Chapter 7: Let's Talk Again Someday.
The moment Amon regained consciousness, he groaned. Groggily, he blinked his eyes, wincing when he felt the painful throbbing in his temples. "What…?" His voice cracked and he coughed to clear his throat before trying again, still hoarse despite his efforts. "What happened? We didn't…drink last night…Shinohara?" Why did he feel like he had the world's worst hangover? Amon struggled to recall drinking anything that could be considered even remotely alcoholic.
"Amon?" Shinohara asked, his voice somewhat slurred from sleep. "What are you doing on the floor?"
"Huh?" Confused, Amon scanned his surroundings and discovered that Shinohara's observation was correct. He was slumped on the floor beside his bed and for the life of him he couldn't remember how it had happened.
Blearily, Amon's gaze drifted to the tent's magical clock, his eyes widening upon seeing the time displayed. '4pm?!' They had already slept through the entire morning and almost half of the afternoon! Why didn't Kaneki wake them?
A hand entered Amon's vision and he gladly took it, accepting Shinohara's aid in helping him stand. "Thanks."
"No problem. How are you feeling?" Shinohara queried, concerned as Amon swayed slightly on his feet.
"Like I've had too much to drink last night. I'll survive," replied Amon, honestly. A quick glance around the room revealed a distinct lack in presence of a certain white-haired half-ghoul. "Where's Kaneki?" Amon approached the couch Kaneki had claimed as his bed, and stood before it with Shinohara by his side.
It was empty. Only the blankets and Amon's coat remained.
Amon brushed his fingertips against the grey material of his old coat, remembering the night he had lent it to the one-eyed ghoul. "Amon…he's over here," said Shinohara from where he was standing next to the sofa, pointing at something hidden behind it. Upon seeing the half-ghoul on the floor, Amon's eyes widened.
Two mismatched eyes stared unseeingly at the ceiling, one eye like a swirling grey cloud contrasting with the black haze in the eye beside it. There was a disturbingly peaceful smile on his unmasked face.
"Kaneki?" Amon asked, worried, as he crouched beside the white-haired boy.
Amon waved a hand in front of Kaneki's glazed eyes and snapped his fingers.
…Not even a single blink.
"What do you think happened to him?" Shinohara questioned, gently nudging the half-ghoul with his foot. "Something must have happened last night. You're not the only one with a killer headache, Amon."
'Yes…something must have happened…but what?' Amon pondered, his gaze wandered from his untidy bedcovers to his briefcase lying haphazardly on its side, half open as though he had tried to grab it while suddenly being ambushed by a ghoul. Huh? He always takes good care of his quinque's container, he would never leave it lying around like that. It's precious to him.
A surprise attack…
Someone attacked them…
A spark flickered to life somewhere in the back of Amon's mind and then it all clicked into place as memories rapidly flashed before his wide eyes.
An electric blue eye spinning to a stop, staring into their sleeping forms. He felt its piercing gaze.
A shiver crawling up his spine. His instincts shouting.
He lunged for his briefcase, Shinohara's and Kaneki's names on the tip of his tongue.
His fingers curl around the cold handle.
An invisible force collides into his chest and he braces himself to keep his balance.
"Kaneki! Shinohara!" He shouts but no sound escapes him. The spell had muted him.
A second spell races towards him, too fast for him to dodge. From the corner of his eye, Amon could see Shinohara yelling noiselessly. There was a look of horror in his friend's eyes as Amon felt the spell make contact with him, instantly draining the energy from his body.
As the world fades into the darkness, Amon sees the vicious glint of glee in Moody's eyes. He distantly feels his knees give out followed by the weightless sensation of his falling body.
"It…it was Moody. Shinohara, he was the one who did this!" Amon growled.
"Why would he do this to us? What does he have to gain by doing this?" Questioned Shinohara, troubled.
"I'm not sure. That's what we need to find out," answered Amon, grimly. A pensive silence enveloped them, heavy and oppressive.
When the tent flap opened, it was as though the heavy atmosphere-which had been pressing down on them-had glided out through the opening like a shy child silently slipping through a gap in the door.
"Are yeh all up?" They heard Hagrid's voice boom before they saw his towering figure enter the tent. "It's going to be a big day fer yeh all!"
"A special class?" Shinohara guessed, trading confused looks with Amon.
"No, o' course not! Haven't yeh been told already?" Upon seeing their blank expressions and furrowed eyebrows, Hagrid added. "The Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament starts today at sundown!"
"What?!" Exclaimed both Amon and Shinohara, in sync.
"It starts in a few hours so we need teh get Eyepatch down to the Quidditch pitch before everyone arrives. Usually, we get everything prepared before the task starts, like the other magical creatures tha' are in the Third Task, but since we've been using the ghoul in the lessons, we left him until last minute," informed Hagrid, cheerfully.
What about their plan to escape?!
"Is there any way that you can disguise the portkey, so that no-one gets suspicious?" Amon asked the trio of magical teenagers before him.
"Portkeys are often objects that muggles-I mean non-magical people- consider as trash. Like a punctured football, a rusty spoon, an old, muddy boot or-"
"An empty bottle," interjected Harry, adding to Hermione's list.
"Food wrappers." Ron supplied.
"How about a torn book?" Shinohara queried.
"Yes, that would work…" Hermione confirmed, humming thoughtfully, then her eyes lit up as the comprehension dawned on her. "Oh! I see! Since I've been bringing Eyepatch so many books lately, it wouldn't be suspicious if I brought you the portkey in the form of a book." Shinohara nodded.
"What about the wards?" Eyepatch enquired, rubbing a phantom pain on his forehead, recalling the time he had escaped and ran face-first into an invisible magical barrier.
"Those wards aren't made to prevent magic-users from getting in or out. They're made to keep muggles and ghouls in," explained Hermione. "The portkey would get you through them with no trouble at all."
"Sounds like a plan," commented Amon, grinning.
Amon and Shinohara could do nothing but watch as 'Plan A' crumbled before their eyes. Could they rely on 'Plan B' instead?
The smile faded as Amon's lips straightened into a grim line, serious. "What about our backup plan? We can't put all of our eggs into one basket."
"The only way to get through the wards would be when Dumbledore allows it: on the day of the Third Task. It's risky…but…" Hermione trailed off, her eyes burning with a fiery determination. "Eyepatch would most likely be led there by his chain…if you were the one to hold it, Mr. Amon, all you would have to do is..."
"Let go…" Amon finished.
"We'll meet up elsewhere, like in the Forbidden Forest, I could give you the portkey then," the young witch suggested.
"What if you haven't finished it? What then?"
"That won't happen, I'll make sure of it."
No. It wouldn't work. Not anymore. Not while Eyepatch is like that.
How could they escape now?
Transporting Kaneki to the Third Task's location was no easy feat as Amon and Shinohara quickly discovered. Every word they said to the, now masked, half-ghoul went unheard as Kaneki stood rooted to the tent's carpet, staring blankly his feet.
When Amon gave the boy's arm a gentle tug, Kaneki promptly collapsed onto the floor, boneless. "Kaneki? Hey, Eyepatch. Get up, we need to go." Giving up on waiting for a response from the white-haired ghoul, Amon draped one of Kaneki's arms around his shoulders before pulling the boy up onto his feet again. As Amon took a step forward, he realised that Kaneki's feet were dragging along the ground like he had forgotten how to walk, making the investigator's task twice as difficult as it should be.
Seeing his friend struggling, Shinohara sighed and moved to help Amon support Kaneki by taking the boy's other arm. "Need a hand?" Shinohara offered, amused as he adjusted his hold around the young ghoul.
"Thank you, Shinohara," said Amon, gratefully. Together, the three of them shuffled through the tent's exit to join the waiting wizards.
"Good afternoon, Investigators," greeted Dumbledore, "Alastor, Rubeus and I shall be escorting you to the maze. This spell will allow you to pass through the wards today," as expected, there was a bright flash of light as the wizard elegantly waved his wand. "Please follow me."
Once Dumbledore had turned his back on them, Amon and Shinohara traded looks after throwing Moody suspicious glances. If Mad-Eye noticed their staring, he didn't show it, instead he whirled around to face them. "Don't let go of that chain. I'll know if you do," warned Moody, tapping his prosthetic eye which was locked onto Kaneki's limp form.
A tense silence fell over the group making the two investigators feel uneasy and unsettled. It didn't help that Amon could feel Moody's unnerving gaze stabbing into the back of his head as he and Shinohara hauled Kaneki's slack body through the forest.
Amon noted that the path they were taking was very different to the path they had taken on their journey to the castle. Once they arrived at the forest's edge, a different-yet still very mystical- view awaited them.
A stadium, not unlike the Japanese football stadiums that both Amon and Shinohara were familiar with, stood tall and imposing before them. The surrounding fog was thick and shrouded protectively around the stadium as though it could hide it from their sight. Amon felt a shiver crawl down his spine as his instincts warned him to turn around right now and head back to somewhere safe, far away.
"This way, quickly now, we don't have much time," urged Dumbledore, snapping the investigators out of their frozen stupor. They followed the wizards through the stadium's entrance only to come face-to-face with a wall of foliage that stretched high into the darkening sky above them.
"What is this?" Shinohara whispered, breathless. "Shouldn't there be a playing field in here?"
"Usually, yes, that is the case but for today's task we have repurposed it," explained Dumbledore, cordially, as he led them over to an open space beside a gap in the hedge. "This is where the champions will be entering the maze. For now, let's get the ghoul inside before the audience arrives. Rubeus will show you where to put him."
"I've got just the spot to put 'im in," boomed Hagrid, "Stay close to me now, we don't want yeh to be getting lost." The second they had stepped foot inside the maze, the world became ominously hushed. With a wall of dark leaves towering over them on either side, there was a rapidly growing feeling of claustrophobia in Amon's throat, silently suffocating him with its stifling presence. Something wasn't right…it's not safe…
He needs to get out of there.
He should take Kaneki and Shinohara with him before it is too late.
"Amon!" Shinohara shouted, cutting into Amon's spiralling anxiety. Amon raised his head to meet the concerned gazes of Shinohara and Hagrid. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes. I'm fine, don't worry," reassured Amon, Shinohara's expression displayed his disbelief at Amon's answer prompting him to continue. "I just…have a bad feeling about this that's all." His fingers tightened in Kaneki's black sleeve, his knuckles white. Shinohara nodded, an understanding expression taking over the features of his face. Mado Kureo had always said to trust his instincts.
They took several winding turns, three lefts and four rights, until they came to a stop halfway down one of the longer pathways. "Here we are," announced Hagrid, heartily. "Put 'im down over here."
Crouching, Amon and Shinohara carefully eased Kaneki's limp form to slide down onto the grassy ground as they released him from their grip. Kaneki only stared blankly at them from where he was slumped upon the damp grass, his kakugan as misty as the fog that enshrouded the maze.
"Kaneki…snap out of it, we still need your help to escape," murmured Amon, giving the half-ghoul one final worried look before he stood and joined the others in their journey back.
Amon and Shinohara searched the stadium's empty stands for the best seats, seats that were high enough to provide them with a view to see inside the maze as well as being strategically placed near the aisles for an easy escape. Once they found their chosen seats, they settled down to anxiously wait for the Third Task to begin. It wasn't long before the first student arrived and the two investigators were pleasantly surprised to see that it was Hermione who was making her way over to them.
"There you are, I was worried. We were following you the whole time through the forest but you didn't try to escape." They watched as Hermione rummaged inside her bag and withdrew a book from within. "Look, I finished the portkey. It won't activate until I complete the spell on it. When you're ready, I'll start its timer, that way it'll be easier for all three of you to grab hold of it before it leaves."
"Thank you, Miss Granger, for helping us," said Amon, sincerely.
Hermione smiled brightly in response, a light pink dusting her cheeks. "You're welcome, Mr. Amon. I hope you get back home safely." She then gasped softly, "Oh! I just remembered, you might want to use one of these." The young witch began to dig inside her bag once again before bringing out what seemed to be two bizarre binoculars. Handing one to each of the investigators, she explained: "They're called omnioculars, they're like the muggle binoculars except omnioculars can also slow down, replay and give you a play-by-play breakdown too."
"Sounds useful," commented Shinohara as he and Amon examined the magical objects they were given. They watched as the champions arrived on scene with a group of adults, each with a luminous red star on their robes. Several minutes passed before the rest of the crowd arrived, excited chatter filled the air as the students filed into the stands. Ron soon joined them, taking a seat beside Hermione as he flashed them all an eager grin.
A loud, amplified voice interrupted the audience's animated conversations, drawing everyone's attention to the wizard standing before the podium. "Ladies and gentlemen, the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament is about to begin!"
"That's Ludovic Bagman, he's the head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports," informed Hermione, helpfully.
"Let me remind you how the points currently stand! Tied in first place, on eighty-five points each-Mr. Cedric Diggory and Mr. Harry Potter, both of Hogwarts School!" The crowd cheers rang loudly in the investigators' ears, almost deafening in their volume. "In second place, on eighty points- Mr. Viktor Krum, of Durmstrang Institute!"
A different section of the crowd-decked in crimson colours-on the other side of the stands, cheered proudly. "And in third place-Miss Fleur Delacour, of Beauxbatons Academy!" More cheers followed Bagman's statement, this time from a blue section of the stands. "So…on my whistle, Harry and Cedric! Three, two, one…"
Bagman gave a short blast on his whistle, signalling the two Hogwarts champions to enter the daunting maze. Amon was shocked to see the hedges shift to close the gap once Harry had stepped foot into the maze, trapping the fourteen-year-old teen inside.
Holding the omnioculars up in front of his eyes, Amon scanned the magical maze in search of the eye-patched half-ghoul, looking for Kaneki's tell-tale white hair. The dense fog obscured most of his view of the maze's pathways turning what should be a quick, simple task into a time-consuming challenge. Vaguely, Amon heard a second shrill note of the whistle as he finally located the half-ghoul.
When the third whistle blew, Amon saw Kaneki rise onto his feet.
The Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament has begun.
Everything is peaceful in Kaneki's hazy mind. He feels calm, like he can let go of all his responsibilities and worries. He doesn't need to worry about protecting them. He doesn't need to think about anything. He only needs to bask in this wonderful, relaxing feeling.
Somewhere in a distant chamber of his empty brain, Mad-Eye's voice disturbed his peace.
Attack the champions…attack the champions…attack the champions…
Mindlessly, Kaneki began to obey the voice, sprinting down the pathway as he chased the alluring, sweet scent of human meat.
'Why should I?' Kaneki thought, skidding to a stop at a fork in the maze. He didn't want to harm anyone.
Moody's voice ordered and Kaneki felt an intense urge to comply. Gripping his hair, he tried to resist it.
"No!" He screamed.
Attack them! NOW!
The fog surrounding his brain thickened, instantly wiping every single thought of resistance from his mind. Kaneki absently noted that his body had taken off again, darting around each corner and dashing along the grassy corridors as his nose pinpointed the source of the nearest human scent.
Closest to the source, the delicious scent is overpowering causing him to drool. Kaneki is only distantly aware that he had pounced, his body numb to the feeling of flesh struggling in his hold.
'You need to unzip your mask first, Kaneki. Then you can take a large bite of that delightful meat, 'a second voice advised, it sounded suspiciously like Rize.
Yes…he should. Kaneki slowly raised a hand for his mask's zipper. 'No! That's human meat! What am I doing?!' Kaneki thought as a flash of panic spiked through the endless fog. It cleared his mind long enough to glimpse Harry's terrified expression. 'I don't want to eat Harry!' Kaneki internally screamed, alarmed.
'Don't lie to yourself, Kaneki. We both know that's not true. It's been so long since you have tasted it…that soft sweet, human flesh. Look at those juicy thighs, don't you want a bite?' The voice cooed. 'Go on. Eat. It's all yours.'
"Yes…it's all mine…This meat is all MINE!" Growled Kaneki, cackling loudly as he unzipped his mask.
Kaneki froze. It was Moody's voice.
Leave Harry Potter alone. Do NOT attack him! Do NOT eat him! LEAVE!
'Don't listen to that mad fool, Kaneki. You want that meat, right? Don't let him stop you,' the second voice argued.
Don't eat Harry Potter! Go! Go attack the other champions! NOW!
'Don't eat Harry Potter?' The thought echoed in his empty mind. 'Harry…' Kaneki remembered those wide horrified green eyes and instantly flipped backwards away from the human he had caught, sickened at how close he had come to eating the teen.
This time, Kaneki was all too happy to obey as he sprinted off deeper into the foggy maze.
Amon and Shinohara watched from the stands, using their omnioculars, in confusion. Since they had woken, Kaneki had been acting strangely. First he was dazed and unresponsive, now he was tearing through the maze like a ravenous ghoul.
This isn't like Kaneki. Why was he doing this?
From the seat beside him, Amon heard Hermione gasp. He turned his attention back to the maze and watched, perturbed, as Kaneki trapped Cedric Diggory in a dead-end. Between one blink and the next, the half-ghoul had grabbed one of the champion's arms and twisted it.
Even from their distance in the stands, they could hear the pain-filled scream that was ripped from Cedric's throat. The masked ghoul leaned in towards the human's neck before pulling away and tugging his white hair as though he was fighting against himself. Amon and Shinohara both relaxed into their seats, sighing in relief as they watched Kaneki dash away, leaving the boy alive.
Moments later, Harry arrived on scene and sent up a shower of red sparks so that Cedric could be retrieved to receive the much needed medical attention he deserves.
Somewhere on the other side of the maze, they heard a distant shout. Twisting some of the brass knobs on his omnioculars, Amon zoomed in on the general area the noise had come from and scanned the pathways.
The female champion, Fleur, was desperately throwing spells at the prowling half-ghoul. Each bolt of light harmlessly glanced off of Kaneki's impervious body, much to the champion's growing horror. When two pulsing, rinkaku limbs burst from Kaneki's back, Fleur screamed. Within seconds, the half-ghoul had snapped the champion's wand along with her wrist before taking off into the mist, distancing himself from the scene.
'Snap out of it, Kaneki…' Amon frowned as he tracked the half-ghoul's path to the Durmstrang champion. He could only hope that whatever that was forcing Kaneki to act like this is something that can be fought. If it can…Amon knows that Kaneki would be able to win against it.
Attack the champions…attack…attack…
"Get out! Get out! GET OUT!" Kaneki shouts at the voice in his mind.
Attack…attack…go back…knock her unconscious…go back…attack…
"Shut up! Shut up! Get out of my mind or I'll eat you!" He threatens, absently noting another human pinned beneath him.
Leave Krum…you don't need to attack him…leave…leave…
'Don't listen to him, Kaneki. You can have a bite if you want. Those thighs look delectable, don't you want to taste it?' Purred the second voice.
"No! Get out! Get OUT!" Kaneki yelled, his kagune thrashed wildly behind him, lacerating large areas the leafy hedges that were unfortunate enough to be inside the kagune's range.
Listen to me…listen to me…listen to me…
"No! I won't! I won't! Go away!" He roared, willing the voice to leave him alone.
Obey me…obey me…OBEY ME…
Kaneki felt a strong pull that urged him to submit, to back down. To obey. He could feel his hold on his mind slipping and crumbling away as he fought to maintain his grip on it.
Faces of his friends flashed before Kaneki's eyes. Hide…Touka…and everyone at Anteiku…
…Amon and Shinohara.
"Kaneki…snap out of it, we still need your help to escape." Amon's words echoed in his mind, parting the fog and dispersing it.
'They need me…'
Kaneki fell to his knees as the world became sharp and focused around him. The dew soaked his clothes as he trembled, still reeling from the shock of the spell he had been under. As he stood up, swaying on shaky legs, Kaneki felt a renewed sense of determination flare within him.
He curled his thumb over his index finger and cracked it.
Kaneki effortlessly scaled the tall hedge until he was perched on top of it, from there he leapt from hedge to hedge at speed that was only possible by a ghoul.
'I need to warn them.'
The tense hush which had fallen upon the crowd was shattered as Amon saw Kaneki burst from the maze in a flurry of leaves causing the audience to scream in fear. Kaneki landed in a neat crouch by the podium, two of his four rinkaku limbs helping him balance through their contact with the damp grass beneath him. Amon and Shinohara were already on their feet as the wizards surrounded the half-ghoul, pointing their wands in warning.
At a close distance, Amon was able to observe the sharp glint in Kaneki's kakugan and was relieved to see no sign of the haze which had previously clouded it. He did it…
Catching sight of the investigators, Kaneki's gaze locked on to them as he announced, "Moody put me under a spell. He forced me to attack the champions against my will!"
The wizards murmured and exchanged glances with each other, uncertain upon hearing the ghoul's accusation of the accomplished auror.
"Don't listen to the ghoul! Can't you see that it's lying? It only wants you to let your guard down so that it can eat you!" Mad-Eye growled.
"Liar." Kaneki snarled, his voice cold and indifferent, glaring at the wizard as he cracked a second finger. He then pounced into the air, twisting out of the way of the flying spells as he aimed his kagune at the traitorous wizard.
"Eyepatch!" Shinohara barked, blocking the half-ghoul's rinkaku with his quinque.
"Get out of my way, Shinohara." Kaneki's voice was low and his tone dark, filled with the promise of pain. "Moody was forcing me to hurt them. Now move."
Kaneki's left eye widened at something over Shinohara's shoulder moments before the investigator felt himself being tackled to the damp earth below.
A flash of light whizzed over them, cutting through the air where Shinohara previously stood.
Moody's second curse hit the half-ghoul directly in the eye, causing Kaneki to writhe and screech as his kagune lashed out aimlessly around him while he clawed at the ground beneath him.
"Crucio!" Moody exclaimed, gleeful at seeing the ghoul suffer. The spell collided with one of Kaneki's ears causing him to gasp and convulse as a second wave of pain, unlike any torture he has experienced at Jason's hands, tore through him.
Something bubbled over the area where the half-ghoul's kakuhou resided. They watched as Kaneki's rinkaku crumbled and cracked as he struggled to stand. A familiar mask formed over Kaneki's already concealed face causing Shinohara's eyes to widen in both horror and recognition. "Centipede…"
Two centipede-like kagune erupted from Kaneki's kakuhou, writhing wildly as they joined the four crimson rinkaku.
The ghoul threw his head backwards and laughed, crazed and maniacal.
"C-Centipedes…" The half-kakuja muttered in a distorted voice, head tilting so that his kakugan eye could fix upon Moody's form. Another wheezing, insane laugh. "I can f-feel it…CRawLING in m-my…E-EArrrs!"
Alarmed, the wizards began shooting a barrage of spells at the ghoul, only to have every single one of them blocked by the impenetrable, segmented kagune. "W-What is…is a thousand minus…s-seven?" Centipede asked in Japanese, his kakugan eye gleaming wickedly.
CRACK. Disappearing in a blur too fast for even a trained ghoul investigator's eye to follow, the half-kakuja attacked.
Re-appearing behind Moody, the ghoul rammed two kakuja kagune into the wizard's back, slamming him painfully into the ground. Something shattered. Laughing, Centipede stabbed one of his crimson rinkaku into each of the wizard's limbs. "A t-thousand…" The ghoul trailed off as he leaned closer to the incapacitated auror to ask: "…a-a thousand minus s-seven…i-is…what?" Centipede raised his unoccupied kakuja kagune above Moody threateningly and poised them to strike. "F-Fingers…a-and t-toes…in a b-bucket…"
The ghoul's body shuddered as he cackled, his kagune quivering. "S-start…counting….a-a thousand minus…a thousand minus s-seven…k-keEP cOUNting…"
To their horror and confusion, Moody's skin began to bubble and morph. A knobbly hand twitches futilely, due to the wrist being pierced through by the tip of a rinkaku, reaching for something that wasn't there. An electric blue eyes rolls erratically in its socket before locking onto a broken hip flask, its viscous contents oozing between the cracked fragments. Seconds later, the fake eye popped out as a real eye replaced it, while Moody's wooden leg fell away with a loud clunk so that a leg of flesh could regrow in its place. Long grey hair became short and straw-coloured as scarred skin became smooth pale-skin.
The crowd gasped.
"Crouch!" Someone exclaimed, recognising the wizard's true form. "Barty Crouch Jr!"
"Centipedes…i-in my ears…" Centipede cocked his head to one side, chuckling insanely. "S-Sevens…a thousand m-minus seven…c-count…count!" Seeing that the wizard-now revealed as Barty Crouch Jr-was refusing to count, Centipede tensed in preparation to strike.
The half-kakuja freezes upon hearing Amon shout his name, a flicker of recognition in his kakugan. "A-A…mon?" Kaneki's hooked mask crumbles as his kagune dissipates and he blinks as his sanity returns to him. He leaps away from Crouch and lands beside the two investigators. "Amon…"
Amon opened his mouth to respond but froze as he caught sight of Hermione and Ron waving at them, gesturing to the book in her hands. "It looks like our ticket home is ready." He placed a steady hand on Kaneki's shoulder, cutting off any apologies, worries, or questions the half-ghoul might have voiced. Amon patted Kaneki's shoulder. "Come on…let's get out of here."
"Don't let them escape!" Ludo Bagman ordered, spurring the other wizards into action. Amon and Shinohara were barely able to raise their quinque in time to block the oncoming volley of spells that sped after them. They were too far away from Hermione. How were they going to reach the portkey now?
Amon could only watch in dismay as one of the colourful spells raced towards his open side. He wouldn't be able to block it in time. They would be re-captured and it would all be over for them. He might as well say goodbye to his memories now.
Something red and familiar flashed before his eyes, shielding him from the spell.
It was one of Kaneki's rinkaku.
"Thanks," said Amon, grateful, as he spared a brief glance over his shoulder in time to catch Kaneki's nod. Out of the corner of his eye, Amon saw Hermione toss the portkey towards them. The book wheeled through the air, pages fluttering with every rotation it completed. 'What is she doing?! That would never work.' Amon could see that the book's flight was already falling a few metres too short of their reach. He wouldn't be able to catch it anyway, not with how both of his hands were occupied by his quinque.
To Amon's surprise and relief, just before the book could even graze the ground, a rinkaku limb swiped it out of the air. "Amon! Shinohara!" Kaneki shouted, frantically. Amon gritted his teeth as a one particularly powerful spell crashed into his quinque with the force of a battering ram.
Without taking his eyes off of the wizards, Amon lunged backwards, blindly throwing his hand out and hoping that he could touch the portkey in time. As Amon's finger came into contact with the sharp corner of the book, Shinohara slammed his hand into the dusty cover mere seconds before all three of them felt a yank in their navels.
The world became a whirl of colours, swirling around them in a dizzying blur. Spinning and spiralling in an endless circle.
As the wave of nausea engulfed him, Amon closed his eyes knowing that when he opened them again they would be back in Tokyo.
Their arrival in Tokyo went unseen in the predawn darkness as they collided painfully into the hard concrete floor of a grungy alleyway. Groaning, Amon peeled his cheek away from the filthy floor while trying not to think too much on what sort of filth the alleyway had accumulated over the years, especially if they were unfortunate enough to have landed in the feeding grounds of a ghoul.
Amon blinked as a hand entered his blurry vision, his eyes flicking up to focus on Kaneki's soft silver eye. Grasping it, Amon allowed himself to be pulled onto his feet and muttered a grateful "Thanks, Kaneki." The half-ghoul swayed shakily, still woozy from the portkey, and Amon felt the weight of an arm drape around his shoulders as Kaneki leaned on him.
Amon watched as Kaneki brought his free hand up to his ever-grinning mask, which had been skewed sideways from the journey, and re-adjusted it. Behind them, there was a grumbling moan as Shinohara pushed himself up from where he had fallen near an overflowing bin. "Argh." Shinohara grimaced as he flicked something slimy off of his chin. Amon cringed in sympathy at his friend's dilemma. "What I wouldn't give for another soak in that magical bathroom…"
"Well…at least we made it here with everything still intact," remarked Amon as the indigo sky gradually brightened into a canvas of pale blue and yellow, signalling dawn's approach. Amon felt Kaneki tense beside him, concerned, he asked, "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"
"No. I'm fine," replied Kaneki, truthfully. Amon noted that the half-ghoul was staring at the alleyway entrance and followed his gaze, only to find it empty. "I can hear some people heading this way to investigate. It sounds like they heard our crash landing."
Kaneki slipped away from Amon and began to back away into the shadows of the alley.
"Kaneki." Amon called out, catching the half-ghoul's attention. A single silver eye met his gaze, glittering in the dim lighting of the alleyway. "Let's talk again someday."
"I'll look forward to it, Amon," beneath the familiar mask, Amon knew that a warm smile was gracing Kaneki's lips, matching the content glimmer in his eye. With a graceful leap, Kaneki sprang out of the alley and out of sight.
A few heartbeats later, they heard a familiar voice shout, "Investigator Amon! Investigator Shinohara!" Takizawa Seido, Mado Akira and Suzuya Juuzou rushed to meet them. "Where were you guys? You've been missing for over a month!" Seido exclaimed.
Amon and Shinohara exchanged looks. Smiling sheepishly, Shinohara said, "You wouldn't believe us if we told you." Getting kidnapped by a group of wizards and teaching classes filled with magical kids...even if they deal with ghouls on a daily basis, who would believe that?
"Tell us first, then we'll say whether or not we believe you," challenged Seido as the five of them began making their way towards the alley's exit.
Just before Amon stepped foot onto the sunlit street, he glanced one last time over his shoulder. There on the rooftop, highlighted in the dawn's bright rays and white hair ruffling in the early morning breeze, stood Eyepatch.
Amon raised a hand in farewell and Kaneki returned the gesture before vanishing into the light.
'If only we can meet like this again…'
End of chapter notes:
-The Cruciatus curse worked because Barty Crouch Jr was aiming at Kaneki's eyes and ears, which are vulnerable in a ghoul.
-If you're wondering how all four rinkaku can stab into three of "Moody's" limbs, well for the leg with the prosthetic, the rinkaku is piercing the thigh where there is still flesh.
-Tokyo is like 9 hours ahead of Scotland, there's a time difference.
A/N: I hope you have enjoyed Captive: Ghouls and Doves' final chapter. :)
Thank you so much for all your support. All those favs, follows and reviews… (I really would have liked to reply to all those guest reviews) they all made my day.
This story is now complete, so it won't be continued. However, I have published a story titled Captive: Ghouls and Doves-EXTRAS which will include all future extra material for this story's universe. (Side stories, spin-offs, etc.) So if you want more, now you know where to look. :) I started it especially for you all since I know how it feels when you want to read more of something.
Thank you for reading this story,