DISCLAIMERS: I do not own any of these characters, just the plot.
Chapter 1: The boy, the girl, and the beast
She could feel it. How the curse crept on her skin, spreading further until it covered half of her body.
She was dying, she knew it. She had lost the battle. She had become weak. But deep inside her heart, she was relieved. It was only after she felt the immense pain that throbbed from the huge gash that Akame of Night Raid gave her that she realized that she was somehow…. exhausted.
Esdeath stumbled towards the laying cold corpse of his most beloved person. 'The strong survives and the weak dies.' She smiled bitterly. Tatsumi was weak, that's why he died. And she was also weak like him, that's why she will die as well.
She crouched beside him, lifting him with a single arm and holding him dearly. It had always been him. Before, and until the very end. It had always been Tatsumi. She gazed at him, welcomed by his peaceful resting face. 'It's like he's just sleeping.' She mused, a genuine smile stretching the edges of her lips.
'I guess, it's really time to die.'
For the last time, she released her Teigu, as it started to encase her and the brunette's corpse in ice. He had always denied her, but now, he was fully hers and hers alone. She can finally monopolize him, and the thought made her happy. What of strength? What of weakness? Maybe, if he met Tatsumi earlier than the Night Raid, he could have become a part of her Jaegars; He could've been hers.
She chuckled at her current state. Tatsumi was really sinful; to make her— the ruthless, sadistic, and strongest general of The Empire— feel helpless like this. "It's your entire fault, Tatsumi." She murmured lightheartedly, and the ice closed off all ventilation, shattering after a second and they were gone. Dead—for the capital and revolutionary to rejoice and for Akame to witness.
"Come here this instant, boy! I have already told you two times to prune the garden!" A man bellowed from outside the house, furious at the overlapping leaves of the bushes.
A young boy, no older than 7 years old, then hastily finished the dishes he was currently washing and scurried towards the garden, slightly catching his breath—tired and nervous at the same time. Tired, because he had just finished sweeping, dusting the furniture, wiping the windows, cleaning the bathroom and washing the dishes; Nervous, because he knows that his Uncle Vernon—the man who screamed his name a while back—would hit him again because he was slow.
True to his suspicions, when he had arrived at the place, the man smacked him hard on the head. "When I tell you to do something, obey! Are you disrespecting me, boy?!"
The boy, Harry James Potter, shook his head. He didn't mean to disobey him, he was thinking of pruning it after he washed the dishes. "Certainly not, Uncle Vernon. I was just—"
"I don't need your reasons! Hurry up and do the job! If I see as so much as an inequality on the edges of the bushes, I will not give you any food for three days at all!" His uncle then stormed off, mumbling in his breath of how useless the bespectacled boy was.
The boy in question hung his head and picked up the hedge shears that lay innocently in the toolbox outside the house. He then proceeded to prune the garden, afraid of making any mistakes.
That was when he heard a loud crash beyond the bushes and he was startled and scared. What if the bushes that his uncle had asked him to prune had gotten squashed, or might as well be destroyed?
He hurriedly made his way towards the direction he heard the impact, and when he saw what it was, he gaped, blinked, and considerably paled. What the bloody hell was going on?
Sky-blue lashes fluttered, revealing a pair of beautiful azure hues. 'Is this perhaps, the afterlife?' The bright light that offended Esdeath's eyes certainly did not belong to hell. Was she in heaven, then? She mentally snickered. Funny. Someone like her should be placed in hell, and maybe, she could enjoy herself torturing souls and leashing devils. Heaven does not suit her taste at all.
When Esdeath had managed to fully open her eyes, she took in the situation before her. She was in a garden, that's for sure. Not at all wide unlike the Imperial Palace's, rather, it was too tiny to even start comparing. What entered her line of sight next was a boy with untamed raven hair and emerald eyes.
Her lips parted. His eyes, they were like Tatsumi's beautiful shade of emerald that held gallantry, passion and honesty. Except that the boy's eyes was hazed with fear.
Who was he? Where was she? Wasn't she on the battle with Akame, then she lost and she and Tatsumi… Tatsumi! She snapped out of her reverie, looking for a certain brunette that may or may not be there. Finding only herself and the boy before her within the garden, she smiled in melancholy. Of course, she couldn't have been possibly that lucky.
"U-umm… What are you doing here?" The boy before her asked shyly, but at the same time, his tone slightly demanded.
"I would like to know as well." She answered, and was surprised to say the least that her voice had somehow become… younger. It wasn't the full feminine voice that she used to produce; it was higher in pitch, a voice that she hadn't heard for over a decade.
Fully aware, she looked down and found that her body was smaller in proportion, comparatively that of a child's. Her eyes widened a fraction before squinting in sheer amusement, paired with a feral grin that she usually wore when it's time to hunt. Why, this could be interesting. If the mark between her chest, which was as flat as the grasslands, said something, it would be that she still had the upper hand.
"Of course you would know. How else have you gotten yourself splayed on the bushes otherwise?" The irritation was clear in the boy's tone and wording. He needed her to go away unless he'd get beaten up by his uncle again, and he couldn't have it that maybe the girl would see, or possibly, if his uncle proved to be the horrible and insufferable man that he is, drag the girl and beat her up as well.
However, Harry noted that the girl, who looked like the same age as him, was peculiar, appearance-wise. Her sky-blue hair didn't seem bleached, since her lashes and brows were of the same color. She must've gone crazy if she had bleached her lashes and brows. She was wearing a gray shirt that has strange dark linings for a design, fit black shorts, thick black hair bond that has a cross symbol and he couldn't see any shoes or slippers. Despite his early age, he was a bright child—mature and observant. He could clearly say that she wasn't even at the least, normal. What was the deal with the girl anyway?
Esdeath was elated. She had never have anyone speak to her with that tone, and when they did, she slit their throats slowly, as they trashed and screamed which was but a gurgle of blood that oozed from their necks and mouths, and made them have a full taste of pain. It was retribution and it doesn't matter if it was an enemy or a comrade.
Nonetheless, she felt happy. She wasn't about to quickly mince the boy into pieces, her trained eyes could see that he had the potential within him, despite his skinny and scrawny aspect. Just a little push, some harsh training on some snowy mountain, and pummeling of respect inside his head, he could very well be a fine student of her own. Not that she intend to teach him.
She was about to answer back when the glass window slid open, revealing the boy's uncle, Vernon Dursley, who appeared to be very much displeased to find the boy he was slaving around to be seemingly slacking. "Get to work, you useless freak!" He screamed, mindful of the girl's presence but nonetheless not caring.
Esdeath could see that the boy, who once acted high and mighty, flinched. Oh, so the fat pig was the reason of the fear hazing the boy's emerald eyes? Her lips curled to a frown. And freak? She looked at the ravenette, and he could see him terrified and embarrassed. The boy was an epitome of normalness in her opinion.
"You will not enter this house for the night, understand?! If I so much as see you lifting a foot anywhere inside the house with your freakiness, you will get it from me!" Vernon threatened, and Esdeath could see a fat child—must be the pig's son—and a thin woman behind the hollering man. The piglet was snickering and the m̶̶o̶̶t̶̶h̶̶e̶r̶ horse was grinning.
She then placed a hand on her chin. Was that even possible? For a pig and horse to marry and bear a piglet? She chuckled, and it went unnoticed except for the scarred green-eyed boy.
When Vernon Dursley fastened all the locks in the house, Harry was left outside with Esdeath, silently standing and unmoving from the spot as the sun submerged over the horizon, streaking the skies with gold and orange.
"He really won't let you come in, won't he?" Esdeath asked, eyeing the boy with interest. She honestly did not care, but a plan was formulating inside her head with the speed of lightning.
"As you can see." Harry snorted, disdain and anger in his voice, in which she could figure, that was not directed at her at all.
"Do they always treat you like that?"
She was met by a scoff from the bespectacled male, "Do you even need to ask?"
"That was all I need to know then." The bluenette stood up, dusting herself of the leaves and soil that stuck persistently to her clothes and hair. She then gracefully and soundlessly made her way in front of the glass window and placed a hand on the transparent contraption.
Harry was sort of alarmed, but most of all, he was confused. "What are you doing?"
Esdeath smirked, "This." The window froze, much to Harry's shock, as it splintered into small million glass pieces. She then entered the house and when Harry was out of his trance, he followed closely behind her, about to stop her and interrogate her about a lot of things.
They found the Dursleys seated on the dining table, eyes as wide as saucers seeing the boy that they kicked out of house behind the girl that Vernon remembered to be the one on the garden earlier. "H-How did you manage to break in?!" Vernon demanded, and Esdeath's face darkened, her smile widening by every passing moment.
It was only in the blink of an eye, the obese man collapsed on the ground, holding his left leg which was missing its feet. The son, Dudley, trembled uncontrollably, and the mother, Petunia, erupted into a screaming mess.
Harry could feel his knees weaken as he witnessed how his 'family' was tortured by severing a limb after limb as they spewed their dirty little secrets and lies of promises so that the bluenette would spare them. But Harry knew that Esdeath won't even consider doing so. The glint in her eyes was far too terrifying and sadistic for a 7 year old girl.
When the three Dursleys had passed away after much agony, the bluenette faced the ravenette, her smile a little too outstretched, and her half-lidded squinted eyes superficially staring at the depth of his soul. He was shivering and he knows. He knows, yet he can't stop.
"W-what have you done?!" Harry half-screamed, half-stuttered. He was going to die! He didn't want to die!
Esdeath, at the moment, was bewildered, sporting a baffled expression, "But is this not what you wanted?" She asked innocently, tilting her head to the side. A realization then seemingly hit the girl as she then smiled brightly, "Oh, don't tell me that you're afraid of me because I murdered someone?"
Harry was taken aback. She spoke of murder like it was merely uprooting a flower from a soft soil. It was too natural for her and that greatly frightened him. Who was this girl? Why had she appeared on the garden?
He eyed the ice sword that she used as her tool for homicide. It had appeared out of thin air, and also, when the glass was frozen before shattering. Just what in the bloody hell was she? "Who exactly are you?"
The bluenette beamed at him, trickles of blood that was not hers cascading from her cheek to her chin, "Esdeath. My name is Esdeath. What's yours?"
The ravenette felt obliged to answer, albeit hesitantly, "H-Harry. Harry Potter."
"Harry Potter, hmm…" His name rolled on her tongue, followed by a mischievous chuckle, "Well then, Harry, do you want to come with me?"
The boy blinked, bemused at her offer, "What?"
"I don't need to repeat myself twice, do I?" She frowned, before materializing icicles out of thin air, surrounding her, and the end points pointing at the boy. "I have many choices, Harry. I could kill you right now by impaling all this icicles on your weak body; I could let you go and let you wallow yourself in revenge so that maybe, in the future, you would stop being the weak boy that you are and entertain me with your new found strength; I could let you come with me and train you because I see nothing but locked potential within you. There are many more possibilities but these three are the possible situations that I fancy most."
"A-and you expect me to pick an answer?"
Esdeath exhaled, rather exhausted at all his questions when the answer is obvious. Within a millisecond, an ice half the head of Harry's size emerged beside the boy and clashed on his head, which made his lithe figure fly across the room and slam into the wall. The boy was now unconscious, and Esdeath told herself that she hadn't have lost any time if she had done it sooner.
She slung the unconscious body on her little shoulder like a sack of potatoes. From what she could estimate, her physical prowess was not any lesser as when she had her original form, but only her body proved to be problematic what with its little reach. That does not mean that her speed had decreased, anyhow.
She strolled out of the house casually, roaming the deserted Privet Drive in the middle of night, as she disappeared into the darkness along with the boy titled as "The-Boys-Who-Lived".
Frantic knocks repeated over a certain headmaster's office's door. A slender elderly man, long hair turned to albino after living a rather long life, lifted his gaze away from the papers he was reading, slightly curious, "Come in."
An elderly female wearing a black robe and a pointy dark hat burst inside the room, huffing to catch her breath, "Albus! There's a problem!"
The man, addressed as 'Albus', raised a hand, a gesture to somehow calm the fatigued woman, before inquiring, "What happened, Minerva?"
Minerva trudged towards him, and when the distance between them has lessened, she collected her breath and looked at him in a serious manner, "It's about Harry Potter. He had gone missing, and his relatives were found dead inside the house."
Albus Dumbledore froze in his spot, unbelieving to her words. Her eyes told nothing but the truth and he didn't need Legilimency to prove it. "What do you mean by this, Minerva?" He needed elaboration. The Dark Lord and the Death Eaters surely cannot touch a hair to the Dursleys, or Harry even, because Lily Evans Potter's blood is flowing within them. It shouldn't be possible.
"There wasn't a trace of magic, Albus. The Dursleys were killed in a…" Minerva trailed, remembering the scene that she saw when she checked on the family in her animagus cat form as the house was filled by scattered police, investigating. "T-their bodies were sundered into pieces. The muggles speculated that a lunatic may have entered the house and killed them with some sort of tool and they specified that it could be a knife, or something sharp. I have seen the bodies as well, and I could only agree. Oh, Albus, what are we to do? Death Eaters or the Dark Lord aside, Harry might be kidnapped by a murderer muggle!"
Dumbledore looked like he was taking the news very well, but he was inwardly panicking. What if they were too late? What would happen to young Harry? "Minerva, call upon The Order and have them track the muggle. When we could successfully find the location, we will apparate at once. Tell them to be ready." His voice raised and Minerva flinched before hurrying outside, contacting The Order.
Albus pulled out a sheet of paper that has the possible students to enter the Hogwarts on 1991, and managed to find that Harry's name was still there. He sighed in relief. He hadn't had his heart thump loudly like that for a while. The last one had been when young Tom Riddle declared himself as Lord Voldemort and killed muggles for his own cause, the first had been when he had a three-way battle with Aberforth Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald.
Although, his relief was short lived.
Slowly, as if tormenting his hopes, the "Harry James Potter" printed on the list faded, letter by letter, as he grabbed his elder wand hastily. He had no time to wait for The Order to locate Harry. He then apparated himself from his office.
It was indeed a very strange occurrence.
Esdeath, with all her glory, stood upon a lake, watching her reflection being mirrored by the surface of the body of water. She was sure as of now that she indeed had turned into a child. However, that was the least of her concerns.
She suddenly found herself in a forest while she was merely walking on the streets. She was positive that she had seen no forest whatsoever as she walked (with the unconscious body) and when she turned to an alley, she found herself by the lake and the alley behind her was already gone.
Esdeath pursed her lips; she didn't like it when something is beyond her knowledge. She ought to know everything.
That was when she heard footsteps from a distance—about a thousand and five hundred meters—and from what she could count and by the form, she knew that there were about 30-40's and… Her lips parted, some kind of beast? She wasn't very familiar with it if it was. And here she thought that she already knew all the beasts from across the land.
Her signature sadistic smirk graced her features, her eyes glowing red by the momentum, 'It's time to hunt!'
She instantly disappeared from her spot, and it took only a second to reappear behind the said beasts, up into the sky and free falling. As the flurry of wind cooled her face, she was able to assess the beasts that she was about to kill.
The former general was slightly surprised at their appearance—a lion with a scorpion's tail… and a human head? Her smirk by now has stretched from ear to ear. 'I guess I might want to leave a few to use for slaves.'
"Weissschnabel.*" She whispered, and with a flick of a hand, hundreds of icicles appeared from thin air, raining towards the beasts—or manticores—and impaling half of them, as the beasts were finally aware that they were under attack.
Esdeath gracefully landed on the ground, her eyes hidden behind her bangs, a long ice sword emerging as she gripped on it. She didn't even say anything, only taking an instant before beheading seventeen manticores. Merely a single one was left, and being an aggressive, dominating, and feared beast the manticores are, for the first time, it was terrified. Because it probably didn't even need to see its kind die in front of its eyes to know that the girl in front of it is monstrous than any of them.
Esdeath disappointedly 'Aww'd, her facial expression with her scary smirk still stayed intact, as she sauntered towards the beast. The beast found itself paralyzed, its instincts to flee going haywire after every step the bluenette took.
"It's such a shame that I couldn't stop myself. I wanted to keep at least two or three but I guess you'll do." Esdeath kicked the manticore's face and pummeled it on the ground. It should be lucky that Esdeath didn't have any shoes with heels, or maybe even slippers to coat her feet, or it would suffer immensely from pain. Not that its current suffering was any better as it was pinned under her with a bare foot.
The manticore growled, its eyes darting dangerously towards Esdeath, "What in the world are you, human?!" It demanded, and it saw how the bluenette's hair billowed in the air; how the gleam in her eyes was pleasured from its suffering; how her lips was stretched to a sadistic smile; how, she, Esdeath, was far more superior than anything and everything that it has encountered.
"I am the one who dominates." She declared in arrogance, as she leaned forward, twisting her feet so that the manticore writhed more in pain, "An inept slab of meat such as you should be offering services to me."
The manticore's eyes widened, comprehending what she wanted from it. 'Submission.' A grin spread across the manticore's face, "To think that a human would force me to submit. Interesting!"
Esdeath smirked. The beast still held to its pride despite being on the verge of death. Not that she cared since it'll be under her anyway.
"I see. So there are two kinds of humans: The wizards and muggles, correct?" Esdeath placed a hand on her chin, musing, as she sat on a large rock that could be found beside the tree near the lake, her legs crossing. It had been a while since they got back to the lake, and the manticore was made to admit everything he knew. Esdeath was wise enough to understand every of his explanation without repetition, although, she tended to ask about which that was unclear for her.
"That's right. Right now, we are in the magical world. From what you have said earlier, you must have passed through a portal that leads to this place." The manticore curled in front of her, between them was a wood fire that illuminated the area that they occupied. It still couldn't believe that the one who defeated it and its companions was but a muggle. A muggle that knows how to use magic. Could it be…?
"You might be a muggleborn, er…" the manticore trailed, not knowing how to call her.
"Esdeath." The bluenette supplied, "And muggleborn? Is that not a witch born to a muggle family?"
"Precisely. Muggleborns aren't that rare. From what I could sense from you, you are a wizard. I can't say for sure about your…physical proficiency that you have shown earlier, but the ice that you created was proof enough that you are a wizard."
Esdeath chuckled, "I believe not. I know the source of my power, when and where I was able to attain it." She then looked at the tree beside the manticore, and there could be seen, the young boy-who-lived, back against the tree and in deep slumber. "But he, I suppose, is a wizard. The pig that he lived with called him a 'freak'."
The manticore stared at the boy with a critical eyes before standing up—four-legged as usual—and making his way to the said bespectacled boy and sniffed him. "Indeed, he is a wizard. There is a charm present within him. Should I remove it? Us manticores are gifted with skills that can repel charms, however complicated it is."
"Charm?" The 7 year old girl raised a brow, "What kind?"
"A locating charm. Every possible students of a magical school are bestowed with said charm so that when it is time that they attend the school, a letter will be sent to inform them."
"How compelling. Alright then, repel it. I wish to cut this place from any parts of the world, and the locating charm will not help. Tell me, how many more creatures are within this forest?"
"There are many kinds, since this is a magical forest, and people are advised to not go here unless they wish to meet their end. There are centaurs, pixies, elves, trolls—a mixture of beasts and beings. This place is a winter woodland. It snows here all year long, and has only three days of summer. This would be the last day of the three days." The manticore continued to apprise as it slowly placed its claw on Harry's arm, as the boy jolted, "It's now repelled."
"Rather convenient. I was trying to find a snowy mountain, but I guess this place will serve its purpose." She then rose from her seat and strode towards the lake, submerging her hand in the cold water.
"What are you—" The manticore's words cut itself off as it gaped at the sight it saw: A giant castle of ice surfaced from the huge lake, taking up ¾ of the space. It was intricately designed—the stairs, the doors, the walls—as it shone under the moonlight.
A pillar of ice then appeared from beneath Esdeath and shot her upwards, making her see the extent of the humongous woodland. Her signature smirk stretched her lips, as she held her hand up, and borders of ice sprung up from the ground just beyond the last tree of the forest, continuing to rise until it overlapped the overall height of the castle itself.
The winter woodland was by now a fortress of ice, inaccessible to anyone outside, as the ones who were inside were unable to get out.
Large beads of sweat rolled from the manticore's forehead to its chin, witnessing what the bluenette had done. When Esdeath finally made her way down to the ground, it couldn't help but ask her, "Really, just what in the world are you? Where have you gotten such—such tremendous power?"
"It is not your place to know." Esdeath responded and gripped Harry's shirt, proceeding to place him in her shoulder once more, much like a sack. She then strolled towards the castle as the manticore was left to watch her back, still unmoving and not recovering from the shock.
"If you are not going to come," The bluenette turned her head towards the feared beast, a feral smile gracing her features, "I will chop off all your limbs and will forcibly make you."
The manticore could only do nothing but obey. Not that it wasn't willing to.
Albus Dumbledore held his breath, as he stood motionless in his office.
He was sure that he apparated himself. But he found himself unable to do so, and no matter how much he tried. What was happening? He should've been able to rescue Harry within an instant, but he couldn't do as much as to apparate to a murderer muggle!
He could hear a few rushed stomps, and the members of The Order started to pour from his office one by one. Kingsley Shacklebott, Edgar Bones, Emmeline Vance, Molly Weasley, Arthur Weasley, Sirius Black, Minerva McGonagall, and Remus Lupin were all catching their breaths as they entered the office. Behind them were late-comers—a woman with red hair that fell to her shoulders and a pair of green almond-shaped eyes, and a tall thin man with glasses.
"Is it—Is it true, Dumbledore? What of Harry? What became of Harry?" the woman, Lily Evans Potter, was visibly shaken, her eyes teary and her lips trembling. The man beside her, James Potter, looked as pale as a sheet, dreading the answer.
"We must apparate at once!" Sirius Black growled as he suggested, and earned a few nods from the members that came.
"I have tried that. And it would seem that I cannot." Albus admitted as he faced them, his head hung low, both ashamed and grieving.
"What?! Outrageous! Ridiculous! Are you saying that you cannot apparate to Harry?!" James snapped, his face a contortion of anger, disbelief, and worry. "You are the strongest wizards and apparating should be easy! Fine, I will be the one doing it!"
"Wait, James, don't be so hasty—"
"Hasty?! My son's life is possibly in danger! He could be—" He cut his words off, his breath shaky and gulping a large lump that formed in his throat, "H-he could be dead, for all we know!" He then gritted his teeth before apparating, as he became a blur of black swirl and disappeared. After a second, he reappeared on the same spot and The Order could only gasp.
"This, I believe, was what I have undergone before any of you have arrived here." This caught the Order's attention as they looked at Albus, while Lily Potter hugged his husband, both of them now shedding tears.
"I have checked the list of the possible students that will be attending Hogwarts on 1991, and I was able to find Harry's name. However, it slowly disappeared, and that could only mean one thing…" Dumbledore coiled his hands, and everyone present on the room became stiff.
Lily was the first one to collapse on her feet as she sobbed so hard, her hands covering her face. James knelt beside her and embraced her tightly, unbelieving that his son was dead. This was followed by a pregnant silence.
"Lily… Prongs…" Sirius could only look at them as they wept for their loss. The child that they tried to protect so he could not be dragged on the war because his elder brother already was—gone, and never coming back; unable to know that he still have a family to come back to; unable to know that he had a father, a mother, and an older brother that he should be proud of; never again seen; never to be held on any of their arms and feel their warmth.
Lily wailed, her tears cascading unstoppably, as her screams pierced through the silence that was by now followed by a few sobs coming from the members, and James' own.
Albus could only keep silent as he pressed his eyes shut. He could do nothing, and he knew it. Which is why, it was so vexing.
And that was when Harry James Potter, son of James Potter and Lily Potter, younger brother of Charlus Alexius Potter, died.
Weissschnabel*(literally meaning "White Mouth"): The user creates several icicles from thin air and fires them at the user's target by a simple hand gesture.
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