Authors: furiosity & incapricious
Fandom: Harry Potter & Bleach
Genre: Crossover | Drama
Rating: Light R
Pairing: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Disclaimer: JKR and Kubo own. We only play. You do not sue.
Length: 4700 words (this part)
Summary: In which Voldemort makes a brief appearance, everyone has those kinds of dreams, Harry is no fun, Ryoko knows everything about Konishi, Draco still doesn't like martial arts, Ozu-sensei explains it all, and Harry's zanpakutō is a dirty old man in disguise.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
11 x Can't Look Down at the Sky
Harry woke on the edge of dawn; cold grey light was only just beginning to claw at the night's shroud. He turned his head to the side, expecting to see Malfoy crawling under the covers. But Malfoy -- who actually hadn't gone for one of his unexplained night-time wanderings for two weeks now -- was fast asleep, his breathing steady and even.
Harry closed his eyes, expecting to fall back asleep within minutes, but his eyes popped back open, as though his body had decided to deny him sleep forcibly. Harry shut his eyes again. There was plenty of time until reveille and he meant to get all the sleep he could. He--
Someone else is in this room.
The thought was clear and lucid, not at all like his confused suspicion of Kihara all those months ago. He hadn't just thought this; he knew it. The sensation was eerily reminiscent of the prickling he would feel in his scar whenever Voldemort had been near. But his scar was gone, and so was Voldemort. Harry himself had been dead for years. At first, he'd wondered if Voldemort would have come to Soul Society, but then they learned about hell in second year. After all the horrible things Voldemort had done, only hell's gates would swing open for him.
Suppose he's managed to escape from hell somehow? Suppose he's here now, behind me, waiting to strike?
"Don't be ridiculous," Harry muttered, as though answering the question out loud would carry more authority over his doubts. Still, he was reluctant to turn around and look. In his mind's eye, he saw Voldemort's pale, sneering face, his red eyes. The monster raised a sword over its head and brought it down with an inhuman shriek.
Heart pounding, Harry sat up and turned around. Neither Voldemort nor Kihara stood there, of course. He saw his sword leaned against the wall next to the door; that was all.
Is that it? Harry wondered. Had his zanpakutō chosen this time to speak to him again? He didn't know the sword's name, but he'd heard the voice -- a deep one he didn't recognise -- a few times during meditation. It meant Harry had trained enough to interest the sword's spirit, but not enough to be worthy of forming a bond with it. He didn't even know what shape the spirit inhabited. Zanpakutō forms could represent any living thing, and with Harry's luck, his would be Voldemort, or another version of the chalk-faced villain. Or a tree.
"Hello?" he said, somewhat timidly. Ozu had taught them that sometimes the sword-spirits would be more likely to talk if you acknowledged them as real even though they were still only in your head.
Some hard object connected with his chest -- like a polished stone, except this stone had power behind it, a force that pushed Harry back down onto his mat. The pressure withdrew; Harry still couldn't see a thing. He still felt the point of impact on his chest, but it didn't hurt at all.
"What am I watching?" Harry whispered, staring at the ceiling for all he was worth. Something -- the not-stone again -- nudged his cheek, and he turned to see Malfoy, a shapeless lump in the greyish light. "Him?"
Malfoy lay sprawled on his back, the coverlet half-off, his yukata open. It didn't look like he was in a hurry to sneak off someplace, so Harry doubted he was going to find out where Malfoy had been going. Not that it mattered much, really -- Malfoy's business was his own, just as Malfoy insisted. But Harry's curiosity had always had a way of getting the best of him.
"Begin," Malfoy muttered suddenly, and Harry frowned. Malfoy had said it in Japanese -- hajime, the standard command to begin a practice session. Was that what his sword-spirit wanted him to know? That Malfoy dreamt in Japanese? So what? If this was a test, Harry had a feeling he was failing rather spectacularly.
Malfoy moaned, and the sound of it made Harry's face flush instantly. There was no pain or fear in that sound, only-- well, sex. Malfoy was having one of those dreams, and likely as not, he'd wake up to an uncomfortably squishy loincloth. Malfoy moaned again. The prickling heat in Harry's cheeks spread down his neck and chest. He looked away, embarrassed.
"So Malfoy's got a girlfriend," Harry muttered in his sword's general direction. "Is that it? Is that why he disappears?"
No response. The strange otherworldly presence had vanished from the room. Why on earth would his sword want him to know about Malfoy's private life?
Harry was asleep again in seconds.
By the late afternoon, he had almost forgotten the whole thing even happened -- or so he thought, until he heard Malfoy moan in the middle of the kenjutsu lesson. He looked around, but Malfoy was finishing up the form, his face devoid of expression. No one else seemed to have noticed anything--
"Rain Falling on Jagged Rocks," Ozu barked, and Harry jumped. He had gone from the fifteenth form straight to the seventeenth. Gritting his teeth, Harry went back to the fifteenth, trying to move through it faster than normal. Ryoko was going to be annoyed if they began the sparring later than everyone else. He had to focus.
In the end, he was only a minute behind. He and Ryoko bowed to each other amidst the clash of blades, and Harry took his stance. Their swords clanged together three, four, five times, and they withdrew, moving precisely along unseen curves on the ground.
"What's the matter, Harry-kun?" Ryoko taunted. "I almost sliced your blade in half that time!"
"You wish," Harry replied, grinning. He raised his sword, and Ryoko stepped forward, her left shoulder dropping a fraction.
Feint. His sword-spirit's voice was back again. It had never come during sparring before.
Harry blocked her blow easily, uncomfortably aware of the strange presence behind him. His blade whispered through the air as he attacked, and the practice field dissolved.
He's alone in the practice field -- his classmates are all dead or fled, and a Huge Hollow stands in Ryoko's place. Harry's just recently learned about this kind. No one knows exactly why they're bigger and more powerful than regular Hollows; researchers have speculated they have some kind of uniform advantage over the regular Hollows, which enables them to eat more and thus grow larger faster.
In the end, though, it's a Hollow, no matter what size, and Harry must destroy it. The monster opens its beaked mouth and screams -- like that time in Rukongai, Harry is overcome with momentary despair, as though a Dementor were approaching. The Hollow is hungry, and it thinks Harry is food.
Harry's blade sings as it flashes. The Hollow explodes into dark spirit particles, its purified spirit gone before Harry can blink.
"Good," a voice says.
Still caught in the thrill of victory, Harry became aware of an unnatural silence. All around him, the sparring had stopped. Everyone was staring at Harry and Ryoko, who had fallen back against the perimeter barrier; another step back and she'd be out of bounds, forfeiting. Her blade was raised in a defensive posture; sweat poured down her face.
Ozu had limped over to them. "That was a very good attack sequence, Harry-kun. Stand down. Was your sword's spirit speaking to you?"
"I--" Harry took a deep breath and lowered his blade. "I think so." The realisation stunned him -- he had been communicating with his sword, in a way. And he might have seriously injured Ryoko. What were you thinking? he thought, suddenly angry. She's not a Hollow, for crying out loud.
You're no fun, his sword spirit replied promptly. It sounded oddly satisfied, like a teacher pleased at a student getting the right answer -- and Harry understood. To this day, he had never tried to speak to the spirit first; he'd always waited for him to speak first, with reverential respect. But that wasn't how the relationship between a Shinigami and his sword worked, was it? He wasn't supposed to revere the zanpakutō any more than the zanpakutō was supposed to revere him.
Ozu clapped his hands together. "I see the sixth-years approaching, so the lesson is over. Sheathe your swords, brats; I'll see you next time."
Harry gave Ryoko a guilty glance as he secured his weapon. "I'm sorry," he said. "I was sort of off in my own little world there for a minute--"
"Are you kidding? That was great!" Ryoko said cheerfully. "I actually thought I might lose to you. For once."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Modest as ever, I see. Let's eat together, want to?"
Ryoko nodded. The two of them caught up to Malfoy, who had started walking as soon as Ozu had called lesson's end. Harry clapped him on the back. "You headed to dinner?" They were just past the training field barrier.
Malfoy opened his mouth to answer, but then one of the approaching upperclassmen stepped into their path, colliding with Malfoy, who stumbled. Harry frowned. The upperclassman had done that deliberately; he was sure -- the path was wide enough for six people to walk abreast. He was a tall boy, dark-eyed and handsome, with long black hair pulled into a loose ponytail.
"My deepest apologies," Malfoy said, bowing as he would to an instructor. "I wasn't watching where I was going."
Harry gaped. Had Malfoy seriously just apologised for something that was in no way his fault? He had trouble apologising for things that were his fault!
The upperclassman stood aside and returned Malfoy's bow. "It was my fault," he said. "Please carry on."
His voice was oddly strained, Harry noticed, and the look in his eyes was of profound sadness, so naked it embarrassed Harry a little -- after four years, he was too used to masking his emotions and expecting others to do the same. Maybe the sixth-year had just got some bad news, Harry supposed, and was hoping to provoke a fight to make himself feel better. These things happened.
Malfoy resumed walking without having looked up once. Harry and Ryoko hurried after him, but Harry chanced a glance backwards, half-expecting the upperclassman to be staring in their wake. He wasn't. He had walked on into the training field, the sleeves of his uniform billowing.
"D'you know that guy?" Harry asked Malfoy as they continued on their way.
"What makes you say that?" Malfoy asked. "I was just being respectful."
"But he walked into you on purpose," Harry protested. "That's just rude."
"So? He's still a sixth-year. He can walk into me on purpose -- I'm still supposed to apologise for being in his way. Honestly, Potter, don't you learn? They're our seniors."
Ryoko began to giggle. This was so unnatural for her that Harry forgot all about Malfoy's weird behaviour. "What's so funny?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," Ryoko said, wheezing. "It's just I thought it was so weird that you didn't know who Konishi-san was. But then I realised you weren't girls!" That set her giggles off again.
"Oh, thanks," Harry said, feeling rather mortified. She didn't realise Harry wasn't a girl? And here he'd thought they were maybe kind of interested in each other. "So what's special about him?"
"He's one of the Academy's idols," Ryoko said, bringing herself under control. "He's got a fan club and everything."
Malfoy snorted. "Don't you girls know we're not supposed to fraternise with seniors?"
"There's no rule against fan clubs," Ryoko said quickly. "Or Valentine's Day chocolate," she added, chin high.
Harry shook his head. Idols. How ridiculous. But deep down, he wondered if he was just jealous that Ryoko saw this Konishi bloke in a way she obviously didn't see Harry.
Over the following three days, Harry tried talking to his zanpakutō, to no avail. It was as though the imaginary Hollow-fight had driven the spirit off somehow. It was lucky that fourth year was when practically everyone started talking to their swords; at least he didn't look like a complete idiot.
They were beginning to learn more complicated moves in taijutsu, which should have cheered Harry up -- he liked hand-to-hand combat -- but he couldn't quite focus; he just wanted to be off somewhere communing with his sword. Like every other boy in his year, he wanted to be the first to achieve shikai. Hopefully it would be something really cool, and maybe then Ryoko would notice he wasn't a girl.
"The horizontal four-quarter hold," instructor Shirokawa shouted, "is a move that's difficult to achieve during combat, but exceptionally secure. Watch." She knelt on the floor next to her assistant, who lay on his back. She encircled his left arm with her arms and locked her hands on his back for a moment, then, lightning-quick, she straddled him, one arm shooting out to block his movements on the right.
Harry could see it was a great hold -- the assistant could do little but thrash about because of the way she'd pinned him -- but he didn't see how this was going to be of any use. It required that the opponent be on his back already, and how often did that happen during combat?
She said hard in combat, his sword piped up. Harry's hand flew to his belt, terror flashing through him -- had he forgotten to take his sword off? He'd be barred for sure. But there was no weapon tucked into his belt; the sword leaned peacefully against the door along with everyone else's.
You really have the worst timing, Harry scolded it. His weapon was also rather... monosyllabic. Maybe he was shy. Maybe once Harry learned his name, he'd talk in complete sentences--
"Pairs!" Shirokawa hollered. "Sugita, you go with Momoshiro this time. Draco and Harry, go! Toshihiko and--"
Harry tuned her out as he looked for Malfoy, who was skulking against the farthest wall, looking paler than usual. "You all right?" he asked.
"Y-yeah, sure," Malfoy said, looking anything but fine and thoroughly unhappy besides.
Harry shrugged. "Top or bottom?" he asked.
Malfoy tensed. "I beg your pardon?" His voice was oddly shrill. Maybe the seaweed at lunch hadn't agreed with him, like last time they'd been paired up. Malfoy had run off to the bathroom like his arse had been on fire.
Something else on fire, his sword said, chuckling.
You also have a really weird sense of humour, Harry informed him, a bit unnerved. Can we talk later?
"Earth to Potter," Malfoy was saying, his hand waving in Harry's face.
"Oh. Right. Sorry," Harry said. "I meant for the exercise -- top or bottom?"
Malfoy frowned and bit his lower lip. Shirokawa was still calling out pairs.
"Come on, Malfoy, you're not deciding the fate of the world," Harry urged. "Just pick one. We'll be switching up anyway."
"Bottom," Malfoy said. He was still very pale. Would it really hurt him just not to eat the damned seaweed? That was what Harry wanted to know.
"Begin!" Shirokawa called.
Harry remembered Malfoy saying that word and then moaning in the night. He shook his head and knelt next to Malfoy, whose face had taken on a pinched, unhealthy look.
"You sure you're all right?" he asked.
"Fine," Malfoy said. "Go on, then."
Harry leaned forward and locked his arms around Malfoy's back the way Shirokawa had done, then straddled him. His left shoulder pressed against Malfoy's face as he sought purchase with his right arm, pinning Malfoy's shoulder to the ground. Malfoy lay beneath him, utterly limp.
"You're supposed to struggle," Harry said patiently. "Otherwise how will we know the hold worked?"
"It worked." Malfoy's voice was muffled against Harry's shoulder, his breath hot. "It worked so well I can't move at all."
"Come on, humour me," Harry said, pushing down harder. Malfoy twisted a little, his hip pressing against Harry's groin.
"That's all I can do," he breathed. "Honest."
For a delirious split second, Harry recalled Malfoy moaning while he dreamt. Combined with the friction of Malfoy's hip, it sent a stutter of desire through him.
"Fuck," Malfoy whispered, twisting again, driving another sharp spike of need into Harry. "Would you get off me? I can't breathe."
"Yeah," Harry said shakily, sitting up. "Now if we could figure out how to pull this off in combat..." He climbed off Malfoy, who scrambled aside quickly. "You want to try it out?" Harry asked. The weird excitement he'd felt was ebbing, thankfully.
"No," Malfoy said. "I hate this class."
"Shirokawa's going to give you detention," Harry pointed out as he lay down, looking up expectantly.
With a sigh, Malfoy knelt beside him and leaned over to clutch Harry's back, then straddled Harry, pinning him. Harry immediately began to thrash around as enthusiastically as he could, but clearly Malfoy was not very good at this move -- Harry could move quite freely; with a little bit more force, he'd be able to throw Malfoy off.
"Draco-kun, you need to shift your right arm a little to the left," Shirokawa called. "Now bring your right knee up a little, so it's flush against Harry-kun's side. That's it. Put some effort into it!"
Scowling, Malfoy bore down on Harry. His bent leg slid up Harry's side, and there was something so sensual about it that it made Harry's cock swell and his lower abdomen ache sweetly. If he tried to struggle now, he'd be rubbing a full-on boner against Malfoy's inner thigh. So he stayed put. "You're getting better at this," he murmured into Malfoy's shoulder. He was so embarrassed he wished he had eaten some bad seaweed so he could use it as an excuse to bolt.
"Harry-kun, your turn," Shirokawa said. Malfoy got off him and lay back down. Harry executed the move, trying his best to angle his body so his hard cock wouldn't touch Malfoy. But it did. And not just any part of Malfoy, but his cock, which was as hard as Harry's. Harry's face burned.
"Draco-kun, you've got plenty of room to move, so move!" Shirokawa bawled. "Don't just lie there like a dead fish, please."
Malfoy, breathing hard, making a point of not looking at Harry, bucked his hips upward. Their erections rubbed together, and Harry had to bite back a gasp. It felt good, better than it should have.
It's okay, the sword told him. And Harry realised that it was. They were rolling around on the floor together, after all, rubbing all over each other. They were men; it wasn't a big deal. It probably happened to everyone sometimes. It didn't mean anything.
"Uh, I guess we're really happy to see each other," he breathed against Malfoy's ear. Malfoy gave a hysterical little snort.
Shirokawa moved off to shout at Ryoko. Harry lingered on top of Malfoy, hiding his burning face. "I think Momoshiro's worse off than we are," he whispered. "Ryoko's practically riding him."
Malfoy laughed weakly. "You'd better stop riding me, then," he said, and his hips shot upwards as if to urge him to get off. Harry stifled another gasp and complied immediately.
"I think I hate this class, too," he confided.
During their next kenjutsu class, Ozu finally taught them form number sixty-eight, which required a controlled flash-step between two perfectly timed leaping swings. Harry got it on the eighth try -- his flash-step had improved at least enough for short distances. But that hadn't been the reason Harry had looked forward to the lesson: there was no sparring today; instead, they were supposed to meditate. Harry, who had had several brief-but-pointless conversations with his sword since yesterday, was determined to draw him out this time.
Determined? the sword asked. His tone carried a subtle curiosity --he sounded like an older sibling denying a child something just to tease him, only to hand the treat over as soon as the crying began.
Harry froze in mid-swing, the blade motionless above his head. "Yes," he said out loud. "I want to know your name."
He felt it then -- the presence of another on the field. But this time, he also saw what it was. And Harry would have recognised it anywhere: his Patronus.
Not silver but a rich, deep mahogany all over, the animal stepped in front of Harry and raised his antlered head. Hooves, Harry thought. Not a stone but a hoof. That was what I felt on my chest that night.
The stag met his gaze, and a new sense of strength flooded Harry's mind, filling him with a will to fight more potent than he had ever felt since having defeated Voldemort. Somewhere in the deluge, he heard the stag's name. As the animal turned to leave, Harry had a bright, vivid image of yesterday's taijutsu training, of being on top of Malfoy, hard and excited, blushing and laughing like a couple of girls. What was that supposed to mean?
"Wait!" Harry shouted. "I have questions!"
"Fight. Love. Do not talk," the stag replied and vanished.
Zanpakutō were supposed to be sources of knowledge and wisdom. Well, Harry didn't feel any wiser.
A hand fell on his shoulder. Harry had to do his very best not to squeal and bolt. His zanpakutō's presence still lingered, and he couldn't believe he could ever harness all that power.
Ozu was squinting up at him. "Do you know it?"
Harry looked around. Everyone else had stopped what they were doing. His shouting wouldn't have been of any interest, but if he had just learned his zanpakutō's name, the spiritual energy pulse would've been hard to miss. He nodded, swallowing.
"I thought it would be you," Ozu said, suddenly smiling. Harry nearly passed out from fright; he had never seen Ozu smile before, not like this. "Will you call the name?"
Harry would have preferred to do this alone -- performance anxiety was a bitch -- but he remembered that the first time would work no matter what. Relaxing his mind, he sheathed this sword and then drew it again.
"Charge, Forest Prince!" he cried, and the power coursed through him again, this time sweetly familiar.
The hilt of his sword extended rapidly, sliding through his grip until it hit the ground, as the blade morphed into a pointed lance with two curved blades rising around it. Prongs, Harry thought. Of course.
He focussed, imagining an opponent, and gave an experimental thrust forward. As soon as the prongs pierced his invisible target, a mirror-image of Forest Prince appeared, and connected with the weapon in Harry's hand, point to point, clanging softly. So that was his zanpakutō's power. His attacks could still be dodged, of course, but they would deal double damage when successful. No Hollow could hope to survive a thrust from Forest Prince.
"My, my," Ozu said, "I have been teaching a pole-arm user all this time. No wonder you were so useless with your blade, boy." But he was still smiling.
"Thank you, Ozu-sensei," Harry said, bowing.
He was trying not to grin, but it was hard. His weapon was just as cool as he had hoped -- a real fighting weapon, not a sissy Demon Arts-type that required little to no skill to wield. Plus, he had been the first to achieve shikai. Of course, fourth year was when most people reached this level of fighting power, but being first mattered -- once the student records were updated at the end of the week, recruiters from the thirteen divisions would show up at his lessons to see what else he could do.
The meditation practice went on, but Ozu took Harry aside and ran him through pole-arm basics again -- it had been two years since they'd covered those with another instructor, and Harry remembered too few to be of any real use.
"We are not starting shikai training until at least half the class has achieved it," Ozu said as Harry attempted -- poorly -- to twirl Forest Prince above his head. "So you will have to practice in your free time until then. Questions?"
"Just one," Harry said. It had been weighing on him more than he would have thought, but only now had he managed to formulate it in a way that wouldn't embarrass him. "Can a zanpakutō be wrong?"
"Of course it can," Ozu said. "If it's possible for you to be wrong, so it is for the zanpakutō. He is not a higher being."
"So it can't make me want something I don't really want, can it?"
Ozu laughed, patting his own sheathed zanpakutō. "That's different. You must remember, he fights with you, and he knows you before you know him. Sometimes your zanpakutō knows you better than you know yourself."
"I see," Harry said, somewhat dejected.
Still, it didn't have to mean anything -- it could've been coincidence. Maybe Forest Prince hadn't sent him that memory of the taijutsu lesson. Maybe it had just been one of those random coincidences. He was excited about having learned the name of his zanpakutō, and his mind had just... leaped to the last time he'd been excited. That they were two completely different forms of excitement didn't matter. It didn't matter at all.
Malfoy was sitting at the low table in their room reading a book and making notes when Harry returned, having finally pried himself away from his classmates. Everyone had wanted to talk to him, for once -- being the first one to achieve shikai seemed to have erased his status as former ryoka entirely.
He sat down on his mat, holding his sheathed zanpakutō in both hands. "I still can't believe I did it."
"You're not a Shinigami yet, Potter," Malfoy said.
"I didn't say I was, I'm just--"
"Look, I'm busy with this essay, so please be quiet."
"Just because you can't do it yet doesn't mean you need to be such a shit," Harry snapped.
Malfoy slammed the book shut, stood, and strode out the door without a word.
Harry stared after him, and his mind -- or his apparently perverted zanpakutō, more likely -- played a cruel trick: he saw himself running after Malfoy, grabbing his shoulder, shoving him against the wall and--
"--and nothing," Harry said, seething. "I'm not going after him, so you can just forget it. He's just jealous I achieved shikai first."
In his head, Forest Prince gave a low laugh.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry asked, glancing down at the zanpakutō. "What? Ugh!" He, too, stormed out, as if leaving would make any difference.
He stomped towards the recreation area, wondering if Ryoko had had dinner yet. He'd meant to go with Malfoy, but that had gone a bit pear-shaped. Maybe Ryoko would have advice on how to deal with Malfoy's obvious jealousy.
So he was a little hurt that Malfoy hadn't stayed behind after class, too. So what? Why wouldn't he be? They were friends, kind of. Harry would have been interested in Malfoy's shikai if he had been in Harry's place. Why did Malfoy always have to fuck everything up?
"Make way!" called a voice, and Harry moved aside without even thinking. The voice had a tone of authority, an expectation to be obeyed.
The handsome sixth-year who'd tried to pick a fight with Malfoy the other day -- Konishi or Kogashi or something -- hurried past. Two boys behind him carried tall stacks of books, sweating and panting.
"That's him," a girl to Harry's right said excitedly. "That's Konishi Hajime."
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