginning to bleed away and leaving her in that awkward period of anticipation she truly hated.

She cut through several residential roads again, half an eye on the street signs but most of her attention on the house fronts. It was foggy, but Kouhei could still recognize some of these places as she drew nearer to her old neighbourhood –number nine on Asato where a classmate of his had lived, the apartment building that he had once visited Kobanzame-senpai in, Hibashi Elementary next to that where he had gone to school after moving here from up north, the liquor store which had been owned by a local eccentric called Madaji.

Kouhei slowed to a stop on the other side of the street from a quiet little place, wondering if she should go in like she wanted to or bypass it and come back when she had a bit more time to prepare. Chisana Su was situated between a laundromat and a computer store, with a rack for shoes placed neatly beside the front door and a chalkboard above it detailing the specials they were offering that day. Kouhei could hear a bit of chatter coming out of the propped open windows, and some steam billowing out of a small vent further down that must have been connected to the kitchen.

She glanced down at her arms and the extremely identifiable tattoos covering them, and for the first time regretted her decision to reacquire the images. Sighing, she paused a minute to take the thin jacket out of her bag’s front pocket and pull it on, and then against her better judgement she took a deep breath and marched over to the door.

Vvv

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

The inside of Teru’s restaurant was small and cozy, and exactly as Kouhei had imagined. There was a raised portion on one side of the room (tatami mats, low tables and all) and the rest of the place was filled with tables and chairs and a small bar at the very end next to the door to the kitchen. The full menu was written on several signs hanging from the walls, there were a number of news articles about the restaurant hanging in random spots, and even more framed pictures of Teru’s family and staff. Kouhei stood in the doorway to absorb it all for only a few moments before a waitress appeared to show him to a seat –and with a jolt Kouhei realized that he was looking at an older version of the brown haired woman Teru had married.

“Welcome to Chisana S-oh, my!” She gasped, staring at Kouhei as if she had seen a ghost. Belatedly he realized that Teru might have had a picture of him at seventeen on a shrine somewhere that she had probably seen in the intervening years. He shrank away slightly, but in the next second she had ducked behind the front counter and emerged with an enormous first aid kit –even more belatedly Kouhei registered that Sugawara had likely given him more than a few visible injuries.

“Oh, what happened? You didn’t get mugged on the way here, did you?” She fretted, pushing into his personal space without hesitation and swiping at the scratch on his cheek with rubbing alcohol, right where Sugawara’s ring had grazed him. Kouhei closed his one eye as it stung and was beginning to feel uncomfortable with the attention, but tried his best to reassure Teru’s wife.

“Ah, something like that, but they didn’t take anything. I didn’t notice I was hurt?” He tried with the smile Luna had once told him was ‘exceedingly charming’ –at least, it seemed to convey to the woman that he wasn’t traumatized, as she instantly sagged a bit in relief.

“You’ve got to be more careful, young man, even minor things like these can get infected. Why just last year my son Hayate left a cut unattended and he had to be on antibiotics for several days...” Kouhei sighed heavily and let her do as she pleased, amused at how the day had turned and listening absently to her chatting about her son. “My, this looks like it’s going to bruise. You should go buy some cream for this later, okay? We wouldn’t want it to scar...”

“I’ll be sure to, thank you.”

She beamed at him, and once she had finished she packed away the bandages and straightened up. “As I was saying, welcome to Chisana Su. My name is Fujikawa Sunako and I will be taking your order today.” She greeted, smiling warmly at him and smoothing her apron down. “Sit wherever you like, will you need a written menu?”

“No, I should be alright.” Kouhei said, and Sunako nodded, leaving him to take a seat at one of the low tables on the tatami while she went to assist another patron. He looked over the menus very quickly, not particularly hungry but not wanting to loiter, and when Sunako came back around he ordered a cup of green tea and some shrimp tempura.

He studied her while he waited for his meal, wanting to see a bit more of the woman who had married one of his closest friends when she wasn’t in a worried tizzy. Sunako appeared to be a lively person, never sitting still for very long even without many people inside the restaurant; if she wasn’t responding to a call from the kitchen, she was checking in on the customers, wiping off tables, answering the phone, sweeping the floor. She had a circular face and hair tied up in a sensible bun, and though she was short she never had to repeat herself or exert any effort to draw attention to her. Her mannerisms only made Kouhei think more that she was exactly the kind of person Teru would have fallen for –soft around the edges but confident, motherly and orderly to offset his friend’s sometimes brash and reckless attitude.

It made even more sense when he took a good look at some of the other patrons of this place and noticed that a few of them had the build of a boxer or the look of an ex-con, and yet as soon as she approached they turned to her completely respectfully and amiably. Suddenly, Kouhei wanted to be anywhere else.

“Here you go, one tempura and one tea.” Sunako said cheerfully, placing the dishes on the tabletop. “I included some of the dipping sauce I make myself, so please tell me how it is if you try it.”

“Of course.”

The meal didn’t really matter to Kouhei, so it wasn’t the food quality that had finally made him decide to leave without a glimpse of Teru. A sick feeling in his chest, he told her that it had been wonderful and made sure to place several extra notes on the counter near the register, and then speedily pulled his shoes back on and left. Leaving was almost harder than arriving had been, but seeing her, hearing of her and Teru’s son and thinking about a shrine with his own face sitting in it had made him remember the Boggart from so many months ago, and what it had shown was his deepest fear.

Having visited it more times than he cared to count, Kouhei knew the route he was taking like the back of his hand, and although some specifics about the immediate neighbourhood had changed, the cemetery looked as if not a day had passed at all. Monoma-kun, just five years old when Kouehi had turned seventeen, now sat at twenty in his father’s chair selling the same offerings as Yazawa-san had so long ago.

“Have we met before?” He asked while Kouhei reached for a carton of Seven Stars, his old brand of cigarettes –before instead grabbing a couple of oranges.

“Couldn’t say.” Kouhei offered, handing him the requisite 1000 yen.

Cemeteries had never been places that Kouhei was overly fond of, and even now that was true as he followed his memory to where he knew his own grave would be. The low pillars of stone surrounding him were eerie even at three o’clock in the afternoon, and the silence weighed on his shoulders like bricks. He did see that there were a few things that had changed; extra stones or names here and there, new cracks in the cement and a couple of houses at the borders that hadn’t been there before. But the path turned sharply at the Hayama plot like he knew it did, and the Saiba stone was still the largest in the entire place, and with two steps left to go he found himself standing at the place that had, one way or another, been dogging his dreams ever since the new year.

The Yamato stone was tall, full of the names of people he had never met but not the one person he had, and next to it was a half stone carved with only two. The oldest was his mother, Jinnai Satsuki, the one that he had known would be there because he had stared at it for more days than he cared to remember. The other was beside it, still worn but slightly less so, and it was the name that solidified to Kouhei once and for all that this place he was in –it was real. He hadn’t truly believed it, in his heart of hearts, even after becoming Jinnai Kouhei and not just Ginnei or the old Kouhei or the old Ginny, even after seeing Teru’s aged face next to a beautiful family and the man’s dream behind him, even after coming all the way here to Tsuchiura and remembering all of it, he still hadn’t truly thought that it was actually reincarnation.

But here was his evidence. The plot he had seen so many times over the course of his lives, in dreams and nightmares and long evenings sitting in the cold until Tou-san had hoisted him up onto his back to take him home. The plot he remembered with the name of the only woman he had ever loved back then carved into it, now bearing his own and still there were offerings left on the dais; a carton of Seven Stars nearly brown with exposure, a bundle of flowers beginning to wilt, several sticks of incense long since snuffed out and gone to ash.

Kouhei felt his shoulders slump, and he climbed the stairs only to slide to kneel in front of the grave, his head bowing slightly. He was used to cleaning the place every time he visited, but he didn’t want to get rid of someone else’s gifts without knowing who had left them –so instead he left the flowers in their vase and moved the cigarettes just enough so that he had room for the oranges on the left side of the dais.

Kaa-san...

He had never been one for ceremony, so the time he spent that day before his mother and himself was cluttered and long; when he finally snapped out of his trance the sun had moved to hang low in the sky and the lamps had started to flicker on in the street. Kouhei wiped at his cheeks with his jacket sleeve and pushed himself to stand, his limbs stiff after so long motionless on the hard ground, and before the darkness could encroach on the cemetery completely he took his leave.

There were three places he could be, but only one where he actually wanted to go. As much as it comforted him to know Tou-san wasn’t dead yet –or at least, he assumed –he wasn’t ready to face the man yet, and he would admit that he was a coward in this. He could go and find a hostel to stay in, he knew there were a few around that weren’t too far out of the way, but that sounded even less appealing than approaching his Tou-san. Or he could go back to Teru’s restaurant, wait nearby for the man to get off work and then confront him and get the whole messy affair over and done with, and stop this awful anticipation before it got to be too unbearable.

None were easy, but one might give him the closure he desired.

Luckily for him, the laundromat next to Chisana Su was of the 24 hour variety, and he washed a batch of already clean clothes and made conversation with the elderly owner of the place while he waited. The man –named Mouda Hikaru –had moved to Tsuchiura three years ago and was more than happy to espouse on the neighbourhood to a willing audience. From Mouda-san he learned a bit about what the businesses now looked like in the area as opposed to when he had lived here, how peaceful the area was even with the Dokukyoukai based so close, and then about Chisana Su. Mouda-san went there himself from time to time, and told Kouhei the restaurant’s hours when he had asked –grousing tiredly about ‘Fujikawa-kun always being the last one to go home’ as he did, as if he had been thinking it for a while.

Kouhei ended up waiting a while for Teru to leave, keeping up the light chatter with Mouda-san while the clock ticked by and he took his time folding and stowing his clothes back in his bag after the wait for the dryer. He was just clipping his bag shut –Mouda-san having nodded off for the fourth time –when he glanced out the front window to see a man walk by, an apron around his waist and a familiar shaved head drawing Kouhei’s full and complete attention. He left a tip for Mouda-san on the counter and strode to the door, opening it slowly so the bell didn’t ring, and once he thought that Teru was a sufficient distance away, he began to follow him.

Kouhei didn’t know how he wanted this to go; this wasn’t how he had envisioned this happening at all... not that he had ever had any concrete ideas about how he would approach the older man. All of Kouhei’s thoughts, shamefully so, had been on the inevitable reunion with Tetsuji, and though he had wanted to find his comrades his brother had been first and foremost in his mind.

Teru made a few turns as he walked along, and soon Kouhei had lost track of where they were, not recognizing this newer part of town at all. It was dark and the streets were narrow and not very well lit, and as Teru disappeared around another corner Kouhei felt frustrated with himself for not stopping his friend yet. So he took the corner with less caution than he should have, too caught up in himself to realize what was happening, and he was caught embarrassingly easily when a hand thrust out to seize his collar, flinging him into the wall underneath the nearest streetlamp.

Teru looked... irritated. He was the same height as Kouhei, and though he was thinner with age he still had the muscles of a boxer, and the eyes of a man who had fought many times in the past. His face was creased with laugh lines, he was wearing rimless glasses, his hair was still shaved similarly to how it had been back then; he was wearing a black shirt and white apron both stained from grease and spices. Kouhei looked into his eyes and saw the exact moment where Teru shifted from taking action against a probable mugger to confusion to grief and then finally to anger; this time towards a mugger who looked like the ghost of a long deceased friend.

“This... wasn’t how I wanted this to go.” Kouhei admitted shakily, feeling slightly hysterical.

“I’m not a defenceless old man yet, punk.” Teru replied. “Go back home before you get yourself hurt, huh?”

Kouhei was abruptly released, and it was so out-of-the-blue that he stumbled, off balance –Teru huffed in amusement and turned away, dismissing him entirely. If Kouhei had been the same, this would have absolutely infuriated him; he would have seen it as Teru looking down on him. But Kouhei couldn’t help his reaction, so long now and Teru was still just like he had been when gushing about Ryuushin in that diner years ago, and he started to laugh. It wasn’t how Ginny had laughed either (most of her mannerisms were too immature to stick around when they became one); it was purely a laugh from back then, one that made Teru freeze in his tracks ten feet away.

“You’re –you’re still just an easily tru-trusting moron, eh?” Kouhei wheezed out, and Teru tensed in –shock? “I-” Kouhei paused, and while some of the hilarity stayed he also felt the serious air to what he was about to bring up. “I feel bad, Teru. We haven’t seen each other since... before I got sent off by Sonoda.”

He had expected a punch, but being shoved against the wall wasn’t a surprise either, and Kouhei’s head smacked painfully into the cement as he let himself get flung about like a ragdoll. Teru looked absolutely furious, like he was only just restraining himself from crushing Kouhei under his foot like a wayward ant, and despite himself Kouhei felt a twinge of satisfaction at bringing him to this point with only words.

“You’re really beginning to piss me off, you little shit.” Teru growled, shaking Kouhei as if trying to knock sense into him but really just making Kouhei forget about his brief resolution to try and be gentle about this; if Teru was still a moron then Kouhei was just going to have to make it as obvious as possible who he was.

“You’re starting to piss me off, Teru. Acting like some world-weary old man when it’s only been fifteen years! I can’t even remember now why I tried so hard to find you again.” Teru looked as if he had been slapped at Kouhei’s callous words. “I couldn’t be there to see Kyousuke get released, but I’m not just some sulking little kid anymore! I went and got myself a goal while I was gone, and the entire past year all I’ve been doing is working towards it, like you said I should!” Kouhei shoved Teru away from him and dropped his bag, slipping his jacket off his shoulders so it fell to the ground. “Take a good look, do you really think I’m just some punkass brat who’s going to try and snatch your wallet? I’ve never held illusions that it would be easy and I knew I wasn’t going to receive a warm welcome, but you’re not a blind idiot!”

Teru had taken several steps back when Kouhei shed his jacket, eyes wide and face drained of all colour so he stood out pale and stark against the black of the surrounding street. “That’s... not...”

“Teru... I’m sorry.” Kouhei said finally, feeling resigned and so very, very old. “I only wanted you to know that... I was wrong to think you’d abandoned me.” 

Kouhei?

Vvv

When Teru left his restaurant that night, his mind had been other places –thinking about returning home, hearing about his children’s day at school and getting to eat something he hadn’t cooked himself. The early autumn air was warm, and although it was dark there was a great moon in the sky, which was just the kind of atmosphere he liked when walking alone. The day hadn’t been difficult; the expected rushes were no longer troublesome after so many years and a now well-oiled kitchen staff, and the last few patrons had been fairly easy to please.

He itched for a cigarette, but tried to put the urge out of his mind with marginal success. He had quit a year ago but the habit was long engrained, and he had only lasted so long because of Sunako’s dedicated support; she had hated the smell since her first pregnancy but hadn’t managed to convince him until Kinjou had been born last August. Cold turkey was a tough way to go, but since when had he ever liked going the easy route?

Speaking of doing things the easy way, he hoped that whoever was tailing him would do just that and choose to leave him be. Boxing was still something he did as a hobby, a way to get exercise that wasn’t just standing on his feet all day, but he had only fought in sanctioned matches for as long as Hayate had been alive and didn’t want to break that streak now.

So when he took a sharp corner only a few blocks from his home he decided to stop and just get it over with –at most he might have to defend himself, which wasn’t the worst option out of anything that could happen. The kid (eighteen at the oldest) had rounded the corner then, distracted, so Teru used that to his advantage and shot his hand out to use the blond’s collar as a way to fling him hard into the wall. He was annoyed at having to do this, and he just knew somehow that this one would be trouble considering that he had been following him since the...

A ghost stared back at him, startled slightly but not frightened by any means and seeing this doppelganger made something in Teru’s brain short circuit. The last time he had spoken to this kid’s twin –he had just –and now-

Teru shook himself out of the memory and glared, trying to separate the now from the past lest he say something he regretted.

“This... wasn’t how I wanted this to go.” The kid said in a deceptively neutral voice –Teru nearly snorted at that.

“I’m not a defenceless old man yet, punk.” He said, which made the kid look at him in clear bemusement. “Go back home before you get yourself hurt, huh?” He stepped back, letting go of the kid’s collar –when he turned to walk away, he heard him stumble away from the wall and then begin to laugh. Bright, loud, effortlessly; a sound that Teru had heard many evenings after one too many drinks and a bit too long thinking about the past, a sound that made him stop dead in his tracks to hear it now.

“You’re –you’re still just an easily tru-trusting moron, eh?” The kid choked out in his hilarity, and Teru was just –what? “I-” Teru couldn’t recall the last time a hesitation had made tension coil in his gut like this, made him feel like whatever was said next would be catastrophic. “I feel bad, Teru. We haven’t seen each other since... before I got sent off by Sonoda.”

Teru immediately spun around and seized the kid by his shoulders to slam him again into the wall, sickly satisfied when his head smacked against the brick and left the blond looking dazed. This was obviously some sort of shitty prank –from who he didn’t know, but when he found out he was going to be hard pressed not to commit some sort of violent assault.

Something that passed by on the blond’s face (fucking amusement?) made Teru’s blood boil. “You’re really beginning to piss me off, you little shit.” Teru ground out, mind already trying to figure out how to draw out this brat’s intentions without actually giving away why his appearance was bothering him. The blond stared at him almost incredulously, before visibly steeling himself and growling straight back into Teru’s face.

“You’re starting to piss me off, Teru. Acting like some world-weary old man when it’s only been fifteen years! I can’t even remember now why I tried so hard to find you again.” The words hit Teru like a punch to the gut, and he recoiled slightly in confusion, away from the burning emotion radiating off of the teen’s frame. “I couldn’t be there to see Kyousuke get released, but I’m not just some sulking little kid anymore!

Teru didn’t know what was going on anymore, almost couldn’t comprehend what this –this kid was saying to him, loaded words drawing nearly buried memories back to the surface and making pain lance through his chest. “I went and got myself a goal while I was gone,” He seethed, and Teru bitterly remembered telling another blond to go and join the Yakuza if that was what he wanted, fully expecting the other to do just that. “And the entire past year all I’ve been doing is working towards it, like you said I should!”

The brat shoved Teru away, and in the next second had discarded his bag and jacket, throwing them to the ground angrily and revealing half-remembered tattoos that had Teru staring, spreading his arms out so Teru had to take in the whole of him. “Take a good look, do you really think I’m just some punkass brat who’s going to try and snatch your wallet? I’ve never held illusions that it would be easy and I knew I wasn’t going to receive a warm welcome, but you’re not a blind idiot!”

Teru really wasn’t, but the picture this young man painted for him was as unbelievable as losing a friend had been so many years ago. This teen was blond and bold, standing tall and muscular and adorned by the exact same tattoos he himself had encouraged. Tinted glasses covered eyes blazing with indignation, the same stance of ‘come at me if you can’ when he was backed into a corner, the exact same look on his face as Teru had seen when meeting him on the roof of that hospital.

“That’s... not...” Possible. But it was the wrong thing to say –or maybe the exact thing to say –because the teen’s form slumped all at once and he looked at Teru with eyes that were as far from the Snake Heads leader as Teru was.

“Teru... I’m sorry.” He said. “I only wanted you to know that... I was wrong to think you had abandoned me.”

“Kouhei?”

The teen standing in front of him looked so vulnerable in that split second after Teru had finally voiced his conclusion that Teru couldn’t help himself –he strode forward and threw his arms around the other, crushing him to his chest. He heard Kouhei’s breath hitch and then his shoulders gave a great shudder, and before he knew what was happening Kouhei was sobbing like Teru had never seen before, embracing him in return and doing his best to ensure that Teru was going to have bruises on his ribs for a while.

Teru really didn’t understand what was going on, but he hoped that tightly holding the heaving, shaking form in his arms would convey to this ghost of his friend that he desperately, fiercely wanted to.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

It took Kouhei a few minutes to collect him-her-h...herself, but in that time Teru hadn’t moved nor said a word, simply continued standing there with his arms securely around Kouhei’s shoulders as if he held all the answers in the world. She felt rung out, like this burst of emotion had exhausted her physically as well as mentally, and she leaned heavily into Teru’s shoulder for as long as she could to soak up the comfort her friend radiated like a furnace. Had fatherhood changed Teru this much?

Eventually the older man shifted, and Kouhei took that as her cue to pull away, lifting her glasses enough to swipe at her eyes before she even thought about looking Teru in the face. It wasn’t as embarrassing as she had expected it would be –losing her cool like this –but that was probably just because she felt comfortable with Teru even despite everything that separated them. When she finally did glance at her friend, the man was inspecting her closely, a strange expression on his face that Kouhei couldn’t place.

“How is this possible?” He asked, then, “What was Parko’s terrible nickname in middle school?”

“The emerald wrecking crew.” Kouhei said, pulling a strained laugh from Teru. “I figure I was reincarnated, based on death and birthdates, but I really couldn’t say how I remembered... long term spiritual-psychological trauma, best guess.”

“What?”

“I’ll explain later.” Kouhei promised. “Listen, I’m sorry for springing... everything on you so suddenly, Teru. This really wasn’t how I wanted it to go.”

“Good grief, Kouhei, you- you’re alive! And apparently still over thinking things; who cares if it wasn’t the smoothest of returns?” Teru asked incredulously. “Fuck, am I the first person you tracked down? Where on Earth have you been since you died?”

Teru seemed to be taking this remarkably well, but that was probably more due to his temperament and the multitude of heavy handed references to their past conversations that Kouhei was still flinging out in an attempt to get him to focus. As the conversation continued, Kouhei felt her equilibrium speedily returning, bringing with it the confidence and relief she needed right now. “You’re the first. Kiiko and Parko don’t have an internet presence, and I wasn’t able to find anything on Kyousuke or –or Tetsuji beyond brief mentions. I haven’t gone looking for Tou-san or Fujioka-oyaji at all. I was reborn in England and I’m so sorry that it was so very difficult to get myself here in the year I gave myself, but I can bear it if you just act grateful.”

Kouhei was momentarily startled when Teru drew her into another hug, but the man only kept her there for a few seconds before coming back to himself. “You don’t have anywhere to go then, right? Stay with me for awhile, I’ll call Kiiko and Parko and Kyousuke up and have them come by tonight or tomorrow, or whenever you want... Kami, Kouhei, I’m the one who’s sorry. I never realized what you were thinking until it was too late –I should’ve been a better friend.”

Teru sounded like he had been burning to say this for a long time, and were Kouhei one for speculation she might have wondered just for how long. So she put aside the fact that Teru had mentioned Kyousuke as if he hadn’t apparently gone missing and tried to smooth things out between them. “We both made mistakes, me especially and you know it. You were the one to make me see how wrong I was at the end, and-” She hesitated for a second. “-and after you last saw me, back then, I never planned on being there to see Kyousuke released. I was going to leave town with Tetsuji like the two of us had planned, but you made me want to find a worthwhile goal to work towards while I was gone. I had thought that it was the only way I would be able to face you guys again. I never wanted to have to wait so long.”

“If it means anything, I already suspected. I wanted you to have the choice, but I knew that Tetsuji was something special, especially with what kind of person you were –ah, are.” Teru clapped a hand on Kouhei’s shoulder. “Now come on. Sunako will have already had dinner by now and there are a few little troublemakers you should meet as well.”

“I was at Chisana Su earlier today –she’s a beautiful woman, Teru. You’ve made quite a reality of your dream since you and I spoke about it.” Kouhei smiled at how Teru straightened perceptibly at her purposeful wording, and let the man lead her by the shoulder the rest of the way to his home. “Is it just the two kids you have?”

“No, we have three. There is a bit of an age difference in the younger two though.” Teru said fondly, his heart in his eyes. They turned another corner and suddenly were back in an area of Tsuchiura that Kouhei recognized, one of the older residential districts that was close to the Hama Mid. that she attended in her first youth. Teru’s home was a typical two story house built around the sixties –a tiny front yard with a well sized tree planted in it, wood and cement exterior and a stand for bicycles visible just inside the front gate. Teru sent her a reassuring smile before leading her into the yard and up to the front door, where Teru managed to make it three steps inside before he was accosted by two very excited children in night clothes.

Kouhei caught variants of ‘tou-san, you’re back’ and ‘why are you so late?’ from the chatter that the two kicked up, both clinging to Teru’s arms and smiling from ear to ear as he placated them easily. The taller of them was the one to notice Kouhei standing on the doorstep, and he stared directly at her for a few seconds before nudging Teru to point at the stranger watching them from outside.

“Come inside, Kouhei.” Teru said reassuringly –so Kouhei straightened under the scrutiny of Teru’s children before doing as Teru had asked.

The taller one was likely around eight years old (ten at the most) and was stocky like his mother, with freckles surrounding his eyes and short black hair in tight curls that flopped thickly onto his forehead. He seemed subdued, making no move to either investigate or retreat when Kouhei stepped forward, just stayed where he was and watched her like a hawk. The younger one by at least two years was more energetic; she had wavy, shoulder length dark brown hair and a pair of rectangular glasses, and her eyes were darting between Kouhei and her father so fast that Kouhei wondered if she was going to make herself dizzy.

“Hayate, Ryuuko, this is a very good friend of mine.” Teru introduced gently. Kouhei could hear someone further in the house walking towards them accompanied by the distinct noise of a fussing baby. “His name is Jinnai Kouhei, and he’s going to be staying with us for a little while. Kouhei, ojisan or oniisan?”

“O-?” Kouhei’s mind went blank, and she blurted the first thing she thought of that was remotely connected to what Teru had just flung at her, mind going pleasantly fuzzy when it really registered. “Aniki. I don’t really like thinking of either of my ages, Teru.”

“Anata? What’s everyone doing still over here?”

Sunako entered the hallway, and whatever tension had broken was suddenly back with her and the baby’s appearance. She saw Kouhei in the open doorway and immediately recognized her –though now it was probably not just as a customer, with how poorly she was covering her shocked expression. She looked into the next room and then back at Kouhei several times in quick succession, cementing Kouhei’s suspicion that there was a picture of himself on a shrine in this house.

Anata?” Sunako asked, sounding incredibly out of her depth.

“...How about we talk about this after Hayate and Ryuuko go to bed? Explain it to them tomorrow?” Teru suggested calmly, shooing his children further into the house. Kouhei took the opportunity to toe off her shoes and offer Teru’s wife a respectful bow, which by the drain of colour from Sunako’s cheeks may not have made things better.

“I-I’ll go and settle them down then.” She conceded, handing the baby to Teru and hurrying her eldest children up the stairs even though they were staring curiously at Kouhei and protesting all the while. Kouhei followed Teru into the small kitchen silently, and sat down at the table; Teru gave his child a considering look and then handed the babe to Kouhei before going over to the pot on the stove.

“What is this one’s name?” Kouhei floundered briefly before regaining her footing, adjusting her hold on the child; the baby was chubby and squirmy, already with a head of dark hair and a pattern of freckles on its chin. Teru ladled some stew out into two bowls while the child inspected Kouhei absently, grabbing for her glasses.

“That’s Kinjou. He’s our little ball of sunshine...”

“I always knew you’d be a great father, Teru. Just listen to yourself.” Kouhei barked out a laugh as Teru swatted her on the shoulder.

“I don’t need you to tell me, but thanks. Third time’s the charm, right Kin-chan? So much more even tempered than your siblings!” Teru wiggled his fingers on Kinjou’s ear and the babe let out a simultaneously delighted and affronted shriek, which was exactly when Sunako reentered the kitchen, looking slightly less like she was about to keel over.

“Anata, you should take a seat for this, I’ll make some tea. Kouhei, I’ll call everyone over, and you’ll tell Sunako about yourself?” Kouhei glanced from a calm Teru to his expectant wife, and nodded, exchanging the baby for the bowl of stew offered to her and setting it aside.

Vvv

While Kouhei filled Sunako in on what was happening, Teru managed to get a hold of the other three members of their former little group and had asked them to come by, citing an urgent issue but not much else and –upon Kouhei’s input –also requesting they wait outside until all of them could come in at once. That was mainly so that Kouhei didn’t have to go through the stress of confronting everyone multiple times, as her nerves had already been fluctuating wildly at the fact they would be here so soon and likely as not would react similarly to Teru.

Sunako had listened calmly and with Teru’s assurances that he believed Kouhei had switched from a fish out of water to acting the dutiful host, bustling upstairs both to put Kinjou to bed and to make up a futon in the spare room for Kouhei to use while she stayed. Kouhei suspected that she needed time to process and had opted out of the coming gathering for that reason, but she understood and knew that everyone had different ways to get through things.

Kouhei was too busy readying herself for the myriad ways her three friends could react to what she was about to tell them to mind.

Anyway it was probably for the best that Sunako was upstairs attempting sleep when Kyousuke, Parko and Kiiko finally showed up –the knock at the door made Kouhei sit ramrod straight and then stand just as tensely. Teru went to let them in but not before asking if she was alright, and that more than anything else calmed her down. She had someone around who already knew what was going on and had accepted it just fine, and this was just the stress of the entire trip catching up to her and making her emotions a bit frantic. She could probably make it through this completely calmly and unscathed, no problem.

But as soon as Kyousuke entered the room and froze, he knew he was just lying to himself.

Kyousuke had definitely grown up these past fifteen years. His curly, afro-like hair was shorter but still that distinctive reddish brown, and he was wearing rectangular prescription glasses. He was dressed in a modest grey suit with no tie and a loud orange flower print shirt, had gained wrinkles around his eyes and a rather nasty scar on his cheek, and was staring wordlessly at Kouhei in complete shock. He opened his mouth to say something, but before he could get anything out Teru came around him to stand at Kouhei’s side, while Kiiko and Parko entered the room as well, both freezing instantly just the same as Kyousuke.

Parko was dressed in sandals, a company t-shirt, and black slacks, and had a thin towel slung over his shoulders that had seen better days. He had shaved off that awful... Kouhei had never been sure what he should call it, but now it didn’t matter because it had been replaced by a respectable buzzcut. He walked with a slight limp, and his skin was darker, a bit fuller here and there, which made sense when Kouhei saw that the shirt he wore was for a trucking company.

And Kiiko obviously worked in some form of construction or auto repair, for the white wife beater and brown workpants he wore were streaked in dust and black smudges. He was still built like a brick shit house and didn’t have as much of a tan as he used to, but he had gotten into tattoos in the time since Kouhei had seen him last; if he wasn’t mistaken, part of the design he had on his right shoulder looked eerily familiar.

Everyone stared at each other for several awkward seconds, and no one seemed as if they were going to make the first move; as the silence dragged on Kouhei felt her body tense in anticipation of something to come, of anything to happen. Something had to give –she knew now that there wasn’t any chance of her getting past this without giving something to them to show she had changed –but it wasn’t until Kouhei’s eyes found Kyousuke’s and a thought from so many months ago came back to her that she knew what it was she had to do.

So to the shock of everyone present, Kouhei lowered herself to kneel in the middle of the room and bowed forward to press her forehead to the hardwood, voice steady despite the fact that she had nearly cried herself hoarse not even an hour ago. Kouhei had found apologies like this beneath him ever since he had started throwing punches back, ever since he had come to the conclusion that forgiveness wasn’t worth humiliation. None of his friends had ever seen him like this, and they had certainly never had it directed at themselves; because it was humiliating, because it was beneath him. And it was what Kouhei now had to do.

“I was a fool. Nothing more than a sulking child who paid no mind to how my actions affected those around me, only thinking of myself and my own goals. I did not deserve your forgiveness back then, and I don’t deserve it now... but I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry for all the shit I put you guys through after I joined the Snake Heads, for not listening to you, for getting killed. Teru, Kyousuke, Kiiko, Parko, I regret everything that happened. Please believe me.” Kouhei kept her head down, back tense as she awaited a reaction –this was it, this was what she had been working towards ever since she had awoken in St. Mungo’s, this was where she either lost everything or gained a chance for redemption.

“You bastard.” Parko said, voice weak. “Y-You never even... what the fuck is this, you weren’t there and now you’re –you’re here –this better not be –it better not be some fuckin’ prank, Teru.”

“Teru wouldn’t set up shit like this.” Kiiko muttered faintly, absently, like he had lost his breath. “Even if Kouhei wouldn’t have –have bowed his head like this back then.”

“It was the greatest mistake of my life.” Kouhei explained. “And so this is warranted.”

More silence, and then a pair of knees appeared in Kouhei’s vision and hands fell onto her shoulders, pushing her up and putting her face-to-face with Kyousuke.

He was so much older than her; Kouhei wouldn’t ever really be the same age as her old friends even with two sets of memories –there would probably always be something subtle separating them –and that made her so sad to be faced with it. He was so much older, and he was staring at her like he was afraid she would disappear with one wrong move, and Kouhei stared back until they both started leaking tears and then it was like a switch flipped in everyone’s collected brains.

“You shitbird, jerk, just going and dying like that.” Kyousuke grumbled, holding Kouhei to his shoulder in a death grip. “When I couldn’t even come and beat the shit out of you for it. You’re awful, Kouhei.”

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.”

“Stop apologizing, dammit, I’m going to cry again!” Parko choked, turned away and his back hunched suspiciously. Kiiko was grinning but hiding his eyes, and Teru shoulders were shaking and a few hiccups escaped even with how hard he was trying to hold it in. But Kouhei couldn’t help herself –more tears came and with them more apologies –and soon enough everyone was crying in various degrees, the hardest of which was actually Kyousuke.

“Why are you back?” Kyousuke ended up asking, nothing but desperation in his voice, wanting to understand.Kami, how are you back? Why now?”

“The timing’s random, mainly.” Kouhei said, wiping at her eyes. Kyousuke stood a little shakily and pulled her up with him, and then she was standing with her four old friends and she felt like crying again. “Why I remembered is a mystery to me, but I came back because I just... I needed to see if you were real. If you weren’t then I was just crazy, but if you were then maybe I could... make amends. Be a better person than I was before.”

Her statement lingered in the silence.

“Come on.” She eventually said and moved towards the door to the kitchen, where there was hot stew and tea waiting. “I have a lot that I need to explain.”

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

Kouhei woke up sluggishly later in the night and a quick look at the clock told her that it was nearly four o’clock in the morning. In the dim light of the early hour she could make out Parko sleeping sprawled on the floor, Kiiko tangled up in an old sheet and suspended between the two armchairs, and a light on in the hallway that Teru must have left on when he went up to bed.

She herself was on the couch with Kyousuke, borderline cramping up with the way her back was twisted awkwardly around. Both of their shoulders were against the cushions and they had squashed their elbows against each other’s side, and though Kouhei’s legs dangled half on the seat and half on the floor Kyousuke had swung his over the arm of the couch in the other direction.

The room was still and quiet save for Parko’s snoring, and for a moment Kouhei almost thought she might go back to sleep –that she had woken up on accident. That notion was put aside when she felt Kyousuke shift beside her and sigh, and then he turned his head so he could stare sideways at her.

“You up?” He murmured, voice a bit slurred and not moving to sit straight just yet.

“Mm... what is it?” The quiet stretched on for a few minutes as Kyousuke thought her question over.

“I got a smoke if you got a light.”

“...sure.”

Slowly, so they didn’t wake up anyone else in the house, she and Kyousuke shuffled around until they were sitting upright and then began to make their way out of the room. Teru’s home didn’t have a backyard, so they went out the front door and jumped up onto the wall that separated the grass from the street.

“Thanks.” Kouhei accepted the cigarette and lit it swiftly, holding the lighter out so that Kyousuke could use it as well. They smoked in companionable silence for a while –long enough for Kouhei to throw off the lingering bleariness of the odd hour –and then Kyousuke finally brought up what he had woke her up for.

“You want to find Tetsuji, don’t you.”

All at once Kouhei’s breath left her, the palpable reality of that last, final goal shining like a beacon in the dark. Kyousuke stubbed out his cigarette and snorted when he glanced her way and caught her expression.

“Stupid question, of course you do.” He said while shaking his head, a sardonic grin splitting his face. “What do you know?”

Nothing.” Kouhei felt that familiar tingle of anticipation –of desperation –in her brain and didn’t even try to soothe it away. “Kyousuke, where is he? Please.”

“Right here in Tsuchiura.”

Kouhei’s breath hitched; she allowed an almost hysterical giggle escape, which quickly morphed into relieved laughter that was more air than sound. If Kyousuke thought it was strange he didn’t say a word about it, he only took her cigarette from her when it threatened to burn a hole through the fabric of her jeans.

“All along he was here –and –and I was so worried that no one would –be able to tell me where he’d gone.” She said, nearly unable to believe that this final part of her journey was so easy. Kyousuke hesitated a moment and then put a hand on her shoulder; the action made her want to weep in gratitude, and for a moment she did lower her head and cover her face in the sudden swell of emotion. “Kami, it feels like I’m cheating.”

“You never did like asking for help.” Kyousuke sighed. “Why do you want to see him?”

Kouhei’s first instinct was to clam up; bringing up personal matters that Kyousuke hadn’t been involved in originally didn’t sit well in her stomach. But she also knew that if she was really going to be better than her former self she had to work for it, including facing uncomfortable issues even when she didn’t want to.

“Even if he no longer wants anything to do with me, he deserves to know I’m alive. And I deserve to see him at least once.” Kouhei paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. “I regret how I left things with you and the others, but Tetsuji and I were so... new. We didn’t just leave off with regrets –we never had the chance to even start.”

“So... what, you want to pick back up?”

“I...” Kouhei stopped and took a sharp breath. “I still love him, Kyousuke. Not in the same way as I used to, nor would I want that, but at some point he became my most important person. I don’t think I’ll be okay until I see him and tell him that. I owe him enough that apologizing will never be enough.”

Kouhei looked back up at Kyousuke, and he was staring at her with something like awe on his face.

“Why do you know where Tetsuji is, Kyousuke?” She asked.

Vvv

“Because I work for him.”

Vvv

Tetsuji returned to his office at noon that day in a relatively good mood despite the stressful week and the worrying departure of his wakagashira due to a ‘family emergency’ the night before. For once there was nothing pressing that required his presence –nor was there any excuse to dawdle much longer –so it was an easy decision to take the peace and quiet and use it to catch up on his paperwork. If he knew days like this at all, he was sure that sooner or later something urgent would come up and pull him away again.

He was two hours into his financial reports and nearly ready to take a break for coffee when Kou paged him from the front desk. An unexpected guest wasn’t a great surprise –nowadays Tetsuji wasn’t the easiest to get a hold of, so those who needed to speak with him often came by unannounced.

The fact that this visitor had refrained from giving a name made him a little wary, but then there was the reason given for the meeting –information on a missing ‘old friend’. He didn’t have more than a handful of those still alive after all of the years he’d been a part of the underworld; it was just distinct enough that in the end curiosity won out over caution and he agreed to meet with them.

In fairness, the girl wasn’t a completely unknown figure; she had been waiting in the lobby to see him for over two hours. Kou had taken plenty of time to observe her and begrudgingly relayed that if she was so determined to see him they may as well get it over with instead of putting it off until she inevitably ambushed Tetsuji at some point later on.

As he waited Tetsuji finished the last of his financial papers and wondered about the sort of person he would be meeting with. He suspected she might be a Yakuza heiress or a career criminal since Kou had noted that for the entirety of the time she had sat in the lobby, never once had she appeared uneasy or out of place.

They arrived only ten minutes after Kou had paged him; Kou greeted him briefly before leaving just as quick, as always unwilling to chat if Kyousuke wasn’t in the general vicinity. The girl entered his office, footsteps even and quiet until she stopped about six feet from Tetsuji’s desk –he glanced up briefly to get a first impression and abruptly screeched to a halt.

“Wha-” His mind was blank as he stared at the teenager, one that he hadn’t seen for the better part of two decades. He looked different, yes; European descent, taller, female. But the way she held herself, the expression on her face, her clothes, they were all just the same as he remembered. Beyond the major similarities she was wearing a pair of achingly familiar tinted glasses and her hair was swept back into the same style he’d worn all those years ago.

And the clothes may have been the worst part, sending a twinge through his chest –a dark blue collared shirt underneath a leather jacket, black jeans and black boots and a ring on her pinkie. She waited patiently as he continued staring; more details springing into Tetsuji’s mind, things that had managed to slip away as the years dragged on.

She favoured her left side, her jaw was set as if smirking but her expression was neutral, she’d stuck her thumbs into her belt loops, she was wearing a necklace that Teru had received after the funeral, she-

She– she–

Tetsuji came back to himself as if he’d been slapped and stood up, suddenly filled with anger and old, bone deep hurt at this chit who would dare impersonate his brother after so long. Something like resignation passed over her face –another slap, it was so similar to –and then she spoke.

“From now on I put my life in your hands.” That made him freeze, confusion warring with his outrage. There hadn’t been a single person to utter those words, that exact sentence in over fifteen years and this... how did...

The teenager raised an eyebrow and it was almost like she filled up the whole room with her presence, it was like Tetsuji couldn’t bear to breath or even look away. “I’ll follow wherever you lead, even to the ends of hell. I’ll crush anyone who gets in your way, so you can focus-”

“-on getting to the top.” Tetsuji finished, because he had been the one to say that originally –a lifetime ago when the only man he had ever respected enough to follow had still been alive.

“...Tetsuji.” She said simply, smiling in that way that he had only witnessed twice in the entire time they’d known each other.

So even though it was crazy, absolutely impossible, even though Tetsuji only had half a mind to what was actually happening, he still moved out from behind his desk and shakily approached the teenager. That smile remained and her stare never wavered as he came closer, and he stopped two feet away, not wanting to –to? –but then she really did smirk up at him and she cocked a hip and he believed it.

How?” He asked, desperate to understand.

“I was reincarnated.” Kouhei said, no nonsense in her (his?) voice. “It took the past year for me to get stable enough that I knew who I was, and then I made my way back.”

Tetsuji let out a deep, shuddering breath, eyes wide and only just refraining from crying –though whether it was in gratitude or frustration he couldn’t say. His friend, his leader, his brother, fifteen years dead –he –she –was before him and alive and he could see that Kouhei was about to go on but he didn’t care. He surged forward and picked Kouhei up in his arms; Kouhei let out a familiar bark of laughter and hugged back as best she could, shoulders shaking as if she too was about ready to sob.

“Tetsuji... haha, Tetsuji!” She exclaimed, sounding breathless. Tetsuji set her down gently and moved his hands up to hold her shoulders, keeping her at arm’s length so he could inspect her again –she had a lot more freckles now.

“J-Jinnai, you’re alive?” He blurted out –he couldn’t help it when he drew her back in for another embrace, knowing full well by her expression that she was allowing the manhandling but wasn’t bothered in the slightest. Soon Tetsuji had composed himself enough to lead her over to the couch in the corner so that they could talk more easily; he wanted her to tell him everything.

Vvv

Kouhei awoke in the middle of the night much as she had in Teru’s living room the day previously, her head resting on Tetsuji’s shoulder since they had both fallen asleep sitting up on the couch. She didn’t move, but she did swallow back tears of relief –she never could have expected for this to have gone so well.

“Now, tell me about what you’ve done.” She demanded once they had exhausted most of what she had to say for herself. “I want to know what you’ve made of yourself.”

Tetsuji visibly swelled at the implication that Kouhei was sure he had done well in her absence. “I stayed for your funeral and then left for Chiba by myself. At the time, a senior of mine was there and asked for my assistance in a few matters –eventually I became a member of the Katsukyoukai properly. When Tomo, Ono and Yukio contacted me, needing a place to go, I took them in. We were there for eight years.”

“I spent a little over a year in jail for one of the group’s leaders, and because of that they approved of me and mine leaving to set up shop here. I thought –Tsuchiura wasn’t important, it was the people you cared about who still lived here. Kyousuke came in one day early on after the group he was involved with in Kyoto disbanded, so he and his people joined up without any fuss... I... just wanted to do right by you.”

“Thank you, Mayumi.” Kouhei said. “You didn’t have to go so far.”

“You were –are –my brother. Carrying on your will in your stead is the least that I could do.” Tetsuji replied evenly, sincerity blazing in his eyes; unexpectedly, Kouhei snorted.

“That blond bastard was right –you really are one hell of a man.”

Vvv

“...K –Kouhei?” Tetsuji slurred as he blinked his eyes open, not quite up to speed but aware enough to tell that she was awake.

“I’m only thinking, don’t worry, Mayumi.” He hummed in acknowledgement but still shifted into a better position, one where even if he couldn’t see her in the dark he could at least face in her direction. Belatedly, Kouhei realized that there was one subject they hadn’t brought up, but really was the most important out of everything.

“...back then, you were the only person I had ever loved in such a way.” She started, staring at the ceiling instead of the man next to her. “You were more than any lover, both my brother by oath and my partner, closer to me than anyone else. But now, I’m... different. I don’t feel –and I don’t see things the same as I used to. I won’t ever regret this change; I am more myself now than I was when I was lost in madness...”

Tetsuji remained quiet as Kouhei collected her thoughts. “Mayumi, you’re my brother, my partner, closer to me than anyone else and I would go so far as to call you my soulmate. But I don’t see you –nor will I ever see you –as a lover any longer.”

Tetsuji was silent for several long minutes after Kouhei’s confession, but Kouhei knew he was still awake by the circles his thumb was rubbing into her hand. “I took lovers after you were gone, but as time went by I began to lose interest –mostly in the sex. I haven’t actually been with anyone for a good three years.” Tetsuji shrugged. “Even now, it’s rare that I wish for that sort of thing. If things had been different, maybe we would have continued on as we were... but neither of us are the same as we used to be.”

Kouhei turned her head to try and see Tetsuji better, and her breath stuttered at the way he was staring, as if she would disappear into thin air if he wavered for even a moment.

“I’ll never forget that part of it, but as we are now I can’t see you in that way either. Even so, you’re my brother, my partner, the only man I ever chose to follow, and as long as you’ll have me I’ll always love you.”

In that moment Kouhei was glad that the darkness in the room hid the tomato red his cheeks had surely turned after such a statement. Their relationship had been so short that romance beyond that one night of sex, if it had tried to bloom at all, had been snuffed out by a knife and the long, cold stone wall that had been Kouhei’s end. He had accepted that long before he had accepted his death.

But Tetsuji certainly had a way with words –and better eyesight if the fond expression and squeeze to Kouhei’s hand was at all telling.

“Kouhei, would you-”

Vvv

When Kouhei shuffled out of Tetsuji’s rooms come morning to go down to the kitchen –having fallen asleep again in a better place than the couch –he wasn’t thinking about how his presence would be received. It didn’t even cross his mind as he sleepily trudged around, setting up the coffee maker and deftly shoving things around in the fridge and cupboards to make himself a decent breakfast. It was only after he had gone through a mug off coffee and several eggs and pieces of toast that he remembered it was a concern at all –because it was then that the hall door swung open and several Dokukyoukai members came shuffling in.

“Wh –Who the fuck?!” The one in the forefront –a pale man with a scar gouging out part of his cheek –sputtered, hand reaching for a weapon he quickly realized wasn’t on his person. Kouhei levelled the trio with an unimpressed stare and swallowed his mouthful of bread.

“Jinnai. Tetsuji knows I’m here.” The three men shared dubious glances as Kouhei went back to his breakfast; they eventually came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth pursuing, and ignored him completely as they went about their morning routines. Kouhei watched them clunk away with pans and knives and wondered idly whether Tetsuji even had a so-honbucho.

Kou came into the kitchen a few minutes later and paused, blinking at Kouhei in some sort of bemused surprise.

“Well you must’ve been good. Tetsu-san hasn’t had a partner in ages, let alone one who was around the next morning.”

Kouhei nearly spat out his drink at the comment –he’d never had to deal with that sort of insinuation before from this side of the equation.

“I did not sleep with Tetsuji.” He said flatly, staring frostily at the receptionist. Even saying it sounded off –the only time it had ever actually happened, he had died less than a day later –after so many years, after their talk in the dead of night, it hadn’t occurred to him that others might see things that were no longer there. “Say anything like that again and you’ll lose more than just a joint.”

“Hm. No need to get violent.” Kou shrugged, raising his hands peaceably and putting some distance between them. Satisfied for the most part, Kouhei finished his meal and wasted no time in making up two mugs of coffee before leaving the kitchen altogether.

                “Might as well introduce me today. Kou and some others saw me in the kitchen.” Kouhei grinned ruefully –Tetsuji had wanted to let it be for a few days after what he’d asked of Kouhei last night. “Here, I already ate.”

                Tetsuji stared at him and the proffered mug for a minute before he shook his head and took the coffee. “I... thought I dreamt you up for a second.”

Kouhei’s smile turned sad and he tentatively reached out to soothe at Tetsuji’s shoulder with his palm. “No getting rid of me now. I’m here as long as you’ll have me, Mayumi.”

“I know. Now I’ve just got to remember.”

They sipped their coffee for a minute in silence before Kouhei spoke again. “Where’s your phone? I’ve got to call Teru to unlock his place –I’ll go back to change and be here later for you to get everything rolling.”

“Next to the shrine. Come by the office before you go?” Kouhei nodded and they parted briefly; Kouhei found the phone on a small side table, and stared at a picture of himself from fifteen years ago as the line rang.

“Chisana-Su, Fujikawa speaking.”

“Ah, hello Fujikawa-san, this is Kouhei. Would Teru be available to talk for a moment?” Sunako confirmed, and though she still sounded a little uncomfortable with speaking to him Kouhei understood. He smiled when Teru took the phone, no longer exhausted after a long day but now energized from the busy morning crowd.

“Hey, is your place unlocked or should I stop by? I need to grab some things.” Kouhei yawned despite himself and he heard Teru snort.

“Two days back and already the walk of sha-”

“By the infinite patience of Buddha, we didn’t have goddamn sex!” Kouhei cut his friend off before he’d even finished the sentence, but the laughter on the other end persisted. “Fuck off, Teru. Firstly, this body is fifteen, so –NO. Secondly, pot calling the fucking kettle. Didn’t you have something going on with that... Ryuushin, was it?”

“Motherfucker.” It was Kouhei’s turn to laugh at his friend’s expense. “We leave a key under the flower pot, you can use it if you put it back. Will we be seeing you for dinner?”

“Probably... it depends. Thanks, Teru.”

Kouhei hung up and took a long drink from his quickly cooling coffee; he remembered the shrine photo being taken. It was one of the last times that he and Kiiko had hung out as friends, the cheap camera they’d bought had been filled up within hours.

He was here, now. He had slept next to Tetsuji last night, spoken with Teru on the phone as easy as he breathed, and had visited his mother’s grave before any of that. He had done what he’d set out to do.

Now what?

“Everything alright?” Kouhei asked when he walked into Tetsuji’s office a few minutes later. His brother was shuffling through a file on top of his filing cabinet and Kyousuke had arrived at some point –he beckoned Kouhei over to sit next to him on the couch.

“Just misplaced something.” Tetsuji replied, losing the tension in his shoulders instantly. “Kyousuke’s on board.”

“Really? Not even a little against it, Kyou?” Kouhei teased –Kyousuke swatted him on the ear and huffed.

“Like you’d ever listen to me, Aho-hei. ‘Sides, it suits you.” He snorted. “Can’t wait to see Yukio’s face.”

“Ono’s the one who saw Kouhei last; I’m worried he’ll start crying.” Tetsuji said, then turned his attention to Kouhei. “I’ll see you in...?”

“An hour, I’m guessing. I’ve gotta make a long distance call.”

“Alright... and, you don’t have to decide any time soon, but if you want it there’s a room here with your name on it.” Tetsuji smiled, bashful a strange emotion on his weathered face, and Kouhei sighed.

“You’re too good to me, Mayumi. I’ll think about it.” Kouhei must really have gotten soft, because he only remembered that Kyousuke was still in the room when –after a minute of comfortable silence –the wakagashira groaned dramatically and flung himself down the length of the couch.

“Fuck me, I thought Teru and Sunako-san were bad for lovey-dovey shit, but you two are unbearable!” Tetsuji coughed lightly to disguise his embarrassment at being called out. “Thank every god out there that you two won’t be banging!”

Kyousuke...

“Hey, it was a compliment!”

“I’ll see you in an hour, Kouhei.” Tetsuji said abruptly, obviously wanting to avoid the likelihood of Kouhei killing his wakagashira –or at least the hassle it would be to replace him. He gently pulled Kouhei over to the door, admirably ignoring the way Kyousuke was gesturing wildly in the background while he sent Kouhei off. “Come back in through the back door?”

“Sure, good luck with the moron.”

“Hey!”

Vvv

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

When Ron went to bed the night after the Welcoming Feast, it was with a nagging feeling in the back of his mind like he had missed something important. It was so strong that he actually had a bit of a hard time falling asleep –had he forgotten something at home, left a piece of holiday work unfinished, done something wrong while escorting the first years? Eventually his tiredness won out and he let it fade from his mind, and when he woke up the next morning it had all but dissipated.

For months after that, he’d wonder if he could have changed things had he remembered sooner.

The first indication that all was not right came at the first breakfast of the school year, when Ron, Harry and Hermione made it down to the Great Hall with the gaggle of eleven year olds who had woken up early enough to be escorted. It wasn’t strange for there to be teachers missing from the head table on the first day, but McGonagall rushing in through the teacher’s entrance as pale as a sheet was most certainly worth noticing.

The fact that she looked around the room in a bit of a panic for a few minutes before making a beeline towards their little group made Ron’s stomach jump in anticipation.

“Mr. Weasley, have you seen your sister?” Was the first thing that she said when she got close enough, and Ron was about to answer ‘yes, of course’ when-

“...I ...I haven’t?” He remembered arriving at King’s Cross, hugging his parents goodbye and talking to Dean and Seamus while Ginny had waited for Luna to finish saying farewell to her father, but after that...

“I haven’t seen her since King’s Cross.” He ended up saying; which must not have been what McGonagall wanted to hear if the expression on her face was any indication.

“Professor? Is –has something happened?” Hermione asked hesitantly, the question piquing the interest of a few nearby students, especially those who had been in the D.A. last year.

McGonagall froze for the briefest of moments, looking uncharacteristically like a deer caught in the headlights; a minute passed before her expression closed off again and she returned to her usual composure.

“Mr. Weasley, please accompany me to the headmaster’s office. Just Mr. Weasley, please.” Ron shared an alarmed glance with his two friends before rushing to follow his Head of House out of the Great Hall and up the staircases towards Dumbledore’s quarters.

“Professor, please, what’s going on? What do you need Ginny for?” Ron asked once they had gotten a sufficient distance from the Hall. McGonagall didn’t slow her pace, but her eyes momentarily met Ron’s at his questions.

“No one has seen Ms. Weasley since she arrived with you at the terminal –and we haven’t been able to find her anywhere inside Hogwarts.”

Vvv

Familiar though it had been for a few years, Luna did not enjoy the fact that she would be attending school again without her closest friend there. The year spent in Kouhei’s company had been full of difficulties, stress and change, but Luna hadn’t been alone –and two weeks into the new school year, she couldn’t help but feel a little abandoned.

When the teachers had noticed Kouhei’s absence, Luna was brought in to speak with her Head of House so he could ask her some questions, the same as any other student that was thought to have been close to Kouhei over the last year. As expected, this didn’t produce much that would help with the investigation; even less if you counted the fact that Luna had unrepentantly lied on her friend’s behalf.

So, two weeks on and the investigation was still underway, and Luna knew that nothing would turn up. Luna knew that the others who had been questioned weren’t going to be able to point in any discernible direction; Kouhei loved his brothers and tolerated Harry and Hermione and the rest of the D.A. but he certainly hadn’t let them learn anything concrete. If nothing else, he was thorough –as far as Ron had said, the only thing his family was able to find out so far was that during the summer she had been working in Ottery St. Catchpole. Kouhei was in the wind, and unless a cross-continental tracking charm was invented he wasn’t likely to be found when he didn’t want to be.

That didn’t mean that Luna wasn’t a little put out about the whole thing. Sure, she had been prepared, logically, for Kouhei’s departure and knew that she was more help to him at Hogwarts than she would be if she had gone with him to Japan. Sure, she knew that leaving was the best thing for her friend, and if Kouhei had stayed even a single month longer then he probably would’ve snapped again and beat someone up even worse than Malfoy.

But she was still sad about it; a selfish part of her was angry for being left alone again, and she wasn’t the kind of person who was opposed to indulging in her selfish side now and then.

But Kouhei calling her through the earrings after those two weeks of radio silence and sounding so relieved and happy –well, a bigger part of her was happy for him, and so it was all worth it.

Vvv

When Dumbledore contacted him not even a day into the new school year, Alastor had initially felt vindicated. He had predicted some months back that Potter would get dragged into some sort of trouble as soon as he returned to Hogwarts, and by the weariness in Dumbledore’s voice it must have been a doozy this year.

Being told that the Weasley girl had gone missing had taken the wind out of his sails a bit, but the headmaster didn’t need to know that.

Alastor had accepted the request to head the investigation, naturally; he respected Arthur and Molly, and he couldn’t have one of the dunderheads the Ministry called Aurors these days making a muck of it.

Questioning the student body had been frustrating and unhelpful, but had shed some light on the girl’s situation in the year since she had woken up from her coma. Most of the students had never had a one-on-one conversation with her, and those who had consisted of her brothers, the D.A., or people who were so terrified of her that they couldn’t actually remember anything she’d said to them. No one had anything of value to offer him; he would eat his hat if the Lovegood girl wasn’t lying straight to his face, but he had no grounds to use Veritaserum on a minor since everyone but Dumbledore was a dunce that assumed his suspicions were nothing but paranoia.

Suffice to say –loathe to say –a month later, Alastor was stumped. He really did want to help Molly and Arthur, but the harder he looked, the more pieces came up that in the big picture just didn’t make any bloody sense. He knew from the moment he laid eyes on the girl that something was off about her; erratic behaviour, sneaking around and total lack of interest in the goings on of her peers pointed to something. Now he cursed himself for getting so caught up in the Order’s business that he hadn’t followed up on those suspicions when he should’ve.

What they knew for sure was that the Weasley girl had been working muggle jobs in Ottery St. Catchpole for most of her family’s stay at the Burrow in the summer, and upon questioning Stan Shunpike it was found that she had made multiple trips into the greater London area during the same time period. But where she had been going and the fake name she had used were both still a mystery; every trip had let her out somewhere different, with no discernible pattern between them.

Before that, she had managed to make it to Grimmauld Place from Hogwarts seemingly on a whim, which was easily worked out but left some people wondering why. There were her actions during the school year, which had ranged from wallowing in a depression to studying with a single minded focus to beating the Malfoy heir into unconsciousness. Then they looked at the clock that sat in the Weasley family’s living room –and to everyone’s surprise it didn’t show the girl in Mortal Peril as her mother had feared, but instead shifted normally, mostly between Travelling, Work, and Home, but also appearing in You’re Late and Time To Make Tea.

And then there was the damning bit of evidence in the letter she had left her parents, containing confusing references to things her family had no idea of. Molly was still in shock and hadn’t believed a word of it, was sure that her daughter had wrote it under duress or some such; Alastor hadn’t the heart to insist to them that their daughter had left on her own and not been kidnapped, but he did give Dumbledore his verdict. He only looked older when he nodded in agreement.

Admitting it was difficult, but Alastor was starting to think that they wouldn’t ever figure out what happened to Ginny Weasley unless she showed up on the doorstep and explained it herself.

Vvv

Harry kept an eye on Ron and Hermione after their awkward, enlightening argument in Herbology; it was obvious that they were skirting around each other, but nothing seemed to have changed beyond them being a bit more polite to one another. Harry was glad for it, as this meant that he could wait until he had the Quidditch team squared away to talk to them about their behaviour, and things wouldn’t get any worse until then.

A lot of things this year could stand not to get any worse.

After Ginny’s disappearance at the beginning of the year everyone had been on edge, wondering if it had to do with Voldemort’s return. There was Malfoy’s increasingly suspicious actions that Harry was doing his darnedest to ignore for the sake of his friends, and to top it all off there was the cursed necklace that Katie Bell had been subjected to. The rumours about Gryffindor as a whole being targeted because they were Harry’s House were absolute bullocks, but it meant that when Harry asked Dean to sub in for Katie there weren’t many people who were happy with his decision.

Harry ignored it; he had endured worse in his second year, and he didn’t need to add to the stress of everyone by acting like his nose was out of joint. All the students were just nervous after denying Voldemort’s return for a full year, only to have it confirmed in what probably felt like a slap to the face.

Harry had been thinking a lot ever since he found out that Ginny had gone missing. He had a lot of guilt to sort through about the way he had blown her off at the end of the school year, and the lectures she had drilled into his head about his behaviour were still stewing, affecting him even now.

Ginny’s absence was affecting a lot of people, Harry soon realized. Luna tried to put on a brave face, but it was obvious that she still half expected Ginny to be waiting for her in the Great Hall every morning and in the Room of Requirement every afternoon. Ron went without saying, his guilt over not noticing his sister’s absence on the train eating away at him little by little each day until he finally had to be coaxed by Harry and Hermione to talk to Madam Pomphrey about it if nothing else. Even the rest of their House, who had been at best wary of her over the course of the year, took her disappearance as proof that Voldemort was an actual threat.

And Harry knew it wasn’t his fault, but not seeing her every day, not having that knowledge in the back of his mind that she would be there to be a voice of reason, it really hit him hard. Maybe if he had actually listened to her while she was here, things would be different; maybe if he had been mature enough to admit that she was right, something would have shifted and whatever had happened to her wouldn’t have.

But just as it realistically wasn’t his fault, there wasn’t anything he could actually do about the situation besides support the people that were still here. He couldn’t find Ginny, but he could remember what she had told him over the year she had been back and use that to be a better friend to Ron and Hermione, a better captain to his team, and a better godson to Sirius.

Maybe if he did that, then when Ginny came back he could actually look her in the eye and tell her that he was a person that she could trust to have her back.

Vvv

Sugawara Rinzou was a simple man. He had foregone high school in favour of a position at the auto shop one of his uncle’s owned. He could hold his own in a fight if push came to shove, and was dependable even if he didn’t go out of his way for others very often. He was a prospect for the third generation of the Blooded Axes but wasn’t in line for any sort of leadership, which he was fine with. He had a simple life that made sense, enjoyed his days for the most part and didn’t mind getting his hands dirty when he needed to.

Encountering one Jinnai Kouhei threw all of that out of whack, and Rinzou couldn’t have said exactly when he realized it.

Jinnai had made an impression on him when they (he? she??? Rinzou was too polite to ask) showed up at that abandoned factory out of the blue six months ago and summarily beat him and his fellow prospects into the ground. That Jinnai had proceeded to press him for information on the town’s players but then deny going after anyone specifically, well that had been interesting, and had made it into the explanation he had relayed to his seniors when they noticed a bunch of their kohai were sporting bruises and broken bones. They had seen one another on the street a few times after that, chatted a minute before going their separate ways like they were normal acquaintances or something equally as dull.

Then Jinnai had started showing up on everyone’s radar, and Rinzou wondered whether or not he had made a mistake in acting so nonchalant whenever he ran into them.

“You sure you’re not gonna start group-hunting anytime soon? My seniors mentioned you a few times.” Rinzou said more evenly than he felt, dodging a punch from Jinnai and trying to kick their legs out on the follow up. Jinnai huffed out a laugh and jumped forward to try and grab at his shirt, but Rinzou spun away at the last second and actually managed to land a punch of his own to Jinnai’s shoulder.

That was another thing –ever since Jinnai had shown up they had come calling at random for a fight, citing every reason from ‘bored’ to ‘restless’ to ‘just fucking agree already’. Rinzou didn’t know why they thought he was the go to guy for a good spar, but if nothing else it was flattering... he could do without the bloody nose every other week, though.

“Tell ‘em I’ll meet with ‘em if they’re so worried about me.” They said flippantly, briefly backing off and skirting the edge of Rinzou’s reach. “Might piss ‘em off, but tell ‘em I don’t have any time for small fry with my plans right now.”

“That’ll worry them even more.” Rinzou sighed. “What the fuck even are these plans you always mention? The Dokukyoukai gonna stage a coup on the government or some shit?”

“Hah, that’s a laugh! You’re thinking too small, Sugawara!” Jinnai crowed –Rinzou’s mind briefly blanked at ‘too small’ and they used that opportunity to elbow him in the chest, sending him crashing onto his back. Within moments Jinnai had their boot on his chest and raised an eyebrow to ask if he gave up; irritation bloomed in his mind and he used the proffered leg as a way to wrestle Jinnai off of him so he could stand again.

“The fuck’s that supposed to mean? I was joking!” He said, putting a bit of distance between them. “Hey, wipe that creepy look off your face! Whatever you’re thinking of dragging me into-”

But Rinzou had the sinking feeling that he was already involved, and his simple life wasn’t going to make it out unscathed.

Vvv

Percy had been met with surprisingly little resistance when he told his superiors about the efforts that ‘a contact of his’ was making in regards to the slowly looming war. Certainly they were a bit sceptical that all of it could have been arranged without their knowledge, but Percy assured them that it had been done, and that what they should do now is support it and make sure that if it needed to be used, it would work.

He wasn’t about to let all the work his sister had put into this go to waste because of some wilting bureaucrat, and was forever glad that his captain held the utmost confidence in his trustworthiness.

The beginning of May was slow, and in the sort of way that instead of relaxing you it put you on edge, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop –or rather, for the first shoe to come crashing down. Percy was out at all hours with how overworked the Ministry was becoming, whether it was in response to another attack, a raid kept from the public, or meeting with some of the other people in Britain who were involved with Kouhei’s scheming. The secrecy and amount of paperwork was exhausting, but he was confident that he was doing some good; if anything, he had to be.

Talking with Kouhei made everything just a little bit easier, and soothed his worrying better than a letter, if not as well as seeing his little sibling would have. That Kouhei appeared by all accounts to be having a grand old time halfway around the world told him more than anything that they had made the right choice in leaving, even if she was involved in... well, Percy wasn’t going to bring it up. Kouhei had certainly gone through enough and didn’t need someone else questioning his decisions.

Percy kept his head down, did as his sister asked and on his own worked out the kinks on this side of the globe with Marcus and occasionally Xenophilius Lovegood, who Kouhei’s friend Luna had asked be included. It was actually a fairly well thought out addition; with Xenophilius’ niche magazine and strangely warded home, and the bits of land the Lovegoods kept hidden all over the country (some properties only several metres wide) they surely had a wealth of options to assist them in this contingency. That the back up this was supposed to be was quickly morphing into the only implemented fall back –that more than anything else is what caused Percy’s sleepless nights.

Regardless, by June most everything would be ironed out, only needing the go ahead to be put into action. They had mutually agreed that Bill’s wedding would likely be the best time to expand their operation; with a large portion of one of the most blatantly light families as well as a good amount of their allies attending, it could end up being targeted by the opposition as well. Percy was still somewhat nervous about seeing their parents out of the blue, and moreso their other siblings –but if Kouhei was going then he most certainly would be too.

He could only hope that all went well, and that the fervour they were working themselves into as the summer drew nearer and nearer was going to help rather than hinder.

Vvv

To Mum and Dad,

I’m sorry that I had to leave like this, but I couldn’t think of another way. I know that I’ve hurt you by not telling you what I’ve been thinking, I know you’ll think it was somehow your fault that I left –it isn’t. You loved me and raised me, and I love you, but I’m selfish and so I couldn’t put your feelings before my own desires.

I’m not who you think I am. I’ll explain fully the next time I see you, but that day that you found me in my room, bleeding out –it was the start of it all. It made me remember something that I can’t ignore. Something more important than Hogwarts or the Order, and I’ve spent the past year planning to leave and find it. If I’m just crazy and it doesn’t exist, then I’ll be back within a few weeks, but if it’s real then I don’t know when I’ll be back. But I will come back, you can trust that.

I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that by leaving this letter you won’t worry. I won’t say that you shouldn’t look for me, because I know that you will even though you won’t be able to find me. But if nothing else know that the morning I left, I regretted that I had to.

We’ll see each other again before you know it,

K.J.
                Ginny W.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.

SPOILERS

“That’s not gonna go well for you if you’re by yourself. I’ll back you up!”
“Oh, yeah –my treat tonight! Yesterday was pay day...”
“Then I will tell you. I’ve never told anyone this before.”
“Wherever I go, then...”
“...And since I’m gonna have to tell him exactly what happened here, I’m gonna make sure I do this right.”
‘...I’ll try to find something of my own, too...’

Vvv

When Molly Weasley checked the family clock for Ginny, by now a habit that she couldn’t shake, she saw that it was pointing to Travelling and felt a twinge of hope that she hastily brushed aside.

It was the morning of her eldest son’s wedding, and much as she wished to have something to do, everything had been taken care of in the last few days and all that was left was to wait for the guests to arrive in the afternoon. So she kept herself busy by starting the preparations for breakfast since everyone else in the house wouldn’t be awake for an hour yet. Molly’s mind wandered while she flicked her wand around, going from Ginny to Percy to Bill and then cycling through the rest of her children –which now, she supposed, would start to include Fleur as well.

Molly glanced at the clock again and watched Ginny’s hand move sluggishly from Travelling, idly noticing that Percy’s was doing the same, and then they both landed on Home at the same time and there came a knock at the door.

She slowly turned around to look at where the sound had come from; not daring to think that her children had miraculously come back for fear that it was all a big coincidence that would only let her down. Quietly she set down the potato she had been peeling and readied her wand, moving towards the door as calmly as she could. Outside, she could see that there were more than two shadows falling against the garden wall.

“Who is it? Identify yourself.” She demanded, feeling a little silly –but Arthur had insisted and she wanted to put him at ease.

There was an audible shuffling from the other side of the door, and Molly could hear someone whispering although she couldn’t make out the words.

“It’s me, Mum. Percy.”

Molly stifled a sob. “W-What did I give Percy for his tenth birthday, and what colour was it?”

“You got me an expanding diary.” He said, and Molly couldn’t stop the tears that escaped her at his next words. “It was red. I wanted Gryffindor red.”

This time Molly couldn’t hold it in –she threw the door open and sobbed at the sight of her Percy standing there, a little awkward and unsure, but whole and here and the next thing she knew she was crying into his shoulder and he was hugging her tightly.

“Oh my god, oh, Percy, Percy, you’re here –you came back!” She felt like she was edging into hysterics. “I didn’t think –not after last Christmas-”

“I’m sorry, Mum, for making you cry.” He said steadily, squeezing her around the shoulders. “I’m here to try and work things out.”

Molly sobbed harder, unable to believe her ears. “No, I’m –I’m sorry, Percy, I didn’t want –I don’t care that you work in the Ministry, I don’t care that you don’t like the Order! None of that matters...”

“Mum...” Molly hoped it wasn’t just wishful thinking that Percy sounded relieved to her.

“Oh, are you staying for the wedding? I put aside a seat for you... I’m sure Bill will be happy to see you here.”

“I... am...” Molly pulled away slightly to look up at her son, recognizing the look on his face as him working himself up to tell her something. “It’s a long story, I should tell it when everyone’s up. But I didn’t come alone.” He took a deep breath and turned slightly so Molly could look at his companions –she was embarrassed to admit that she had forgotten all about them in her shock.

There were three people there; the oldest among them was a man she had seen before at the Ministry dressed in Auror robes, Marcus something-or-other, who gave her a polite smile when she met his eyes. The man beside him was a tall and broad stranger in muggle clothing, with a shaved head, a beard and scars, and a mottled birthmark over his one eye, who straightened under her gaze and inclined his head seriously. And the third...

“G- Ginny...?”

Her daughter stood before her, tall and a year older than when they had last seen one another, and so different that it was almost hard to tell it was the same girl she had raised. Her hair was shorter and no longer red, dyed a straw blonde and pushed back out of her eyes, which now lay behind brown tinted oval glasses. She too was clad in muggle attire –a brown shirt with buttons down the front, the sleeves rolled up and the bottom tucked into a pair of black... were they called slacks?

Ginny smiled, partly sheepish and partly like she was about to cry. “Mum.” Even her voice was different; it was deeper, steadier, with an accent that Molly couldn’t place.

Without giving herself time to think about it, she levelled the Almost-Ginny with her wand point. “Which floor did you stay on when we went to Grimmauld Place?”

Ginny stared down the wand with an eerie calm about her, as if she was used to it. “When I first arrived, you gave me a bed with Hermione, on the first floor. Then because of my... health, you moved me to a single bedroom on the second floor.”

Molly didn’t lower her wand just yet. “Ginny, is it really you?” She hated the ache in her throat that formed when her only daughter gave her a grin that she’d never seen before.

“As much as I can be. Put down the wand, Mum.” Molly sniffed, and then to her utmost embarrassment she wailed and threw herself at Ginny, practically crushing her in a hug. Ginny was sturdy as a tree as Molly fell apart, overwhelmed by the unthinkable miracle of both of her absent children returning to her.

Back in the house something crashed from several floors up, and there was a thunder of footfalls coming towards the front entrance; Arthur must have woken up at her wail. Molly straightened a little bit at the calls of her name, just in time to greet her frantic husband as he came barrelling through the kitchen in his nightclothes, eyeglasses near to falling off his ears and holding his wand backwards.

“Molly, are you alright?! I heard you –what –Marcus Worthington? Percy?”

“Dad.” Percy nodded his head, and then Arthur saw who Molly was hugging.

“Ginny!” He rushed the pair and threw his arms around the both of them, tears springing to his eyes and not even caring that one of the Ministry’s top Aurors was there to see it. “You’re safe, oh dear Merlin, you’re safe.”

Ginny smiled at them both, and Molly again didn’t recognize the expression –this person was her daughter, but there wasn’t any denying that she had changed in the year she’d been gone. Percy and his two visitors let the reunion happen for a few more minutes before Worthington cleared his throat and inclined his head to the kitchen.

“Perhaps we should continue this inside.” He said diplomatically, likely realizing that Molly would be hard pressed to part from her daughter now. “We’ve a few sensitive issues to discuss.”

“I –Of course. Please, come inside, come in.” Molly pushed Arthur and Ginny in the door first, and wiped her eyes as her son followed behind her. “A-Anything to drink? Coffee, tea?”

“A pot of tea would be great, Mum. And, a privacy ward for this part of the talk at least?” Percy asked politely, taking the seat next to Worthington, with the man who still hadn’t been introduced taking the chair on Worthington’s other side. While Molly prepared the tea and Arthur flicked his wand around the kitchen, Ginny smoothly took the seat at the head of the table, so that the unknown man was seated to her left.

Molly set the pot down and took an extra minute to quickly arrange a plate of cheese and crackers for the table, and when Arthur was done after a short while Molly had claimed the seat to Ginny’s right. They were as secure as they could be on short notice, and that went a long way to easing her mind even as they began this sensitive discussion.

“What’s all this business about, Worthington? Percy?” Arthur started, his eyes mainly on Ginny but also flitting between the other three. “We’re not at the best of times, wedding aside.”

“That would be your youngest’s expertise, I’m simply along for the ride, as it were.” Worthington admitted, making Molly and Arthur look at Ginny in surprise. “She and Mr. Tetsuji here orchestrated the whole thing.”

“Well, Percy and Xenophilius did a lot of work over here.” Ginny said. Molly watched her –she sat straight-backed but relaxed, leaning into the stranger’s space slightly as if that was where she was most comfortable. The hair colour was the biggest indication that this wasn’t a child that Molly could simply read like a book anymore; Ginny noticed her staring and smiled slightly as if she wanted to put her at ease. “Mum, Da’, let me introduce you to Mayumi Tetsuji. He is my brother in all but blood and the person I trust most. Mayumi, my parents, Molly and Arthur Weasley.”

The man –Tetsuji –stood up and bowed them both before he sat down again, looking a little less tense. “I’m glad to meet you, even if not under the best of circumstances. Kouhei has only told me good things.”

“Kouhei?” Molly asked quietly. Her daughter sighed once.

“That will have to wait. Right now, this is more important.” Percy placed a green cloth bag on the table and took out what looked to be a pocket watch? Ginny smirked something fierce and Molly shared a bewildered look with her husband.

“We’re about to tell you how to evacuate the whole of Magical Great Britain.”

Vvv

When the privacy ward went down about thirty minutes later, Kouhei stood but stayed at the table while Marcus headed outside to set up the wards they had needed Molly and Arthur’s consent for, and both Percy and Tetsuji remained seated. As he had expected, there were a number of tired and confused house guests and siblings alike waiting in the living room, and Molly went in first so that she could ensure everyone was awake and present for what Kouhei and Percy were about to tell them. Arthur followed her so that the trio could have a few minutes alone in the kitchen to prepare themselves –Kouhei didn’t particularly need it, but he appreciated the gesture.

We’ve barely been here a day and I’m tired.” Mayumi said, slumping a tad now that there was no one around. “I will be glad to go back to paperwork.

I’m telling Kyousuke you said that.” Kouhei shot back, grinning. “The fact you’re here with me, that’s more than I could’ve asked. We’ll take a vacation once this has blown over.”

“You don’t seem too concerned.” Percy pointed out. “I really don’t think a war, if it breaks out, is going to wrap up quickly.”

“It won’t.” Kouhei conceded. “But I’ve come to accept that I have no control over other people’s decisions. I have offered this system, and it will save those who wish to use it. But whoever doesn’t want to, will be free to stay and fight. And I’ve offered something on that front as well.”

“What?”

“Ginny, dear, everyone’s waiting.” Molly said, suddenly poking her head in through the door. “Now’s the time.”

Kouhei huffed a laugh, and motioned for Percy to go out first. There was a definite uptick in noise before the door swung shut, leaving Kouhei and Tetsuji standing together in the empty kitchen.

“Hey, what’ll you do if this goes well?” Tetsuji asked.

“You know where I’ll be.” Kouhei answered simply.

“And if we fail?”

Kouhei smiled and looked at his brother, twice as old as him now in body but they were both just sentimental old farts on the inside, weren’t they? “I’ll keep on living. And eventually, come hell or high water, I’ll come out on top.”

Vvv

When Voldemort’s forces tried to take over the Ministry of magic, they used their spies to figure out how the protective spells worked and dismantled them from both inside and out. What they hadn’t counted on was Marcus Worthington’s division laying down spells that had originated in foreign countries, possessing different rules and abilities that no one in the Ministry’s main force had even heard of much less understood. Those wizards who bore a Dark Mark, upon entering the Ministry’s great hall, were put into a sleep that much resembled the Draught of Living Death, and most of them were collected on the spot.

At Bill and Fleur’s wedding, the surprise entrance of a number of Death Eaters was dampened significantly by the same enchantment –and for those who didn’t bear a mark, well, Kouhei and Tetsuji didn’t carry guns on them just for show. Of the nine that were shot, all were subdued by the surrounding attendees, many of whom had fought in Dumbledore’s original Order of the Phoenix.

Kouhei and Tetsuji left England that day, and only twelve hours later the first of many muggleborn or muggle-sympathizing refugees came through their Portkey network. If there was one thing the global economy made easier, it was letting organized crime expand their influence, which Tetsuji had taken advantage of to discretely buy a few warehouses and hire minders that would send the arriving wizards on their way again. An elaborate set up that required a lot of supervision, but helped along by the fact that before Voldemort’s call for war, Scrimgeour had appealed to a number of allied Wizarding Communities to accept those seeking refuge and send fighters to help. All but two of those countries agreed, remembering well the disaster that had been Voldemort’s last crusade.

Harry, Ron and Hermione still went on their quest for the Horcruxes, but rather than keep it to themselves, they had a number of people helping them out. Fred and George put together rest stops near suspected Horcrux sites, warded so the so-called Snatchers wouldn’t be able to get to them. Sirius combed the Black Family Library and used his Animagus form to track the Dark Lord’s movements. Luna found the Diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw while at the same time helping the teachers and students to fight off any suspected Voldemort Supporters who attempted to breach the school’s walls. And the Aurors, the Order of the Phoenix, and any other person who wanted Voldemort gone; they fought tooth and nail everyday to find, subdue, and neutralize any other Voldemort Supporter who happened to cross their path.

Four years down the line, the final battle was but a distant memory, and Kouhei had received an invitation to Ron and Hermione’s wedding in the mail just a few days ago. He had stayed in Japan, taking his position as Tetsuji’s advisor as seriously as was warranted, but beyond that simply lived his own life. He finished high school, was planning on taking some college courses. He had tracked down both his Tou-san and Fujioka-oyaji, and the resulting tears had been both embarrassing and a relief. His wizarding family had yet to visit, but there were plans in the works; and even despite the fact that many of them still couldn’t quite manage to understand that he wasn’t a woman –well, he was still looking forward to it.

He’d be turning twenty after all.