Summary: How many lives can a person live and remember enough to learn...
"Let's go already!" one of the men hissed, trying not to look too distinctly nervous in front of his comrades.
The leader, a tall burly man, smiled nastily. "Not yet. I get th'impression that he's holding out on us." Roughly, he prodded the gray-haired man at his feet with a boot. "Well?"
The man stiffened. "No, no. That's everything. Just please..."
"Hey, boss, listen to this!" yelled a rough looking man, unshaven and smirking nastily. Reaching over, he turned up the volume on the portable radio.
"At roughly 12:11 after midnight, at least three men were reported to have stolen the Monix Crystal from the Museum of Ancient Civilization. The red jewel, famous for it's unexplainable inner glow, is said to be priceless-"
"Yah hear that?" one man clapped the other on the back. "We made the news! We're filthy rich and famous!" he laughed.
The leader smirked. "I suppose we are." He kicked the old man again before turning to the third member of their party. "What are you lookin' so worried about? We're home free."
"No, we're not. With the van-"
"We'll just steal his!" the leader sneered, jerking a thumb at the store owner. His face took on a mocking glint. "Y'know," he said, "It really isn't safe for an old guy like you ta be running a supply store all the way out here in the woods. Who knows what kinda people might drop in..."
The second lackey found this uproariously funny, before he heard the stairs creak.
The leader growled and pushed past his followers, drawing out his gun. He turned his head back to the old man. "So you're alone, huh?"
When the storekeeper failed to answer, he growled and turned back to the stairs.
"I said, come out!"
The stairs creaked again and the thief held his gun level as a boy stepped out.
#2 laughed again. "A boy! You were worried over a boy, huh?" he jeered. The leader glared and he fell silent.
"What, is he your grandkid or somethin'?"
Still the old man didn't answer. If the robbers had paid any attention, they would have realized that his expression was one of startled confusion.
"Well then," said the leader, sitting casually up on the counter, gun in hand. "What to do with you-?"
"Holy! The kid's got a sword!"
The two laughed again, although the third looked nervous.
"What're ya gonna do with that, kid? Whadda ya think y'are. Some kinda knight in shining armor? 'Cause ya look a little rusty ta me."
The boy, roughly the age of 15, cocked his head to the side, as if trying to decide what to do with the three outlaws in the room. He fiddled idly with the slim silver sword, twirling it by the hilt against the point on the hard wooden floor. The leader was quickly loosing his patience.
"Hey boy-!" he snapped, jumping of the counter and stepping towards the smaller figure.
Quicker than the four men in the room could follow, the youth had moved, dashing forward to meet his opponent.
The next thing the leader felt was considerable pain. Eyes wide with disbelief, he stared down at the gun on the floor, already smeared with red and then at the large gash on his forearm where sharp metal had penetrated his skin. A surprisingly strong blow to the head sent him sprawling.
"Bloody hell!" yelled #2, pulling out his own gun, but even that had taken too long. Two shots rang out then he was down before he could register what had happened or what the figure standing over him was.
The last and final member of the team stood stock still, not daring to reach for his gun. He tried to calm his breathing.
How could a kid-?
The old man had his hands covering his head, still lying on his stomach on the floor. He too stared at the boy with wide eyes, unsure of his fate. Should he be grateful?
"Wha-" stuttered #3, "What are you?"
Picking up the stolen crystal from the floor where it had been dropped, the boy inspected it as it lay in his gloved hand, before placing it on the counter.
As the last member inadvertently stared into the depthless green eyes of the teen that had so easily disposed of his teammates, he felt his confusion rising. What he read there was pain. The boy had to be human but... how could one so young have suffered so much? Or, for that matter, what was he doing running around with a sword and decking men far larger in size like... his eyes flickered to the boy's upper arm, an noticed, for the first time, a trickle of crimson that trailed down from a small gash. The bullet had grazed him. Alright, but it wasn't just physical pain he could see...
Almost carelessly, the youth turned to the old man on the floor, pulling out a long, thin stick with his left hand and pointing.
"Obliviate," he whispered, words hardly audible, even in the silent room, sucessfully wiping the older man's memory.
And then he turned and slipped, like a shadow, out of the door, messy black hair swaying as he turned, and
disappeared from sight, leaving a highly troubled robber, a bewildered storekeeper and two
Adam frowned. It was a severe expression for a 15 year old, testament to many, many hard trails he had had to face. He did not like fire. Didn't like to watch things burn, unlike his father, even as the amber glow illuminated his emerald eyes, cutting through the murky swirls of darkness that they held. He sighed a withering sigh, shutting his eyes against the stinging smoke that clouded his vision and caressed his raven black hair. Normally his breath would be visible in the biting cold air but tonight, tonight the air was warm. From the fire. The burning. The air smelled of death. The air filled with sounds of suffering, horror and... was not unlike any other night air when his father took him riding.
He was told that his father had thought it amusing; to name him after the man who was supposedly the first to be created by God. He doubted very much that his father believed in God... or in anything other than his own power, for that matter, except death.
He gripped the hilt of his silver sword tightly, knuckles turning white. Was this his destiny?
He suppressed a wince as a woman called to him, her face as unrecognizable as any other but still torn by betrayal and hate and... Sympathy? He hoped his mask was impenetrable.
"Burn the witch," his father would tell him, smirking at her red hair even as he knew that fact was true. Witches were real, although red hair had nothing to do with it.
Why should she be sorry for him? He was the son of the most powerful wizard in the history of Britain. He was the son of the most feared dark master to ever walk the earth. He didn't know who he was.
He was famous but not. What people called him, he didn't understand.
What was in a name? What-?
"My name is Adam!" he wanted to yell at them, scold them, for failing to recognize and acknowledge it.
"No," said the woman faintly, above the crackling of once cozy homes and the crying of distraught children. Had he spoken out loud? Why was she here? She didn't belong. "No, you are my son. Why have you forgotten?"
She looked up at him then, suddenly a lot closer than he thought she had been. She looked upon him with emerald green eyes and cried through smoke and pain and loss, silently telling him that he belonged here less than she did.
Harry Potter woke up screaming.
"Harry!" someone hissed, shaking him roughly. "Harry! Stop it!"
Taking in great hissing breaths, Harry forced his stinging eyes to focus.
Red hair? his mind was registering somewhat groggily.
"Harry?" repeated the voice.
"Sorry," he muttered, embarrassed, reaching for his glasses.
"S'alright," Ron replied calmly from the edge of the bed and got up. "Can you go back to sleep?"
Ron had long given up on the "Are you alright" question. It was as redundant as asking if grass was green.
"Yeah yeah, sure." Even from here, he could see that Seamus had his pillow over his head, probably trying to drown out the sounds of talking... and perhaps further screaming later on at this ungodly hour.
It was a familiar routine to him too, he thought with annoyance. Both at himself and at the fact that his roommates seemed so well accustomed to his waking up screaming at 2:53 A.M. in the morning.
"It wasn't Cedric again, was it?" asked Ron with half-open eyes that were non-the-less clouded with concern.
"Yeah," Harry lied, a little unsettled at how easy it was. "Same old, same old, go back to sleep Ron, I'm fine."
The redhead snorted with disbelief.
"Sure, that's why you wake up screaming in the middle of the night at least 4 times a week. You're just peachy. Honestly Harry, I've only ever screamed once and that was because Sirius Black was standing over me with a knife."
It was Harry's turn to snort. He knew as well as Ron that Sirius hadn't had any intention of using that knife on any student.
"Yeah well..." he really didn't have anything to say, as hard as he tried to think of something, it was lucky he didn't have to.
A pillow crashed into the back of Ron's head with surprising accuracy. But that too had become an expected routine.
"Go to sleep!" ordered a groggy voice.
Ron turned and glared at the head hidden under a pile of blankets.
Neville was oddly brave when he was half asleep. Maybe he just wasn't thinking clearly enough to be afraid or paranoid about anything. Who'd'a thought?
Sometimes Harry wondered if Neville remembered all the times when he'd scolded them for waking him up when morning came or if he dismissed his "courage" as dreams of pleasant(?) slumber.
He wouldn't really know, anyway. It had been too long since he'd had a good night's sleep.
Still, the guy'd have to wonder why his pillow was usually half way across the room when he got up, right?
With a start, he realized Ron was still there and frowning at him, his blue eyes now more focused and awake.
"You heard Neville, Ron," Harry half-grinned, "go to sleep."
"Harry..." Ron warned, "Besides, Neville's outta ammunition."
"How many times have we gone through this conversation, Ron? I know. Go to sleep. I'll be fine."
Ron's frown deepened but he turned and walked slowly to his bed.
"Go see Madame Pomfrey in the morning, Harry."
Ron rolled his eyes.
"Herm? In the boy's dorm? Oo, how kinky."
"Shut up Ron," Harry growled. "I've still got ammunition."
"What are we, 8 year olds?"
Ron humphed and Harry tucked his pillow back under is head and placed his glasses back on the bed stand.
Adam didn't wear glasses.
It would be a long time 'til sunrise.
Harry woke up in the morning feeling dead tired and light headed. Apparently he had dozed off, although he didn't feel any more rested. In fact he could almost swear he felt worse.
Rising up on his elbows he paused as a wave of white pain flashed before his eyes. His arm spasmed.
It seemed he'd have to see Madame Pomfrey after all. Even thinking seemed to hurt. Not that he'd ever mention that out loud. No need to give Malfoy anything else to torment him about.
As he stood, he hissed softly as his arm started throbbing again, automatically reaching out a hand to over it. His hand came away sticky and smeared red.
Spurred by some unknown instinct, he searched until his found a handkerchief, pulled off his shirt with a wince and bound his arm as best he could before wiping his hand in an attempt to rid the stains.
Finally, standing stock still, he just concentrated on breathing.
Moments later, changing slowly into his robes, he noted that the sun was already fairly high up in the sky. He'd probably missed breakfast.
Gingerly rubbing his sore neck, he walked out of the room and started for the hospital wing. He wasn't hungry anyway.
It wasn't until sometime later that he'd realize, with surprised detachment, that his glasses had been left sitting on the bed stand.
There were few people in the Gryffindor common room but he supposed he should have expected Ron and Hermione to be among them.
They were talking in hushed tones and Hermione looked even more worried than usual.
"-keeps himself awake and---was worse last night-"
"He can't continue like that!"
"I know, but we can't do a thing about it. They're his demons Herm..."
"Harry, you're up?" Ron cut in smoothly, glancing up casually.
Suddenly, Harry felt his temper snapping. They were discussing his nightmares behind his back? What'd Ron tell Hermione for?
"Yeah, I'm up," he replied coolly, struggling to keep his back straight and the exhaustion he felt from showing. No weakness.
Hermione whirled around, concern etched in every line of her face.
Behind Hermione... Hmmm... so Ginny had been sitting in too....
"'Scuse me, I'd like to get some breakfast," he turned so they could not see him wince. That had come out colder than he had intended.
"Harry," she called, ever persistent. "Harry, please, wait."
He stopped and turned to face them. Ron was hovering behind Hermione, but keeping his distance. Perhaps he sensed that there was nothing that would sway Harry at the moment or maybe it was just the unfamiliar look in Harry's eyes...
Ginny just stared at him with wide worried eyes.
"What?" came the clipped reply.
"I heard you haven't been sleeping well-"
"Not really, no."
She bit her lip. Maybe he was being too hard on her? She was only trying to help...
"Maybe you should see Madame Pomfrey-"
"I'm fine." Ah, how classic. He felt like he was pulling a Dana Scully.
She blinked and stood straighter. A few years ago, she might have been taller than he, but how it was Harry who had the vertical advantage.
"Harry Potter, you are most decidedly not fine."
Harry frowned and she looked flustered, but stood her ground. She'd never exactly been the type to give up, much like Harry himself. Perhaps that was one of the reasons they were all such good friends. Ron, Hermione and Harry. None of them would ever back off without a fight.
"Will you stop calling me that, my na-" he broke off suddenly and whirled away, walking slowly but deliberately away from them. Deliberately because he was afraid of what he had been about to say, slowly because he body protested against his every movement.
"Herm," said Ron, brow furrowed, "Why wasn't he wearing his glasses..."
"That wasn't Harry," Ginny said.
"What?" they both looked at her.
"It wasn't. It couldn't be," she said with more conviction as they continued to stare at her.
"Well it looked like him-" began Ron.
"Did he really?" asked Herm, wide eyed.
"He wasn't wearing glasses and he could see just fine," pointed out Ginny stubbornly. "He's probably an... an alien... a face dancer or something."
"A what?" asked Rom, eyebrow arched.
"A shape shifter," supplied Hermione helpfully as she gathered her books.
Ron glared at her. "Herm, what kind of muggle movie nonsense have you been feeding my little sister?"
Ginny looked indignant.
"Just some of the classics Ron," she gave him a small grin. "Bet she'd ace muggle studies now."
Ron pouted. "Right. So how're we gonna figure out whether who's-his-face is Harry or not?"
"It is not Harry," pressured Ginny stubbornly.
"I refuse to believe he's a little green man from mars."
Herm smiled serenely as she walked out the door. "We tail him. And little men are grey, not green."
Hermione would have a lot of fun trying to figure out which comment that response was answer to, in the next few hours. That is, of course, given that she'd have time for such ponderings, which she actually didn't.
"Herm!? Didst my ears deceive me? Little-miss-perfect-top-of-the-class Hermione just suggested at we tail an supposed alien to who-knows-where without adult supervision of any kind?"
She looked annoyed. "Why are you making such a big deal about this?"
"Well given the fact that he supposedly an alien (which I somehow very much doubt, he seemed to glare at Ginny) and can therefore probably shape shift into something nasty with tentacles and sharp teeth and spider legs (shudder)..." he coughed, "All of that aside, you're not gonna rat to some teacher..."
"I do not rat on people-"
"Fire. Bolt," said Ron very clearly.
"That's a broom."
Ron rolled his eyes. "You never do anything..."
"We're gonna loose him if you two keep arguing," pointed out Ginny as she dashed past them.
"Ginny, wait!" yelled Hermione.
"Well," said Ron with a hint of grim amusement, "as Fred and George would say, 'tally ho'!"
As they sped up in order to catch up with the redheaded girl, Hermione thought she heard Ron mumbling to himself.
"Bloody bad time for him to start to remember."
Harry ran a hand through his invariably messy hair. It was peaceful here. A little more peaceful than he was used to, but it was a welcome thing at the moment.
Idly, he wondered if it would be any different here at night. He could hear Sirius scolding him already.
"What were you thinking?" he would ask, checking carefully to make sure his godson was unhurt. "Going off to isolated places on your own without telling anyone?" And his brow would furrow and his eyes would darken and he's get that haunted sort of sad look about him. One that Harry positively hated. The man should never have spent 12 years in Azkaban.
But then, he also hated being treated like a child. And Sirius, however unconsciously, did just that on occasion. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. He was 15 going on 1000.
That too made him angry. A lot of things made him angry these days and the fact that he couldn't do anything about a lot of them didn't help much.
So he stared and stared, trying to clear his mind... and rid the smell of smoke at seemed to taint the air no matter where he went.
Cedric's tombstone was a simple slab of semi-circular marble. White as a pearl and encased on each side by the image of a leaping dolphin.
"Why have you forgotten?"
A flash of green danced before his eyes. Looking down with surprise, he let out a startled cry.
I don't want to remember.
Green fire laced across his hands, caressing his skin and dancing off his fingertips.
May your courage be remembered,
May you soul be at peace.
Let memory hold you dear.
So read the inscription on Cedric's tombstone.
I DON'T WANT TO REMEMBER!
Hermione let out a strangled gasp as she ran towards her best friend, Ron by her side. How can a few meters be so far?
Harry watched them with surprising detachment, eyes filled with resigned horror.
Hermione had never ever seen that look on his face before. Ever. It was the look of someone who'd given up. But Harry was too strong, wasn't he? He couldn't. He was their pillar. The hero of the wizarding world. The Boy-Who-Lived. A human...
Remember thee? Harry thought with mild amusement as he watched his friends run towards him, quoting a line from a play he had once seen and failed to understand. He had paid little attention, much like any other 7 year old, to the deeper meanings of William Shakespeare (he'd slept through the end and all of Act III).
As the column of green light surrounded him, he smiled vaguely. When Hermione reached out her hand to him, he made no move to take it. When darkness closed in around him, he welcomed it.
Must I remember?
Van Slanzar de Fanel smiled very slightly.
"Merle," he said.
"Yes, Lord Van?" she replied chipperly.
"Can you get off me now? People are staring."
Merle looked up with wide cornflower blue eyes, staring at the people who stared back at her.
She'd just decked the King.
Letting out a small startled squeak, she scampered off her childhood friend.
"Thank you, Merle," he said kindly, sienna eyes sparkling with hidden mirth.
The catgirl blushed, the crimson glow somehow making it past the sand coloured fur of her cheeks.
"Sorry Lord Van," she apologized. "I'm just so glad you're home!"
Van did grin then. He was glad to be back too. The negotiation progress had taken far too long but the neighbouring country had finally agreed on a treaty, shaky though it was. It was a start and he'd rebuild Fanelia past its former glory no matter how long it took.
He combed his wild ebony hair away from his eyes with his fingers.
His hand was calloused. He was not a pampered nobleman. He had fought more battles than he should have at his age and had more skill in the battlefield than most grown men.
But the price, or perhaps the cause had been a cruel one. He'd had to watch as his kingdom was burned to the ground. His loyal soldiers lying in awkward positions, blank eyes staring ahead, scattered throughout the remains of tattered buildings. His teacher, mentor and almost-father die to save his foolish life. His brother....
"What are you thinking about, Lord Van?" Merle asked him, tail swinging from side to side. "Hitomi again?"
He ruffled her strawberry pink hair. "No, Merle. Nothing important."
At the age of 16, he was king of his own country, without father or brother or mentor to guide him.
"Van!" a deeper voice called and a blonde man walked confidently forward, like the true knight that he was.
"Allen," he replied, turning to face the older man.
His friendship with Allen was a strained one. There was respect, but there was an underlying rivalry that was too strong to ignore. And perhaps, just a bit of jealousy as well.
Allen Schezar, the perfect knight, had long golden blond hair framed his fair face. He carried himself with an air of confidence that Van sometimes felt he lacked. The man had beaten him with the sword a few more times than he'd care to remember. He had a voice and turn of phrase that made women swoon. This was a man that had competed for Hitomi's heart. In the end, neither of them had really won. Hitomi had gone back to her own world: the Mystic Moon, Earth, as he had somehow always known she would.
It still didn't ease the heaviness in his chest, though.
"What is it?" he enquired. What he'd give to be able to take a nice, long, relaxing hot bath.
"They've found a boy in the mountain forest."
The King arched a dark eyebrow. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out why Allen was telling him this. "Why does this concern me directly?"
"Other than the fact that he came from a 'bright column of light that reached the heavens', no reason at all."
Van gave a start. The boy was from the mystic moon?
"Where is he being held?"
He felt light. Like he was floating. Pretty emerald light danced before his eyes. Was he asleep or awake? Did it really matter?
Cracking his eyes open, he stared up at the hangings of a four post bed and lifted his head.
AUGH! He rubbed his forehead gingerly.
I should have slept longer, I guess...
"So, you're awake," stated a neutral voice from the side.
Turning, he faced a black haired youth dressed in a red tunic and sand-white pants. At his hip rested a long blue-sheathed sword. His dark sienna eyes held a thousand questions. He couldn't be more than a few years older than himself, he supposed.
"Right now, I rather wish I wasn't," he replied truthfully, moving slowly to an upright position.
The youth leaned forward in his chair.
"What is your name?"
The boy from the mystic moon seemed to puzzle over this a moment.
"I've been called a lot of things. Any name will do," he sighed, head bent. "I suppose you can call me Adam."
"Adam? Alright. What is your business in Fanelia?"
The boy blinked.
"Where am I?"
Van sighed. So the boy didn't recognize the name. Perhaps he was from the mystic moon after all. But why?
"Fanelia. Why are you here?"
The boy... Adam's face took on a bitter twist.
"Because I wanted to forget, and couldn't."
It was a subject Van suddenly felt should not be spoken further of at the moment. It seemed a sentiment he had held himself at times, about certain things.
Does he really, wondered Harry with a small twitch of the lips.
The other boy met his eyes, as if sensing his doubt. Already dark eyes held the clouded green of his own.
I rather think I do, they seemed to challenge.
"Can you get up?" he asked, holding out a hand.
"Yeah," he said, with more conviction than he actually felt. Grasping the outstretched hand, he pulled himself up on his feet, fighting to stay upright as a wave of dizziness hit him.
The older youth gave his hand a firm shake.
"Lets go see about getting you something to eat."
"Augh," said Adam.
Harry-- Adam watched the proceedings with small grin... at least until he took a good look at the rampaging bullet that had bowled over his latest acquaintance.
"Yes, Lord Van?"
"Can I get up now?" came the light reply.
"Oops," the catgirl laughed sheepishly, "Sorry Lord Van."
"No problem. I'm used to it."
The council had opposed his friendship with Merle, she being non-human and of the lower class. Not that he cared. There was no way those stuck up old coots would take away what semblance of a family he had left.
Merle leaned to the side and looked behind her friend, perhaps noticing their one-man audience for the first time.
Turning, Van smiled.
"Adam, this is my friend, Merle."
The youth arched an eyebrow. "Friend?" he repeated, his voice laced with amusement.
Merle blushed again.
"Yes," came the solemn reply, "A very good friend."
Merle blushed even more. Then she shook her head as if to clear it and stepped forward.
Adam stood still as the cat girl examined him from head to toe, as if judging him worthy or unworthy of Van's friendship. She sniffed him.
"You smell funny."
His eyebrows threatened to join his hairline.
"Good funny or bad funny?" asked Adam, regarding her with a slightly bewildered look on his face.
She sniffed. "Hmm... funny funny."
"Hey Merle," called Van.
Immediately she turned to him, a starry look in her eyes.
Adam blinked and regarded the older boy. Did he know that this girl... catgirl... was head over heels for him?
"Will you go get Allen and tell him I want to talk to him later?"
"Okay Lord Van," she chirped and dashed away on all fours, stripped tail swinging wildly as she turned a corner.
Van watched her leave with a fond smile before turning back to his guest.
"Sorry 'bout that. She gets a little energetic."
"Isn't that an understatement?"
The older boy shrugged. "Maybe just a little," then turned serious. "You've never seen a catgirl before, have you?"
"Not really, no. Big giant spiders, dragons, basilisks, but no catgirls...."
Van lead him down towards the kitchens and Adam kept himself from gawking.
"...no wolfmen either..."
"You're handling this rather well, then," Van commented, walking with a hand draped casually over the blue hilt of his sword.
"I'm used to strange things happening."
Adam made a face.
Van pushed open the doors to the kitchen and quickly grabbed an apple: one of the fruits Hitomi told him both worlds had in common. He threw it at the youth who caught it deftly.
"Come with me," he ordered, grabbing an apple for himself and stepping out into the corridor.
The trip through the castle was uneventful. It seemed that this castle was newly built, sections of it still under construction. It almost reminded him of Hogwarts. They encountered a few more half-people people who nodded their heads respectfully as they passed. Adam tried his best not to stare.
It was peanuts, however, to the reaction he got when they finally reached their destination.
It was still fairly bright outside and the people seemed busy. Van took a bite out of his apple and pointed to the sky.
With a quizzical glance at his new friend, Adam followed his gaze and gapped.
Hanging in they sky, faintly luminous, was the planet Earth and it's moon.
AN: Alright, this is the product of spending waaaay too much time analyzing Hamlet for most of the first term. I'm sure my Eng. teacher will be thrilled.
See how psychologically damaging school can be? **grumbles** Gyyaaa... this is depressing.
Timeline? It's Harry's 5th year and Van's 16, so that's roughly a year after the end of the series, I guess.
You want this to continue? **ahem** E-mail and review!! (please?)