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: 3600 words (this part)
Summary: In which Harry is culturally inappropriate, photography darkrooms are actually dark, potato crisps are a staple of the British diet, Mayuri just wants to write articles, Draco amends his bathhouse policy, and size doesn't matter.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
15 x Carving on Rotten Wood
"Come on, Malfoy," Harry said. "You can't just turn your back on every conversation that isn't going your way."
"Well, you can, obviously," Harry amended. "But it's really annoying."
Malfoy didn't stir. Harry exhaled, frustration rising.
"We are friends, I don't care what you say. Although why I want to be friends with you, I don't know. You're an enormous dick sometimes--"
Forest Prince supplied a mental image, chuckling, but Harry pressed on. Damned lecherous zanpakutō.
"I mean, you're still my friend even though you're-- Look, just be careful, okay? I don't want you to get in trouble. I'm excited about becoming a Shinigami, but I can't imagine it without you."
Malfoy flipped onto his back. "Right. So long as we're clear that it's your self-interest motivating all this concern," he said in venomous tones. "How touching."
"It's not like that. I just meant I-- I'd miss you, okay?"
There, he'd said it. He hadn't meant to, but seeing Malfoy and Konishi stand so close, watching Konishi smile down at Malfoy, hearing Malfoy's flustered voice -- it had all made something in Harry's chest twist with pain. The thought of Malfoy going off to be with that... that stranger made Harry feel unexpectedly lonely. Even if Malfoy weren't caught before Konishi graduated, he'd still be sneaking off at nights to see Konishi, leaving Harry alone in a room that felt empty enough already. Malfoy was the only one Harry could be himself with -- he didn't have to worry about saying something culturally inappropriate every time, like he did with Ryoko. If he lost that connection, he'd go crazy, and that was why he would follow Malfoy into expulsion if it came to that. But he didn’t want to leave the Academy: he wanted to become a Shinigami. But he didn't want to be alone even more.
Malfoy rolled away again, and Harry lay down on his mat, head spinning.
Honest, Forest Prince approved.
Malfoy didn't speak to Harry at all the next morning, though at least he didn't seem angry. Harry didn't know what else he could to say to him, anyway, so it was just as well. Why had he said out loud he would miss Malfoy? It was true, but still... how embarrassing.
After the morning kenjutsu lesson, Kihara cornered Harry to discuss a supposed imbalance in their shikai practice. By the time Harry escaped, Malfoy had long since left. As Harry walked towards the Demon Arts arena, he wondered sullenly if it was even worth trying to be friends with someone who pushed him away all the time and acted like he didn't exist every time Harry did something wrong. Not that there was anything wrong with saying he would miss Malfoy. He needed to get a grip on himself before his head floated off into the clouds and he injured himself -- or worse, someone else -- in Demon Arts.
"That was terribly impolite, you know, running away like that."
Harry looked around with a start. Captain Kurotsuchi stood next to him, smiling like some kind of grotesque clown of death. The makeup and crazy hat were still in place, too -- maybe he actually did look like that all the time. Harry had told himself yesterday that maybe he'd dressed up like that for a talent show or something.
"Oh, um. Sorry, uh, C-Captain."
"You must realise what an honour it would be to be the subject of my research. I would write articles about you!"
Harry put up his hands in a gesture he'd seen Malfoy use when he was deliberately trying to downplay his achievements. "I really couldn't--"
"Nonsense! You're too modest. You would make an excellent test subject," Captain Kurotsuchi said, leaning towards him. Harry shuddered, but suppressed the instinct to run. This was a captain of the Gotei 13, so he had to be respectful.
"Why don't you bring your cute blond friend to the Institute this afternoon? Or better yet," Captain Kurotsuchi added, looking around at the nearly empty courtyard, "why don't you come with me now, and we'll catch your friend later?" He reached out his hand.
Go, Forest Prince told him.
Good idea. Harry flash-stepped away. To hell with courtesy; that man was mad.
He was out of breath when he reached the Demon Arts arena, but luckily he wasn't late. Malfoy threw him a quizzical look as Harry took his place next to him.
"Captain Kurotsuchi," Harry whispered. "He's still after us."
"Ugh, I might as well just give up," Harry groused, pushing his Demon Arts notebook away. "I'll never be good at the Ways of Binding."
"Oh, don't say that," the library supervisor simpered. "Just study harder, Harry-kun. Unfortunately, it's lights out in an hour, so I have to ask you to leave now."
"Right," Harry said, bowing as he scooped up his notes. "Sorry for the trouble. See you tomorrow."
Me in a library, on speaking terms with the librarian, he thought to himself as he walked along the path towards the dormitory. Hermione would've been pleased. Now as ever, thoughts of his old friends brought pangs of nostalgia -- but Harry had noticed that the more time passed, the less intensely he missed home. Was that normal? Was that how all people coped with separation, or was Harry just as self-absorbed as Malfoy said he was?
As though on cue, he noticed Malfoy's unmistakable hair up ahead. Before he could even think about following Malfoy to see if he would meet with Konishi, Harry's mouth opened and he called a greeting, breaking into a jog.
To Harry's eternal surprise, Malfoy actually stopped to wait for him.
"I didn't know you were at the library," Harry said when he'd caught up.
"Captain Kurotsuchi," Malfoy replied, his voice low. "With a butterfly net."
Harry fought the urge to drop into a crouch. "What? Where?"
"Behind that tree up ahead."
Harry squinted through the dim twilight. "I don't see anything."
"That's because he's hiding, you moron," Malfoy breathed. "I suggest we take the long way home. While jogging."
Harry nodded, and the two of them turned and ran, their sandals slapping against the stone path. It had been a long time since they could barely walk, let alone run, in these things. They followed the path around Building 42; Harry looked back, but didn't see any crazy captains in pursuit. "I think we lost him."
Malfoy pushed open a small side door. "Doubt it. In here; quick."
They ducked in and were immediately swallowed by darkness.
"Wow, it's really dark in here," Harry whispered. Based on the sound of his voice, he judged the room to be very small. "Where are you? What is this place?"
"Photography darkroom, so try not to move or you'll knock something over." Malfoy's voice was practically in his ear. He put his hand on Harry's arm. "Don't talk, or he'll hear you."
The silence stretching painfully long, and Harry's thoughts grew gloomy. Wasn't Konishi in charge of photography for Academy Monthly? Was that how Malfoy knew about this place? He wanted to ask, but Captain Kurotsuchi might be lurking on the other side of the door Harry could no longer see -- and besides, Malfoy would probably just brush him off. He could hear Malfoy breathing quietly next to him. He smelled nice.
Nice, Forest Prince agreed. Harry bit the inside of his cheek, glowering.
Malfoy released his hold on Harry's arm. "I think it's fine," he said just above a whisper, "If he'd followed us, he'll be far from here by now, wondering where we went."
"This is really, really creepy," Harry said.
Harry heard a rustling of cloth, and when Malfoy spoke again, his voice was farther away. "Would you really leave if I were expelled?"
"Yes," Harry answered. "Um, but please don't put that to the test, all right?"
"Don't worry. Any illicit activities I may have been involved in are finished."
In this darkness, it was all too easy for Harry to imagine Konishi and Malfoy together, limbs entwined, dark hair falling over light, smooth as silk. Forest Prince gave a troubled, low growl.
Harry pushed the image away and cleared his throat. "That's good. I mean, it's not good that he ended things, because, um, being dumped probably hurts, but it is good because, you know, that way you won't be in danger of getting-- what's so funny?"
Malfoy had started chuckling halfway through Harry's ramble. "Nothing," he replied. "Let's get out of here."
After that, Harry's friendship with Malfoy was not only restored, but actually stronger than before. Whether that was due to Malfoy tacitly admitting the truth about Konishi or due to their bonding over Captain Kurotsuchi's increasingly aggressive attempts to convince them to become laboratory animals, Harry wasn't sure.
A few days later, as the two of them walked to breakfast, they were approached yet again by Captain Kurotsuchi. He was carrying a small foil bag, which he began to brandish at them immediately.
"If you become my test subjects, you will have unlimited quantities of these to eat. Doesn't that sound good?"
"Not really, no," Malfoy said, taking a small step back.
Harry, who had missed dinner last night in the library, peered at the packet with some interest. It bore a cute picture of a smiling cartoon potato.
"Come now; don't be coy," Captain Kurotsuchi said importantly. "According to my research, British people can't resist crisps. Nowhere else in Soul Society will you find these." He pulled the bag open and extracted a single potato crisp with his fingernails. He held it up in front of his face as though it were a rare new beetle species. "I see. How delightful."
The other students on their way to breakfast gave the three of them a wide berth, parting like water around a boulder. Some of the older students threw angry glances at Harry and Malfoy as they passed. Harry thought that was a bit unreasonable -- these people didn't even know why Captain Kurotsuchi was accosting them like this.
A woman appeared at Kurotsuchi's right, wearing an incredibly short black kimono with an extra-wide white obi. If she bent over in that outfit, Harry was pretty sure he would see the colour of her underpants. Not that he was curious. A vice-captain's badge decorated the woman's arm, and her face was placid, almost doll-like in its lack of expression.
"What is it, Nemu?" Captain Kurotsuchi snapped.
"My deepest apologies for interrupting, Mayuri-sama. There are reports of a rogue Shinigami driving back a Menos Grande in Karakura Town."
Kurotsuchi's head swivelled toward her, the points of his hat whipping along. "Really? A Menos Grande? Do you have readings?"
Nemu bowed. "Yes. We began recording as soon as the event was detected."
"Excellent," he said, popping the crisp into his mouth. "Not bad," he said, crunching it noisily between his large teeth. He handed the bag to Nemu. "Find out if these are available in pike-fish flavour." Then he flash-stepped away, apparently forgetting all about Harry and Malfoy.
Nemu gave the bag of crisps a blank look and disappeared as well.
Malfoy exhaled sharply. "So that's Kurotsuchi Nemu," he said.
"Wait, her surname's Kurotsuchi too? Are they related?"
Malfoy grimaced. "Didn't you read up on him? He made her."
"Made her? So she's one of his robots, like the bunny you ran away from way back when?"
Malfoy gave him a withering look. Harry grinned innocently.
With a sigh, Malfoy started towards the dining hall doors. "Remember how we learned about gigai -- the artificial bodies Shinigami use in the real world? I think she's one of those. I'm not sure exactly where her soul came from; it wasn't in the book. I guess he made that too. Somehow."
"Weird." Harry snatched up a tray and joined the serving queue.
"Yeah," Malfoy agreed, drumming his fingers on his own tray. "I wonder what she meant by 'rogue Shinigami'."
"Maybe it's a dead wizard, like us," Harry suggested.
Malfoy shrugged. "Maybe. But why would he be in the real world? Karakura Town was where we tried to escape, remember?"
"Oh, right," Harry said. He didn't really care about rogue Shinigami, as long as they kept Captain Kurotsuchi away from the two of them. More importantly, the queue wasn't moving as quickly as he'd hoped, and they had class starting in less than an hour. "Hey, d'you think those were real crisps?"
"Why? Don't tell me you were tempted."
"No, just hungry."
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "The broiled mackerel is probably safer."
Over the next week, Harry and Malfoy worked out a system of avoiding Captain Kurotsuchi, who had redoubled his efforts at cornering them the day after the Crisp Incident. If they took different routes to class every day or stayed in a group with their classmates, then they could keep pretty clear of him. After a few days of that, they stopped seeing his eerie black and white face everywhere they went.
"I think he's given up," Harry said one evening after they had returned from shikai practice. The two of them had sparred earlier, and Forest Prince had informed Harry that Common Darter was annoying. Harry wasn't the least bit surprised. "Captain Kurotsuchi, I mean."
"I hope so." Malfoy slung a towel over his shoulders. "I'm going to the bathhouse before it closes."
A hot bath sounded like a fine idea. Harry had pushed himself hard tonight, and his shoulders were beginning to hint at the soreness he would feel tomorrow. "Hey, mind if I join you?"
Malfoy hesitated at the door. "It's fine."
Harry grabbed his own towel and followed Malfoy out. It had been a gamble -- he'd figured out that Malfoy hadn't wanted Harry in the bathhouse because he didn't want to be embarrassed; being gay in that situation had to make him feel a bit like a fox in the henhouse, and he probably didn't want to see his roommate as one of the hens. But now that Harry knew, it was different. And Harry was glad.
When they arrived at the bathhouse, a line of students were leaving, some with their hair still dripping wet, towels wrapped hastily around them. Harry frowned and pushed open the door. The outer room was empty.
"Maybe some first year was dumb enough to bring soap into the bath," Harry joked.
In the shower room, Harry focussed on washing and tried his best not to think about Malfoy doing the same on a stool just ten feet from him.
Unfortunately, Forest Prince had other ideas. Harry rinsed off the last of the soap hastily, keeping his back turned, and rushed towards the bath before Malfoy could see that when it came to him, Harry was more fox than hen.
It wasn't fair. Forest Prince wasn't even in sight as they had left their weapons at the door. In any case, Harry didn't want to explain that his zanpakutō shared Malfoy's sexual orientation.
The bath was not empty. Captain Kurotsuchi sat in a chair at the far end, reading Seireitei Communication, the weekly Shinigami journal. This week's edition cover boasted an Exclusive Interview with Kira Izuru, Lieutenant of the 3rd Division and Author of 'I Want to Apologise to You. There was also a picture of a morose-looking Shinigami with a lock of blond hair falling over one side of his face.
At the sight of the captain, Harry's cock promptly wilted, and that was a good thing: Malfoy stepped up next to him, his hair plastered to the sides of his face. "What-- oh."
"Did you know that I publish a column read by eighty-five per cent of Shinigami, according to independent surveys?" Captain Kurotsuchi smiled at them, and the hairs on the back of Harry's neck rose. "I am beginning to lose patience with you brats," the captain continued. "You run away when I am speaking to you, ignore my questions, refuse my generous gifts."
"Oh, I forgot, we have that study group now," Malfoy said in Japanese.
Harry frowned. "What study group?"
"You know, for Demon Arts? Kihara invited us."
"Right," Harry said, understanding. Kihara had never invited them to anything, ever. "That study group. Yes, I forgot as well. Um. Sorry, Captain, we have to leave now."
Malfoy fastened his towel around his hips and bowed. "We apologise for our rudeness, Captain, but we have no interest in being subjects for your research."
"Hmph, well, at least one of you has some manners." Captain Kurotsuchi picked up his magazine again. "Enjoy your study session."
Harry didn't like the sly smile on his face, but he wasn't about to demand an explanation from the crazy man in the clown make-up, so he hurried out.
The bathhouse incident had made Harry sure that Captain Kurotsuchi was going to resume his incessant stalking, but that wasn't the case. They didn't see him again, and people stopped telling them that Captain Kurotsuchi was looking for them. After a few days, Harry began to relax. After a week, he had to wonder if Malfoy's clear refusal had been what they'd needed to do all along.
"So, what did Captain Kurotsuchi want from you two?" Ryoko asked one day at dinner.
Harry looked over at Malfoy. They had discussed it, and Malfoy had insisted that Captain Kurotsuchi's fascination with their Britishness meant that it wasn't something they should reveal to anyone else. For lack of any better ideas, Harry had agreed to keep that information quiet.
"He just wanted us to help out with some experiments," Malfoy answered.
Harry nodded and continued to shovel rice into his mouth.
"I see," Ryoko said. "There were rumours that he was trying to recruit you for the Twelfth Division."
Harry swallowed. "Rumours, really? About us?"
Ryoko laughed. "You got me there. So how come you're not coming to shikai practice tonight?"
"I need to study for Demon Arts. Malfoy agreed to help me out."
"Only because you're so hopeless," Malfoy said, laying down his chopsticks.
Harry thought about asking Ryoko to join them, but a part of him -- one that sounded suspiciously like Forest Prince -- didn't want her there. Not that he was going to act on any of the increasingly graphic suggestions his zanpakutō had been feeding to his imagination. Harry just didn't want to embarrass himself in front of Ryoko; the latest Ways of Binding were eluding him so badly that he worried he would fail the mandatory end-of-year practical.
Later that evening, Harry closed his eyes for the fifth time and tried to remember the correct incantation. "Sparrow's flight, eyes of stone. Um..."
"Temple," prompted Malfoy.
"Right. The temple door slams shut. The rain falls down."
The door to their room slid open, and Kurotsuchi Nemu walked in. "Way of Binding forty-one," she said in her eerily calm voice. "Very nice."
Harry and Malfoy rose and bowed. "Good evening, Lieutenant," Malfoy said.
Harry felt a sinking feeling of dread. Any Kurotsuchi in their room was a bad thing, but though this lady was creepy in her own way, at least she didn't seem as crazy as her creator. Father. Whatever.
"Good evening," Nemu said. She looked at Harry. "Do you enjoy the Ways of Binding?"
"Um, I'd like to," Harry said, shrugging. "But they're awfully difficult."
"Would you like to use them on me?"
"If you would just come with me, I would let you. You could immobilise me," she said, walking towards Harry, "and remove my kimono, and have sex with me. I wouldn't be able to move. You could do whatever you wanted to me. Wouldn't that be nice as well, Harry-sama?"
Harry's face began to burn. Apparently Nemu was as crazy as her boss. "Um," he said, trying to think of what to say and failing to come up with anything beyond interjections.
"Or perhaps you would not enjoy that." She tilted her head slightly to one side, considering. "I could restrain you instead, and ride you. I would smother you with my breasts to heighten your pleasure. I can secrete a powerful aphrodisiac in my--"
"No, thank you!" Harry said, backing away. "That's, um, really nice of you to offer. But I'm--"
"Do you enjoy spanking?" she asked. "Wax? I can put you on a lead and make you my pet. Or I could be your pet if you want me to. I could get on my knees for you and worship your cock. I would lick it from balls to head, just like this," she added, sticking out her tongue and revealing a row of metal studs.
Harry moved further back towards the wall. "That's--"
On the other side of the room, Malfoy was looking at Nemu with as much horror as Harry felt.
"Tell me what you like," she said in the same monotone, which made the whole thing even creepier. "Would you like to see my breasts?" She moved her hand to the edge of her kimono. "They aren't very large, but--"
"No, please don't!" Harry squeaked in desperation. "I'm-- it's not allowed to fraternise-- I-- You'll have to ask the Headmaster's permission!" He was practically shouting by now.
Nemu dropped her hand. "Very well. Good night," she said, and walked out.
Harry stared at the door, blinking. "What the fuck was that?"
Malfoy sagged back against the other wall and gave a weak laugh. "Either she really likes you, or our good friend hasn't given up yet."
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