AN: Doing package delivery while everyone is freaking out over covid fucking sucks, and this chapter wasn't very cooperative in certain places. I titled this chapter Waking World because it starts with Marzanna waking up and ends with Yui joining the physical world, and it talks more than a little about the physical and virtual worlds, but I'm not sure that's the best title. If anyone has better suggestions, feel free to toss them at me.
ShadowWolf223- It's certainly not good for her family and their worry/blood pressure, no, as for Marzanna herself, you'll have to wait and see. :) It'll always be in the back of her mind, bothering her now, at least until the situation is resolved. Given that she's older, more mature, and this isn't something one of her parents have safely possessed and used along with being vetted by other members of her family, she's actually actively resisting the Stone's pull though, whereas she… didn't even bother when it came to Pandora. As for the other Hallows… you'll have to see if anything happens, now won't you! :)
DA Exodus- Aww, thank you! I hope this chapter is also worth the ridiculous wait, but life and the muses were rude as fuck. I'm glad the previous chapter answered some questions, though I hope not all of them? Gotta be some mystery, at least until the end, right? Summonings are bad, don't go inviting demons into our realm guys, the Sparda's are overworked as is, lol. It is rather surprising how few fanfics have Harry and/or others absolutely taking advantage of the fact that they can literally call V-Mort's band of crazys to a battlefield of their choosing to catch them basically at their leisure. Dumbles and his minion are getting desperate and they have little to no options. They were trying to see if Dumbles could pull a combo of the 'wise grandfather' and 'greater good' cards to get Mike back. As for the Stone, Pandora, and Marzanna, well, you'll have to wait and see!
Her eyes flick open as wakefulness slams into her with a suddenness that left her dazed and befuddled. Lifting her head, she struggles to recognize her surroundings through the hazy blanket that covered her thoughts, wet and heavy with confusion.
Everything aches, her head is pounding, and even her magic throbs painfully like a wound. For the life of her, she can't drudge up the memories of what happened through the haze her mind has become. Her magic is… reaching out? Or it may be more accurate to say that it's being drawn to… something. Not knowing what it is, and weary of what could be pulling on her magic she drags it back in and clamps down on it. Immediately a faint nagging feeling that she's supposed to be doing… something begins to plague her. She can't for the life of her figure out what that 'something' is supposed to be any more than she can remember, but the nagging feeling is consistent.
Finally realizing she's in her own room resting in her bed, she sits up. Immediately a wave a vertigo threatens to drag her back down into the black unconsciousness she'd surfaced from. By the skin of her teeth, she just barely manages to stay conscious, though she's left with a nauseous dizziness.
Her door opens and her gaze shifts that way with an agonizing slowness. Before her slow moving gaze even manages to land on him, her mate's voice lets out a startled noise before he murmurs to her in surprise and concern, "You're awake! How- How are you feeling?"
She stares at him as her brain tries to process the string of noises that had just emanated from his mouth. The longer the silence drags on, the more pronounced his expression of concern becomes, until finally he moves over to her to cup her face, "Marzanna?"
It's only when his warm hands are cradling her face that she realizes that she's freezing cold. She leans into his hands as her brain finally decides to remember how language works, "Feel like I was run over by an avalanche. Everything hurts. Killer migraine. Dizzy."
Kazuto makes a noise of concern, "Maybe you should lay back down then."
It takes another moment for her to process what he's said, then she nods slowly, though she doesn't make any move to pull away from him. Just the opposite, she nuzzles into his hands further. That drags a low laugh from her mate, and he strokes one hand up her face to glide through her hair, which someone had apparently taken out of her ponytail when they put her in bed.
Then, much to her displeasure, he removes his hands, "Come on, lay back down. I promise I'm not going anywhere."
With a sigh, and a little help from Kazuto, she soon finds herself back in bed. As soon as he's satisfied that she's settled, her mate resumes stroking her hair and face, though he only uses one hand this time.
For a few minutes, she just enjoys the warm attention from her mate before realizing she's dangerously close to falling back asleep. Forcing the weights her eyelids seem to have become to lift. Her gaze focusing on nothing in particular, the question slips from her lips without any input from her, "What happened?"
Kazuto pauses in his ministrations, immediately drawing an unhappy noise from her. For a beat he doesn't react, then he slowly resumes his stroking, "You… don't remember?"
She sighs, "No." She pauses briefly, readjusting her head on her pillow, "Was there a fight? Everything hurts."
As the silence stretches, her gaze drifts to her mate to find him staring at her worrying his lip in thought. He jolts when he realizes she's looking at him, "W-Well… That is…"
Without finishing either thought, he trails off into silence. Concern spikes through her, impaling her heart and skewering her lungs. The former flitters wildly, like a living pinned butterfly, the later struggles to expand around the damage. The end result is her, dizzy and breathless, just barely managing to gather enough air to force out, "D-Did someone-?"
Because really, they'd survived the SAO and ALO incidents. They were Demon Hunters, the only thing she could think of that Kazuto would be so reluctant to tell her was if someone- if someone they knew- if one of their friends or family had-
Kazuto makes a confused noise, but a split second later, understanding washes over him, "No! No! That's not-!" He takes a deep breath and continues in a firm voice that allows no arguments, "No one died."
Her brow furrows, "Then what-"
She's cut off by her door opening again. Her eyes are more cooperative this time, and her gaze shifts to her mother before she's done nudging the door closed with her hip, as her hands are full with a tray, and turns to them. As soon as she does an expression of pleased surprise flits over her face before she smiles at them, "I see you already managed to wake Marzanna. Honestly, I thought she'd be harder to wake."
Kazuto shakes his head, "No. She was already awake when I came in."
Her mother glances up from where she's settling the tray on her bedside table, "Even better if she woke on her own, rather than us having to wake her for food before her body is ready to be up."
Her mate hums vaguely in agreement, then worries his lip some more before speaking, so low and quiet that it's barely more than a whisper, "... She doesn't remember what happened."
The bowl her mother had been picking up slips from her hands, it's contents sloshing over the sides. For a minute she just stares blankly at the bowl, not saying anything. Even when she does finally open her mouth all that comes out is a simple, "... Oh."
Kazuto let's the silence linger for a moment before carefully and slowly breaking it, "Would-" He swallows hard, then licks his lips, "Would it be better if we didn't-" He throws a look at her, "I mean, if she doesn't know, she might not try to find it-"
He cuts himself off with another glance towards her, apparently deciding he'd already said too much. Find something? What could she possibly need to go looking for? And yet…. That nagging feeling got stronger at the thought…
Her gaze shifts to her mother from where it had settled on her blanket as she thought. Her mother is biting her lip in thought as she absently cleans up the mess she'd made with the bowl, but after a few moments, she releases her lower lip and shakes her head, "No. Danger that is known and at least partially understood is always better than unknown danger. Help her sit up?"
Her mate's expression turns pinched with concern, but he nods. He takes a shaky breath before turning his gaze back to her, and helps her into a sitting position as he speaks slowly, "Do you… Do you remember Dumbledore and Potter coming over?"
She frowns down at the tray her mother settles on her lap, thoughtlessly picking up the spoon as memory begins to float through her mind, as vague and impossible to grasp as fog, "... Now that you mention it, I vaguely recall them showing up."
He nods, "They, um. They brought something. A horcrux, made of a ring, supposedly one of Voldemort's. The horcrux is in the metal band of the ring, but… The stone setting, it… Well, we aren't entirely sure what it was doing, all we know was that it started to resonate with you… It was like you were possessed. One moment you were fine, then the next your control of your magic slipped and suddenly it had a hold on you and was drawing you in. I had to physically hold you back with all of my strength to keep you from going to it."
He releases another shaky breath, "And… once we started to interfere… the stone didn't like it. At all. It… It managed to completely block both our soul bond and your twin bond with Mike." His expression turns a little sheepish, "You're migraine is partly our fault. It had already started to get a grip on you mentally, even after we separated you from it and put it into magical isolation it still had a hold on you. It was weakened by the barrier from the magical containment and isolation fields, but even that couldn't sever the connection entirely. When it blocked us, it was like there were these unfathomable impenetrable walls between us and you. After we isolated it, it was still like there was a freaking castle wall between us, but we were able to, ah, drill through it."
She sighs, "Hence the migraine and dizziness."
His sheepish expression becomes more pronounced and gains both an apologetic and guilty element, "At least in part, yes. I'm sorry."
She waves him off vaguely, "Don't be. I'm definitely not. My head may be a little messed up at the moment, but that'll pass, and it's a breeze compared to what I would've gone through if I'd woken up and found our bond, and my bond with Mike for that matter, so thoroughly blocked."
He smiles faintly at her, though it's a little tight, "Fair enough, but… I'm still not happy that it hurt you…" He lowers his head and voice trails off, drifting into a whisper so soft even her Nephilim hearing struggles to make out the words that slip from his mouth, "... that I hurt you…"
Uncaring that her mom is still in the room, she sets her spoon down, reaches out and grasps his chin, firmly lifting his head to meet her eyes. Without hesitation, she leans forward over the tray to kiss him, simultaneously opening up her battered connection to him. Thoughts and emotions zip back and forth between them, quick as lightning. She doesn't manage to wipe away his guilt, but she does manage to ease it, and she knows that's all she's going to get at the moment. Especially since the opened link lets him feel for himself just how much her head hurts.
She pulls back and rests her forehead against his own as she gazes into his eyes, "Dummy. Love you."
That draws a faint grin, "Love you too."
After a moment her mother clears her throat, causing Kazuto to blush when he remembers their audience. Leaning back, she picks up her spoon again before asking, "So, any idea what that stone is?"
Her mother makes a frustrated noise, "Not yet. We've been looking into it but there are a lot of magical stones. We can rule out common or magically weak stones, given what we do know and observed. But that still actually leaves us with quite a bit to sort through."
She shivers. While the soup was nice and warm, the more she ate of it, the more it seemed to highlight how cold she was, and it wasn't doing much to warm her either. She sets the spoon down again so she can grab up her pooled blanket and pull it up, "You guys have the AC on way too high. I'm freezing."
The other two share a startled look, then turn back to her with confusion and concern. It's her mate that speaks up, though he speaks slowly, "Actually, I was just thinking of turning it on." At the confused look she gives him, he preemptively answers her, "Because it's 26 degrees, or about, ah, 80 degrees Fahrenheit?"
Her brow furrows, "You sure someone didn't beat you to it?"
Before her mate can respond, her mother does, drawing their gazes over to her, where she's standing in front of her room's climate control, "No. It's not on at all."
Her mate speaks up in concern, "The stone?"
Her mother turns to them with a troubled expression, "Maybe… We know it's still somewhat connected to her despite being in isolation… This may be a clue to its power. But then, if it has something to do with cold, or ice or whatever, why would it resonate with Pandora of all things?"
She shivers, "Dunno. But I feel like a ghost is sticking its arm through me."
That draws her mother over swiftly, and she touches her face, only to look confused, "You don't feel cold though, and ghosts actually bring down a person's temperature. So it can't be quite like that… Eat your soup sweetheart, it's warm and maybe it'll make you feel better. I'm going to go talk to Vergil and Eva. Maybe this will help us narrow our search."
She nods at her mom, who gives her a smile before she leaves. Turning back to the tray of food, she frowns, then glances at her blanket. She really does not want to let go of it to eat, but given that she's already freezing, she definitely doesn't want her food to go cold.
Her mate huffs a little laugh, then reaches out and grabs her spoon, "Here. Let me help."
She smiles at him brightly, "Thanks."
After she's eaten everything, her mate moves the tray back to the bedside table and curls up under the blanket with her.
She's still cold.
September 1st, 2025
Alessio stood guard over the gates of Hogwarts, on standby in case the Death Eaters chose to attack the students being Apparated and Port Keyed in. His mate was standing guard over the floo for the same reasons.
It hadn't been easy to get Dumbledore to open the floo, nor to allow his mate onto the grounds to protect it, but the Family had spent months being loudly against the use of the Hogwarts Express this year, even making comments in newspapers, just to apply pressure on him. The train wasn't safe, and they would not allow that asshole to put children in danger just because he was a control freak.
Luckily, the combination of having the rest of the staff on their side as well as the general outcry of other parents to allow their children to take safer methods of travel to Hogwarts had been enough pressure to force Dumbledore to comply. He had tried to protest that opening the floo might allow Death Eaters to attack Hogwarts, and that knowing that students would also be brought to the gates with Apparation and Port Keys would make it a tempting target, but the counter argument that if those were tempting targets for attack then the train would undoubtedly be as well, along with the Sparda Family volunteering to act as guards for the day had lost Dumbledore the argument.
He had been vehemently against allowing the Sparda's onto the grounds, but neither the other staff nor the general public were having any of him turning down willing protection for the kids from the best Demon Hunters in the world.
Although he knew his grandfather in no way needed help in combat, to Alessio's amusement, Mike was hovering nearby. The argument that his grandson had made that he could protect the other kids and guard them while they made for the safety of the wards which would allow Alessio to focus on fighting had been enough for Alessio. It also made him damn proud of his grandson.
He knew it wasn't the only reason by far, part of Mike hovering was out of wanting to make sure his grandfather, his family, was safe, no matter how irrational they both knew him keeping an eye on Alessio was. But in no way was his reasoning of wanting to protect the other kids a lie. So yeah, he was definitely proud of his grandson, and bore his grandson's irrational worry with good grace and humor. Besides, he was a Sparda. They always looked out for their family, whether they needed it or not. Hermione, ever loyal, was right by his side. Though it might be a little early to be thinking such things since they're only seventeen and eighteen, he can't help but think that she'll make a lovely, utterly brilliant wife for his grandson.
Multiple cracks of Apparation grab Alessio's attention. A grin of anticipation spreads over his face as he spots the silver masks of marked Death Eaters among the crowd of bone masks of unmarked Death Eaters. It doesn't make much difference to him whether they're marked or not, they're all scum, but the marked ones are more likely to have useful intel.
Immediately he puts on a burst of speed and launches himself into the crowd, swinging his blade in a wide arch. The slow ones go down right then and there, though he does go out of his way not to kill any of them. Not that he'd care much if any of them died, humans they may be, but the Sparda policy of not killing humans doesn't apply to scumbags that attack innocent children just trying to go to school. He, and the rest of the family for that matter, sincerely regret neglecting to teach Marzanna the difference between not abusing the power she has over humans and disposing of trash to make the world safer for everyone else. Their neglect has caused his adorable granddaughter quite a few problems and no shortage of pain over the actions she took in SAO. They'll work on it, though he's sure the process will be slow. Really, the only reason he's even bothering to spare them is so he doesn't traumatize the kids. That and because there's no knowing who could have useful info until they're questioned.
The quick ones hastily move back from his opening attack, but it still buys time for Mike and Hermione to cover the kids that aren't in the wards. He'd need to be quick. Without the usual train, kids had been trickling in all day, but most of them were expected to show up in the hour just before the start of term feast. And indeed, in the twenty minutes since that last hour had started counting down, the kids had practically been pouring in.
Unfortunately, this meant that Mike and Hermione couldn't just cover for a couple kids and then retreat to the wards as well, because there was a constant stream of them popping into what had now become a battle site. Ah well. He'd just have to make this quick. Especially since a brief mental check with his mate informs him that this is a two pronged attack, and she's too busy to give him a hand in wrapping this up quickly. Not that he actually needs it, but it'd make this a little faster.
He grins at the crowd of Death Eaters, most of which are rapidly becoming enraged as they recognize him. The smart ones become weary at the sight of him, but given that none of them are smart enough to Apparate away, it won't do them any good.
Without hesitation he begins systematically attacking the Death Eaters. Despite how supposedly fearsome of opponents they are, they drop like flies under his assault. The only real problem he has is that he has to make an effort to deflect their spells skyward rather than simply dodge them so he doesn't risk a wayward spell hitting an unlucky kid. And he has to go out of his way to take out any of them that start saying the two words of the killing curse before they can finish for similar reasons.
The only hint of opposition he meets is when one of the Silver masked Death Eaters draws a knife and casts a quick spell which seems to endow him with enough strength to stop Alessio's upward swing and allow him to remain on the ground instead of simply being picked up and flung away by the force. Perhaps it's not a strengthening spell, but some sort of kinetic cancelation? His swing was brought to such a forceful stop that he felt like he was sparring with his wife or one of his children. It actually takes him by surprise, since he didn't think any of these pureblood supremacists would lower themselves to physical attacks or defence. He isn't known as the Legendary Dark Knight for no reason though, and is quick to recover and slide his sword along his opponents dagger to smash the pommel of his blade into his opponents face.
Unfortunately for the Death Eater, the soft nature of silver causes it to crumple with the blow rather than break like the bone masks would and have. Even more unfortunate for him, the blow doesn't knock him out, and he's left flailing on the ground howling in pain. Another Silver masked Death Eater standing nearby rushes to his aid in removing the mask.
It takes him a moment to recognize the face with the damage the blow and mask had done, but after a moment he does and another grin slides over his face, especially since it also reveals the identity of the still masked Death Eater, "Well, well, well. If it isn't the other two Lestranges. I've been wanting the rest of the set ever since we caught Bellatrix."
The other Lestrange brother, Rodolphus he thinks it is though he struggles to tell the two apart from the photos the family had scrounged up of known Death Eaters, whips his mask off to glare at him in hatred, "Filthy Blood Traitor! How dare-"
He waves his hand dismissively, "Yes, yes, how dare I, the head of an Ancient and Royal Family, have the audacity to not back the pureblood agenda and want to kill all those of impure blood, so on and so forth. I heard plenty of this while catching your foolish little buddies that tried to use that silly little taboo. I'd counter and call you a rabid animal that should be put down for your crimes, but that's an insult to animals." He grins again when he gets a telepathic message from his wife telling him that she's done, before adding, "Now, how about we wrap this up, because the kids should finish showing up soon, and I honestly have better things to do than listen to the worthless ramblings of you imbeciles."
Rodolphus screams with rage, "Avad-"
That's as far as he gets before he finds Alessio's boot planted into his face and is sent down into unconsciousness with his brother, who'd passed out at some point.
The rest of the clean up is easy. He and his wife get to take some prizes back with them to be chucked into the prison to be processed and charged at the ICW's leisure, and thoroughly interrogated for every drop of info they possess. None of the kids got hurt either, though he and his wife did get more than a few awed looks, and a couple weary ones, some decently hidden for their ages, others a little more open. Mostly from the children of known Death Eaters, though he does spot more than a couple who aren't in that group giving them those looks.
Before he heads out, he quietly points them out to Mike and Hermione, making sure they know to be careful of them, and asking them to make a list of names for him. Some of them might just be scared of people so much stronger than them, but chances were, at least a couple were kids of unknown Death Eaters, and he wasn't about to let the opportunity to potentially catch some of the rats slip by him.
All in all, it had been a very successful day. Dumbledore's unhappy expression is definitely a bonus cherry on top of their visit to the school.
September 9th, 2025
Paperwork squared away, they make their way away from the offices of Gringotts and towards the tunnels to take the cart down, as they do Lily can't help but sigh. While she absolutely agreed with the death sentence the psycho Lestranges had received, the whole business left a bad taste in her mouth.
From his place walking next to her, Vergil shoots her a look, "I can agree that it was somewhat… distasteful to ask the ICW to allow us to carry out the Lestranges death. However, we need Right of Conquest in order to secure the goblet in a timely manner. And while we may have defeated and most likely had it already, if we weren't the ones who killed them, it could have been contested. Furthermore, while the information you got from their minds via legilimency and the fact that the goblet is an illegal artifact crucial to the V-Mort case would have been enough to obtain it from the goblins, the paperwork could have taken too long. If he decided it wasn't safe here any longer after Bellatrix's death and ordered Narcissa to claim the vault as her sister's closest living relative, it could have been removed and lost to us before the paperwork went through with the goblins."
"I know. I know. I just-" Another sighs slips past her lips, "I know it was necessary to secure the goblet horcrux for destruction before it could be removed and secured elsewhere, but doing things this way still kinda leaves a bad taste."
Her brother-in-law nods, "Indeed. You aren't the only one in the family who feels that way either, but necessity is a ruthless dictator."
She gives him a tight smile. The goblin leading them shoots them a narrow eyed look over his shoulder. Vergil, never one to beat around the bush, merely raises an eyebrow, "Something to say?"
The goblin snorts, "Wouldn't think the legendary Sparda's would be nerveless enough to flinch at a little execution."
Vergil narrows his eyes at the insult, "It isn't a matter of nerve. The Lestranges had already been turned over to the ICW. It was at that point their responsibility to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Requesting the ICW to allow us to carry out the latter most of those three so that no one could buy time for Narcissa to access her sister's vault by contesting our Right of Conquest because there was a differential between who defeated them and who executed them even though everyone knows the executioner doesn't have any claim to Right of Conquest for merely carrying out a legal sentence merely feels somewhat… underhanded."
He pauses as the goblin shoots him a look, "I'm also aware that by your culture allowing such an insult to us and our family to go unanswered is considered an act of cowardness, however, we are both very much for people speaking freely. To punish you for answering truthfully after being prompted to do so tends to lead to those you deal with in the future to lie to you to avoid a similar fate. We're Demon Hunters, not goblins, we value truth which is necessary for our jobs far more than we care for whatever insults or opinions others have of us. If Demon Hunters cared when anyone capable of telling us informed us of their opinions on us, there wouldn't be Demon Hunters given the level of vitriol demons tend to fling at us."
He gives the goblin a cold smile, "When you have demons constantly hurling vitriol of the level I doubt even a goblin has heard before along with threatening extreme violence on you and everything you care for on a daily basis, 'you're a coward' barely even registers. Besides, actions speak far louder than words, especially to a Demon Hunter, and I'd like to think the fact that nearly my entire family are amongst the elites of Demon Hunters capable of taking on a Great Demon along with practically being the only ones successfully venturing into Hell and living as well as being the best Hunters in the world says otherwise. Wouldn't you say?"
The goblin eyes him for a moment, then gives him a respectful nod, "Indeed, Master Demon Hunter. That it does."
He gestures to the cart, and with a shared look, both her and Vergil reluctantly climb in. Lily can't help but be more than a little envious of how gracefully Vergil climbs into it. The carts were designed more with goblins in mind than taller humanoids such as themselves, so climbing in was usually at least a little awkward for most people, Lily included. After the usual wild cart ride, they climb back out at the Lestrange vault, as they do Vergil throws a glance from where they came from, "Was that waterfall earlier truly necessary?"
The goblin laughs, "It isn't actually water, which is why you aren't wet. It's an enchantment with physical form given the apparent consistency of water. The Thief's Downfall, it's called. It washes away all enchantments. It's primary purpose is to wash away any sort of magic one could use to break into the bank, such as things like Polyjuice, Transfiguration, or Invisibility(1). It's even said to break the Imperius' hold on someone." Then his grin turns dark, "It also washes away the enchantment on the cart, which is why the ride becomes a bit… rough. A Gringotts goblin bringing a client through only has a few seconds to restore the magic on the cart before it'll inevitably derail, and if you happen to be someone foolish enough to break in and somehow manage to use the carts, well… It's an awful long drop if the cart doesn't land on one of the vault platforms. And even if you were 'lucky' enough for the cart to land on a vault platform, the carts go awfully fast, making for some rather high speeds to be impacting solid objects such as the wall or ground, wouldn't you say?"
She and Vergil share a look, knowing without sharing a word that they're both wondering if they could create something similar to help secure the safehouses and possibly catch more Death Eaters. After the split second look is over, Vergil turns back to the goblin, "Indeed. That's some… quite effective security. Speaking of security, I didn't think it was possible to train a dragon to guard something? And yet..."
The goblin shrugs, "Oh, it's not exactly trained. Not in the way you're thinking of at least. Like any of the other few we have, rather than trained, it's conditioned to back up and leave us alone when it hears these."
Without another word the goblin pulls a metallic object from the obviously expanded leather pouch on his hip. When he shakes it, a noise akin to small hammers striking anvils rings out and the dragon flinches before backing away in obvious terror.
She shares a displeased look with Vergil. Most dragons were incredibly vicious, sure, but what they were seeing… that was just unwarranted cruelty. That one act immediately makes their respect for the goblins plummet practically into non-existence. The only respect either of them has remaining for the goblins at that point is the bare minimum of acknowledging that they are sentient beings capable of thought. And even then they're just barely scraping the very bottom of the barrel. The Sparda's don't take any abuse well, and for it to be normal to an entire species…
Well. The Lestranges hadn't had any Heirs. They were the last of their direct bloodline, though given how inbred the 'Nobility' here was there were probably plenty that were related, as such rather than only getting part of their assets, Right of Conquest gave them everything. All properties were to be looked over, those that were suitable would be turned into Demon Hunter safe houses, which were currently being used to help those trying to escape or just find sanctuary from the war. And the majority of the funds would go to the logistics of relocating and taking care of so many people. Only a small portion would be kept by the Sparda's, and that was mostly being split between being deposited into their emergency funds and research funds.
One would think that acquiring everything that once belonged to the Lestranges would see the Sparda's rich, but even if there wasn't a war that they were actively providing relief efforts for going on, the majority of the funds just would have ended up being donated, hospitals, orphanages, hell even the International Demon Hunter Association, there were always plenty of worthy things to donate to. The latter of those three was less than a year old, but was the fruit of the Sparda family's labors to make the jobs of Demon Hunters everywhere easier. Because Demon Hunters now answered only to the ICW and themselves, the International Demon Hunter Association, IDHA for short, was in essence a branch of the ICW which strictly employed only retired Demon Hunters or close associates who had a good understanding of the job and wanted to help but either didn't or couldn't fight, people like Kat, Kyrie, or Lily herself, all of which had volunteered at the IDHA while it was still working to hire enough people and get organized enough to function properly.
The IDHA were entirely dedicated to helping Demon Hunters all over the world, doing things like ensuring that government contracts were fair to both sides, gathering intel from informants to be distributed to Demon Hunters, getting injured Hunters the Sanctuary and medical attention they need, helping Demon Hunters get in contact with back up when needed, and even helping retired Demon Hunters. The Sparda's considered it one of their crowning achievements and were immensely proud of it, but though it acted as a branch of the ICW, part of the negotiations for getting permission to set it up had dictated that they had to acquire their own funding rather than receiving it from the ICW. As such, though Hunters all over the world had agreed to allow a small percentage of payments from government work to automatically be given to the IDHA and even willingly donated additional funds constantly, it was always in need of funds. Especially since while the IDHA was run by people intelligent enough to know that all current operations needed to be paid for first, it was always looking to expand the ways it offered support to Demon Hunters world wide. Something that was immensely appreciated by said Demon Hunters along with everything they already did for them, which was why the vast majority of them were more than happy to support them in return.
The point was that the Sparda's weren't after wealth. So long as their needs were taken care of, had a bit of money for research, some put aside for the constant repairs to their house from demonic attacks and emergencies, as well as a little for leisure, they were more than happy and happy to donate. Furthermore, the Sparda's were firm believers that once all necessities had been met, including fun given that all sentient beings need it to stay sane and happy even without throwing a stressful job like Demon Hunting on top, then it was only right to give back to the world.
All that being said, there had been discussions of whether it would be easier to leave the Lestrange holdings in its vault and just directly distribute it from there, or if it would be better to clean it out. An answer hadn't been reached before she and Vergil had left to go sort out the paperwork with the goblins and secure the horcrux before Voldemort could steal it, but they certainly had one now. The Sparda's would acknowledge the goblins as sentient beings entitled to basic rights, but they certainly wouldn't be dealing with them unless explicitly necessary from here on out.
After the goblin disables a few more security measures and Lily has the horcrux, which she's pretty sure is Helga Hufflepuffs Goblet, tucked safely in the satchel brought just for it, she and Vergil share another look. Goblins were greedy by nature and they wouldn't be pleased in the slightest by losing such a large and wealthy vault. It was going to take some very careful wording and maneuvering not to completely piss them off and make things considerably more difficult in the off chance that they need to work with them in the future, but they couldn't tolerate such despicable behavior. Besides, after the goblet is in the satchel, Lily checks the Horcrux detector Eva had made using the ring. The closest one had such a weak reaction that it was exceedingly doubtful that there was another in the bank.
On the other hand, there had been discussions on seeing if it was possible to claim Right of Conquest on all the Death Eaters that they brought down and brought to justice. No amount of careful wording and maneuvering would prevent the goblins from getting pissed off and giving them problems if they kept taking control of their clients assets and then removing them from the control of Gringotts. And that's without mentioning the fact that the people whose wealth they'd be seizing make up a substantial portion of the economy and the major economic crisis removing almost all of that money would create.
Another sigh escapes from her lips. Trouble certainly loved company.
September 12th, 2025
Marzanna rubs her hands together for warmth as she scurries down into her grandfather's forge and workshop, mentally cursing that weird stone that still won't leave her alone even as she calls out to her grandfather before she's even made it to the door, "Grandpa, Uncle Vergil found another! And do we have more-" Surprise cuts her sentence short when she clears the doorway and sees that her grandfather isn't alone, "Lizbeth? What are you doing here?"
Lizbeth grins a bit nervously, "Um. Well, I mentioned to your grandfather on your birthday that SAO had led to me gaining an interest in smithing IRL, so he gave me his number and said I could ask him anything I wanted about it, and one thing led to another and now I've sorta become apprenticed to him?" She shifts unsurely, "Um. It's not really in style anymore in the mundane world, but I've been told apprenticeships are still used pretty much worldwide in the magical world…"
"They are…" Then she shakes her shock off, "That's great!" Then she falters, "Right? I mean, Grandpa definitely knows his shit when it comes to smithing, but as a non-magical It's probably difficult to know what you're getting into as far as an apprenticeship goes and Grandpa can be one hell of a slave driver…"
That draws an amused snort from her grandfather, but Liz just grins widely, "It's awesome! He definitely pushes me, but there's no way I could regret taking him up on his offer if that's what you're worried about!"
Her smile returns at Lizbeth's reassurance. When she turns that smile on her grandfather, he grins, "I don't know if the simplified smithing in SAO simply managed to impart some measure of actual skill, or if she's just a natural and that's part of what subconsciously drew her to the job, but your friend if an incredibly quick study." Then he shakes his head, "However, that isn't what you came down here for."
Her smile shifts into a sheepish grin, "No, it wasn't. I came down to tell you that Mike and Uncle Vergil found another horcrux at Hogwarts."
He nods, but frowns, "The one we got from Dumbledore, the one Trish stole from that Umbridge woman a couple days ago, that goblet the Lestranges had, and now one at Hogwarts… just how many did that depraved creature make?"
She shrugs, "Don't know. But grandma already destroyed the piece in the diadem Mike retrieved, and the horcrux detector is still reacting, so either it's just trying to point to V-Mort himself or there's at least one more. I don't know what she's sensing with the detector, but Grandma seems to think there's more than the man himself left though."
He nods absently, "Given that she made it, she'd probably know best." Silence takes over the room for a couple beats, then he shakes himself, "But you were asking about something else on your way in."
She straightens, "Oh yeah! I was wondering if we still had more Industria Effusio crystals!"
He gives her a vaguely amused look, "Certainly. There's some boxes of them in the usual drawer." She hurries over to the drawer, and is rifling through it in less then a second. As she's going through the boxes to make sure they're properly labeled and she's actually grabbed what she needs, her grandfather continues, "I am more than a little curious what you've been using them for though. This is the second time this week that you've come and grabbed a couple boxes of them."
She looks up as she closes the drawer, "Research. Me and Kazuto are working on something. We almost had it working, but we pushed it too hard and the runes I engraved on the crystals overloaded and melted it! We're going to see about linking them to increase the range and lessen the strain on the runes." She starts to hurry away with her prize, then pauses and leans back to stick her head back through the door, "Oh and uh, don't go into the main research room. There's some, um, weird fumes now. No idea what they'll do if they're inhaled, but it keeps absorbing the magic Mom and Uncle Vergil have been trying to use to get rid of it though, since apparently when an Industria Effusio crystal is melted into a gas it's no longer capable of locking onto a specific type of energy and just absorbs everything, so probably nothing good. Which makes it a very good thing that the research rooms are physically air tight as well as magically. Me and Kazuto are gonna take over one of the ones set aside for more delicate experiments until Mom and Uncle Vergil figure out what to do about it."
As she hurries up the stairs three at a time, her enhanced hearing picks up Lizbeth's deadpan, "... What."
Her grandfather huffs out an amused chuckle, "Research gone wrong isn't that uncommon here, you might want to get used to it if you're going to continue your apprenticeship. Don't worry too much about it, especially since it sounds like Lily and Vergil have things under control. I swear though, that child is just like her mother sometimes."
She hums thoughtfully as she tunes them out in favor of the ideas bouncing around in her head. She and her mate had actually already worked out how to get the Demon detector to work, as well as working out how to get the magic to send the data to a small computer server programmed to sort the information and send it to an app Kazuto had designed. While it had taken a little while to work it all out, it had been surprisingly easy. The process had also been sped up a bit by the fact that Yui was eagerly helping, mostly with the technology side, but as much as she was able after studying some magical theory, runes, and anything else that might help. The problems had mostly started when they'd turned towards scaling the detection range up. Using runes to increase the range of a single crystal had worked pretty well up to about five hundred feet, but the crystals and runes had major issues after that. While they'd known that any truly functioning detector would require crystals spread out over the world, it wouldn't be very feasible if they had to have crystals every five hundred feet.
Bigger crystals could handle the energy better, no surprise, but the rune script didn't fare much better regardless of the size of the crystal, and from Yui's calculations, she'd need a crystal roughly the size of the Titanic to cover a major city, even if the runes worked, and that was because they were lucky enough that how well the crystals handled energy seemed to be based on a magnitude scale rather than a linear scale. Industria Effusio crystals were naturally occurring rather than made, and as such needed to be mined, which meant that even if she decided that was a feasible option, there was no way she'd ever find even one that big. Currently, they were hoping that by making a cluster of linked crystals and rewriting the rune script a bit, they could get it to work with much smaller crystals. Though she couldn't see a way around the need for bigger crystals even if they could get the crystal cluster to work.
Seeing her mother and uncle standing in the hallway, still trying to figure out what to do about the newly gas based crystal wreaking havoc, an idea occurs to her, and she skids to a stop by them, "Heeeeey." They both give her exasperated looks, long familiar with her, 'I have an idea but you won't like it' tone, "Any chance of figuring out how to get the crystals back to being crystals? Because if mine and Kazuto's experiment works, I'm probably going to need bigger crystals than what you find on the market, and if we can figure out how to turn multiple into gas and then force all of it to turn back into one bigger crystal…"
They share a look before her mother sighs, "We think Vergil might be able to overpower Yamato's ability enough that the gas won't be able to absorb enough energy to cause the rift to collapse as it goes through. We just need to figure out how to draw the gas through the rift, but if we make it a small rift, we might be able to get the gas into an airtight container. We'll see what we can do."
She smiles widely, "Thanks!" Then as she hurriedly continues on her journey to the smaller research room she and Kazuto had taken over she throws over her shoulder, "If me and Kazuto can get it to work it'll be totally worth it! Promise!"
Vergil huffs in vague amusement, calling out before she can close the door, "Sure, but keep the crystals in an airtight container while you're running your experiments from now on! I don't want to have to deal with their gaseous state being released again!"
She sticks her head back out and flashes him a sheepish smile and a thumbs up before closing the door. Turning to the table she finds her mate and daughter, currently displayed on Kazuto's laptop, both giving her curious looks, "We still need to decrease how big the crystal needs to be, but unless we work out something amazing we're still going to need significantly larger crystals. I was wondering if it might be possible to somehow force those crystals we accidentally turned into gas back into one larger crystal. Mom and Uncle Vergil said they'd look into it. They also said to put the crystals into an airtight container while we're running our experiments."
The other two straighten up at the idea, and Kazuto murmurs, "If they can figure it out, it would solve some problems later down the line…"
She nods, "That was the thought."
Yui pipes in, uncharacteristically serious, "You have to make sure the process is safe though. If it wasn't for Mama's fast reflexes and Quicksilver Style… We have to be a lot more careful with experiments from now on!"
She returns her daughter's serious look, "Of course Yui. We'll be careful."
"Good!" Then her virtual eyes tear up. She starts scrubbing her face with her arm as a sniffle escapes her, "Because if anything happened to you or Papa, or the rest of our family… and if it was because of one of our experiments…"
Her eyes soften. This is one of those times she wishes her daughter had a physical form already. They were close to finishing her body, but until it was done if she wanted to physically comfort her like now, it was a whole production of transferring Yui back to ALO, and logging in, and loading and all that crap just to touch her daughter. She didn't mind the effort, but by the time all that had happened, her daughter would normally have already calmed down on her own. It made her relieved that they'd gotten to the testing stage with Yui's body.
All this means that right now, she only really has her words, "It'll be OK sweetheart. Our family is definitely the type to learn from our mistakes. Your Papa and I are absolutely going to be more careful, and if I know our family in the slightest, then my mom, Vergil, and Grandma will immediately start looking into making the research rooms safer after today's near miss once the crystal gas is contained. Safety is the whole reason we have designated airtight research rooms to begin with. Ok?"
Yui gives one last sniffle after roughly dying her face, then nods firmly, "Ok." Then she takes a deep breath before giving a shaky smile, "I think I've finished rewriting the runes for the cluster idea if you'd like to take a look?"
She smiles at her daughter before joining her and her mate at the table, the barrier between the virtual world and the physical world not mattering as the three of them put their heads together to work on the project that could quite literally change the world.
October 11th, 2025,
Marzanna stretches out, smirking at the other players blatantly staring at her as she makes her way over to her cousin. He shoots her a smile before returning his gaze to the big screens, "You did great, but remind me again why we're giving up a good part of our weekend for a Tournament?"
She grins, "Because I thought it sounded like fun, and you agreed to do it with me."
A snort from off to her left draws her gaze from the screens displaying the qualifying rounds of the Bullet of Bullets Tournament. Looking over, her gaze falls on a green haired girl, "You know, at first I thought you two were insane, trying out for the tournament with manual aim on, then I saw you two's rounds and thought you were just particularly good pros obsessed with GGO, but to hear that you're just here for fun?" She shakes her head before giving them a faintly amused look, "You guys are kinda weird."
She grins, "Kinda weird? Give it a little while and you'll realize that we're a lot weird." She extends a hand to the girl, "Hanna, and the other weirdo is my IRL cousin, Blue Rose. I saw your match, you're damn good with that sniper."
Her eyebrow shoots up as they shake hands, "Sinon. IRL? Most people don't give that kind of info out so freely. Thanks though, but I was using the aim assist."
She shrugs her shoulders with a grin, "What sensitive info could you possibly glean from me admitting that we're cousins?"
Sinon huffs in amusement, "Fair enough."
Then Hanna shakes her head, "To continue with the other topic, even with the aim assist, being that good with a sniper would still take a considerable amount of skill. It's nothing to scoff at. Be proud of it, you're certainly skilled enough to warrant it."
Sinon ducks her head and tugs her scarf up but it doesn't totally hide the faint smile gracing her lips, "Thank you."
The words are quiet, and from the way the green haired girl turns her attention to the screens after that, it seems to be the end of the conversation, but Hanna certainly doesn't mind.
As she goes to return her own gaze to the screens, it brings Blue Rose's smirking face into view. She shoots her cousin a questioning look. He responds by widening his smirk, before whispering in amusement, "Making friends out of the competition? Shame on you."
She huffs, whispering back, "Maybe. What of it?"
His smirk turns into an amused grin, and he shakes his head, "Nothing. She seems nice though."
She glances at the other girl from the corner of her eye as she hums in agreement.
November 22nd, 2025
Marzanna glances around, sharing nervous hopeful looks with the rest of her family, before shaking off the niggling feeling from being away from that dumb stone and taking a deep shaky breath, "Alright Yui, everything's ready here. Go ahead."
Not even a minute later, her daughter's dark gray eyes, so strangely a near perfect copy of Kazuto's eye color, flutter open. Though the body had been finished for a while and Yui had been in it repeatedly for testing purposes, today was the day she was going to start living in her body, rather than merely existing in it temporarily for no other reason than to run tests, and while for the sake of testing she'd been around the house and even gone through the majority of the magical doors in the basement, it would also be the first time she got to go outside. It was in no way necessary for her family to be here for this, but they wanted to be here and Yui had been more than ok with it.
Yui sits up quickly, looking at her in excitement, "Mama! You said you're gonna take me and Papa to see one of the magical shopping centers, right? And we'll go visit Obaa-san too? Can we go to the park? Or-"
That's when the stunned silence that had descended wears off, and her family starts laughing. Her dad grins at his granddaughter, "Eager, are we?" Then he reaches out and ruffles Yui's hair, "Though I suppose I can't fault my adorable granddaughter for having her priorities straight. Life is for enjoying after all."
Yui puffs up her cheeks and pushes his hand away before trying to fix her hair, "Grandpa!"
She steps forward and nudges her dad away and steps up to start carding her fingers through her daughter's hair soothingly, fixing it in the process, "I know you're excited sweetheart, but you gotta let your papa run a couple checks first." Yui pouts, but before she can complain about it, she continues, "And after that we'll be having breakfast here at home so my side of the family can have some time with you before we head out. Afterwards, we're gonna go meet the others to go to the magical side of things and we'll have lunch with them. We'll see if we have enough time afterwards to go to the park before heading over to Obaa-san's house to have dinner with Papa's family, ok?"
Yui's pout vanishes in an instant, "Ok Mama!" Then her expression turns excited again, "What are we having for breakfast?"
Kyrie steps closer with a warm smile, "We thought we'd let you pick."
Of course that immediately sparks a conversation between the two on what to have. Yui being somewhere between excited and overly serious. Not that she can blame her. Until now Yui's body had yet to actually eat anything, so it'd be the first meal she got to eat in the physical world and taste with actual taste buds instead of whatever equivalent her AI body had been programmed with. She can't help but smile at the discussion between her daughter and cousin even as her mind drifts.
It was still a little weird to be calling her mother-in-law 'Obaa-san', but that was part of being a mom, regardless of Yui being an AI. That and the fact that Yui had taken to referring to her side of the family in English family titles, and Kazuto's in Japanese to differentiate who she was talking about. A habit which she and Kazuto had quickly picked up. It was equally as weird to call her mom 'grandma' even if it was just to Yui.
A throat clearing cuts through her thoughts and the conversation going on between her family and daughter on the incredibly important matter of breakfast. Gazes shift to her mate who smiles, "Well, Yui's as ready as she'll ever be, so how about we stop talking about breakfast and go make it, 'cause you've made Papa very hungry."
Yui responds without missing a beat, "Papa's always hungry." Kazuto makes a betrayed noise, drawing a giggle from their daughter before she frowns, "Besides! We haven't decided yet!"
He laughs, then taps his chin, "Hmmmm. Yui-chan likes spicy foods, maybe her aunty knows something that can be spicy for breakfast?"
Yui grins widely, "Spicy!"
Kyrie laughs, "I think I might have a recipe up my sleeve for that."
That gets a cheer from Yui, drawing more laughter from their family. Most of her family begins trickling out of the room towards the living room to wait for breakfast somewhere they'll be out of Kyrie's way, but where they can gather to spend time with Yui for her first real day in the physical world, but Mike, who had snuck down to the house in Hogsmeade that her family had bought and through the door in the basement to be here, and Hermione, who had tagged along, both linger with the three of them while she helps Yui down and holds her steady while she finds her balance like she always needs to after standing up for the first time after entering her body. They would be here long enough to have breakfast with them, which would technically be more like an early dinner for the two given the time difference, before they'd have to get back to school.
While she and Yui wait for Kazuto to finish disconnecting the physical cords between Yui's server and his laptop, wrap up the wires, and put everything away into his messages bag, Hermione leans forward a bit and tilts her head in curiosity at Yui, before giving her and her mate glances, "Would it be inappropriate to say that you two seem to have done a wonderful job on her body? Or do you prefer not to talk about the fact that it's artificial."
She raises an eyebrow, "None of us mind. Yui's body is artificial, and Yui herself is an AI. There's no denying that, and why would we anyway? She's alive and she's our daughter in every way that really matters, isn't she?"
Kazuto rounds the bed Yui had been on and runs his fingers through their daughters hair with a grin, "She definitely is."
Yui beams at them both happily, before turning to Hermione with a genuinely innocent expression, "Are you Uncle Mike's girlfriend? Because Mama mentioned that Uncle Mike had a super smart girlfriend, and Uncle Mike talks about his girlfriend a lot, and I figure if he brought you with him then that's probably you, right?"
Mike turns bright red at Yui mentioning that he talks about Hermione a lot, who herself blushes at the point blank question, but she smiles as she replies, "I don't know about super smart, but I'm certainly Mike's girlfriend." Then she bends down to be closer to Yui's eye level and offers her hand to shake, "Hermione Granger, it's nice to meet you Yui, Mike's mentioned you quite a bit as well."
Yui lets go of Kazuto's hand briefly to shake the older girl's hand, "It's nice to meet you too!" Handshake out of the way, they slowly start to make their way to the living room, as they do Yui scrunches up her face thoughtfully, "I don't have a last name though."
Kazuto snorts, "Well that's not true. My last name is Kirigaya, and your mom's is Sparda, and you are our daughter, so you're totally welcome to both of them."
Yui tilts her head, "Maybe, but even though Mama and Papa are married, they never mentioned whether they were both just going to keep their names or if one of you is gonna take the other's name. And I wanna have the same last name as Mama and Papa!"
Despite being married for almost two years, both of them blush at the notion of taking the other's name. Which was quite frankly ridiculous, but Kazuto can't seem to help the reaction anymore than she can. He clears his throat, "Well…. Honestly, it's never really occurred to me, and I don't think it's occurred to your Mama either. In fairness, when I asked her to marry me we were stuck in SAO, and while I learned her real name the same night I proposed, last names weren't really a… thing, in SAO, so I never really thought about it. And by the time we'd made it back to the physical world, I'd just kind of gotten used to the idea that my wife was Marzanna Sparda. It would honestly probably just feel weird if she changed her name to Kirigaya at this point."
She nods in agreement, and Yui looks thoughtful, "You could hyphenate?"
Her expression turns thoughtful as she shares a look with her mate, "Hyphenate it, huh? Maybe? Sparda-Kirigaya? No, sounds weird. Kirigaya-Sparda? That doesn't sound that bad actually."
Kazuto smiles gently, "No, it doesn't sound bad at all."
She returns his smile, then looks down at their daughter, "What do you think?"
Yui adopts an adorably serious look, "Yui Kirigaya-Sparda. Kirigaya-Sparda Yui." A few seconds later, she nods firmly then beams up at them, "I like it! But Yui wants to have the same name, so Mama and Papa gotta too!"
Their attention is drawn to her mother as she enters the conversation, having clearly caught only the tail end of their discussion, "Mama and Papa gotta what?"
When Yui turns her gaze towards where she's sitting on the couch next to dad, she holds her hands out wordlessly asking if Yui wants to sit with her and Dante. With only a brief glance at her and Kazuto to make sure it's ok, she happily scampers over to her grandparents and lets her grandmother lift her into her lap, explaining all the while, "Papa said that I could have either his or Mama's last names since I don't have one, but I wanna have the same last name as Mama and Papa. But they said they'd both gotten so used to each other's last names that even though they're married it'd be weird to get rid of one of them. So I suggested they hyphenate! Mama didn't like how it sounded the other way around, but she liked Kirigaya-Sparda, so that's my name now. Mama and Papa gotta change their names though, so my name is the same as theirs!"
She finishes with her head tilted back to give her grandma a big happy smile. She sighs as she sees both her dad's usual pinched expression when he's once again reminded that his 'little girl' is happily married, and her mother unsurprisingly glances away from her granddaughter to shoot her an amused smile before turning back, "I think that sounds absolutely lovely."
She lets out another sigh when she sees the looks some of her family gives her, knowing she's going to be on the receiving end of more than a little teasing in the near future.
Seeing Yui excitedly chattering away with their family though, she can't help but think that a little good natured teasing was more than worth making her happy. Besides, Marzanna Kirigaya-Sparda sounds pretty nice