The Suicide King
AN: May have mentioned that this was originally going to be the first 'chapter' in these mostly timeline-free shorts. I'm now putting it up for clarification purposes because people were raising questions and comments.
Just so you know, this was done with next to no reference material at all other than my memory and a clip of the Philosophers' Stone movie. Which, as any who've read the books know, isn't all that great. (At all.)
The street of Privet Drive had been almost pitch dark with the coming of the tall man in violet and magenta robes, lights vanishing with an almost ethereal quality if anyone who cared had been awake at that time.
Fortunately, though, no one on the street was, at least no one who did not already know of the man's presence and the cause for the darkness. Indeed, if one looked from even a short a distance away, one could only see the faintest of shadows where the two were, and as they were talking softly, their words could not be heard clearly. However, if one moved closer towards them, the conversation could be heard with greater clarity, if you understood the subject matter, that is.
". . . Albus, I really don't see this working. You should have seen them earlier today."
The man in violent violet inclined his head softly.
"I understand your concerns, Minerva, but I am afraid that there is no other option. They do appear to be Harry's only living relatives, after all," he reprimanded her softly, although there was a certain amount of regret in his voice as well.
"No," she sighed. "I only wish that there could have been another way."
"As do we all, Minerva. As do we all."
He pulled out what looked like a pocket watch with various cogs and dials that seemed to make no sense just as a great rumbling sound as though of thunder reached their ears.
"Ah," said Albus. "Just on time."
The giant form of Rubeus Hagrid stepped off of the motorcycle, entire figure downcast as the engine stopped and he walked toward the two smaller figures with hunched shoulders, his body cradling the small form he held close.
"I trust there weren't any problems," inquired the elder wizard.
"No, sir," replied the taller and broader Hagrid. "The poor mite fell asleep just as we were flying over Bristol." A sad chuckle. "Think he was trying to pull my hair out, before then."
Gently, the baby one year old boy, eyes still closed in sleep, was passed along to Albus Dumbledore, who held him with just as much care as the other had.
"I suppose," he said, a slight bit of twinkle reappearing in his eyes for the first time since he had first appeared in the street, "he does take after his father in that respect."
Hagrid sniffed, drew out a hankie, and blew his nose loudly, eliciting no more than a tired and mostly perfunctory glare from the witch.
"I remember that his father was always very much a one to whom courage came easily. Perhaps too easily," the man finished with a sigh, looking down at the boy in his arms.
"I think however," McGonagall said with regret, "that we too often confused courage and sheer recklessness. Some of the things that he pulled off were nothing short of astonishing, even in the wizarding world – not that we, as teachers, were often left at leisure to admire them openly, of course..."
The grey bearded wizard sighed again, yet Hagrid smiled in reminiscence.
"Said it came from some odd family branch, he did," the giant of a man said. "Said so himself at least once, when he came to visit with those friends of his. And now – now poor Harry won't even get to – to know his little baby cousin, either!"
The two who had arrived at Privet Drive prior stared at Hagrid as though there was something wrong with the way his mind worked.
"Hagrid," Dumbledore said slowly, softly and gently. "I asked you to bring Harry here so that he could live with his muggle relatives at this house until he becomes of age. If you remember, Lily's sister's family, the Dursleys, also have a young boy the same age as Harry. He will hardly be alone, I am sure."
Minerva McGonagall pursed her lips, looking thoroughly displeased with what was obviously untrue from what she had seen and observed earlier that day, but said nothing. He would be better with relatives, and if Albus had decreed it best for the boy to live with these disgraces for muggles, then. . .
"Oh, no," Hagrid started to say. "I meant that odd lot he always talked about – said they were worse than him with their pranks, but he went to visit them every other year or so. . ." He blinked, confused. "Eh? What're you lookin' at me like that for?"
"Rubeus Hagrid, why ever did you not bring this up before?"
The tone was disbelieving, shocked and filled with a soft kind of rekindled hope.
"Well, er. . . I suppose I always thought you knew, Professor Dumbledore, sir. Couldn't think of any reason why you wouldn't, especially with him being so troublemaking and all. But I always thought he didn't want to let it out. Gryffindor or not, you don't always want everyone to know all about your family..."
"Then, did James specify that these people were blood relations?"
Hagrid sniffed again, and wiped his eyes on a sleeve.
"Eh, I think so. Pretty sure he did, anyway." A light dawned in Hagrid's bright back eyes, a match to the hopefully suspicious one in Minerva's. "You aren't saying that Harry could go live with them, are ya?"
Albus inclined his head.
"It is certainly a possibility. However, please bear in mind that accommodations will have to be made if this turns out to be viable; the wards on Number Four, Privet Drive have already been activated by young Harry's presence here. It has yet to be seen that such wards of similar strength can withstand being put up at this new residence, provided of course that the relations themselves are agreeable. . ."
A short few days later, Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore set foot on Japanese soil, though not for the first time, Harry being carried in arm. To any onlooker, the scene did not look too strange; simply a foreign family, grandparents, perhaps, or a great grandparent and his friend, with their nephew.
They were not met by the Japanese ministry, since this was a private mission, simply to return an orphan to some of the only family he had left.
Albus rang on the door that the post box professed to be that of the Kuroba family, and waited.
Almost immediately, they could hear footsteps – short, loud footsteps, which had a feel of nearly infinite energy behind them. The door was opened without any further ado, and the energetic, mischievous face of a six year old with messy dark brown hair looked up at them, grinning, before turning his head back towards the house.
"Tou-san, Tou-san – Kaa-san, they're here!" The child chanted in rapid Japanese that the two English speakers had a hard time keeping up with, even with the additional help of hastily applied translation spells.
Steadier, more even footsteps heralded the arrival of the child's parents, the father a man of decent height, and clearly the one from whom many of the child's features came from. Untamed by a comb or any other such hair products, the resemblance between Kuroba Touichi and the Potters he had known was undeniable.
The man and the woman both bowed politely, and gently reminded their son – who had been bouncing in an effort to see the bundled form of Harry close up – to do the same.
"It is good to see you again, Professors. Is that...?"
Albus inclined his head. The man's eyes filled with sad concern.
"Please, come in, then."
As the two did so, following their hosts and slipping out of their outdoor shoes in the hallway out of consideration of local customs. Once in the living room, Minerva handed the small form of Harry over to Touichi's wife, who took him carefully in her arms.
"I trust," Albus said solemnly, "that you understand what kind of responsibility this will mean."
The couple seated across from him shared a look before he answered.
"We are all aware, yes."
"And that, once he is of age, he will be required to attend a proper school of magic, where he can learn to make proper use of his talents?"
Kuroba Touichi smiled, as though privy to a joke only he knew.
"Naturally. I did grow up with the semi-regular presence of my cousin, you know. Not to mention that the Kuroba clan is hardly known for its normality, even in these parts of the world."
"Ah," said Albus, with a matching smile of his own, now. "Of course. Which should make things easier for Harry, as he grows up."
"I should hope so," Touichi returned. The smile slipped slightly, letting show some of the serious face that had been hidden beneath it. "Am I wrong in believing that your presence here, apart from delivering my new ward, is to ensure that he attends your own respected establishment?"
The Headmaster of Hogwarts neither agreed or refuted the claim, but met the other's blue gaze squarely. Touichi looked into those eyes for a minute, lighter, older and with an aged sense of mischief that he knew so well, and shook his head.
"You needn't worry," he said. "It is an honour to bring up my cousin's son. If Harry himself finds no fault with it once he has to make that choice, then I see no problem in allowing him to learn in the place where all of the rest of his family have learned."
Kaito, who had been silent for a surprisingly long time by now, chose this moment to speak up.
"Does this mean we're gonna lose Harry, then?"
Touichi and Albus laughed, though it was meant to reassure the boy.
"Oh, Kaito. Harry's not going anywhere for a very long time. He'll still be your cousin, no matter what else he'll be, or who else people think he is. You understand that?"
The little boy looked troubled for a moment, but then turned to his father with a grin on his face, and nodded.
Two years later, when tragedy struck the Kuroba household, Harry Potter was three years old. His cousin, Kuroba Kaito, was eight.
Having not been able to go to the performance scheduled for that night, the man's son and nephew had been spared the sight of his death, but the family of what had been four and now was three were far from spared the sudden shock of loss that came from the death of Kuroba Touichi through an apparent accident during a stage show.
Kaito, being the elder of the two boys, seemed to the outside eye to be doing as well as could be expected. But his mother, having lived with the boy's father for as long as she had, could recognise the steadily forming mask of her husband's trademark Poker Face on her son. It troubled her only slightly that it was hardly ever taken off, for he had his cousin and his friend Aoko, whom he had met only a year previous yet was already quite close to.
Young Harry, however. . . was not so able to hide or deal with his emotions, especially since this was the second time that he had experienced such a loss.
"It – it's not fair," he wailed in his aunt's arms. "It isn't, it isn't."
Kuroba Hikarue tried to comfort him through her own pain, but the boy wouldn't be calmed.
"I never wanted jii-san to go away. Ever. But he did anyway. Be- be- because I was here...!"
Hikarue gasped in disbelief and held the boy closer.
"Oh, Harry... It's not like that. It's not like that at all..."
"But," Harry sniffed, too upset to think about wiping off his tears, "you said Tou-san was killed because of me, and now j- jii-san is, too..."
"No, no... you've got it all wrong, Harry-chan. We never said that. We never would. Your Tou-san died for you, Harry. Not because of you. There is a big, big difference. If someone dies for you, like your Tou-san, it's because they love you so, so much that you are more important to them than they are. You might not be able to understand it now, but when you do it will make sense. I promise you it will. And you know what?"
Harry wiped the wet off of his face with an already damp sleeve. He shook his head.
"I know that your jii-san felt the same way about you. He felt the same about you as he did about Kaito – he loved you both so very much. . ."
Slowly, and with further reassurances that he wasn't to blame and that there was no reason for him to think that he was, the boy fell asleep in her arms. . . oblivious to Hikarue's own tears, that she had not been able to shed in front of her boys.
Three years after that saw the family of three having travelled all the way over to England for the first time, and for a very important reason – they were going to meet relatives.
They had gone from the airport into Surrey by taxi, and all of them had felt Harry's nerves rubbing off onto them. Even Kaito, though, the nerves showed themselves by how much more energetic and hard to control he got. It had reached the point, at one stage in the journey, that Harry had threatened to start doodling fish everywhere with one of his markers if his cousin didn't shut up and sit down. Predictably enough, it had worked.
And now. . . now, Harry and Kaito were stuck in Number Four, Privet Drive in the same room as a boy who looked even bigger than Tatami-kun in their class, but said he was Harry's cousin.
"I mean, wow," Dudley was saying. "Your dad was a real magician? Like they show on TV? That's really cool! D'you think you could show me how to do some of those things?"
Kaito and Harry looked at one another.
"Sorry," they said at almost the exact same time, "but a magician never tells his secrets!"
The pudgy boy looked dejected, almost as if he were about to cry. Kaito, sensing what was needed, drew out a deck of cards from what appeared to be nowhere – Harry knew that they had just been up his sleeve, or hidden in a pocket, since they wouldn't be able to summon them with real magic like that for years yet, and they shouldn't show off those kinds of things in front of people who were like the Dursleys, oba-san had said.
"We said we couldn't tell you how we do things, didn't we? Not that we couldn't show you stuff. Come on, pick a card, any card...!"
Harry sighed with a smile and got ready to help his cousin out with any of the more difficult tricks. He supposed that his other family weren't that bad, but then again they were so mind-numbingly boring. They looked all weird every time he went into the room, or so much as breathed, even. He had to admit that it was kind of fun, though, to see their faces when his cousin grinned at them. . . and better still when the look on their faces when he emulated the older boy.
Five years later and back in Japan, not much had changed.
If, by that phrase, you took into stock the fact that, less than a whole month after Kuroba Kaito's sixteenth birthday, had been lured by the first appearance of the Kaitou Kid in eight years – though it was more likely, in his cousin's opinion, that he had been baited into going that fateful night by Aoko's jibes that he wasn't as good a magician as the Kid was – Harry had overheard when helping his aunt fix the meal that night. Knowing his cousin's pride in the matter, it probably hadn't been that hard to do.
Of course, since they had both grown up so close, and they had both learned to use a magician's kind of magic as well as a way of masking their inherited well of wizards' magic at the same time, Harry learning mostly from his cousin, Kaito's opinion on who the better magician was happened to be biased in the favour of his uncle, who he revered even though he could not fully remember him.
Harry's aunt had said nothing when Kaito had disappeared uncharacteristically before dinner, and hadn't reappeared until well after the strange heist that night. And when he had, he had reappeared, as though by real magic, straight back into the house as though he hadn't even left, without having said a word and crashing immediately into his room.
Harry had had to ask and poke his cousin about the incident for days before he had received any kind of answer. He had only received that when he'd been pressed to never tell anyone else in any way about what he was going to be told, unless Kaito approved first.
He had agreed – Kaito was the person he was closest to, after all – and his world had been turned around.
His uncle's death had been no accident, apparently, and not just that, but his uncle had been the Kaitou Kid. The first Kaitou Kid, he corrected himself. His cousin was now the second, something that was slowly becoming one of those small facts of life that amazed him every time he thought about them, even if his cousin hadn't thought that he would react quite like that when he was first told.
Now, though, was a week or two after that. And a very important time for Harry.
The dark haired, green eyed boy, one week away from being eleven years old, was bounding down the stairs, just as he had all of the previous week, even though all of the previous week had only come up with bills, belated birthday cards from Kaito's friends and admires from all over the place, early birthday cards from him, and their aunt's correspondence letters.
"Letter! Letter! I got the letter!"
There was a bump from upstairs – likely Kaito falling out of bed, understandable since there'd been a heist last night and it was early in the morning – but his aunt was quick to come out of the kitchen to congratulate him until his cousin was human enough to get down the stairs and speak coherently with them.
Harry didn't mind the short wait. He had his letter. He was going to Hogwarts. The same place where his Tou-san. . . his father, had learned to use wizard magic. Where his father had met his mother, and all of their other friends, whoever they had been.
He was actually going.
Just over a month later, and Harry was trying to find a free seat on the Hogwarts Express after being held up saying goodbye to his aunt and cousin. Kaito had almost wanted to stow away on board, but Harry had had to remind him that not only was he too old, had responsibilities elsewhere and also would have to leave Aoko behind – and here he had dodged a swat – but he didn't have any special considerations to go to a school in England, so would have had to go to a special magic school in Japan, not Hogwarts.
This had earned him another swat, he remembered with a half smile while he opened a compartment door that looked like it had free space.
He was in luck. He was able to put his suitcases away and sit down for a few minutes before anyone else found the place. And when they did, it was another first year, one with red hair and freckles and a smudge of dirt on his nose.
"Hey, you mind if I. . .?"
Harry shook his head, and the boy came in with his things to sit opposite Harry. For a few minutes the boy stared at him. Harry stared back, and the other boy grew steadily redder.
"Oh! I'm sorry. I, uh, I'm Ron Weasley. I think you might have met my brothers on the way here..."
"Fred and George? Yeah, I met them. They seem fun."
Ron the redhead continued to stare.
"Are – are you really – I mean, they said that you're. . .?"
"Harry Potter?" Harry asked with a small bit of humour and quite a bit of adapted Poker Face to hide his irritation. "Yeah... I am," he said, pushing his unruly fringe away from the place where his scar was.
"Wicked," said Ron, with a huge smile on his face. Harry couldn't help it – the smile was infectious, and he smiled back for real.
Something seemed to occur to the boy Harry had met not long after they had started to talk, and it didn't take him long to bring it up.
"Say," said Ron. "You don't sound like you're from around here. You kind of sound like you're foreign or something. No offence, but you do."
"None taken," Harry said, taking another Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean. "'Cause I am and I'm not. I was born over here, but I grew up with my aunt and my cousin over in Japan."
Ron stared at him again, unwittingly allowing the Chocolate Frog he'd just unwrapped to hop away from his grasp.
"Kidding! My family's hardly been able to get out of the country at all, and you – wait, how are you able to speak English so fluently, then?"
Harry shrugged, swallowing down the rare taste of Every Flavour Bean fish. Rare, because in a house in which someone who was as afraid of fish as Kaito was lived, fish were rare things to find at all. He didn't hate the taste, though.
"Well, my uncle was always good at changing his voice. . . and my cousin is too, so I guess I learned how to do it from them. Copied other people who spoke it whenever I heard it, and remembered enough of what it meant to actually learn properly. Not to mention my aunt's always been on at me to learn it so that I wouldn't be out of my depth once I get to Hogwarts," he added with a smile.
"I guess I can understand that," said Ron with a grumble. "But mum wouldn't teach me anything I might get told at school. The twins gave me this spell to turn Scabbers yellow, though," he added, brightening up.
Harry started at the mention of the two who had helped him and Kaito get his things onto the train.
"Ah, I wouldn't try that, if I were you. Knowing what their kind are like, it either doesn't actually work or works in a completely different – usually embarrassing – way."
"What do you mean, knowing their kind?"
"I grew up with Ku- Kaito Kuroba. He likes to play pranks on people using muggle magic tricks."
"I don't know whether to wish I were you or be happy that at least Fred and George usually tone things down around muggles."
They both laughed, and then something occurred to Harry.
"Hey – you want to see a muggle magic trick? You were going to show me a bit of wizard magic, after all."
"Awesome!" said Ron.
Harry, similar to his cousin in that he was never one to turn down an honest audience, brought out a deck of cards, seemingly from nowhere yet probably from up his sleeve or hidden in a pocket somewhere. He supposed that light fingers would help with wandwork later on, and if he was diligent, he might even learn to be able to do things with what his 'jii-san had called his Magician's magic, soon. . .
AN: . . . Sheesh. That took me longer than I thought. I thought it was only going to be a short thing. Now look at it.
It was weird writing Touichi. Really was. Most of the time when I'm writing, he's already dead. Oh, well... Also, I'm sorry if anyone finds it strange or not that a three year old could be speaking like that. Let's say he's an old three, closer to four. But I had to get the plot point across – I'd seen Harry foisted off onto the Uchiha clan in one fic, and I was loath at first to put him in the Kuroba family so close to Touichi's death, but I really had no choice. So, I made it as though young Harry sees it as being his fault/because he was there.
Oh, and let me also say this about the wards. Those important wards. Harry is staying at the home of a blood relation of someone who died for him – canon idea or not, James Potter did die for his wife and son. His last words are, if I remember correctly, to Lily, to '...take Harry and run'. I'd call that as self-sacrificing as Lily's death, wouldn't you? Thus, the wards are in place around Harry. However, in regards to Touichi, he was out of the house and far away at the time of his death, so the wards couldn't protect him. Similarly, this is how the Organisation can't find the Kuroba family while they're out of uniform, in my opinion, for this fic.
I hope that your questions were answered.
Oh, and by the way - the title of this? Comes from the 'tarot' meanings found in and at the end of Icka M. Chif's fanfic The Price You Pay: For Family. The Suicide King is the King of Hearts, who is stabbing his own head with his sword. I figured it worked for James Potter, Kuroba Touichi and maybe even Harry himself, if you look far enough into the future. All of them die for what they love... even if not all of them stay dead.