I'm the worst for posting the prologue and then waiting more than a year to post the first chapter, I know. I've no excuses… That said, I really hope you like this chapter because I think it turned up pretty well.
P.S. Hope you've got a great weekend!
What came after Death
That cold morning of November, the story could be found everywhere.
All around the world, every newspaper and media news worth their salt was covering the same shocking story. About how Sirius Peverell – the young head of the Peverell Group and the wealthiest person in the world – had gotten married and had a child in secret.
For a whole year, nobody but a trusted few had known about the whole thing and the only reason the story had gotten out was because the PR office of the Peverell Group had released a statement about it, introducing young Rhea Peverell as the official new heir of the Peverell family, and welcoming Anne Taylor – now Peverell – into the family.
It was the first shocking piece of news involving the Peverell family since Sirius's former betrothed and childhood sweetheart had run off to marry another man – her soulmate and a middle-class nobody – almost two years before, so, naturally, everyone wanted to know the full story.
Everyone wanted to know every detail of what happened. And everyone had some sort of opinion and theory about it.
After all, it wasn't every day that the Peverell family – who was widely known because of the sheer power they wielded – was involved in such a juicy story.
(…. Oh, if only they had any idea of what the real truth was)
Whoever invented the rocking chairs deserved a gold medal and price money and probably also a goddamn shrine, Sirius decided as he saw how his daughter's beautiful green eyes finally closed after he started to rock her back and forth while cradling her in his arms.
He'd been trying to get her to sleep for hours now. First, he'd told her some of his favorite bedtime stories, then he'd tried singing the old, familiar lullabies his mother used to sing to him, but nothing had worked. If anything, his darling little star had become more alert and energetic as time passed.
And then, when he'd finally resigned himself to the idea of being such a failure of a father that he couldn't even get his only daughter to sleep, Sirius had sat down on the chair, completely exhausted, and he'd watched, astonished, how quickly Rhea had succumbed to the arms of Morpheus.
"It seems there's hope for me yet, little star" he smiled down at his child, tracing her round, chubby cheeks with a gentle finger.
Even after having Rhea in his life for a couple of days, there was still a part of him that marveled over the fact that this tiny, perfect, human being was a part of him. He wasn't the last of the Peverell family anymore. He had a daughter. A beautiful daughter with black raven hair and bright, intelligent emerald-green eyes.
Emerald-green eyes that, just by looking at them, made him certain of three things.
One, his daughter was a Peverell through and through. Just like him, his father, his grandmother, and the rest of their ancestors up until the first Peverell in this world, Rhea had been blessed by Death. And one day, when the true power of the Peverell bloodline awaken in her, she would walk with Death in her shadow, just like he did.
Two, judging by the way his very soul had seemed to know her since the moment he had laid eyes on her, theirs wasn't a new story. His daughter and he had shared a strong connection in their previous life. They had shared a strong bond forged by magic. That was the only explanation on why their magic had formed a bond so strong and instructible after so little time together.
And three, and this was the most important in his opinion, Sirius would do everything in his power to make sure she was protected. Since the moment he had seen her for the first time, he'd loved her above everything else in his life. Rhea was the center of his universe now. And, because of that, there wasn't anything he wouldn't do if it meant his daughter was safe and happy.
Even if that meant he would need to lie to her about her own origins.
"I will protect you from everything and everyone, little star" he promised, kissing her forehead, and feeling their magical bond sing with warmth and contentment.
After a moment, the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the nursery was interrupted by Hikari, who entered the room with a determined look on her face he knew all too well.
Sirius repressed the urge to groan, mindful of the sleeping baby in his arms. "Nooooooo…. Whatever it is, it can wait until later. I'm spending quality time with my wonderful, darling daughter" he complained in a whisper.
To her defense, Hikari looked genuinely remorseful. "I'm sorry. I know you wanted to spend all day with her, but there are things we need to go over if we're to make sure nobody founds out the truth."
If it was about anything else, he would have pushed it for later. He'd already lost the first three months of Rhea's life and he wasn't planning on losing another minute. But if there was one thing that was more important than spending time with her, it was making sure she was protected. And if his plan didn't work exactly as planned, Rhea could face a lot of cruel and unnecessary obstacles in her future.
So, to protect her from that, he got up and gently put her down in her crib.
"Daddy will be back in no time, little star" he promised, kissing her forehead once more before he lifted his right hand and raised all the wards in the room with a swift movement.
Satisfied with the knowledge that Rhea would remain safe and well-protected while he wasn't there to look after her, and that he would know in the instant someone else so much as sneezed close to her nursery, he turned around and guided Hikari out of the room, carefully closing the doble doors behind him.
Without another word, he walked in the direction of his private study with Hikari following him a step behind.
"Is something wrong?" he demanded as soon as he sat down behind his desk.
Hikari sighed, looking altogether too exhausted to be healthy. She was his personal assistant – him, not the CEO of the Peverell Group – and that meant his personal problems were also her problems, so, out of the two of them, she was probably the one with more work due to Rhea's unexpected arrival in his life. "The family lawyer just sent this" she said, handling him a folder full of papers "Everything was done exactly as you instructed… As of today, and barring the few bequests you established, Rhea Peverell is the sole inheritor of your fortune in the case of your death"
Sirius nodded, giving a cursory scan to the papers to make sure nothing was out of order. All the members of his legal team were magically bound to never betray him or any other member of the Peverell family, but he'd been raised to never fully trust someone who wasn't considered a part of the family, and thus, he only signed the papers after he'd made sure with his own eyes that everything was in order. "And the trust fund?"
"Already set" she confirmed, handling him another folder "She will have full control of it on her seventeenth birthday."
"Perfect" he smiled, pleased "Then the only thing left is the guardianship papers, right?"
Judging by Hikari's pursed lips, she'd already read the papers and she didn't agree with his choice of legal guardian. But she was nothing if not a consummated professional, so she handled him the respective file without saying anything.
It said exactly what he'd instructed his lawyer to set up, that in the unfortunate event of his death before his daughter reached the legal majority, Mitsuki Bakugo would be Rhea's guardian with full capacity of acting in her behalf in all capacities, which included access to the family fortune.
The only thing left was the signatures.
"Excellent work" Sirius praised, signing his name at the bottom, and tucking away the file for later "I'll make sure Mitsuki signs this as soon as possible" he assured her, receiving a pinched expression in return. "Anyway…. How is everything going in the public front?"
"The story was released exactly as planned. And, for the most part, the reactions were what we had anticipated, a lot of surprise and questions but nothing serious so far…. However, the head of the PR team alerted me that the press is already digging everything they can find on your supposed bride. So, I need to be sure, is there any chance that somebody will find the truth?"
"No, don't worry, my cover story is complete bulletproof" he assured her. All he'd needed had been a couple of memory charms, modifying enchantments on some very official documents and bam, he'd obtained the perfectly legal documentation that validated everything they'd told the press. "If anyone goes looking, they won't find anything that negates my story."
Hikari nodded, accepting his words without question. "All the members of the staff who know you've been living here, alone, until Rhea appeared one night, had been warned to keep their mouths shut if they want a nice, generous bonus at the end of the year."
He snorted, not surprised by her tactic. Hikari had been carefully trained by his parents to be his personal assistant from a young age and, under his mother's tutelage, she had learned that, for someone without magic, throwing money at their problems was the fastest way to make them go away. Sirius, on the other hand, was his father's heir through and through. "Even if they wanted to talk, their oaths would make it impossible for any of them to do so." Magic was just wonderful that way.
"I know, but better be safe than sorry" she declared, firmly "And talking about safety, do you know what are you going to do about the supposed mother? Are we sure nobody is going to asks questions when she's nowhere to be seen? Especially when everyone will believe you're still married to her?"
Sirius smirked, feeling a little devious. "Trust me, that's not going to be a problem… Anne Taylor will soon appear in public with me, and she'll say exactly what we need her to say"
In front of him, Hikari's eyes went wide, finally understanding the full scope of his plan.
After all, there were only five people alive who knew that Anne Taylor – his supposed wife, and a redhaired, green eyed British orphan who had come to Japan in a student exchange for her last years of high school and then had decided to stay to get her degree in Tokyo University of the Arts – didn't really exist, and no one of them would ever breathe a word to the press about it.
Originally, the fake identity of Anne Taylor had been created for Mitsuki by his father. It'd been his unofficial engagement present for them – his father had created a fake identity for him as well – his way to make sure the two of them could go out, explore the world, have fun without fear of blemishing their family names in the process. His father had been a very careful man with an eye for details, so he'd used his magic to create the credentials – and the rest of the paper trail – in such way that nobody could suspect that the fake identities weren't real.
Back then, Mitsuki and him had thought the fake identities were a bit too much. But they had been young and eager to explore the world outside of high society, so they had accepted to use them after his parents had promised to turn a blind eye towards anything they did while using them. And it had been so easy, to use those false identities and their trust funds to do everything they had wanted.
Ironically enough, the fake identities his father had gave them as an engagement present had been the very thing that had led to end of their relationship. After all, without those escapades under their false names, Mitsuki wouldn't have never met her soulmate, Sirius wouldn't have met Rumi, and they wouldn't have decided that the best thing for the both of them was to break off their betrothal.
It was almost funny how, years after leaving that part of their lives behind, Mitsuki was going to play her old role of Anne Taylor once more but, this time around, she would play it for the press and the public. To make sure the story he had concocted was believed by everyone, including his own daughter.
He'd already thought on how everything would pan out.
They would go out a couple of times in public places, give some interviews to the press, and attend together the most important society events to ensure everyone believed he was serious about their "marriage". And then, after a couple of months playing the perfect couple, "his wife" would have a tragic accident and die, leaving him as a widower and the only legal parent of Rhea.
That way, he would ensure that his custody of Rhea was unquestionable and irrevocable, and he would also make sure nobody would dare to question her role as the heir of the Peverell family because of her illegitimacy.
With his plan, Rhea would be protected from every angle.
"Are sure is wise to trust her? Your former betrothed?" Hikari asked, apparently no longer able to remain silent.
"Mitsuki is my best friend, of course I trust her" Sirius replied immediately, his voice fierce and leaving behind no room for arguments "She won't betray me"
Judging by her expression, his assistant didn't share his unconditional trust. Then again, Hikari had never particularly liked Mitsuki, and that had only worsened after they had broken off their engagement. "Then I'll make all the appropriate arrangements with the PR team" she finally said, summoning her tablet and quickly typing something in it "Also, you should know that most of board members have already called to express their opinions over the fact that you got married and had a child without informing any of them first."
Sirius snorted, not surprised in the least. Those old-fashioned jerks were a lot like vultures seeking the biggest meal available. They had tried to entice him into marrying one of their daughters practically from the moment he'd announced he was no longer engaged to Mitsuki, and now that he was officially off the market – married to someone outside of their sphere of control – they were probably gritting their teeth in frustration over their lost chance. "Don't worry too much about it. They will complain and judge and be generally annoying for as long as they can, but eventually they will forget all about it when they realized they have a chance to secure a betrothal between Rhea and one of their grandchildren."
Hikari raised a single eyebrow, unimpressed. "Anyone with half of a brain cell should know you won't secure a betrothal for Rhea, no when she was born with a soulmark"
"Maybe, but greed has a funny way of blinding people" he smirked, amused "Besides, even if she didn't have a mark, I would still let her marry whoever she chooses… My daughter should marry for love"
If her sigh was anything to go by, she was already anticipating all the future problems his decision was going to bring but, like with most things, she let it go. "Here" Hikari said instead, summoning a huge stack of paperwork from her pocket dimension with a little twist of her fingers "I need your signature in all these as soon as possible"
"Why?" he whined, feeling exhausted just by looking at the pile of papers.
"Because you're the CEO of the Peverell Group and is your responsibility to make sure everything is running smoothly"
"Oh, c'mon. Haven't I earned the right to-" His protests died in his throat when he saw her glare. Sometimes, he couldn't help but wonder who the real boss was. The rest of the time, he silently thanked his parents for picking her as his personal assistant. "Fine, fine. But I retain the right to vocally complain about it."
"As long as you do your work, you can do as you please, sir" She shot back, her tone perfectly blank.
Sirius huffed an amused laugh as he focused his attention on the first piece of paperwork in the pile. Great, it was a report from their legal team, seeking his approval so they could go forward with the acquisition of a minor but very promising tech company. The answer was obvious, but he still needed to read through all the paperwork and give his approval because his ancestors were control-freaks that had designed the bylaws in such a way that the CEO – i.e., the head of the Peverell family – always needed to have the final say in every important matter in their company. "You're a big meanie, you know that, right?" he complained, knowing Hikari had put that report at the top of the pile on purpose. She loved to put the most boring and uninteresting pieces of paperwork at the beginning when she was cross with him.
"Yes, sir. And very proud about it."
His witty response was at the tip of his tongue when he felt the magic in his wristwatch flare, alerting him of a new message. Curious, because nowadays there was only one person besides Hikari who could contact him through it, he tappet it three times with his index. Instantly, words started to appear in the surface until they formed a simple sentence: 'On my way' And just after the message disappeared, the hand of the clock that belonged to Mitsuki changed from "Home" to "Traveling".
Grinning in excitement, Sirius pushed the paperwork away and got to his feet. "Mitsuki is coming, I'll finish these later."
"Sir, I don't think…."
"Later!" he promised with a laugh, as he ran away from his study and towards the cozy sitting room on the family wing that had been marked as her arriving point inside the house since they had been teens.
He entered the room just as his best friend appeared in the center of it, bypassing all the wards thanks to the special portkey he'd especially designed for her.
"Hey, Suki" he smiled widely.
In front of him stood Mitsuki Bakugo – formerly known as Mitsuki Kaneko – with her familiar spiky, ash blonde hair, mischievous red eyes, and easy smile. A smile that only grew bigger when she saw him. "Hey, Siri. Long time no see you."
He laughed, as he crossed the distance between them to give her quick but fierce hug. "Well, who was the one who decided to juggle work and motherhood, and in doing so made it impossible to meet as regularly as before?" he teased her.
Mitsuki rolled her eyes, giving him a light punch in the shoulder. "Oh, you don't have room to talk, Mister 'Hotshot-CEO-and-single-parent'"
"Touché" he smiled.
"So, are you going to introduce me to her or what?" she demanded, evidently impatient "Because let me tell you that I didn't use that infernal death trap called portkey to come all this way just for you"
He snickered as he guided her out of the room. "After all these years, you really should know it's not a death trap."
"Yeah? Tell that to my one-of-a-kind human-size doll. Six years later and she's still missing her legs."
"That was an accident!" he protested immediately, indignant "And it only happened because it was my first time creating a portkey…. Besides, you forced me to buy you a whole collection of creepy, expensive dolls after it happened, remember?"
Mitsuki smirked smugly in his direction. "You were too easy, Siri"
He rolled his eyes, silently amused. "So, how is my dear godson? As active as ever?" he inquired after a moment.
His best friend practically lighted up at his question, her features visibly softening with maternal love and pride. "Yeah, Katsuki is still a little terror."
"Just like his mother then" He teased, receiving a light punch in his arm for his words "And your dull husband? Is he still convinced I'm trying to steal you away from him?"
"Masaru is doing well, thank you very much for asking" she said primly "And just you know, he doesn't think you're trying to steal me away, he's just wary of you because you're the last link towards my old life and I think there's a part of him that's afraid one day I'm going to wake up and regret everything I left behind in order to marry him."
"You would never do that" Sirius protested with frown "You're the most headstrong and loyal person I know, there's no way in hell you'll ever regret choosing him"
Mitsuki smiled. "Of course I know that, and you know that, and even my former family probably knows that… but I think Masaru needs a little more time before he realizes that"
"Well, he better gets his act together soon enough, or I'll kick his ass"
"…. And comments like that are the reason he still doesn't fully trust you" she pointed out, giving him an elbow in the ribs.
"I don't need him to trust me, or to be my friend" Sirius told her seriously "I only need him to make sure you and my godson are happy"
Mitsuki sighed, her red eyes filled with fondness. "I know, Siri… We're family-"
"-Now and forever" he agreed, bumping his shoulder with hers.
Besides Death, the Peverell family had always valued family, soulmates, and power – in exactly that order – above everything else in life.
Because of that, when Sirius had been born without a soulmark, his father had decided that the future partner of his only son and heir would need to give him the other two. And so, after Sirius had awaken the true power of their bloodline when he was five years old, his father had arranged his first meeting with Mitsuki and Mako Kaneko.
The Kaneko family – owner of the Kaneko Healthcare Corporation – was an old and prestigious family whose fortune and connections in the medical industry were impressive even by his family's standards. And since the Peverell family didn't have a strong influence in that particular area, his father had decided to kill two birds with one stone and secure Sirius's future spouse from one of the two children of the head of the Kaneko family.
Sadly, his father's plan had ended up backfiring on him.
For one, Sirius had hated Mako pretty much since the moment they had met. Mako had been an arrogant, pompous little jerk as a kid, and had grown up to be a backstabbing, greedy, git who was a horrible human being and an even worse brother. To this day, the sole sight of Mako's face make him want to punch him. Repeatedly.
For another, while Sirius and Mitsuki had clicked immediately after meeting, theirs had never been a love story. At least not one of the romantic kind.
They had been so similar that it'd been easy to become best friends and each other's favorite person after only a couple of encounters. And maybe, if things had gone a little different, that closeness could have turned into a romantic direction as time went by. But their parents hadn't waited for them to figure it out for themselves and instead they had pushed them into the direction they had thought best. So, by the time they had been seven, they had already been betrothed to be married when Sirius reached his twenty-one first birthday.
Because of the betrothal, Mitsuki had been treated like a member of the Peverell family as they grew up. Which meant they had done everything together, they had gone to the same schools and parties, shared the same tutors and most of their extra-curricular activities. Hell, Mitsuki had even been included in most of their family vacations. They had grown up together side-by-side – he was pretty sure he'd spend more time with her than Mako – and there was no doubt that they loved each other, but their love had always been completely platonic in its nature.
They loved each other deeply and unconditionally, but they had never been in love with each other and, by the time they had been sixteen, they both had known there was little chance that would ever change. However, for both of their families' sake, they had been willingly to ignore their feelings and go through the arranged marriage as planned.
And then his father had given them those fake identities when they had been seventeen and their worlds had turned upside down.
So much so that, not long after her nineteenth birthday, Mitsuki had run off and gotten married with Masaru – and not even Sirius' support had been enough to stop the Kaneko family from disinheriting her when they had found out – and, a few months later, Sirius had decided to pursue a romantic relationship with Rumi, who was the antithesis of everything his father had wanted for him.
But he could never regret any of it. Not when it all had led him towards his daughter.
"She's still sleeping" Sirius whispered, guiding her inside the nursery and towards Rhea's crib.
"Oh, Siri… She's beautiful" Mitsuki smiled, gently touching Rhea's sleeping face "She looks just like you"
"Yeah" he agreed, proudly "The only thing that's new are her emerald-green eyes, but they are gorgeous and unique so I'm happy with them"
"So, she doesn't have any obvious similarities with Rumi?" she asked after a moment of hesitation.
"No" he whispered back after making sure his daughter was still sleeping. He wasn't sure of how aware Rhea was of the world around her, but he wasn't about to risk it. "And I doubt any similarities will appear as she grows older… Rumi and I aren't soulmates and we never shared a marriage bond, so our family magic will make sure Rhea completely favors the Peverell side in looks and abilities… And all things considered, that's probably for the best."
He could feel Mitsuki heavy stare on him, but he refused to lift his gaze and see what emotions were shining in her eyes.
"Are you sure you want to go through your plan?" she finally asked, her voice carrying an odd note he couldn't quite identify "For me to pose as Anne Taylor and pretend to be her mother?"
"If it's going to cause problems with your husband-"
"It's not that" she interrupted him immediately, shaking her head "I told you, Masaru knows there's nothing romantic between us. He doesn't have a problem with the plan even if he doesn't understand the necessity of it." It went without saying that, unlike her husband, Mitsuki understood perfectly well why he was taking such actions. Even if she had left behind that part of her life, she'd been raised as an heiress and knew how cruel and unforgiving high society could be to those that didn't fit the perfect mold.
"Then why are you asking me these questions?"
"Because I'm your sister in all but blood and I know you better than anyone else alive. And I know how reckless you can be when one of your loved ones is involved, and this is a decision that you need to think through, Sirius... Because there will be no coming back, do you understand? Your daughter will grow up believing her mother is dead, and Rumi will never be able to have any kind of relationship with her"
Sirius only needed a moment to think his answer before he was lifting his head and staring straight back at Mitsuki. "Do you remember what you told me when you decided to run off with Masaru?"
Judging by her confused expression, she didn't know where he was going with his question but, even then, she answered without hesitation. "I told you that being with him felt like jumping off from a precipice without knowing what was waiting at the bottom. And that even if a part of me was completed terrified, I was willingly to take a leap of faith and jump…. Because I knew he was jumping with me."
He couldn't help but smile, remembering that conversation. Mitsuki had been scared, he had seen that in her eyes, but she hadn't let that fear control her as she asked him for forgiveness.
'I can't marry you, Siri, not when my heart belongs to him' she'd said, as she had explained her plans to leave everything behind – her family, her fortune, and her betrothal to him – to be with her soulmate, the man she was in love with.
And Sirius had been so happy for her, for having the courage to openly go after what she wanted, that he'd hugged her tight and wished her all the luck in the world. 'No matter what happens next, we're family, you and I' he'd promised her 'Now and forever'
'Now and forever' she'd promised back.
But he couldn't deny that seeing her go and be with Masaru had made him wish for that kind of connection, for someone to take a leap of faith with him.
"I was so sure Rumi was the one" he confessed, forcing himself to smile even if a good part of him wanted to cry "I thought that what we had was real, and I was willing to give up everything so we could be together... But instead of taking that leap of faith with me, she broke my heart and cut all ties without giving me a reason why, and then, months later, she dropped my daughter in my doorstep with a simple letter as an explanation."
"And I can forgive her for breaking my heart because that's how much I loved her, how much I still love her... But I can't forgive her for the way she treated Rhea" Sirius told her, holding her gaze with his own, completely serious for once "So yes, I'm sure I won't regret this…. Because if Rhea grows up to be even a little bit like me and knew the truth, she will never stop searching for a relationship with a mother who has made it clear that she doesn't want to be one. And, as her father, is my duty to protect Rhea for that kind of heartbreak"
Mitsuki stared at him for a long moment before finally nodding her head in acceptance. "In that case, I will help in every way I can"
Sirius smiled, feeling truly grateful. "Thank you"
"No thanks needed. I'm just fulfilling my role as your best friend and her favorite aunt"
"Oh, that reminds me… I want you to be her godmother and her legal guardian if something ever happens to me" he said, summoning the respective file from his office and handling it to her without any kind of ceremony.
Mitsuki's wide-eyed expression as she read over the papers was an amusing sight to behold. "Sirius, I don't know what to say…"
"Say yes" he said immediately "Besides, this way we're even. After all, you name me the godfather of your son, and his legal guardian in case something happens to you and your husband"
"Yes, but this is different, Sirius… You're giving me complete control over all your assets until she reaches eighteen in the event of your death, do you have any idea what I could do with that kind of power?"
Sirius snorted, amused. "Of course I know, and that's exactly why I'm naming you, because there's no one else I would trust with her future"
Mitsuki's expression softened until there was a big, heartfelt smile full of trust and fondness in her face. "In that case, it would be my honor" she promised.
And Sirius couldn't do anything but smile back, feeling confident with his decision.
His daughter was going to grow up believing her mother was dead, but that okay. Because she was going to grow up surrounded by people – Him, Mitsuki, Katsuki, Hikari and maybe even Masaru – who loved her.
Blood ties or not, Rhea was going to grow surrounded by family.
If dying had been as easier than falling sleep, being born again was the complete opposite.
At first, there was only a general feeling of discomfort, the suffocating realization that his body didn't respond to his orders, and the horrible, terrible fear of not knowing what was happening. And it didn't help that the memories on his head were a confusing jumble too. There were flashes of faces and the voices of people he couldn't put a name on, along with whole set of feelings that didn't make sense without the pertinent memories attached to them.
For what felt like an eternity, nothing made sense. His senses were weak and basically useless, not allowing him to hear or see anything beyond loud sounds or blurred images, none of which held any meaning to him.
And the only reason he didn't gone insane was because inside his confused mind – and kept untouched by whatever was happening – was a single, shiny memory that served to keep most of his emotions under control. A memory of a man – with hollow and starved cheeks, a haunted, dirty face and long, long hair that desperately needed a wash – as he walked along side with him through a dark, long tunnel. He didn't remember the man's name, nor where they were, or even who they were with, but he vividly remembered the conversation between the two of them, and the feelings that had come with it.
'…Once my name's cleared… if you wanted a…. a different home' The man's voice was raspy and croaky, as if he hadn't used it for a long time. But even then, it was easy to hear his vulnerability in the tentative way he said the words.
'What – live with you?' In contrast, the surprise in his voice served to overlap all the other emotions he was feeling. And he was feeling a lot of things, especially a burning hope that only grew with the man's next words.
'Of course, I thought you wouldn't want to…. I understand. I just thought I'd-'
'Are you mad? Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?' This time, there was no denying the eagerness in his voice.
'You want to? You mean it?' Nor the sudden hope in the man's voice.
'Yeah, I mean it!'
And even if he didn't have any context for the memory, he could not ignore the smile that his words caused, the way the man's entire face seemed to light up with pure, unaltered joy, making it possible to see the beautiful face that hid behind his starved and hunted appearance; nor he could ignore the feelings that had bubbled up inside of him. The hope. The happiness. The utter certainty that, after so long, he was going to finally have someone to belong to. A place to call home. Family.
So, heheld onto that memory – and the feelings it brought - with everything he had, willing himself to not forget. Because, even if he couldn't remember anything else, he knew, down to his very soul, that the man was the person he loved the most. The one he cherished above everyone and everything else.
And, after a long while, his memories started to slowly come back. They came back in pieces, some with crystal clear focus – allowing him to remember everything, from every detail of what had happened to the feelings he'd experienced at the time – and others were vague and unfocused – not allowing him to remember the details or feelings of those memories.
So, as the days turned into months since hehad been born into this new world, all the pieces fell into place in hismind, and hewas able to remember his life as Harry James Potter.
Heremembered James and Lily Potter – his wonderful, brave parents – and the sacrifice they both had made so he could survive Voldemort's attack. And how, even after death, they were making sure he was alright, giving him another chance at happiness.
He remembered the Dursleys and the hellish, miserable life he had been forced to live under their roof for the first ten years of his life. The Dursleys might have been his blood, but they had never been his family, no when there had never been any kind of love between them.
He remembered the day his first Hogwarts letter had come through the mail, as well as the other ones that followed, and how his relatives' efforts to keep him from the truth had prompted Hagrid to come barreling into his life on his eleventh birthday, changing everything he'd known in its wake. That day, he'd discovered the truth of who he was. He wasn't a freak with no-good-for-nothing parents who died in a car crash. He was Harry Potter, a wizard, the son of brilliant and kind James and Lily Potter, and, for better or worse, he was also the Boy-Who-Lived.
Discovering who he was had led him to Hogwarts – the first place he'd ever called home – and all the adventures and life-threatening situations he'd found himself along the years. It had led him back to Voldemort, and people like Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape. But, most importantly, it'd allowed him to meet his best friends – friendly and hot-tempered Ron and clever, loyal Hermione – and experience the deep and unconditional bond of friendship that they had forged by risking their lives together. It'd allowed him to meet Neville – quiet, shy, honorable Neville – who was always willingly to stand up for what he believed in. To meet the Weasley family, who had welcomed him into their lives with open arms and had always treated him as one of them. To meet Remus, the quiet and wise werewolf who had been one of his father's best friends and the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher he'd ever had.
But, above everything else, Harry remembered Sirius Black – his reckless, prankster, hotheaded and loving godfather – and all the little moments and letters they'd shared since they had met again inside Shrieking Shack when he'd been thirteen. They might had known each other only for a little over two years but there was no denying that he'd been the person Harry had loved the most.
Sirius Black was the reason why Harry had chosen to be reincarnated in this world instead of moving on and be with his parents. Harry had done it for the chance of a new life by Sirius' side. For the chance of family.
And just as he regained all his memories, the world around him started to make sense. Little by little, the loud sounds turned into voices and the blurry images started to come into focus, allowing him to understand what was happening in the world around him.
And the first thing he saw was Sirius' face.
His face was blurry around the edges and a little out of focus – as if he was seeing him without his glasses – and he couldn't quite place the room they were in but there was no doubt it was him. He was younger than he'd ever seen him in person, lacking the hunted look Azkaban had left in him. His hair was longer too, tied up in a sleek ponytail that remind him of Bill Weasley. But, apart from a few, small differences that made his handsome face look softer somehow, he looked almost the same way he'd looked in his parents' wedding picture, with that classic aristocratic look that made him stand out above everyone else in the room.
The smile on his face was the most familiar thing about him, though. That big and warm smile, full of love, awe and hope, and little bit of disbelief. He looked at him as if he couldn't quite believe Harry was real, as if Harry was the very reason of his existence.
Nobody but Sirius had smiled at him like that.
"How's my gorgeous daughter this fine morning?" he asked with a smile that was familiar and comforting, holding him in his arms "Did you get a good night of sleep? I surely hope so, otherwise I would need to fire someone… Now, Rhea, it's time to eat. Open wide, little star."
Harry would have liked to comply with Sirius' request, but his entire being was frozen in disbelief.
All the thoughts in his mind came to a screeching halt as Harry understood what had happened. Dear Merlin, he'd been reborn as girl.
He – Harry James Potter – was no longer a boy. This time around, he was a girl.
The temper tantrum that followed that revelation almost send his – Her; Bloody hell, he was a her now – new father into a panic attack.
It took months for his/her senses to work at full capacity once more – honestly, the eyesight of a baby was horrible. And that came from someone who had needed glasses for most of life– but, by the time his/her first birthday came around, he/she was completely aware of the world around him/her. Which was probably for the best all things considered, because all that eating, popping, burping, sleeping, and then repeat, over and over again, was traumatizing – and a bit humiliating – even if he/she didn't quite remember most of it.
And just like his/her senses returned to full capacity the more time went on, the pass of time also helped him/her to accept his/her new gender.
The problem was that, as Harry Potter, he had always thought of himself as a boy. After all, the Dursley had referred to him as nothing but "boy" for most of his life, and most of the people in the wizarding world had seen him as nothing more than the boy-who-lived. And with the life he'd led, there had never been enough time to stop and question that notion.
So being reborn as a girl when Harry had only saw himself as a boy for all his life was a shocking experience.
But the more he/she thought about it, the more he/she realized his/her new gender wasn't such a problem.
Sure, it was awkward to think he/she would grow up to be teenager girl and someday a woman – especially because all of Harry's most recent memories were as a teenager boy; and Hermione had told him some truly horrifying things about what it meant to go through puberty as a girl – but he/she was sure most of that awkwardness would fade away with time.
And it wasn't like his/her new gender would affect his/her view on romantic partners. At some point, after seeing how he could equally become a blushing stuttering mess for Cedric Diggory or Cho Chang, and how he would rather die than do so for Tom Riddle or Marietta Edgecombe, Harry had realized that gender didn't really matter to him in the matters of the heart. For him, what mattered to falling in love was what kind of person they were. And that belief hadn't changed after being reincarnated.
So, all in all, this reincarnation business was weird, and being a girl was weirder, but his/her life had never fit into the norm. Weird was pretty much his/her version of normal.
Besides, with every new memory he/she made as Rhea Peverell, it became easier to forget the boy he/she used to be.
This life had granted him/her the opportunity to grow up with Sirius as a parent, had gave him/her a family that accept him/her for who he/she was, and had also give him/her a completely clean slate. Whatever path he/she decided to choose in life, whatever risks he/she decided to take, it would be because that was what he/she wanted, and no because someone else had said so.
Once, he/she had been a boy marked by prophecy, following along the path Fate and old men had created for him. But he/she was no longer that boy.
Harry James Potter was dead, and from then on, only Rhea Carina Peverell remained.
Sitting in her vanity chair, Rhea swung her legs back and forth, humming along the popular song her father was signing as he braided her hair.
By now, this a tradition between them.
For some reason, a couple of years before, Sirius had thrown a major fit the first time he'd seen a maid put Rhea's hair up in a sleek ponytail. According to his rant, Peverell woman didn't styled their hair in something as simple and common as a ponytail, they braided it instead – honestly, she had wondered more than once if Sirius had always been this posh and focused on family traditions, and the only reason he hadn't let it show in their past life was because he had hated his family's belief in pureblood supremacy – and his daughter wasn't going to be the exception.
And in a fit of his usual recklessness, he'd declared he would style her hair from then on, claiming it as one of his fatherly duties.
He'd kept his word.
Since that day, every morning after the maids had woken her up and helped her to change into her clothes for the day, he would sit her down in front of the big mirror in her room, and then he would comb her hair while telling her a story, or while singing with her, or simply while talking with her of anything. He'd learned how to do her hair by trial and error, trying different styles as the time went by – and some of his attempts had been painful to look at even for her who once had been a teenage boy with a hair that had a mind of its own – but Sirius had never given up, persisting in his attempts with a single-minded determination that had been pretty touching, until he'd finally settled on a half-braid crown he'd perfected down to a t.
It was a reflection on the kind of father he was.
Sirius had been barely eighteen when his parents had died in a car crash, leaving him with no other blood family and as the new CEO of a global company. He had been twenty-one when his wife died, leaving him a widower and a single father. And despite his grief, all the responsibilities he had and the fact that he had zero experience as a parent, Sirius had done his best for her, making it a point to never miss the little traditions and routines they'd formed over the years.
Every day, he woke up at dawn so he could have time to work in his inventions on his underground workshop, and then be there to braid her hair for her. After that, they took breakfast together, and then they would go together to his office, so he could work while also keep an eye on her while her many, many tutors taught her all the things Sirius deemed necessary – which was a little too much in her opinion; the Japanese language was incredibly difficult and her etiquette lesson were hell – and at the end of every day, no matter how tired he was or how much work he still had, he would tuck her in her bed and tell her a bedtime story until she fell sleep.
Sirius was the kind of dad who stayed at home to take of her at the first sign of a cold, who took her to midnight raids to the kitchen when she woke up after a nightmare, who taught her magic, the art of fine pranking and how to throw a punch if someone ever did something to deserve it.
Sirius was the kind of dad she'd dreamed of in another life while locked inside a cupboard and desperate for someone who cared about her, and the more memories she made of him in this life, the more she cherished him.
"Here we go…. Perfect" Sirius announced, smiling as he tugged the silver ribbon at the end of the half-braid "You're officially ready, little star"
In the mirror in front of them, a handsome young man of twenty-five years old was grinning down at the four years old girl sitting down on the vanity chair in front of him. And looking at the two of them together, nobody could mistake them for anything but father and daughter.
That was because the more she grew up, the more evident it had become that, apart from her green eyes, she hadn't retained a single feature from her previous life. As Harry Potter, she had had an untidy jet-black hair that defied gravity, a skinny complexion – and there, she wasn't completely sure if it'd been a result of all the years the Dursleys had starved her, or if it'd been natural – and no other particularly remarkable feature besides maybe the lightning bolt scar. But this time, she'd inherited Sirius' classic, aristocratic looks with high cheekbones – even if they'd been somewhat softened by her baby cheeks – and long, shiny, black hair that fell in waves until her waist.
If she looked in the mirror, she didn't see Harry Potter – son of James and Lily Potter, and the boy-who-lived – she only saw Rhea Peverell – the only daughter of Sirius Peverell and official heir of their family.
She smiled back at Sirius. "Thanks, dad"
"It was my pleasure, little star" he assured her, kissing her temple "Now, up, up…. Let's have a race and see who gets to the family dinner room first"
"On three. One, two-" Before he finished counting, he'd already turned itself into the familiar form of a grim, who barked something resembling of a laugh as he bounced out of her bedroom.
"Hey! That's no fair!" she complained in between laughs, running after him.
Padfoot wasn't running as fast as he could but even then, she could only manage to keep up to his heels as he run through the long corridors and stairs of the mansion that she now called home. On their way towards the family dining room, they passed through several members of their staff, who were more than familiar with their antics and didn't bat an eye at the sight of a little girl shouting complaints while she was running after a barking, big, black dog.
When she finally reached their destination, she found her father already sitting in his place at the head of the table, cheekily grinning at her. "I won"
"You cheated" she accused, taking her place at his right.
"I won fair and square, so don't pout, little star" her dad grinned, taking the napkin off his plate, and tapping the table three consecutive times.
Instantly, different plates full of food appeared on it as if they'd been summoned with magic, just like it used to be in Hogwarts. However, this world didn't have house elves and, as far as she knew, the blood members of the Peverell magic were the only ones with the capacity of use magic.
This wasn't the product of magic. At least not entirely.
From what she'd gathered from Sirius' stories, as well as what she'd seen while he worked in the company or in his workplace, this was the result of the Peverell family's efforts of combining magic and technology to create and mass-produce objects capable of doing the impossible.
Of doing what was previously considered impossible.
Since their company was founded, the Peverell family had use a combination of magic and technology to create items that made everyone's lives easier. Cleaning items that completely operated themselves after turning them on, cars with an interior bigger than the outside, security systems that used protective wards at their core, the list of Peverell objects that people used in their daily lives went on and on. Especially because the Peverell family had also invented items specially designed for the kind of world they lived on. Watches that created different types of shields in the case of an attack, shoes that could take you away at super-speed if you were trying to run away from something, almost indestructible robots designed to train heroes-in-training, and many, many other objects that were used daily by billions of people around the world.
It made her wonder about the truth behind this new family she'd been reborn into.
Her dad – James Potter – had told her Death blessed the descendants of Ignotus Peverell, that there was a Peverell-Potter secret surrounding Death, and it couldn't be a simple coincidence that a family with the same name in a completely different universe was the only one that could use magic, nor could it be a coincidence that they had dedicated themselves to recreate magical items she distinctly remembered from the magical world.
It made her wonder if Sirius and her were the only Peverell members who carried souls reborn from her previous world, if she was the only one who remembered her previous life, and if there was even the slight possibility that Sirius remembered too.
But no matter how much she wondered about it, Rhea had never asked her questions out loud, too scared to ask in case she didn't like the answer she would hear.
"Time to eat, little star." Sirius said, breaking her out of her thoughts.
Rhea nodded, brandishing her fork with the certainty of someone know knew nobody was going to take away her food, as she eyed the different plates until her green eyes landed on plate of waffles at the other end of the table. "May you pass me the plate of waffles, dad?"
"Uh-uh" he hummed, his grey eyes going form her to the plate before he lifted a single eyebrow in her direction in a silent dare "Why don't you use your magic to get it yourself, little star?"
This part of her life was new too.
The Dursley had hated and feared everything related to magic – including her – so she had never consciously used her powers growing up, she'd only done so when her emotions had been heightened and she'd always thought those occasions had been weird accidents with no explanation. And even when she'd introduced to the magical world, not much had changed regarding the use of her powers. Outside of the classrooms in Hogwarts, she'd only practice magic with the intention of not failing her classes or when she'd been learning something specific, like the Patronus Charm or defense spells and curses.
In her other life, she had never practice magic just for the heck of it, and nobody had encouraged her to do it either.
But Sirius was the opposite of everything she'd known before. Not only he expected the use of magic in their daily lives, but also because he also encouraged her to use it as often as possible. For as long as she could remember – as her memories of her first year in this life were fuzzy at best – Sirius had always found different ways for her to use her magic, encouraging to do better, teaching her different spells, and sharing his own anecdotes about his experiences learning magic in return for her efforts.
"Okay" Rhea agreed, lifting her right hand as she willed the plate to float "Wingardium leviosa" A second later, the plate rose in the air and made its way across the table until it finally landed by her side.
She didn't know if practicing magic freely made that much of a difference, if her magical core was stronger this time around, or if something was simply different in this world, but she had a remarkable good grip on her magic for a wandless four-year-old child.
"Excellent" Sirius praised with a smile, and, with a quick move of his hand, he made sure a waffle, a scoop of ice cream and different kinds of fruits were perfectly placed inside her plate. "Now, let's enjoy our food."
For the next ten minutes, their breakfast progressed as usual, with the two of them coordinating the details of their plans for the day. Because it was Sunday – the only day of the week in which Sirius didn't have to work and she didn't need to attend any kind of lessons – they would finish their breakfast, spend a relaxing morning together and then go to her godmother's house after lunch.
Those plans were thrown out of the window with the unexpected arrival of Hikari. "I'm sorry to interrupt your meal, sir, miss, but we've an emergency on the factory that needs your immediate attention, sir" she said right away, looking a little haggard.
"What happened?" Sirius demanded with a frown.
Hikari hesitated only for a second, her eyes going towards her and then her father in a silent question. But Sirius – who had always trusted her with the truth, even when nobody else did – only nodded at her, giving his silent permission, and Hikari continued talking as if nothing had happened. "We caught a villain trying to smuggle one of our generators out of the main plant."
Sirius' frown deepened and she could see the change in his posture, as he turned into the person who oversaw the most successful company in the world. "Was he interrogated by our security team before handing him to the authorities?"
"Of course, sir. That was the first thing we did after apprehending him"
"Then what's the immediate problem?"
"He caused… quite the scene in his effort to avoid capture and ended up damaging two of the main machines. Per your instructions, we proceed to evacuate all personnel still working in the factory to avoid any accidents, but we can't do anything about the repairs without you, sir."
Sirius sighed, looking already tired by the work ahead. For what she could understand, the key of mass-producing their inventions lied in the machinery of their factory – the only one of its kind – as they operated completed powered by magic. And only someone with magic could meddle with them in any way, and that included any kind of renovations or repairs.
Taking into consideration that a day of production could mean millions in losses and the next day was Monday, Sirius needed to do all the repairs by himself before the end of the day.
"It's okay" she assured when she caught the guilty look he threw in her direction "I don't mind going to the company today"
"No, that's out of the question. You're forbidden to step foot on any work-related place on Sunday" he said firmly, raising his left hand and clicking something on his watch. A moment later, the surface of the watch lit up with something that made him grin "Perfect, your godmother said she would be delighted to host you right away. She even says you can have breakfast with them, so don't worry about finishing your waffles."
Hikari pursed her lips in the same way she always did when her godmother or her family was mentioned, but Rhea was already nodding, grinning in excitement.
The Bakugo family was to the Peverells what the Dursley family could have been to the Potters if things had gone different – better – in her previous life, if Lily and Petunia Evans had refused to let anything come in between their relationship as sisters in the way Sirius and her godmother had done.
Because for all that Sirius Peverell and Mitsuki Kaneko weren't related by blood, they had grown up together and considered themselves siblings, and they'd made sure to stay close even after Mitsuki had moved away when she had gotten married. So much so that – even when the two families' houses weren't close – they made a point to visit each other's houses at least every Sunday, and most of the time they ended up visiting several times each week. After all, the families used every opportunity they could think of to spend time together, it went from Sirius, Mitsuki and Masaru using each other as sitters every time an opportunity called for it, to going in vacations together. Heck, Katsuki and Rhea had shared the same tutors and private lessons since they were old enough to talk, and the only reason they didn't do so anymore was because her uncle Masaru had put his foot down and demanded a more traditional education for his son – to be fair, he had tried to convince her father to enroll her in the same kindergarten than Katsuki but Sirius had firmly refused, citing that no Peverell had ever went to something as plebian as a kindergarten and his daughter wasn't going to be the exception to that – and, even then, Katsuki and Rhea still shared all of their extracurricular activities in the afternoon.
Unlike the Dursley family – to whom Harry hadn't felt any kind of attachment – and the Weasleys – all of whom had been great, but their closeness and family dynamic had made Harry painfully aware of the fact he wasn't one of them – it had been so very easy to love the Bakugo family and think of them as her family.
"I'll go pick up my things" she said, jumping out of her seat – breakfast completely forgotten – and rushing towards her room, where she wasted no time in throwing everything she needed inside her favorite backpack.
Rhea was back on the first floor on under fifteen minutes, skidding to a halt in front of the fireplace and the big family portrait over it. It was a pretty piece of art and one of the only portraits in the house where an imagen of her biological mother could be found. She'd been a beautiful, young red-headed woman, this new mother of hers. But outside of the read hair, her young age and maybe her green eyes – though, to be fair, Lily's eyes had been emerald-green eyes, like Rhea's, but Anne's were blue green – there was nothing else connecting Lily and Anne. And because Anne had died in that period where her memories were a confused and fuzzy mess, she couldn't remember a single thing about her mother that made sense, and her confusion about it wasn't helped by the fact that nobody was willingly to talk about her, not even Sirius.
It was the reason why, most of the time, she was able to forget Sirius wasn't her only parent in this life. She'd grown up without any parents once and having a parent – having Sirius – was already a blessing. She didn't need a mother. No when she'd so much already.
But then there would times when she would look at that portrait, with Anne Peverell smiling brightly as she held her baby daughter in her arms, and Rhea couldn't help but wonder what kind of person her mother had been.
And what it would have been like to grow up with a mother by her side.
"Let's go, little star. The portkey is ready for us." Sirius said, appearing at her side and taking her hand to guide her towards the apparition and portkey point.
"Where did Hikari go?"
"She went ahead to the factory to organize everything. I'll meet her there after I leave you at Mituski's house." He said, taking out a pair of familiar gloves from his pockets "Here, don't forget to put this on."
"Do I have to?" she groaned, hating that her voice sounded a little bit like she was whining. She wasn't Draco Malfoy, damnit. "It's summer! Nobody wears gloves!"
"You know the gloves are charmed to stay cold, little star. Besides, you're not the only one who wears them, your godbrother does too."
"He doesn't use them as much since he got his quirk!"
"Well, that's Mitsuki's problem… You're going to wear your gloves, summertime or not" he said firmly with his dad voice on, passing them silently to her.
"But why?" she insisted, even as she received the gloves.
"You know why"
She thought of the black soulmark in her breastbone, signaling that somewhere out there in this world was her soulmate waiting for her, and how much that meant to her, and her voice carried a tone of childlike hesitation the next time she spoke. "Will it be so bad, daddy? If I found out my soulmate?"
Sirius' face visibly softened. In the next second, he was kneeling in the floor and looking at her eye to eye. "Of course not. That's all I ever want for you, little star."
"Listen carefully to me, Rhea… There are people on this world who will see you as nothing more that the future head of the Peverell Group, and they will try to get close to you for their own benefit. And probably the fastest way to do that, is for you to believe they're your soulmate"
"But the mark-"
"There are some unsavory ways to fake a soulmate connection and change the color of the tattoos, and you're too young to tell the difference." he said with a dark look that spoke of experience "So, until you're a little older to really difference the changes in your soulmate bond, the gloves are a must for you."
Rhea sighed, a little sad at the necessity of whole thing but appreciating the honesty. So, without another word of protest, she accepted the gloves. "Okay, dad"
"Good… Now, hold on this tight and don't let go for anything in the world" he said, giving her the end of a long, colored key chain. "Ready? One, two-"
The feeling of a hook yanking her forward from her navel wasn't an unfamiliar experience – nor in this life, nor in her past one – but it still made her feel more than a little nauseous. Luckily, the whole thing was over in a matter of seconds; unluckily, she almost fell on her face when her legs stopped working after her feet were slammed to the ground. And the only reason she managed to stay standing was the firm hold Sirius had on her shoulder.
The sound of rapid footsteps made her look up just in time to see Katsuki barrel into the cozy sitting room that served as their arriving point. "Finally!" he exclaimed, sounding exasperated "We've been waiting ages for you to show up"
Sirius barked a laugh as he crossed the space between them and hugged the daylights out of him. "My favorite godson! How are you this fine day?" he asked, ruffling his hair.
"Hungry. Mom made us wait for you guys to have breakfast." he complained, wrestling himself away from Sirius' grabby hands, and focusing his attention on her. "You look green, Rhea"
"I hate portkeys" she told him a little vehemently, still feeling a bit like something in her stomach was doing summersaults.
"Ha! I been telling your father those things are a death-trap for years" her godmother snarked with a smirk as she entered to the room.
"Hello, Sirius and Rhea. I'm happy to see you both. How was your day? Mine was just fine and I was totally not criticizing the same thing I've used a thousand times in the past." Sirius snarked back.
"Hello, my darling goddaughter" Mitsuki said brightly to her and then, with a totally deadpanned tone, she added looking at her dad "I'm so happy to see you even if you're bringing with you the man responsible for creating the awful way for instant transportation"
"Hello, auntie" she said, amused.
Sirius' exasperation, and amusement, was an almost palpable thing. "Remind me, why are you my best friend again?"
"Because nobody else was offering for the job" her godmother said, shaking her head in fake disappointed as her red eyes flashed with humor.
"A pity" he snorted "Now, as fun as this is, I really have to go before Hikari has a meltdown."
"Did a villain really attacked your company, uncle Siri?" Katsuki asked, his red eyes wide with curiosity.
"The factory, and yes, a villain did attack it. But it's all good, nobody got hurt and the villain got caught"
"Which hero caught them?"
"Please, my company doesn't a hero to catch a villain" Sirius proclaimed, looking altogether too smug "I invented its protections, after all"
The look Katsuki send Sirius was full of admiration. "So cool"
"The coolest" Rhea agreed, nodding.
Sirius winked at them. "Now, I'd loved to stay and tell you more about how cool I am, but the sooner I fix the problem, the sooner I'll be back, which will be hopefully on time to go to the festival"
"Well, what are you doing still loitering here?" her godmother demanded "Go, go, go!"
"Okay, okay, I'm going" he said, smiling. Towards Rhea, he added "Be good for your godmother, little star. See you guys in a bit!" And, in the next instant, he was gone.
"All these years later and it's still weird how fast he can go from one place to the other" Mitsuki snorted, shaking her head "Anyway, let's go to have breakfast, kids" she said, pushing them towards the dinning room.
"Where's uncle Masaru?"
"He went to pick up your yukatas, but he should be back in no time at all"
Katsuki wrinkled his nose. "Why do we have to dress up for a festival? We're going to look stupid"
"Because it's tradition, kiddo"
"It's stupid" he reiterated.
"Either you use your yukata, or you go but-naked, Katchan"
Rhea snorted, as always amused by the nickname. "Katchan"
"Shut it, little star"
"It's not that bad!" she huffed.
"It is and you know it" he shot back "So you don't have room to talk, Rhea"
Mitsuki sighed, exasperated, and then proceeded to lightly cuffing them in the heads as they entered the dining room. "Both of you shut up, sit down and eat your breakfast before I decide to tie you up and feed you myself like babies"
Katsuki and she exchanged a silent horrified look, knowing Mitsuki would carry out her threat if they pushed her too far. Because for all that she could act like a perfect lady when she wanted, she hid a wild and violent side under all her polite smiles.
Once, while Mitsuki was on a conference call from work, Katsuki and Rhea had gotten into an argument – which, to be fair, was nothing too far out of the ordinary – that had turned loud. Her godmother had stopped their bickering, warning them to keep quiet while she worked. But, well, their disagreement had seemed important at the time – and in truth, it really hadn't been. Who cared if All Might had closed more cases that Endeavor or not? The answer: her idiot godbrother – so, not five minutes later, they had been arguing, loudly, once more. They hadn't gotten a second warning from Mitsuki. She'd calmly stopped her call, walked towards them, smack them in the head, and then proceeded to locked them up in the guest room, and no amount of pleading had gotten them out until she'd considered her lesson had stuck.
(It'd worked too. Since than day on, they had never needed a second warning from her)
Another time, she had taken the two of them to an expensive tea house to put some of their etiquette lessons to practice and their tea had barely been served when a blond, scowling man in a very fancy suit had approached their table to talk to Mitsuki, and she'd agreed with a placid smiled, leading the blonde man to the corner farthest away from them. They hadn't been able to hear what they were saying, but it had been pretty obvious that while her godmother had been calm and collected, the man had been infuriated about something, murmuring something rather hotly with severe and irate expressions. And then, from one second to the next, Mitsuki had punched the man square in the face, smiled down at him, and then calmy walked away towards them, retaking her seat, and resuming drinking tea with all the grace of a queen, acting as if nothing strange had happened.
(And after seeing the cold, vicious smile Mitsuki had directed to the manager when he'd approached their table to demand an answer and seeing how the man had all but fled away in a fright, they both had decided that the best option for their health was to keep their mouths shut and act as everything was perfectly normal.)
If her godmother was threatening them with something, it was for the best to just complied to her wishes before things could turn ugly. Which was why they stopped arguing and focused on their breakfast.
The Bakugo family preferred a more traditional Japanese breakfast than the Peverells did, so the table was filled with steamed rice, grilled fish, tamagoyaki, miso soup and other tasty dishes. And while she was still getting used to some things about the Japanese culture – the written language was a hard, dammit – she'd zero complains about their food. So, it wasn't a problem to focus on her breakfast, she did it with gusto.
Her uncle Masaru arrived by the time they'd already finished their food and they were helping her godmother pick up the dishes. "I'm home" he announced with a genuine smile that got bigger when he saw her "Little Rhea! I thought you were coming after lunch"
She shrugged. "There was an emergency in the factory"
Masaru's smile turned into a worried frown instantly. "What happened? Is something wrong?"
"Don't worry, dear. It's nothing Siri can't handle" Mitsuki assured him, kissing him on the cheek in a welcome gesture and making a grabby gesture towards the bundle of bags he was carrying "Oh, let me see them! I want to make sure the seamstress followed all my instructions"
"Everything is just like you asked, darling" Masaru said, chuckling as he handled her the bags "I've already checked them"
"There's nothing wrong with making double sure everything perfect"
"Of course not, darling" he said dutifully, kissing her temple "Why don't you check theses in our room? I'll help the kinds to clean up everything here"
Her godmother nodded, already distracted with the clothes in her arms, and left the room without another word. Masaru saw her leave with a fond smile before turning towards them. "Don't worry about the dishes" he told them, taking the plates Rhea had been holding out of her hands "I'll clean up everything here. Go on and have some fun while Mitsuki is distracted." he said with a wink.
This was why she liked her uncle Masaru. He was a kind, mild-mannered man that somehow managed to calm his wife's fierce temper, working as her perfect contrast and balance, while also carrying a mischievous side that reminded her of Remus.
"Great" Katsuki said, dropping the plates in the table without ceremony and grabbing her hand to pull her out of the room "C'mon, Rhea. Let's get out of here."
"What do you want to do?" she asked curiously, letting him pull her along without protest "You know we can't get out of the house, or your mom will know"
Her godbrother grimaced. They both knew that, even though she was distracted, Mitsuki would come to investigate their whereabouts if she heard the door of the house opening. "Do you wanna spar?"
She only needed to consider for a second before answering. "Only if we don't use quirks"
"Boring. But fine, no quirks"
Rhea grinned, sharp and competitive. "Let's see if you can beat me then"
"Let's see if you can beat me" he shot back, red eyes flashing at the challenge.
They kept their staring contest for a few more seconds before simultaneously breaking it off in favor to run towards the backyard. Their impromptu race hadn't been a true competition but Katsuki – the jerk – still shot her a victorious grin when he arrived at the garden a couple of seconds before her. And she couldn't help but scowling at him.
There wasn't a countdown or anything of the sort, just a single glance exchanged between two people who could read each other a little too well. One moment they were standing with a few feet between them and, in the next, they'd crossed the distance between them, exchanging quick punches and kicks while also trying to off-balance the other to pin them to the ground.
Their movements weren't advanced or too fast – they were only four years old after all, and they'd been learning jujutsu for less than a year – but there was certain fierce beauty to it. For them, this was sparring and dancing all at once. Their almost synchronized movements were the result of all the hours they'd spent learning – the techniques and each other's weaknesses – side by side. And the fact that neither of them liked to lose. Especially not to the other.
Case in point, at some point, Katsuki managed to knock her down, pinning her to the ground with a grin. "Ha! I wi-"
But before he could finish, she kicked him, using his moment of hesitation to flip them, ending up on top of him this time around. "You haven't won anything yet, Katchan"
With a growl, he head-butted her, making her yelp and let go of her hold on him. With a quick jump, he was back on his feet once more. "Not yet" he agreed, adopting his position once more "C'mon, little star. Don't make it too easy"
Gods, but he was such a brat. Katsuki, was a loud, proud, and competitive person. Sometimes, he could even be aggressive, and he was probably someone who would have not gotten on well with Harry Potter.
More than once, she had wondered how she'd ended with someone like him as her best friend.
"Katsuki! Rhea! Stop all that fighting and come here!" Her godmother interrupted their sparring session sometime later, just when most of the techniques had been thrown aside in favor of what could probably be considered rolling around the ground.
"I'm not going to repeat myself… Get moving, children. Straight to the bathroom. You both need a shower."
Groaning, they got up and followed her inside the house. But not before interchanging a little glare and a mulish truce. "A tie?"
"A tie" A pause and then "Next time I'll win"
"Please. Next time I'll win"
There wasn't another chance of solving their tie that day, not when Mitsuki refused to let them go play outside after they took their shower, keeping them occupied with one thing or another until it was time to get changed so they could go to the festival.
"Mmmm" Rhea said, staring wide-eyed at their reflection in the mirror.
"We look stupid" Katsuki complained by her side.
"It's not that bad"
And it wasn't. The yukatas were well-made and very pretty, his was black, red, and silver and hers was black, light pink, and silver. They looked a little bit like kids playing to be adults, but it wasn't bad.
Katsuki gave her a deadpanned stare that said more than a thousand words.
"You look so cute" her godmother gushed, pulling a camera out of nowhere "Look here and smile"
"Do we have to?"
No matter how much they protested, Mitsuki ended up taking a lot of pictures of the two of them and only stopped after Masaru intervened on their behalf and managed to calm her down enough to get them out of the house.
"Is dad still working?" Rhea asked as they all walked towards the park where the festival was being held.
"Yes, but he called to say he was going to meet up with us there"
Rhea nodded, satisfied.
"Look!" Katsuki said, pointing towards the park, which had changed completely with all the lines of stalls of food and game, the people walking around and the lights illuminating everything.
"Whoa" she said, wide-eyed, sharing a grin with him.
"C'mon, kids, stay close and let's have some fun" her godmother said, guiding them towards the first of the stalls.
For the next hour, they explored the different stalls, sampling a little bit of every food available and playing as many of the games as they could. Inevitably though, Katsuki and Rhea got into a competition over who was winning the more games; her godbrother's aim was almost too good to be true but, luckily, her reflexes were better than his, so they were pretty matched in their wins. They were so immersed in their competition that they didn't notice they have gotten separated from Mitsuki and Masaru until they turned around and couldn't find them anywhere near them.
"Uh uh, I think we should go back to the last stall we saw them" she decided, taking his hand, and pulling him along.
He nodded, walking beside her with her hand still in his. "That's the first place they would look for us"
Somehow, there were even more people at the festival than just half an hour before, which made it difficult to locate the exact stall they had seen Mitsuki and Masaru last, especially because everyone was so much taller than them and nobody seemed to notice the two kids who were trying to squeeze in the space between them. She was so focused on finding the right stall that she didn't see the big man until he barreled past her, pushing her to the side and making her lose her equilibrium and fall.
She cried out when impacted into the ground, her ankle twisting weird with her fall.
"Hey! Come back here and apologize, you big stupid!" Katsuki shouted, red faced with fury. But the man was long gone in the sea of people.
"Don't worry about it" she said, trying to get to her feet. Damn, her ankle was throbbing something terrible.
"Here" Katsuki said, crouching in front of her with his back towards her "Climb on my back. I'll carry you."
"You don't have to-"
"Just climb in already" he said, sounding impatient and still irate.
Despite his tone, his movements were gentle when helped her to climb into his back, and his hold of her was firm while he began to walk once more, letting her know without words he wouldn't let her fall and making her feel safe.
More than once, she had wondered how she'd ended with someone like him as her best friend. And then Katsuki would do things like these, and she would remember exactly why.
As Harry Potter, she'd never quite understood how the Weasley siblings could go from pranking and mocking each other to furiously snap back in defense of one of them when someone else was attacking them in any way, or how the Patil twins could clash and compete when they were in classes but then they would talk and laugh as if nothing happened afterward. She'd never understood the bond that tied together siblings.
At least not until she was reborn and met Katsuki.
He could drive her nuts sometimes, they could never go a day without getting into some sort of argument, and they competed over almost everything, but just as she accepted him as he was, Katsuki accepted her in return. She could be a moody, angsty mess one second, and be a happy, reckless, adventure-seeker in the next, and he barely batted an eyed, not expecting her to be anything else but her true self in front of him.
They might not share blood, but Katsuki Bakugo was her brother. And he was the person she loved the most after Sirius.
Rhea let her head rest over his, feeling immensely grateful for his presence in her life. "Sorry for the trouble"
"It's not your fault" he grumbled "Stupid man, pushing you like that. If I see him again, I'm going to explode his face."
"I would probably help you"
"We should tell your dad" He suggested, sounding incredible more cheerful "I bet he knows how to track down the stupid man so we can beat him up"
Rhea threw her head back and laughed, the pain in her ankle completely forgotten for the time being.
Sirius woke up from his sleep with the nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. His room was dark and quiet, the same as it'd been when he had gone to sleep. There was nothing out of the ordinary around him.
With a from, he got out of the bed and made his way towards Rhea's room across the hall. His daughter's room was illuminated by the constellation shining in the ceiling, so he got perfect view of her sleeping form from his position by the door, and even though nothing seemed wrong, he couldn't shake the feeling he was missing something. Perhaps that was why he crossed the room to get a closer look to her.
Up close, it became apparent that Rhea was shivering in her sleep. More importantly close to her it was impossible to miss the familiar cold magic that was surrounding her. And just like that, he understood what had woken him up.
The true power of their bloodline had awoken in Rhea.
He hadn't expected this for at least another year.
His grandmother had told him once that, except for the first Peverell, Sirius had been the one who had awoken the power at the youngest age. She had also said that it meant his power was going to be greater than everyone else in their family. And she hadn't been wrong, he had grown up to be the most powerful in their family.
Which made the fact that Rhea had awoken her powers that day even more impressive and worrisome. Sirius had been almost six years old when it happened to him, Rhea was not even five.
Her latent potential meant her power could be equal to the first Peverell one day, and that was completely mind-boggling.
Sirius sighed, knowing what he needed to do.
With a quick movement of his hand, he summoned his dagger from his bedroom, and using it to make a generous cut on the palm of his left hand. Then, he used the blood of his wound to coat his right-hand index, which then he used to draw the symbol of their family in Rhea's forehead. The symbol of those connected with Death. "I, Sirius Peverell, head of the Peverell bloodline and father of Rhea Carina Peverell, acknowledge the gift granted to my heir, and promise to guide her along the path of our ancestors, thus she can uphold the sacred oath of our bloodline."
Instantly, the blood symbol on her forehead flared up with his magic and vanished without leaving any trace behind. And, in the next second, Rhea stopped shivering as the familiar cold magic that had been surrounding her receded for the moment.
There wasn't anything else he could do for now. The next day, he would need to take Rhea to the sacred place of their family and tell her the truth about their bloodline.
The next day, Sirius would introduce his only daughter to Death.
What do you think? A lot was said and not said in this chapter, and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in your reviews!
P.S. Just you know, the pairings for this story had already been decided and will not be changed. There are going to be three main pairings. Harry-Rhea/Shoto will be the main one, obviously. But the other two pairings are Katsuki Bakugo/Izuku Midoriya and Sirius Peverell/Shota Aizawa. These three pairings are going to be fundamental to the story, outside of those three, any other pairing is still up to debate.