Disclaimer: not mine

My new novella comes out this weekend! The Crown of Tannenley by Liza Clarke. On Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple, and several other sites by the 13th. The paperback is already on Amazon. I got very excited when I saw my previous novella on the Dymocks bookstore website, used to dream of them having a book I'd written.

Chapter 10

It was all anyone could talk about, all but the Slytherins happy, Snape was gone! Arrested even. Though being back in the centre of attention over it was frustrating and the last thing Harry wanted. Hermione was alternating between hope at a better teacher and anger at him because Dumbledore trusted Snape. The Slytherins were worried, closing ranks, because now they had very little support in the school. The smarter ones were keeping their heads down, waiting to see what happened, but Harry knew Malfoy and his lot would be causing him trouble as soon as they could.

He really didn't want to deal with any of it, half tempted to ask Sirius about tutors or something but he couldn't cut himself off from his age mates, not when he'd be on the Wizengamot with some of them in a few years. That was part of the reason for Hogwarts, for future lords and ladies to meet, possibly find partners too. He wasn't interested in any of it.

It didn't help that he was worried about Riku, his brother was alive, but that was all he could sense. The bond was utterly quiet, still, was he unconscious?


"Now, now, that's enough of that!" Merlin strode into the square, wand in hand, robe sleeves rolled up.

Leon was relieved to see the wizard since he very much doubted Donald's magic was anywhere near Maleficent's. He had limited magic and while Sora seemed like he'd be a powerhouse, he needed a lot of training to get there. Aerith specialised in healing, not battle magic.

He saw Sora holding up a taller teen with silver hair, the other boy unconscious or asleep. Was that Riku? If Maleficent had her claws in him…poor kid.

"This is none of your concern wizard, the boy belongs to me."

"No, he doesn't!" Sora snarled, Keyblade appearing in his free hand.

Aerith slipped around to help support the silver haired boy, Donald taking his other side while Goofy stood beside Sora, shield raised. Leon moved to block one access to the stairs and Yuffie blocked the door into the First District. Not that their presence would keep her from leaving, she could teleport or something.


Merlin confronted the fairy who had helped bring down their home. He could feel her foul magic wrapped around the boy Sora was guarding, buried deep within him. That wasn't good at all. He would need time and space to look the boy over but for now they had to get rid of Maleficent. But first, they had to deal with Maleficent's presence. He had never faced her head on before, he didn't like fighting in such a way, but at the moment there was no other option.


Sora wanted to grab Riku and run, get him somewhere safe, but he couldn't. He stared at the person who had hurt his best friend and for once he wasn't at all scared of a fight, no, he wanted it. He wanted to make her pay…but that was wrong, wasn't it? He was terrified that whatever she'd done to Riku would be permanent, that he'd have lost him forever.

"Get your friend back to my place," Merlin called out.

Sora hesitated, but Merlin had backup, so he looked at Goofy and they shifted back towards the alley that led to the small stone house, feeling Aerith and Donald moving back as well. They got through the door and to relative safety. Goofy then scooped Riku up and they ran for the house, settling Riku down on the bed.

Sora moved and took a limp hand in his. "Why does he feel so cold?" he asked.

"Let me see," Aerith moved to sit on the edge of the bed, Sora shifting out of her way but not letting go. She hummed softly as she checked Riku over and Sora felt a slight shifting, magic? "He's malnourished and somewhat sleep deprived, not surprising since that's one way to…" she looked up at him, hesitating, and Sora nodded for her to go on, he had to know. "A way to break down resistance. There's Dark magics woven deeply into him now, magic I don't know how to break. Merlin might."

Sora nodded, feeling sick. Oh Riku.


Merlin bustled into his home to find Aerith beside Riku, giving him healing energy to help his physical condition, but she could do nothing for the magic used on him. Maleficent had retreated, far too smug for his liking, but he could see why. With the magic on him, Riku would run back to her at the first chance he got.

He began running diagnostic spells, surprised to find an almost entirely suppressed soul bond…a sibling bond. "Do you know what has happened to his sibling?" he asked Sora, if they could find the brother or sister then they could help Riku.

"Sibling?" Sora just stared at him in surprise.

"The bond is there, though very deeply suppressed," Merlin nodded as he kept checking the sleeping boy over.


"Oh," Sora whispered, watching Merlin work. Riku had a brother or sister? He knew Riku'd been found as a toddler, that he was adopted, he'd been the only one Riku told after he found out. "Riku…he's adopted. No one knows anything about his birth family, he was found abandoned. Apparently, there were searches, but," he shrugged, staring at Riku. He was so pale and still, it was scary.

"Riku didn't know growing up, he heard someone talking and confronted his parents. He was really upset, he stayed at my place for ages after. But they definitely didn't mention a sibling." Riku would have told him if he had a sibling… "Sometimes, Riku gets weird pain, they did lots of tests but couldn't find anything. And it was like he could feel things but he wasn't the one feeling it." He knew Riku would hate others knowing, especially when they were strangers to Riku, but Sora would tell them anything that might help Riku be okay.


Harry set his quill down and stretched his arms over his head. He had a headache but he wanted to finish his essay before heading back to the dorm. He'd been having strange dreams lately, despite all the meditation and the books Sirius had smuggled him on the mind arts. But the dreams were such a jumbled mess that he couldn't even try to interpret them. He though…some might be because of whatever was going on with Riku.

He knew Sirius was liaising with the goblins and others to try and find his brother, but something told Harry it wasn't going to work. Wherever he was, Riku was beyond their reach. The question was, had it been Dumbledore's doing or someone else?


Goofy gently rested a hand on Sora's shoulder as Merlin and Aerith continued to work, stabilising Riku's health as best they could. He'd like to bash Maleficent over the head with his shield for daring to harm a child! Because that's what Riku and Sora were, children. Had the King known he was sending them to a child, to drag him into a fight that shouldn't be his, not yet anyway. King Mickey had been an adult when he fought, he hadn't even started training with a Keyblade as young as Sora was. Though…the three who had vanished, one of them hadn't been too much older than Riku. If only they hadn't disappeared, they'd be able to handle whatever was happening and leave Sora to only training.

If Sora hadn't realised there was something strange about his friends' behaviour, who knows what might have happened. What more would Maleficent do to him if she had the chance?

They all watched as Merlin sat back…and Goofy really didn't like the look on his face. He wasn't the best at human facial expressions, and the beard didn't help, but he could tell it wasn't good.

"Merlin?" Sora whispered.

"There is nothing more I can do for him," the wizard admitted sadly.

"What's wrong with him?" Goofy asked for Sora.

"Maleficent has placed him completely under her control. His emotions have been smothered until they basically don't exist," Aerith answered softly. "He'll do anything she tells him without question."

Merlin frowned. "Worse, he can't even think for himself anymore. If he were to wake, he would fight to return to her until either he escaped or died."

"So how do we break the spells?" Donald demanded.

Goofy could feel Sora shaking and shifted, drawing the boy closer, offering comfort.

"There is only one magic powerful enough to break her hold on his Heart and mind," Merlin admitted.

"What is it?" Sora asked, hope in his voice.

"True love," the wizard answered.


Harry grinned at Luna, flopping down beside her in the grass. It was cold and a look at the sky suggested they might get the first winters' snow tonight, but for now there was grass left on Hogwarts grounds. He rolled his eyes when a crown of autumn flowers was placed on his head. "Luna…"

"It suits you, M'Lord."

Harry groaned at that; he did his best to ignore that he was an adult legally. Yes, he was Lord Potter, technically, but there wasn't a lot he could do with the title till he turned seventeen.

"He'll be alright, love will free him."

"What?" he sat up, catching the crown when it slipped, staring at her but she just smiled and read the Quibbler. He who? She couldn't…Riku? And then he gasped as all sense of his brother faded…but the bond didn't snap.


Sora felt sick as he watched Riku's skin become even paler, his chest falling still…he looked dead. But the others all agreed, it was the only way to keep him safe and out of Maleficent's hands. Riku would sleep forever unless woken by True Love's Kiss, which would also have the power to break her hold over him.

He hesitantly reached out and touched Riku's hand, his skin was cold, lifeless. "Riku…"

"He will be safe here, Sora, and nothing can harm him in this state," Merlin promised.

This wasn't how it was meant to be! They were meant to travel together and find Kairi but Riku couldn't. What if…what if his true love never found him? What if Riku slept forever? Could even the spell keep him alive that long or would it fail after centuries and he'd just waste away in his sleep? No! No, they would find his True Love and Riku would wake up. Even if thinking of someone kissing Riku…of Riku having someone who could take him away from them…made Sora feel kind of sick, absently rubbing his chest. Maybe…maybe Kairi? Could she wake Riku? At least he knew that she wouldn't be upset at them being best friends.

Sora sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to brush Riku's hair away from his face. He'd been changed out of his clothes for a pair of loose pants and tunic with no shoes. If he could sleep for years then it was best he be comfortable, even if he couldn't feel anything. He couldn't imagine coming back year after year to see Riku asleep, unageing, while Sora grew and changed.

"Please wake up soon," he whispered, and then got up and forced himself to walk away, not meeting Merlin's understanding gaze.

It felt like his heart was breaking as he left the cottage. He had a job to do, he had to keep looking for Kairi, for Donald and Goofy's King, to stop Maleficent…he just wanted them all to go home.


Merlin watched Sora drag himself away and wondered, was it possible? He sighed as he felt the three leave the town, he should have had Sora test it before he had left. If what he now suspected was true, then Sora's kiss would wake and free young Riku.

He had not liked putting Riku under the spell, but there appeared to be no other choice. Merlin had never used such a spell before, there'd been no reason too, but to keep Riku safe he had to be kept away from Maleficent. With his mind so deeply bespelled though so long as he was awake, he would fight to return to her side.

Maleficent was called the Mistress of Evil for a reason but outside helping the Heartless take their home, he'd never really seen her do anything irredeemably evil. They'd been aware of each other for a long time, how could they not be even Worlds apart given their powers? Whoever had taught her to travel between Worlds… well, nothing to be done about that now. He may not have seen her do evil, but he had heard of it.

He knew she had used a very similar spell on the Princess of her World, that it had been meant to kill the girl but had been shifted by another fairy. His spell was designed purely to place the subject into a sleep so deep it appeared to be death, in order to keep the person alive until help could be given. He'd had to alter it to add in the True Love's Kiss method of waking the boy.

He hoped that if what he suspected wasn't true, if Sora was not Riku's true love, then they could find whoever it was soon. It would be so painful for all involved if he slept for years, to wake and find life had moved on without him…for his friends to watch him sleep while they aged…


Donald watched Sora, the boy curled into the seat, staring blindly out into space. He felt bad now, for dismissing his fears for his friends, for not seriously looking for them and focusing on the King only instead. They had failed Riku, but for Sora's sake, they would find the girl, Kairi. And who knew, perhaps she would be Riku's True Love, that would be the best ending for this mess. Goofy had been right, King Mickey would not be at all mad at them for doing this rather than search for him.


Neville looked at the letter, hesitating to send it. But in the end, he headed for the owlery. Something was wrong with Harry and Lord Black was his godfather, if anyone could work it out and help him then surely it would be him. Harry was ignoring whatever was wrong and that wasn't good. Neville wanted to help but didn't know what else he could do, he wasn't very good with people, he was better with plants. But Harry was his first real friend and he would help him however he could.


Harry sat on the windowsill, watching the snow fall gently. Christmas was fast approaching and he was looking forward to his first real family Christmas since he was a baby. He wished he could remember his first Christmas, to know what it had been like with his parents and brother.

He still couldn't feel Riku and it scared him, he wasn't dead. Harry knew there'd be no mistaking the feel of a twin bond shattering, even for fraternal twins. He didn't know how he would have dealt with things if they were identical like the Weasley twins. He'd asked them about it and they'd just looked at him before they'd sat and talked about their bond. Somehow, he got the feeling they knew. Thankfully, the news of Riku's existence hadn't gotten out to the public, letting him have some privacy.

His dreams were getting worse, no matter how much he practiced meditation. That corridor…


Move a Prophecy? It was unheard of, though Croaker could understand why Bones had asked them to. Still, the Department of Mysteries had the best security in the Ministry, where else could they possible keep something as dangerous to others as a Prophecy. Though Voldemort's interest explained the attempted break-ins. And Bode… he sighed, they would increase security, somehow.


Goofy watched Sora closely as they got ready for the next tournament. It had been a good idea to come back to the Coliseum rather than risk the unknown dangers of a new World. Sora was obviously distracted but hopefully the fight would help him focus.