Disclaimer: The following story is a fan made work of fiction. Fairy Tail and Mahou Sensei Negima! are owned and written by Hiro Mashima and Ken Akamatsu respectively. Please support their official releases.

Chapter 14

The Beauty of a Reporter

One week had passed in the outside world since the events that transpired within Evangeline's magical diorama. The whirlwind series of events had finally calmed down, allowing for Negi to catch his mental bearing for the first time in weeks.

Gray and Takamichi had left one true day after the showdown between Natsu and Evangeline. The man had been in an impatient rush to leave. Given Takamichi's connections, the duo should currently be somewhere in Magic Mundus. Any contact with them would be sporadic though, as the communication channels between the magical and mundane worlds were difficult at best.

Meanwhile, Natsu had been forced to stay in Evangeline's cabin to heal slowly. Evangeline had not exactly say why this had to done, but Negi had an odd feeling that her motives were not entirely done from the goodness of her heart. Natsu himself had not objected to this until Negi had accidentally let slip that the Diorama was under a time dilation spell.

The revelation that time inside of the Diorama passed at a 24:1 ratio been an incredible revelation to the young man from another world. Natsu's reaction had been so extreme that one of Evangeline's dolls, a Chachazero, had shot him with several tranquilizer darts so that he would not accidentally hurt himself in his injured state. He had also not calmed down very much in the time since. Smoke had quite literally been coming out of the man's ears the last time Negi had visited the cabin.

As for Negi and Asuna, the two of them had settled into a new routine. Each day they would go to class and interact with all of their friends like normal. The two of them would smile, talk with them, and participate in the comforting routines of normality. Then every night and on the occasional afternoon the two partners would leave their dorm room to train under their new master in the magical arts, Evangeline.

Or to put it more accurately, the vampire would beat the ideas and techniques into their bodies and expect them to learn it. Neither Negi nor Asuna had really known what they were getting themselves into when they had accepted the vampire's offer.

What made it worse is that Evangeline had not even started to teach them anything fancy. No big new spells for Negi. Nor any fancy super powered fighting technique for Asuna. The vampire had decided to start at the beginning and was focused on drilling in the fundamentals.

Again. And again. And again. Every time Negi went to the diorama inside of her cabin there would be some new horror added on to his training regime. And with each new horror the list of things that the two partners had agreed would never be spoken of to anyone else grew ever longer.

The first true night had been a rundown of every spell he knew and every spell that he was interested in learning. Simple enough in theory and quite common within the magical world. But with there was a twist.

After he had shown her every single spell he knew how to cast, except for the one spell he would never show anyone, Evangeline had proceeded to verbally rip apart and critique even the slightest of details involved in his spell casting. His speed was too slow, his movements were too easy to discern, his pronunciation too poor. Then, when Negi had nearly been reduced to the point of tears, Evangeline said she expected him to cast each and every spell he had just shone without rest until he collapsed. All in order to 'temper his spirit while increasing his familiarity with the magic's feel.' Or something to that effect.

Negi still did not know what had been asked of Asuna that night. Casting so many spells in such a short amount of time for consecutive twenty-four hour cycles had left his memory of that time rather hazy. All he knew was that it had involved taking away her fan and sticking her into a blizzard simulation that nearly gave her hypothermia. She then decided to skip the next two nights of training.

The second true night had been much the same as the first. Except with the added difficulty of being asked to dodge water balloons and the occasional knife. Evangeline had gone into her room to study something and had left that night's training in the hand's of Chachazero. The doll had made it clear to Negi that, in its mind, unless the person training ended up bleeding or passed out said person was not training hard enough. There had also been a lot grumbling about there not being enough blood, but Negi tried not to think about that portion. Much of it fell onto 'the never to be spoken of list'.

The third night had been entirely different. Evangeline had been waiting for him with a blindfold and set of ear plugs that Negi had been instructed to wear. He had then spent the next few twenty four hour cycles learning how to sense and recognize an enemy mage's magical signature in a combat situation without relying on any of his other senses. If he succeeded, then Negi was allowed to rest. But if he failed, then it was back to Chachazero for extended training. This time with more knives and fewer balloons.

Negi had failed that test. A lot. Resulting in 'the never to be spoken of list' gaining its longest entry to date. One which he hoped was never exceeded or surpassed.

The young mage never saw Asuna during his training even after she returned from her brief hiatus. This in spite of the fact that his partner was in there almost as often and long as Negi himself. All she had told him was that Evangeline was teaching her basic sword techniques with some help from Setsuna and asked him to leave it at that.

But as exhausting as it was, the training was already improving them. Asuna now walked with a grace that she had previously lacked and appeared to have forged a close friendship with Setsuna. Negi himself felt stronger, faster, and more aware of his surroundings. Several of his female students had remarked on the changes, although the blushes on their faces as they spoke were truly mystifying.

This day saw Negi standing in front of 3-A. It was the last period on Friday and most of the girl's were bursting with energy and excitement for the weekend to start. They had been excitedly telling each other their plans. Most had invited Negi to join them. Unable to tell them all no, Negi had agreed to join several of them. He had left roughly eight hours free on both days and they were now completely filled.

The young teacher let out a soft sigh as he felt a headache coming on. He knew what he had been getting himself into when he had asked Evangeline to be his teacher, but it was just like that old saying. Theory and supposition were completely different than practical experience. Negi's hair was frizzled and both of his eyes were red from lack of sleep. The edge of his usually sharp suit was rumpled and the young teacher knew that the eyes of every girl in the room hung on every movement.

Time-manipulation magic or not, a seemingly immutable truth of the world was that there was never enough time to get everything done.

A quick look at Asuna showed that she too was in the same boat. The twin-tailed girl looked to be in nearly as bad a state as her young teacher, with the bells in her hair hanging askew and her uniform rumpled. The girl was currently giving him a sleepy glare that had started to become her standard expression whenever she looked at him.

Negi shifted his collar higher as her glare burned into his back. He knew Asuna thought that he was pushing himself too hard, but she just did not understand his reasoning. She did not understand his need to push himself. His need to catch up to his father's back, to prove to himself that his father was still alive and well in this world.

To do that would take strength on the level of Evangeline or his father, and that sort of strength did not come easily. It was the product of thousands of hours spent learning and training. Because if anyone was able to save or destroy a city on a whim, civilization as everyone knew it would have never been possible. Magical governments had a hard enough time as it was when there were only a few dozen reclusive masters capable of fighting off entire armies. But no, those were thoughts for another day.

It was with an effort of will that Negi pushed those thoughts away in order to concentrate on finishing the day's final lesson. Training for nearly two months in one week was no reason to shirk his duties. If he were to fail his students in such a critical endeavor, Negi would never be worthy of standing beside a hero like his father. Negi had been entrusted with overseeing their education, and it was a responsibility that he took seriously.

"When writing in English, one of the trickiest things to remember are contractions and how they are used. Using the wrong contraction, or using the wrong one at an incorrect section of the sentence can change the entire meaning of what you are trying to convey, especially when the contractions look similar to another word. As an example, there is a world of difference between words like 'your' and 'you're'. Both words sound exactly the same and have only minor spelling differences, yet the two words have very different meanings in practice."

Negi scanned the room, looking for a student to call upon. The exuberant Yukihiro had her hand raised high into the air. Her dedication to learning was very admirable, but he was not certain that her grasp of the English language would be up to the task. The young teacher decided to play it safe and went with someone who would be able to answer the question with ease. "Miss Asakura, could you please describe the difference for the rest of the class?"

Kazumi Asakura stood up from her seat in the front of the class with a smile. Dressed in her uniform, the beautiful redhead shot him a dazzling smile. "Of course, sensei. May I stand in front of the class to better explain it?"

He only thought over the girl's proposal for a moment before finding it satisfactory. Maybe it would take away some of those burning gazes he felt focused on his every move whenever he stood in front of the class by himself.

"Okay then everyone!" Asakura said as she left her seat in the front row to stand next to Negi. "No offense to you sense, but let's make this subject fun!

A rowdy laugh came from a few members of the class at the redhead's words. Asakura clapped her hands together in thanks and flashed her dazzling smile once again.

"You see, the English term 'you're' is most commonly a combination of you and are. As sensei said it is defined as a contraction. It is two separate words that are combined into one, and you would use it when saying something like 'you're so nice and cuddly, sensei' or 'you're so sexy today, sensei!'"

A collective giggle ran through the class as Asakura flashed him a smile. Negi felt his headache growing worse. Still, it was just business as usual, so he gestured for the cheeky redhead to continue speaking.

"Now it is important to not confuse this contraction with the proper word 'your.' This word is a form of the possessive and is not a contraction. An example of how to use it in a sentence would be 'your boat is floating down the river' or 'your sensei is a little hottie, squee!'"

This time the collective giggle in response to Asakura's words was anything but muted. Makie and the cheerleaders burst into an excited babble, whose feverish pitch made Negi wince. The twins quickly joined them as Haruna added her two cents in a lower but no less excited tone.

"Sensei! Go out on a date with us this weekend!"

"Hey sensei. You can come and stay with us for the weekend. Twice the girls is twice the fun!"

"Forget them sensei, come and help me with my artwork! I'm in the middle of drawing a new manga featuring you, Takamichi, and your cousin Natsu. It's my best work to date!"

Meanwhile, a frothing Iincho burst from her seat as the other girls yelled out their propositions to the young teacher and had to be restrained by Asuna. Negi was not overstating it either. The girl was literally foaming at the mouth. He had no idea how or why, but his own two eyes could confirm it.

"Silent you arrogant hussies! Sensei and I are connected by the eternal bond of love between us. We have sworn to live and die in each other's arms, and none of you can have him. Now unhand me Asuna. I must claim sensei's body and mark it as my own!"

"As if I would ever let you do that you crazy shotacon. Now sit back down and cool your jets before I make you!"

"Never! Sensei shall be mine!"

The chaos started by Asakura's little speech spiraled further out of control as nearly everyone in the class started to insert their own thoughts on the matter. Negi found himself answering all sorts of strange questions which left him feeling nothing but confusion. What did being 'taken' or 'a virgin' have to do with anything?

Girls were strange. The more time he spent with them, the more they confused him. That was the opposite of how things were supposed to work! It flew in the face of every hallmark of evidence and experience based system of learning that Negi had ever studied. More experience and more familiarity should have meant more knowledge and understanding. That this was not the case was utterly maddening!

He had once thought that his rambunctious friend Anya was an outlier. That most girls and older women were like his kind older sister Nekane, or like the pleasant older girls he had studied with back at the Academy in Wales. But this assumption was not being proven true. Oh no, as his time in Mahora was teaching him there were a wide range of possibilities for women with an entire rainbow of personalities and actions they could take. Most of which were as clear to him as a thick piece of obsidian.

It was only with the help of a few more discipline minded students like Chizuru and Kaede that Negi was finally able to reestablish any kind of control over the classroom. Once things had calmed down enough to the point he could be heard, Negi shot Asakura a pointed look as he reprimanded the girl.

"That was mean, miss Asakura."

The redheaded girl smirked and moved closer to Negi, her eyes fixed on a part of his neck. "I know it was, sensei, but I couldn't resist after you kept such an important secret from us. That wasn't very nice of you to deceive everyone."

Negi gulped as cries once again erupted from the class behind him. Unsure of how to react, the young teacher stood stock still. He suddenly felt like an antelope being hunted through the grass by a pride of lions. One lion had split off from the rest, but should he be taken down then the rest of the pride would undoubtedly pounce on him.

"Wh-wha-what secret are you talking about?" Negi stammered out as the girl reached his side. Her narrowed eyes somehow kept him frozen in place. And why did he suddenly feel so warm? "I-I don't know what you mean, miss Asakura."

"Aw, it's adorable even when you try to lie to us. Don't worry sensei, I promise that I'll be gentle."

The redheaded girl reached over and, in one quick jerk, pulled Negi's collar, exposing his neck for everyone to see. She slowly stroked the barely visible marks on his skin with a soft, gentle touch of her fingers. Marks left by Evangeline as payment for his training fee.

"Why don't you tell us who left all of these hickies on your neck?"


Two days later saw a beautiful Sunday morning in Mahora Academy. The spring weather had just taken a turn for the better. A hot front was blowing in from the warm seas south of Japan. The air it blew in was rather warm and humid for this time of year, thus making it a perfect weekend day for wearing skimpy clothing.

Kazumi Asakura, clad in stylishly cut denim shorts and a tight pink tank top, hummed to herself as she walked through the woods of Mahora. She wasn't truly fond of long walks in forested terrain, but both Negi and Asuna had been adamant about it. If the reporter in training wanted to get further involved with everything surrounding the child teacher as she had requested on the train, then she would need start by accompany them on this little expedition to some cabin in the forest.

The aspiring report had shown up at their dorm early in the morning. Things had started normally enough, with the redhead popping into their room just as Konoka had laid out breakfast. Kazumi had cheerfully stated her intent and had immediately moved back from the door as several objects were tossed at her grinning face by Asuna. The orange-haired girl was apparently still ticked off over Kazumi's classroom antics regarding Negi's hickeys. Kazumi made a mental note that two days of good behavior was not enough to earn either forgiveness or forgetfulness from the bell wearing girl.

Luckily for her, Asuna's roommates were far more forgiving and had invited the redheaded girl in for tea.

Negi-sensei and Konoka had greeted her warmly, with the dark-haired girl even serving the redhead a delicious cup of morning tea. After exchanging a few pleasantries over the tea, Negi had invited her to tag along with them for the day. Kazumi had accepted gladly.

After all, more time spent in sensei's company gave her more information to dish out to the rest of 3-A.

Unfortunately, Asuna had forced a caveat onto her. If she really wanted to involve herself with the mysteries surrounding the young teach, Kazumi would have to accompany sensei on a little side trip as well.

Which was how she found herself trekking through the woods on a hot, muggy day while Konoka stayed behind in an air conditioned room.

Asakura was not the most woodsy of girls. Not by a long shot. But one thing she prided herself on was being adaptable.

If the Negi and Asuna wanted to do some magical training, or ritual, or some such thing in the woods to try and test her resolve, then Asakura was certain that she could find a way to keep herself entertained and productive.

So what if she was sweating far more than usual? So what if her muscles ached from keeping up with two energizer bunny clones for close to two hours? The life of a journalist was not for the faint of heart. Not when the scoop of a lifetime was waiting to be claimed.

Besides, if the training involved something flashy or intense she could darn well watch and file it away inside her brain for future reference. She had a feeling that Negi would someday amount to something. That he would be someone who accomplished great things. Someday the world's masses would someday want to know about how he started on his journey.

As far as she was concerned, waiting and watching the kid as he grew and developed was well worth her time. Someone with his brains and talent would never be satisfied with just teaching at a private academy. One day Negi would change the world, and she would be right there beside him, chronicling his every step.

And if she just so happened to publish everything as a Kazumi Asakura exclusive, could anyone possibly blame her?

He was her Rocky Balboa. Her Michael Phelps. A magical version of Bruce Lee multiplied by a factor of ten! Negi was the unknown stud that would shoot out of the dark and take the champion's podium for his own, leaving the entire world changed in her wake. All of her senses screamed this and more at her, urging her to get closer to him at every opportunity.

In Negi, Kazumi had every amateur journalist's dream. An exclusive inside scoop on a story of global significance. A story that would shake the foundations of modern society itself. Complete with a 'how it all began' angle too. And best of all, it all belong to her.

She had plans for the future. Big ones. After documenting her sensei's rise to power and reporting on his accomplishments, Kazumi would use that to become the greatest freelance journalist the world had ever known. Her fame would cross borders as her stories reached into the hearts of billions.

She would travel to far flung places in search of stories to ignite the passions of others. Take trips to sprawling cities, undertake assignments in the deepest of jungles, and have harrowing escapades in war-torn nations. Because sitting at a desk was not for her.

Oh no, it was the call of the wild blue yonder which stirred her soul. The thrill of chasing down a lead, the exultation of unearthing unknown troves of information, and the satisfaction of bringing it all together and putting it on display.

Becoming an editor – or worse, an anchor – with some big shot network was not in her dreams. Such a life could never satisfy the dreamer or the adventurer within her heart. Those jobs were where average journalist's achieved fame by stepping on the backs of others, and where the great ones went to live off the fat of past glories. Kazumi Asakura could never stoop to being a two-bit flunky like them.

All of the time and effort she sank in with the child teacher and his cohorts was a way to prepare, or train, herself for the future she envisioned. And gosh was she learning that she was woefully under prepared for what might come her way. Because after spending over a half a day with both Asuna and Negi Kazumi had reached a single overriding conclusion.

That despite her own well-toned body – which she took great care in maintaining – she was nowhere near the same level of conditioning as either of them.

Oh sure, Kazumi always took time out of every day to do a few physical exercises. She enjoyed the burn of a good work out as much as anyone her age. That it sharpened her focus and gave her a killer figure of which she was quite proud was just the icing on top of the cake for her.

Yet the rapid pace Asuna had set for the trio as they walked had caused a slight sheen of perspiration to cover Kazumi's forehead – and other, less obvious, parts of her body as well. A bandanna that she kept tucked into her back pocket was already completely soaked from mopping it out of her eyes. All while neither Asuna nor Negi had so much as a hair out of place.

How truly irksome.

Kazumi knew that she could never compete with Asuna when it came to sports or similar activities. The other girl had been a standout athlete for as long as Kazumi had known her and was well known as a freak of nature when it came to physical abilities. However, she had figured that she would be able to at least keep up with a ten year old child. Sure he was precocious, and highly intelligent to boot, but the boy was still just a ten year old child whose muscles were not even close to being fully developed.

Oh how wrong she was to ever think such a thought. Not only was Negi keeping up with Asuna, but it was starting to look like Negi had the body of a future star athlete. His short, stumpy legs of a ten year old boy moved non-stop, easily pacing Asuna's longer legs.

Kazumi looked closer at her teacher. Wait a moment. Had he grown? After a moment spent looking at the boy and comparing him to Asuna, the answer was obvious. The boy really had grown since he had first arrived in Mahora. Only by an inch or two, sure, but the difference was clear once she started to look.

Huh. If he kept up that rate of growth, then maybe he would end up turning into a hunk sooner than everyone thought. That was good news for everyone in the class that had their eyes on him. Kazumi, though, would need to adjust her bet in the pool. Her bet was nowhere near as outrageous as that of of Ayaka – who had predicted that the boy's 'flower would bloom' the day he realized her love or some such nonsense – but Kazumi did stand to make a nice bit of profit should her guess be correct.

It was while thinking of what new date she should pick that Kazumi caught Asuna glancing backwards. The other girl was probably checking to see if the redhead could keep up with them. Her quiet concern offset Kazumi's annoyance. The redhead was not so proud as to be bothered by honest worry. It did make her push herself a little harder. She would not let herself fall in either of their eyes for something as simple as a hike through Mahora's woods.

"Look Negi, we're almost to Eva-chan's cabin." From her position ahead Asuna pointed to something currently out of Kazumi's sight. The other girl's blue t-shirt hiked up over her jeans as she gestured. "I'm actually a little surprised to see it still standing. I would've thought that Natsu would have blown the thing up by now, the way he and the psychotic midget have been getting along with one another."

"Um, not really, Asuna-san." Negi replied. A small brown satchel bounced on his hip, flopping against his dark cargo pants. "According to Chachamaru, the two of them have been spending most of their time inside of her diorama since Natsu healed. Master gets really bad allergies this time of year and tries to avoid the outside world as much as possible, which is why she hasn't been to class all week."

"Ah, so that's why she hasn't been around. And here I was hoping that she got a taste of her own medicine." Asuna scowled. "Bah! I wonder what she has in store for us today?"

"It's better not to think about that Asuna-san. The horror will come soon enough."

"Ugh! Yeah, I guess that you're right about that. But is it too much to ask for someone to take her down a notch or three?"

"Yep. It would take someone like my father to do that. Natsu-san is definitely strong, but he's not yet that strong."

Kazumi looked back and forth between them but stayed silent during the exchange. The two of had just opened a gold mine of information. She needed time to process and absorb it.

She vaguely remembered Natsu from the train ride back from Kyoto, but other than that nothing else regarding him came to her mind. Apparently she should have payed closer attention to him. He was apparently a wizard of some type like her teacher, and a powerful one at that.

Nothing shocked her, though, like learning that quiet little Evangeline and the calm former teacher Takamichi Takahata were powerful wizards as well. How had Kazumi been so blind? She had been around those two for years and never gotten so much as a whiff that they were magical. Failing so immensely was a blow to her self-confidence.

Negi then rubbed the back of his head sheepishly as the cabin came into view for Asakura. "Just be careful Asuna-san. Chachamaru mentioned yesterday as I left that there had been some new friction between the two of them. She didn't say anything more than that, but I got the feeling that it was pretty serious."

Chachamaru? He could say her name without attaching any of his usual honorifics? Quite odd and worthy of note. Kazumi filed that little tidbit away for further investigation.

She had pegged the other girl as the shy, quiet type. But then, so was Nodoka, and from Kazumi's observations the resident bookworm had spent an awfully large amount of time with Negi in Kyoto. Maybe that sort of girl was his type? If so, then poor Ayaka was doomed to die of sorrow.

"If that's the case, then color me surprised if he hasn't been drained of blood when we arrive."

Wait. What?

Kazumi almost yelled at Asuna to back up and repeat her words. Eva drank blood? Like some kind of vampire? As in, their classmate Eva was a vampire that drank blood? Kazumi's eyes widened as the sweat began to pour down her back for an entirely new reason.

Had she unknowingly stepped into some kind of horror story?

"Last time I was there that one creepy doll of hers with the butcher's knife and everything kept freaking me out. It wouldn't stop talking about how lovely veins along my the veins on my wrists were while I was sparring with Setsuna. Or how they stood out on my pale skin and would make it easier for her mistress to drain."

"Asuna-san!" Negi cried out. "Don't say something like that – it might actually be true!"

"Exactly. For all we know, the three of us are walking towards a murder scene. You're a complete idiot for thinking that Eva-chan can reform overnight. She's had God knows how long to do it and has shown damn few signs that of it ever happening." Asuna muttered as she broke through the forest and into a small clearing. A recently felled tree which looked to have suffered fire damage of some sort blocked her path momentarily.

The athletic girl hopped over it with barely a glance as she finished speaking. "People stay true to form, Negi. Bad people are bad and good people are good. It's as simple as that."

Meanwhile, Asakura could see flashes of a wooden structure ahead but still was not close enough to confirm for herself whether it was a cabin. She had fallen somewhat further behind the other two when she had fallen into thought. After picking up that Eva might be a vengeful vampire who ate people, Kazumi was a little worried that she had gotten in over her head. She took a moment to take in and release a deep breath before she moved to catch up to them.

The die were already cast. There was no point in turning back and leaving this scoop behind. If she did, then she would forever regret the decision.

"You might be right, Asuna-san, but what if you aren't? What if she really does have good inside of her?" Negi said with a pout.

The kid's face was utterly adorable when he did that. Kazumi could feel the gloom that had settled on her heart disperse somewhat. Ahead, Asuna gave a defeated sigh and just shook her head in response. Not even she was immune to the boy's natural charm.

"She really is trying her best Asuna-san. Honestly. We asked for the kind of training she is giving us. And we can forgive her if she trips and falls a little every now and then, right?"

"If beating someone to the point of hospitalization is her tripping then we seriously need to work on your sense of ethics," Asuna said. "Starting with no more of those stupid Jean Claude van Damme movies before bedtime. They're rotting your brains if you're thinking that being her student is a good idea."

"There's nothing wrong with my ethics!" Negi yelled as he windmilled both arms. "And they are not rotting my brains. His movies are amazing. Even Konoka-san enjoys watching them. She told me so herself just last night!"

"Uh huh. That was only because Setsuna, who is evidently the world's number one van Damme fan after you, was within hearing distance. You know that, right?"

"No, I don't. Why would something to do with Setsuna change the way Konoka likes something anyway?"

The question made both Asuna and Kazumi halt. Both girl's looked at one another as they each appeared to wrestle with the complexities of explaining the burgeoning relationship between Konoka and Setsuna to the young boy.

After a few moments of awkward silence, though, both girls just shook their head. Kazumi knew that she did not want to be the one to explain the birds and the bees to her young teacher – let alone the girl with girl version – and it appeared that Asuna was of a similar mind.

"Um, never mind, Negi." Asuna said. Her cheeks were a lovely shade of pink as she spoke. "Forget that I even mentioned it. Just chalk it up to neither one of us knowing anything about that French moron until you brought it up."

"What she said, Negi-kun. Trust me, it would take too long to explain." Kazumi may have loved to tease the boy at every opportunity, but there were some lines that you just did not cross. Not unless you wanted to open the can of worms that was the class of 3-A, all of whom would be screaming bloody murder at the thought that Asuna and Kazumi were teaching Negi sexual education without telling anyone else. That was a surefire way to end up three feet under while your next of kin wondered what had happened to you.

"Ah! Fine, whatever," Negi pouted. The boy's thin lips trembled from emotion while his small shoulders bunched tightly together, pinching his blue t-shirt tight tight across his chest. "It's not worth arguing about since I'm right anyway."

A coo escaped Kazumi's mouth without her conscious approval as she watched his beautiful face.

The sound lingered in the still forest air, causing Negi to turn his head around in confusion. Alarmed at her loss of control, Kazumi snapped her mouth shut and moved her head to peer at something in the trees above. The boy turned his head to follow her gaze, and a late-turning Asuna followed both of their gazes.

Kazumi was in luck as a slim, feathery shape darted through the branches.

"Stupid bird calls," Asuna said. "Ninety percent of them are pretty, but there's always at least one in every forest that sounds just plain weird."

Both Asuna and Negi quickly lost interest in the bird and resumed their walk. Kazumi's had gotten away with the slip.

She trailed behind them, berating herself intently over it. Losing control of herself when they had been giving away valuable information for free was embarrassing. Worse, if Asuna had caught on, the reporter-in-training would have been in hot water.

Kazumi was not like Ayaka or Makie with their obsessive interest in the young teacher. Was she all too willing to stoke that fire to see the bizarre lengths her classmates would go to capture the young teacher? Most certainly. But did she partake in it herself? Not in the slightest. She was no oji-chan lover like Asuna, but younger men were not really her thing. Besides, knowing how protective Asuna could be over their sensei meant that the other girl would probably have interpreted Asakura's coo the wrong way.

Yet unbidden, Kazumi found her thoughts turning back to her earlier observation about Negi's recent growth spurt. The boy was certainly growing faster than anyone had expected. If he kept up this rate of growth, then by the time puberty hit he was almost guaranteed to be one seriously tall man. And judging by his bone structure, the boy would be one helluva looker.

Oh God no. No, that was forbidden territory. She would not follow the rest of her classmates and jump down that particular rabbit hole. No, she would just stick to her established routine of bomb throwing and harassment. Anything further was out of the question, regardless of how handsome Negi might someday grow to look.

Thankfully Negi and Asuna started speaking again, giving Kazumi much needed space as she tried to reign in her suddenly out of control imagination.

"Anyway, Asuna-san," Negi said. "What is important is that master needs a positive influence in her life. As both her homeroom teacher and her newly accepted student it is up to me to help her find it. To do otherwise would be irresponsible as a teacher, as a student, and as my father's son."

Asuna stopped dead in her tracks. "What?" She yelled. "That makes no sense at all. Are you an idiot?"

"I am not an idiot, Asuna-san!" he yelled back. "And yes it does make sense. I just explained it to you!"

"No. No you didn't. Not enough, anyway." The girl threw both arms into the air in evident exasperation. "The woman is insane Negi. Every day of teaching only drives that point in deeper beneath my skin. I just don't see how you can't see it yourself!"

If someone's hair could stand on end from emotion, Asakura would have sworn that Asuna's was doing it at that moment. The orange-haired girl had locked gazes with Negi to prove her point and fallen into a glaring contest with the ten year old magician.

Neither one looked as though they were willing to concede an inch with one another, and both had completely forgotten about Asakura's presence. The redhead watched as the two began arguing again, listening as it devolved into about as petty of an argument as one could image.

As amusing as it was to see Negi reduced to his actual age and Asuna reduced to her mental age, Kazumi could not allow it to go on any longer. It had the feeling of an argument that would just keep going until they both ran out of fuel and collapsed out of exhaustion.

Kazumi readied herself internally. Then she gave a polite cough and spoke up. "Ahem," she said. "In my opinion, both of you are complete and utter idiots who need to shut up and actually listen to one another."

A veritable chill settled upon the forest as both of their gazes swung to her. The fury in both their eyes almost caused the redhead to step back in concern.

Asuna looked like she wanted to bite Kazumi's head off while Negi looked about ready to put her in time out. Well, wasn't that a great way to start things off. Fail to make any headway and instead make them both of them turn their anger upon. Bloody fantastic!

Well, it was not like she had anything better to do at the moment. Kazumi already had one foot in the dispute. She might as well bet it all on her ability to talk things out and put the other foot in as well.

"I don't really understand everything that's currently going on between the two of you – this feels like something you've been arguing about for awhile – or who that what's his face van Damme guy is," she said in a calm tone. "But let me take a crack at it. 'Kay?"

Without giving either of them time to speak, Kazumi held up her left hand and stated ticking off items on her fingers as she spoke. "What I've gathered so far is that Negi-kun is that 'A' our classmate Evangeline – who is 'B', a bloodsucking vampire that has caused serious harm to at least one person we know – is teaching both of you magic or something; that 'C' Asuna thinks Evangeline is a blood-thirsty menace to society who should have a stake driven through her heart once said training is complete; 'D', that Negi disagrees and thinks that she is on the road to redemption; and that 'E', the two of you have been fighting over this for more than just a few minutes."

A cocky grin worked its way onto the future reporter's face as she finished speaking. Never let them see you nervous. Only let them see you confident. Words by which Kazumi lived. "Do I have it straight so far?"

Momentary silence greeted her words. Then a quick, short nod of acknowledgment came from each,

"Excellent," she said as she clapped her hands together. "Then I have only one thing to add to this discussion: Negi-kun, will you hold true to your belief that Evangeline can be redeemed, despite knowing how dangerous she is, and despite knowing how much it would make Asuna worry over your safety?"

Kazumi flung a hand in Asuna's direction, cutting the other girl off before she could do more than open her mouth. "Don't say a word Asuna. This question is for Negi-kun alone."

It took him a moment to answer. The young boy's face dropped its petulant look, lapsing into thoughtfulness.

A twinge ran through Kazumi's heart as she watched. Negi had a look on his face that was far too old for any child. One that made him look much older than his short years. For perhaps the first time since she had met him, Negi actually looked like the too young boy who had managed to become a teacher at ten years of age.

When Negi did speak it was both calmly and slowly. "Master is a dangerous individual. She is an immortal vampire that has committed atrocities in the past and has threatened the life of both myself and my father, vowing vengeance on us both. She has earned the highest bounty offer of any single individual in the magical world, and is aptly known as the Apostle of Destruction for the destructive power of her magic." He gave a small, sad smile. "All of which is but a tiny part of her dark reputation that stretches over seven hundred years."

Kazumi could not help herself. She let out a surprised whistle at her classmate's surprisingly monstrous history. If everything Negi just said was true then it was no wonder that Asuna was throwing a fit. Any sane person would.

How had such a person been allowed into the classroom of a bunch of young and unsuspecting girls? Not just for a short time either, but for years!

Oh well. Those were questions for a later time.

"But even so, even with all the terrible things she has done and threatened to do in the future, I believe that there is good in her. Until I came to Mahora, she had never once attacked any of her fellow students – and although Asuna might disagree -" He broke off to look at Asuna.

The girl nodded her head in reply. "Yeah, yeah. After seeing her fight with Natsu and Gray, I think that you're right. When we fought her back then she took it easy on us for sure."

A look of surprise came across the boy's face face. It was so cute! "Oh. Nice. And um, thank you, Asuna-san. I appreciate that."

A smile passed between the two of them, causing Kazumi to pump a fist in victory. Her plan was already a success and Negi had not even finished answering the question. She was amazing! And maybe had a lot of potential as a psychologist too. Something to consider if she ever got bored of being a reporter.

The young teacher coughed to clear his throat before continuing. "Ahem. Anyway, in conclusion, I think that she can be saved if someone puts in the effort to save her. Right now I am in the best position to do it, and I promise that I will give it my best shot. I will succeed my father's hope in cursing her to this place. I will not let this legacy of his be wasted."

And there it was. The final piece of information Kazumi had been missing which caused the argument between the two to now make perfect sense

What it boiled down to was Negi's desire to become closer to his father coming into conflict with Asuna's protective nature. A son's love for his father waging against… something on Asuna's side. A feeling that verged on sisterly concern? A bud of romantic interest in the young boy? Either one was possible, and regardless of which one it turned out to be it was no wonder that the two had been so entrenched in their respective positions.

Negi turn towards Kazumi and bowed. "Thank you Kazumi-san. Thank you for helping me put my feelings into words." The boy smiled in thanks as he spoke and Asakura felt her heart flutter as it did.

Damn that just was not fair. Not at all! Kazumi turned her face away as she tried to regain control over her own thoughts. She would not coo again. No matter how tempting it was. She wouldn't!

"Alright Negi. I get it," Asuna said neutrally. "Eva-chan, for all of her many faults in the past, does deserve the second chance your dad gave her. Other than her duel with us and that little flare-up with Natsu and Gray, the woman has been completely unremarkable during her time here at Mahora. I'm not a fan of this, not by any stretch, but I do get where you're coming from."

She sighed once more. "For your sake I'll let bygones be bygones. 'Kay?"

Negi's eyes almost sparkled as he gave Asuna a hug. She returned his embrace warmly, smiling softly as she did. "Let's go and get you a teacher now."

Behind them, Kazumi grinned widely. It wasn't often that she played the role of peacemaker. She was more suited to the role of kicking the hornets nest to see what came flying out. But doing this every once in a while could be a nice change in pace. She almost felt happy enough to join them in their celebratory group hug.

But only almost. A good reporter needed to have clear boundaries between the story and their self. And those boundaries had already taken enough of a hit with her inexplicable desire to coo at the young boy.

"So, are we going to enter the cabin or not?" Kazumi said, the grin still firmly stuck in place on her face. "'Cause its hot out here and that cabin's got an air-condition unit on it. There's only so much sweat a girl can take on a beautiful day like this."

Asuna's head jerked up from where she and Negi were hugging one another. "Seriously, Kazumi? Seriously? Just interrupt the nice moment that Negi and I were having here like it's not even important why don't you."

"Eh, you'll survive," the redhead said with a cheeky grin. "Besides, it's hot and the two of you came here to accomplish something. Let's get this show off the road and indoors already."

The twin-tailed girl grimaced but broke her embrace with Negi. "Fine. Whatever. Stay put with Negi for a moment while I go peak inside. It might not be safe to enter at the moment. Adeat!"

A giant white fan appeared in Asuna's right hand in a flash of light, seemingly from out of nowhere. Kazumi had to suppress the urge to whistle in awe.

Well that confirmed it. Negi and Asuna really were involved in magic. Which meant that the story they would write together would be one for the ages.

It was a good thing that they had such a capable reporter to keep track of things for them.


Eva hummed thoughtfully to herself as she thumbed the open page of a grimoire while she relaxed in the only unbroken chair left in her cabin. Dalamar the Dark had been a brilliant wizard in his age. Attempting to break his coded grimoire was an intellectual hobby of hers to pass the time.

Just she finished turning the page, a sneeze tore through her body. "Achoo!" She wiped one hand across her face in annoyance, trying to get rid of any offending particulates that might have stuck to her skin.

"Damn dust." Eva muttered to herself. "The place just hasn't been right since the idiot broke everything."

Eva turned her attention back to the grimoire. If you interpreted the fifteenth rune as the beginning of a new set, then maybe...

Eva sneezed once more. And then sneezed again. And again. And again. A feeling of dread came across her as a familiar scent reached her nose.

Oh no. Oh, no no no no no!

This was not just another dust sneeze. Nor was it something caused by a random bit of pollen. It was far, far worse. For the sneeze had been borne from both pollen and freshly cut grass. The smell of which continually grew stronger.

That goddamn sadist who dared call himself headmaster of this school had asked someone to cut the grass around her cabin! This must have been in revenge for her gallivanting around Kyoto while he forcibly kept her free from Mahora's magical barriers.

Oh God in Hell below! If she was already sneezing in her living room the vile stuff had already infiltrated her entire house.

It was time to activate the emergency countermeasures.

"Chachamaru! Turn on all of the air-ionizers and humidifiers at once! The damn plants are trying to kill me again."

End

A/N: This chapter is another one to get the hack and slash treatment. Heavy on the hack and slash. I've probably kept only 25% of the original material. I must also confess that one reason for my inclusion of a discussion on grammar in this chapter is due to my immense annoyance at how those particular forms are abused throughout fan fiction, bringing ruin and pain to untold numbers of eyes as they devastate otherwise good stories. Besides, it also allowed me to finally work in a classroom scene for Negi. He IS a teacher after all. A character facet of which most fan fiction written on him will usually only pay lip service to, let alone feature in any meaningful way.

This is also pretty exciting for me because this is the last of the old chapters. My next release will be entirely brand spanking new! Please bear with me, though, for the wait may take some time.

To the comments!

Kazumi Asakura: She's a fun addition to the story for me. I always enjoyed her in Negima canon and wished that we had seen more of her. Being a cute and sexy redhead might also have been a factor in it as well. That being said, the author used her to great effect and kept her true to herself. It will be a hard act to improve upon.

She is currently ignorant of Negi's struggles and some of his driving motivations, but like any good reporter she will soon start digging for the truth. The more she learns about him, the more invested she will become in ensuring that her precious teacher (and future lover) remains capable of smiling at those around him. She will remain a support type character and will join the other girls in making sure that Negi is kept grounded.

I'm planning to have her consciously fall for him over time. She's not a tsundere type like other girls and is definitely an assertive type. At the moment she is somewhat attracted to Negi, but it has yet to bloom into anything like that of her classmates. As Negi starts growing and maturing, both in body and in spirit, her attraction will deepen until one day she decides to say "Screw it. I'm taking what I want."

I've got it planned out. And boy will it be fun.

Return of Class 3-A: The 'Growth' arc will heavily feature Negi and the girls in Negima. For those of you who prefer FT over Negima, I ask that you bear with it as Natsu will be the only one with a recurring role. The arc needs to happen this way because the Negima faction is far less powerful than the FT crew at this point in the story. They need time to build up their strength and enemies from which to gain experience. Otherwise this story would be how Natsu and the rest came into Negima, kicked butt, and ignored everyone else.

Hm… that's actually a good idea for a crossover. It won't happen in this fic, but if someone out there want to do it then go ahead. I'll offer myself as a sounding board to help you flesh things out.

Ayaka Yukihiro: The busty blonde bombshell of class 3-A. Iincho. Asuna's closest friend. And in my opinion also one of the creepiest characters in the entire manga. She will be used, but… don't expect to see too much of her. A little bit goes a long way.

The Pairing List as of 2/15/2019:

Negi: Chisame, Kazumi, ?, ?, and possibly ?. I could probably throw in half of his class – as well as a few others like Takane D. Goodman – but nope. I had to draw the line somewhere or else it would just explode and take over the story. Besides, I still find myself waffling over 2 of my hidden choices every time I look at my story. I quite honestly might end up changing at least one of them if I feel like it would be in the best interests of the plot, but ugh! It's stressful to even consider.

Thankfully, for it to be a Negima fanfic the girls will be throwing themselves at Negi, so I will have plenty of room to construct a romance between Negi and virtually any other girl not already paired off. And… expect to see a death or two among this large selection of girls and women as I try to keep all of you in suspense.

Natsu: Erza, Chao, Wendy, and ?. Because I couldn't see anymore than 4 being with the guy with the way I am shaping everyone's respective characterizations. Nor could I see any of the other girls surviving the chosen 4. And unlike with Negi, Natsu's girls are set in stone. There will be no changes or additions.

Konoka and Setsuna: Because it just works so gosh darn well.

Happy and Carla: Because I want the two morons to finally embrace their feelings for one another.

Lucy and ?

Eva and ?

Gray and (eventually) ?

Takamichi and ?

Chamo and a lonely Iron Maiden. Because Karma can really be a bitch.

And many more which will remain a secret. Additionally, expect the two groups of multi-pairings to be very different in terms of social dynamics. Natsu and Negi are very different characters with very different viewpoints. I want to explore two different types of multi-pairing instead of just going with the cookie cutter approach and doing the same thing.

Unlike in most harem/polyamory/multi-pairing fics the women involved will still keep their brains. There will be some drama between the girls and the guy in both groupings, and Natsu's group will feature at least one explosive fight.

Recommended Reading: This time I would like to recommend It's Just that Time of Year Again by The Wumbologist. This is a fun Fairy Tail fanfic featuring Natsu and an older Wendy as the pairing. It takes the viewpoint that Dragon Slayers are, in certain ways, a little closer to animals than we might think. It also bears on some of what will be discussed in the next chapter of this story. Read it and enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Elsil