A/N: Yes, its been forever since an update. No, I didn't abandon this. Stay safe out there everyone.
Said teenager makes a noise of acknowledgment as he prepares for bed. The method of spreading one's body across a mattress was an art. Only the smartest of people knew the art of the perfect sleep. He would consider himself one of the few if his thoughts were not all over the place. His missing memories, the threat of the Dark Hour and a foreign culture wasn't even half of the problems he has to face. The only indication of his mild anxiety was his hands mussing up the sheets. The midnight hour was approaching with a tentative goal in focus, the last few days being hectic as a result. Dumbledore letting them stay in the 'magical castle' and giving them somewhat free reign of the place was a nice distraction at least. As faculty, Makoto knows that he needs to learn the ropes of the nonsensical Wizarding World to blend in.
Wizards somehow managed to make the basic act of walking an obtuse chore. Everything was so far from reality that Ryoji was coping better than him. Makoto can admit he never did well without some kind of routine. Ryoji calls him again as he sat on the bed, making him slide slightly into him. He was too tired to have any kind of conversation. The least he could do was turn his head towards his other half. He was mildly surprised to see a serious look on Ryoji's face. Great. They were going to have the talk tonight. There was no escaping it.
"What don't you remember?"
He wanted to say, "I don't know", but there really wasn't much point in trying to lie.
A sigh fought its way out of him as he turned his gaze to the ceiling. "The entire year other than you and the final fight. I suspect this has something to do with it." Makoto raised his tattooed arm and flung it across his stomach, tuning out Ryoji's disturbed exclamation.
The first clue was knowing that he remembered the train ride to Iwatodai as a transfer student. Makoto knew he was asocial at the best times but he had to have made friends. There was no feasible way that he could have taken Nyx on alone. Igor made it quite clear that even with the powers of a Wild Card, he was only as strong as his bonds. Bonds mean people he cared for, was willing to die for. Everything after was a hazy blur of faceless people he should know and places that left him feeling nostalgic. Ryoji stared at his face with an empty expression, staring at his arm. With that look, it was plain to see there was something inhuman about him. A thing wearing a mask, observing and waiting. It was a ongoing miracle that Ryoji enjoyed humanity for what they were.
"Curses can be broken. Whatever that bastard did is no match for you. We just have to be careful. You're good at that." Ryoji said as he laid down beside him with a small smile, "...So many people loved you and that's why you beat me. Beat Her. Maybe this time you can live."
Makoto didn't answer him. Instead, he let his eyes close and tried to find the right words to convey how he felt. "Dying is inevitable. There is nothing wrong with accepting it. I wouldn't be able to summon my Persona otherwise."
"...You amaze me. Didn't you even think about the future? Getting a job? Getting married maybe?"
"Mm, no. I feel that that year was the best time of my life. I have nothing to regret."
He was sure in his choice. Life until that year was akin to swimming in the ocean. Some days he can float on the surface and let the waves push him along. More days than he would care to admit were spent caught in the undertow, wanting to sink beneath the water. As if knowing where his thoughts were leading, Ryoji jostled him as he hopped off the bed with a mischievous light in his eyes. Then he was being tugged out of his comfortable spot and into some makeshift dance that had a lot of spinning. He could feel a smile trying to form on his face and gave his best exasperated look, pushing at his chest to free himself. His expression only made the other more determined as he tightened his grip on his hand, slowing their momentum until they were at a gentle sway.
"Let me go, you idiot. I want go to bed and you need to go explore the castle." If one thing Ryoji excelled at, it was cheering him up. This was this same idiot who changed his life that he still has little ways of explaining. His idiot. How could he ever explain how grateful he was for companionship? His Pharos who came every night as the full moons approached to warn him of his next battle. His Thanatos reeking of death and darkness and always his violent protector from the Shadows. His Ryoji that wanted to shelter him from the coming of Nyx and walked out his room with a somber smile. His Harbinger that was apologetic to end when Makoto used all his power to kill him wasn't enough to stop Nyx from descending. His Pharos and Ryoji and Thanatos and Harbinger and his idiot who stayed by his side in the Sea to protect him. Not out of some obligation or penance but because it was anyone would do for their soulmate. Makoto knew he lost when he could feel the soft smile he'd tried to hide on his lips, leaning forward to rest his head on Ryoiji's shoulder.
He could hear the warm triumph in Ryoji's voice, encasing him a loose hug. "Nope, you can't hide that smile from me. Totally saw it. "
Makoto pushed himself away and turned back to the bed, unable to stop himself from letting out a small laugh. "Don't know what you're talking about. I have a long day tomorrow. Out."
"Yeah yeah, heard ya loud and clear, Makoto-sama."
Idiot. He let out a groan and threw an extra pillow at Ryoji's retreating form, huffing when it hit the door instead. He flopped down on the be and wrapped himself in the covers. Everything would be fine for the moment.
The Dark Hour felt different in the castle that was sure. Ryoji wasn't too sure how he could describe it and he could feel the discordance in his being. Not an outright rejection, more like a cautious mingling, not knowing what could slip through the cracks on either side. His exploration of the castle last night was enough to keep him occupied. The architecture was awe inspiring and made him wonder if Tartarus could be if it had a more orderly nature. The moving staircases, the sentient paintings, the spirits and the heady feeling of a subtle presence in the air. It was like the castle was alive. Was it alive? If it was as old as Dumbledore said, Ryoji wouldn't be so surprised.
Hundred of thousands of humans leaving imprints of memories and emotions was bound to create something. It looked spectacular from the outside as well. The sheer nature of the place calmed something inside him that he couldn't place. Ryoji blew air into his hands to warm them up, leaning back on the arch in the courtyard. He could feel in his bones that he was somewhat unwelcome in this environment. If he were a betting man, the magic of the castle saw him as a threat. He was fine within its walls as long as he didn't do anything harmful. The thought made him his chuckle. Like he would have to think about doing something harmful. He was a monster. A eldritch horror that humans failed to comprehend.
Makoto was the one who gave him humanity. It was a constant whisper etched into his soul that he held onto like a lifeline. Ryoji remembered teleporting back to the room at the first fading of the Dark Hour, Makoto sleeping soundly in the bed. It was just like all those night years ago. All he could do was sit at the edge of the bed and watch him. Watching that foreboding energy from Nyarlathotep slithering across his soulmate's arm and chest, trying to pry the cracks open the bastard made coming into the world. Feelings of nostalgia and sadness welled up; he didn't deserve how the other treated him.
He would never say it with words, no. Makoto wasn't the kind of person to show anything outward. He came across as aloof at best, unfeeling at worst. It took time but the other was one of the most caring people he ever met. Wasn't it a saying that those felt the most never showed it or something? Makoto put his upmost focus into every action. Listening to people's problems, going out of his way to help in that blunt way of his, making sure he always had time to hang out even if he had to change plans. Ryoji smiled to himself and couldn't help but laugh; he and Junpei used to joke that making plans with Makoto was like planning a meeting with a CEO. It was a miracle that he managed to keep all the appointments he planned and went out at nights to Tartarus to fight Shadows.
So much times had passed since then. How many years was it now? Four? Five? Ryoji wondered what he could do to bring Makoto's memories of S.E.E.S back. There had to be a reason those memories was targeted. To weaken Makoto's connection to his Personas? Ryoji didn't know how it worked and unless Makoto told him, there was little he could do on that front. He tilted his head back to stare of at the lawn of castle, focusing on the things he could help with. Makoto was right, a cell phone would be great right now. A lot of information they were in the dark about could be easily found if they had access to the internet. The Granger girl said that electronics didn't work with magic which was stupid. These people could turn fireplaces into teleports but didn't know what a telephone was.
Irritating and backwards was what it was. Didn't Kirijo-senpai's motorcycle work without electricity? Yeah, he was sure that Makoto told him about it at some point. Some kind of special anti-Shadow technology and wasn't that just convenient? Whatever magic these wizards carried might be enough for the tech to bypass. He wondered how he could get his hands on any of it.
"What are you doing out here so early, Ryoji?" His head turns to the sound of his name to see Makoto coming into the courtyard, raising his hand in greeting. He watched take in his surroundings with a lazy gaze and if he didn't know him as well as he did, he would say he looked like he didn't get any sleep. He had his sword strapped onto his hip and was twirling his wand in his hand. Ryoji narrowed his eyes in curiosity at his behavior, motioning his head to the empty bench to sit. It looked like he was fidgeting. Makoto didn't fidget. Something was up. "Mm, exploring. This place is huge! One of the paintings told me there's a giant squid in the lake. We gotta see it later!"
"...Right. Giant squid. The courtyard is pretty enough, I guess." Makoto obviously didn't have an eye for architectural aesthetic. How could he act like he was talking bullshit? This was the same castle they saw dead people floating around just a few hours ago. Ryoji waited until he sat before taking the spot beside him, nudging him with a shoulder. He could push a little to see what was up. "Dumbledore-sensei said he wanted to see my Persona. He's bringing his staff and whatever Order members were free."
"What? Can you even summon with that wand? How you gonna shoot yourself with it?" He knew his own mana reserves were nowhere close to being replenished. It would take another two weeks, a month if he was being generous. It wouldn't stop him from being to defend himself. He was more worried about would happen to him when the first full moon rolled around. Would he disappear? Be stuck in his Pharos form? Or would the gods be kind and allow him to don Thanatos again to fight by Makoto's side? Makoto's indifferent shrug did not make him feel any better. He could see that the other would need to be careful with his reserves. It was barely half.
"So what do you think will happen?" He added. Makoto looked up from twirling his wand, surprised, then he shrugged. "It'll work itself out. It's just one Persona. I might have 'forgotten' to mention I can summon more than one. How about you?" He glanced at Ryoji before turning his attention back to his wand.
"Fighting? That...remains to be seen. Ask me after the first full moon." Ryoji didn't want to think about it. He can focus on that when the Dark Hour came. A passing breeze worked it way underneath his jacket, making him lean closer for warmth. He thought he would get the usual complaint about 'personal space' when he realized what Makoto was wearing. He couldn't stop the snort of laughter from coming out. It got him a hard elbow jab in the side but he didn't care. Someone found a spare school uniform and Makoto was wearing it along with Ryoji could only assume was a cape. Cloak robe thing? A clasp across the chest with the school emblem on it kept it from falling off and he didn't even have his arms in the sleeves.
"Shut up. Some elves, I think, left them for me since I can't magically make clothes for myself."he said, motioning to Ryoji's new peacoat.
He took a shaky breath to get his giggles under control. Okay, Makoto did have a point. Just another thing to put on the to do list. He put his hands up in apology seeing he was about to get a sword hilt instead of an elbow to the ribs. Ryoji knew how to get himself out of such a situation. He tugged at his elbow, making he sure he was away from the fancy sword and starting pointing out the things he discovered during the night.