It's kind of hilarious that the only time I have to work on Fan fiction is when I'm supposed to be working on my essays. Seriously I had three essays due this week, and this felt like the only thing I could work on. Mind you I got everything done, and you have a new chapter so i guess everything worked out in the end.

MAJOR thanks to DemonKittyAngel for finding the time to beta all 12 pages of this for us!

The Millennium Puzzle had not wanted to shut down the dark game.

It refused to dissolve even a single ounce of the magic it had been so willingly provided without a sacrifice. The sacrifice that Yami had torn away from the penalty game before the tribute had fully been accepted. In response the Puzzle began to fight against Yami in a way it had never done before.

It had been a long time since Yami had instigated a dark game. But he knew that it shouldn't have taken any effort to dissolve it. Yami reached out to where his magic coiled beneath the surface of the puzzle. But even as he grasped at the edges of it, the magic slipped away like a slippery eel. Every time he reached for it, the puzzle buried its powers deeper and deeper.

The puzzle had never denied him anything before; Yami didn't even think the puzzle had the ability to deny him. How could it? The Puzzle was supposed to be nothing more than magic infused metal. At times it was difficult to tell where his magic began and the powers of the puzzle ended. But apparently the line was more distinct than Yami had ever known.

Then again, Yami had never tried to shut down his own dark game before the penalty before.

If the Millennium times had truly been animate, Yami would have called the writhing presence in his mind anger. But gold puzzle shouldn't be sentient. It wasn't alive, and it couldn't produce human emotions. But there was no denying there was something in the puzzle, something strong enough to create the reality the dark game was so intricately woven into. He wasn't so proud to admit that he even began to understand the mysteries of the Millennium Puzzle, despite two lifetimes of ownership. More than likely he would never truly understand the puzzle, and maybe that was for the best

However, even if Yami didn't understand the puzzle, or any of the millennium items for that matter, he was still Pharaoh, still Yami no Yugi. The puzzle was his to control.

Yami gave one final push against the seemingly impenetrable barricade that separated his mind from the magic just below the surface. It wavered under the force. But Yami kept up the pressure until it slowly began to fracture.

Then, like a rubber band stretched too far, the magic slammed into Yami. He stumbled, lightheaded and more than a little giddy from the force of it, but he spread it out into the dark game without a second thought.

There was a pause, a frozen moment where nothing happened.

The dark game collapsed in on itself. The real world faded back into reality like a water colour that had been left in the rain. Pernicious purples and Midnight Blue were washed away, and slowly revealed the rich brown and warm creams beneath. The musk of decay and death that seemed to be an ever present companion to the game, became crisp and clean with a floral undercurrent of fresh herbs.

However, Yami was still off balance from the tidal wave of power from the Puzzle. There was no time to recover his bearings as the hospital wing slid into place. The moment the arched stone windows of the hospital wing came into focus, there was a gruff cry of a male voice just inside Yami's hearing. All he could pick up was a single word in a language familiar but foreign enough that it was impossible to properly translate.

Yami hadn't even realized he was in solid form.

The spell hit him in the back with breathtaking force. The air left his lungs in a whoosh, and the muscles in Yami's body sized and locked tight as if the tissue had been replaced with unyielding iron. His legs shifted until they were a shoulder width apart, and his arms hung useless at his side as heavy as marble. He tried to shift his weight, to turn to see who had attacked him, but it was useless. Yami couldn't even twitch his little finger; All he could do was stare unblinkingly forward to the blank wall.

There was no one in front of him. But the pressure of a disembodied hand pressed down deep into his shoulder made it feel like there was. The pressure bodily turned Yami's disobediently unresisting body fought the motion with everything he had, but he could do little more than grind his heels to the stone floor, and the pressure on his shoulder pressed in to the point of pain. In the end Yami was helpless as he was spun around to face a grim Albus Dumbledore who had his wand out and pointed at Yami's chest.

"How nice of you to join us, Mr. Yami." Dumbledore said. His words were neutral, but every inch of the man's elderly body was poised for action.

Yami glared at the white haired man with as much venom as he could muster in such a humiliating position. "Let go of me, old man." He bit out between clenched teeth. It was uncomfortable to move his lower jaw, but at least whatever magic that held him prisoner allowed for that much movement. "Or I promise you won't like the results."

Albus met his gaze square, unflinching for someone who had seen what the puzzle and Yami was capable of doing. "Now is not the time for idle threats ." He said. Yami growled in response and continued to pull against whatever held him. But there was no give.

He tried to gaze around the wide circular room. But the parts of the hospital wing that Yami could see were empty. But Albus -despite being whippet thin- was a tall man, and his sweeping robes completely blocked Yami's central vision. He craned his eyes as far to the side as he could until dark spats invaded his sight and rendered his sight useless.

"Where is he?!"

"Here." Albus said with a vague wave of his hand. "Madam Pomfery is tending to him as she treats Minerva."

Albus did not move from his obstructive vantage point in front of his prisoner. As Yami strained to see around the towering figure, Albus straightened noticeably, and spread his shoulders wide. Yami ground his teeth. He had promised Yugi that the violence was done. And even though the irrational anger that had been Yami's driving force not an hour before faded with each moment that passed, this old man was doing nothing to remove the alarm bells of threat that rang through Yami's mind. "I want him back."

"All in good time."Albus said. "As I mentioned before Mr. Yami: we need to talk."

"About what?!"Yami snapped. "There's absolutely nothing to talk about! You will give him back to me." The puzzle began to glow in response to Yami's sharp words, and dark tendrils coiled and writhed beneath his feet. "My patience is wearing thin old man."

"Enough." Albus said and the calm that shrouded the man began to crack. "You attacked my colleague without reason, and Minerva has yet to awaken. Then young mutters something about saving her and he drops like a stone." Dumbledore took a step forward, and Yami wished he could move his neck up to look the wizard in the eyes. "I need you to explain what is happening."

Yami took a deep breath. "Nothing that you could ever understand." he said, unable to keep the smugness out of his voice. "However, I can promise that your witch will be fine."

"Not good enough I'm afraid." Albus said.

"My magic is not something for you to understand." Yami said. "So pardon me if I'm not willing to be frank with you. Where is my light?!"

A tongue of blue flame leapt out to meet the darkness that streaked towards Albus's feet quick as a snake.

They clashed between Yami and Albus, and pushed against each other in a perfect stalemate. Albus's magic was hotter than it had ever been before. The darkness hissed as it came into contact with the flames that scorched the stone floor beneath them but the darkness never faded.

But both flickered and died in an instant when Madam Pomfery cried out.

"Albus!" she said, her voice high and shrill with panic.

Albus whirled around, his long white hair and beard swirling in a wide circle around him. As he turned, Yami was able to see the prone form of Minerva lying on the bed a few feet away from him. Her face was pale and pinched, but her chest rose deep and even.

"Hold him down!" Madam Pomfery cried. Yami's heart froze in his chest even before he knew what was going on. But Albus bend down to pin two thin wrists down to the mattress, Yami fell to the real world with a horrifying crash. Yugi writhed on the sheets like he was attached to a live current. His arms and legs twitched and jumped violently and his head rocked back and forth on the pillow.

"Aibou!"Yami cried as Yugi's back arched into a violent curve and his hands knotted tightly to the thin blanket that had once covered him. Yugi's visible eye snapped open at the sound of Yami's voice, but all that could be seen was the ghost like whites of eyes that had rolled into the back of his head. "Aibou!"

Madam Pomfery waved her wand above Yugi's body, and a thin band if light stretched across his chest in a pale blue web. It pulsed in an unsteady rhythm, rapid but weak. "His heart rate is dropping." Poppy said as she dropped her wand to help Albus keep the seizing teen on the mattress "Albus, It's the collar. We need to take it off him!"

'Let me go!"Yami cried. "You have to let me go!"

They ignored him.

Albus's eyes dropped to the thin piece of metal around Yugi's neck. "Your quite correct." he said to Madam Pomfery. "I don't know how he managed to help Minerva earlier with this on, but It's too much for him now. His body is shutting down."

Yami could feel the thin sliver of silver inside is mind begin to fade. Whatever energy Yugi's body had been using to cause his muscles to shake, gave out without a moment's hesitation. Yugi fell to the narrow mattress like a marionette with its strings cut, and remained as still as the grave. Yami reached out the barely noticeable strip of light inside of him to try and stabilize it. But the moment his mind made contact he was overwhelmed by a sharp spear of panic that raced through him, foreign yet so familiar. In the same moment Yugi took one final solid gulp air, that feel into barely perceivable staccato gasps.

Yugi was dying, and they both knew it.

"I'm afraid that all we can do is get the collar off."Albus repeated as Madam Pomfery used her wand to lift the mattress and Yugi up into a reclined position to help him breathe. But it seemed to provide little assistance.

"I've tried!" Poppy said. "But the metal's charmed against low level unlocking or cutting spells. If I try anything stronger that in itself will kill him!'

Yugi's head rolled to the side as the two wizard's continued to argue, and he smiled when his clouded gaze met Yami's. Yugi reached off the edge of the mattress, and his fingers stretched out towards his dark's. But they didn't make it far, as the effort of lifting his arm out proved to be too much. His arm fell boneless to the mattress, and Yugi stared blankly to the ceiling with his other's name on his lips.

Something inside Yami snapped.

Albus and Madam Pomfery flew from Yugi's bedside, sand slid along the smooth stone floors, several feet away. The invisible force that held Yami immobile melted away as if it had never existed. Yami leapt forward oblivious to the wizards he had just thrown aside. "Aibou" he said softly, and he extended his hand towards his other.

Yugi's eyes closed.

"Get away from him!" Poppy yelled as she stumbled back to her feet.

Albus was up not a moment later, and his wand was raised, a spell on his lips. But something tugged on his sleeve. Albus turned his head as far to the side as he could without breaking eye contact with Yami. "Wait."

Minerva released Albus' sleeve, and dull green eyes framed by purple bags stared at Yami without emotion. Albus watched Minerva for a moment, before he held a hand to Poppy, signalling her to lower her wand. Together they watched transfixed, as one of Yami's long hands reached up to hover over Yugi's narrow throat.

Poppy's eyes darted towards Albus, her wand at the ready but Albus's eyes narrowed behind his spectacles, and he shook his head. Instead Albus pressed a finger to his lips. Poppy bit her lip, but did as she was bid. For now she would just watch, certain that they were signing the child's death warrant.

Despite the uncensored violence Yami had shown before, his hand didn't move more than a few inches above Yugi's delicate airway. Instead a cloud of black, blue and purple formed underneath Yami's palm. The wizard and witches watched transfixed as the miasma slowly sunk towards Yugi's collar, and seeped into the metal. The collar's surface instantly darkened, and the lustrous metallic sheen dulled.

The collar began to hum, louder and louder under Yami's ministrations. At the sound, Yami's fist clenched, and more of the dark shroud bled into the metal.

The metal began to pulse

Yugi screamed.

"Stupefy!" Poppy screamed. Yami whirled around, and his eyes flashed inky black. A frigid darkness encased Poppy and Albus up to their shoulders. It froze them to the spot, like they had Yami not a few moments before.

"He's going to kill Yugi!" Madam Pomfery cried as she pulled against the bonds that held her. But it only squeezed tighter. "Albus!"

Yami's eyes narrowed, and sweat began to bead on his forehead. The metal began to crack, delicate fishers that spread like spider webs across the surface. Yugi screamed louder, his voice rising to an unearthly octave.

Yugi reached up, and clawed weakly at the source of pain. But Yami calmly moved the hands away from Yugi's throat. He held them in a one handed grip, leaned forward, and whispered something in Yugi's ear.

"He wouldn't." Minerva said softly from the bed, and with a struggle she levied herself up onto an elbow. "I don't even think he could"

"What are you talking about!" Poppy snapped, and she watched with horrified eyes at the tragedy she was certain was unfolding. "Look at him!"

"I am." Minerva said softly, and the words were almost lost to a faint cracking sound that was soon followed by the crash of metal striking stone. "I am"

Yami crashed to his knees, all pretence of grace or dignity gone. The force that kept Albus and Poppy faded without a trace as Yami's thin hand stretched out along Yugi's neck. Searching fingers traced the raw edge of skin that had been hidden beneath the collar, before they pressed into the side of Yugi's neck.

A broad grin spread across the young man's face. It was so warm, open and genuinely happy that if Poppy had not seen it happen, she wouldn't have believedYami could seem so human.

"You're okay." Poppy heard Yami say as she cautiously approached the bedside. His voice was suspiciously chocked as he brushed Yugi's bangs away from his face."You're going to be alright now."

With all the caution she would present to a rouge hippogriff, Poppy pulled her wand into Yami's sight. Ruby eyes snapped to her face the moment she was within a foot of the bed. The hostility was still there, as was something darker that Poppy was afraid to name. But she was determined to move beyond that.

"I'm just going to check his vitals." She said placating. "You've already seen me do the spell."

Yami tensed, and his fingers clenched into a fist where they rested on Yugi's cheek. But he nodded his head in agreement.

"His heart rates steady." Poppy sighed in relief. "His breathing is a little too shallow for my tastes, but it's regulating. It might be too early to tell. But I think he'll be okay."

"He will" Yami said in a tone that left no room for argument. Poppy smiled as Albus came up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Go check on Minerva." he said softly, and he stroked his long beard. "I don't think some chocolate and a pepper-up potion or two would go a-miss here."

"Of course." Poppy said, and she scuttled off to the large medicine cabinet that stood at the far side of the room.

Albus watched her go. "We still need to talk " He said, but some of the coldness was gone from his tone. Instead it was more quizzical than anything else. "But I think that can wait until morning."

Yami nodded.

"You are welcome to stay here tonight." Albus continue. "There are plenty of beds, or I'm sure I could find you a room if that is more to your liking."

"No." Yami said shortly. "No, thank you. I need to stay with my light."

The pepper-up potion returned most of the colour to Minerva's face. However, as usual, Albus was unsure if the rosy tint it brought to her cheeks was due to health, or the taste of the portion. But by the time he approached her bed, Minerva was already arguing with madam Pomfery as she tried to get out bed.

"I'm fine Poppy. Nothing a good night's sleep won't cure."

Poppy nodded. "A good night sleep in the hospital wing." she amended firmly. It was nice to hear the familiar, no-nonsense tone of the school nurse one more. "And no classes tomorrow!"

"I have not canceled a single class in all my years of teaching. " Minerva snapped as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. "I am not about to start now."

"There's a first time for everything Minerva."

Albus held up a hand. "Is there anything currently wrong with Minerva, Madam Pomfery?"

"She was unconscious Albus." Poppy said as she crossed her arms tight in front of her chest. "For over an hour. I think that's grounds enough to keep her here."

Albus smiled. "And while that is worrisome, I'm afraid that was not what I asked."

Poppy frowned. "Her vitals look normal, so, no. Not that I can see."

"Alright than."Albus said, and he clapped his hands. He turned to face his transfiguration professor. "How do you feel?"

"Fine." Minerva said shortly. It wasn't exactly the truth, Albus could tell from the thinness of her voice. But it was close enough. Minerva wouldn't lie if there was something truly wrong.

Albus nodded, his blue eyes twinkling. "Then it's off to bed with you." he said. "I'll make sure the house elves leave you some more chocolate for a nightcap. And your morning classes will be cancelled."

"Excuse me." Minerva said incredulously. But Albus held up his hand.

"You need the rest my dear. I'm sure Professor Quirrell will be able to cover for you, I don't believe he has any conflicting classes."

And that was that.

Madam Pomfery went back into her office, she only paused to pull the curtain partisan around Yugi's bed shut, hiding the teen from view.

Albus held out his arm to minerva, who took it gratefully as she rose onto unsteady legs. They left the hospital wing in silence, and didn't say a word until they stood outside Minerva's door.

"This is quite a mess you've gotten us into my dear." Albus said shaking his head. "Quite a mess indeed."

Minerva's lips pressed into a thin line. "I won't send them back" she said meeting Albus gaze square. "No matter the tricks Fudge pulls out of that ridiculous hat of his." But Albus could read the question that burned behind her square spectacles.

"Then we'll just see what happens next." Albus said, and he dug into his pocket and pulled out his pocket watch. He clicked it open with a practiced flick of his thumb and stared long and hard at the planets that moved along the rim. "But that is a decision for tomorrow."

The corners of Minerva's mouth twitched in an almost smile. "Tomorrow then"

It wasn't until Albus locked the door to the hospital wing that Yami moved towards his light.

A large part of him was still hesitant, and it waited for the wizard's next move. These thoughts were only amplified by the fact Yami did not understand what happened. That Yugi's suffering could end with such little conflict. He couldn't help but wonder what the next course of action could be.

Did they just rescue Yugi out of the goodness of their hearts? It was doubtful, that trait was far too rare among people. But, was the seemingly selfless assistance a ploy in hopes for future reciprocity. Or something deeper?

Yami didn't know.

And that scared him.

But Yugi moaned softly from his narrow mattress, and in that moment all thoughts of the future were put to rest.

Yami sat down on the edge of Yugi's mattress, and took one of Yugi's hand in his own. Yami pressed his lights clammy fingers to his cheek. "Aibou" he whispered, with more than just words alone. "it's time to wake up."

With gentle pressure, Yami eased the mind link open, just enough to let his mind brush against Yugi's, as light as a butterfly's kiss.

Consciousness stirred just beneath the surface, but it was still too early for Yugi to return to reality without assistance. It would take time, and plenty of rest before Yugi would heal. However, as much as Yami would love to let Yugi's sleep the millennium away, he needed to wake up. At least long enough for Yugi to know it was safe, and for Yami to be certain that no permanent damage had been done.

Adrenaline still raced through Yami's limbs. He focused on it. The tingling in his fingers, the pure energy that artificially filled his mind and raced liquid fire through his blood. He pushed those feelings down through the mind link, far stronger than anything mortal medicine magic influenced or not, could imitate.

The result was only going to be temporary. But Yami didn't want to keep his other awake for any longer than was necessary. Yami could also feel the bone deep wariness that clung to him like a second skin. He would have to return to the puzzle soon as well.

They both needed rest.

Yugi moaned again, and his hand tightened slightly around Yami's. "Mou Hitori no Boku?" he breathed. "What happened?"

"More than I can understand." Yami said. "How are you feeling?"

"Feeling?"Yugi asked as he tried to sit up. But he was barely able to lift his chest of the bed before he fell back with a sharp cry. It felt like he had been hit by a bus. Every muscle in his body ached in a way that Yugi had not felt before, and his head throbbed with every pulse of his heart. "Oh my" Yugi groaned as he fell back to the mattress with a boneless thump.

Yami chucked as he pressed a hand to Yugi's chest, and spread his fingers over the steadying rhythm below. "Maybe that's not a good idea Aibou." he said with a soft smile. "You're far less well than your mind is trying to tell you."

But Yugi wasn't listening. "Mou Hitori no Boku?" he asked again. But as the last clinging whispers of sleep faded away, the way he said his other's name changed drastically. Yugi pulled his hand from the bedsheets.

"Aibou, you need to stay still. Rest."

It was more of an effort than Yugi was expecting to stretch his arm the small distance between them. But he couldn't rest until he knew for sure.

Yugi pressed shaking fingers to Yami's cheek. His dark leaned into the touch, and the permanently rigid set to his shoulders loosened slightly when Yugi's thumb brushed the skin under his eye.

"You're back?"

It was a question, not a statement. Yami bowed his head as he placed his hand over his light's. "I never left you." He said, and Yami turned his head to press his lips to Yugi's palm. "Nothing can separate us for long Aibou."

Yugi smiled as he burrowed his head into his pillow. "That's not what I asked."

Yami sighed. "I know." he whispered, and let Yugi's hand drop back to his side. Yami leaned back on the mattress, and moved as far away from Yugi as he could without moving off the mattress.

"I'm so sorry." he said

"I know."

"…can you forgive me?"

Yugi didn't respond. He reached out to rest a hand on yami's elbow. Yami frowned at the warm pressure, but just watched as Yugi slowly used his Dark's arm as leverage to lift himself off the mattress.

"Aibou stop." Yami whispered, and he tried to push Yugi back down to the bed. But Yugi just glared at him. While his only visible eye was hard, there was no anger there, only determination. Against Yami's better judgement, he moved his arm lower, so Yugi could use his shoulder to sit up properly. He hoped that Yugi would be content with just sitting up.

That didn't last long however, and Yugi soon toppled over into Yami's chest. The small light wrapped his arms around Yami's neck, and pulled his other as close as weakened muscles would allow.

In that moment, the dark stone in Yami's chest shattered into little more than sand. He felt light as air, like if Yugi were to let him go he would float away. A chocked sob escaped his lips, and Yami pulled Yugi tighter to his chest, his arms completely enveloping Yugi's tiny form.

"Aibou."Yami whispered into Yugi's hair as Yugi buried his face into the crook of his dark's neck. "I missed you, so much."

"I'm sorry" Yugi whispered.

"Don't be. Not for this."

Yugi smiled. Yami could feel the warmth of the emotion far more clearly than he could see it, and it echoed through him, and it echoed through him in a way nothing else ever could. "I'm so tired Mou Hitori no Boku"

"Than rest Aibou." Yami said as he gently pulled free a lock of Yugi's blonde fringe free from the bandage on his face. "I'll be here when you wake up."

Yugi tensed as Yami lowered him back to the mattress. "Stay with me?" he asked as Yami tucked the sheets around him.

Yami shook his head. "I have to go back to my soul room."

Under normal circumstance, that wouldn't have mattered. It was nothing for Yugi to come and rest in Yami's soul room, or the other way around. But after what had happened to Yugi when they had been separated, Yami didn't know if things would ever be like that between them again. "Keep the puzzle with you, and I'll know when you wake up."

Yami stood, and slowly began to release the magic that stabilized his physical form. Before he had the chance to let go completely however Yugi's had grabbed onto his wrist. "That's not good enough." he said, staring through eyelids that were half closed in exhaustion. "Mou Hitori no Boku, please."

"Aibou, I can't"

"Then, I'll go with you."

Yami reeled back. He hadn't considered that Yugi might want to go back to their soul rooms. No Aibou," Yami said gently, and he slowly peeled Yugi's fingers from his wrist. "You're not ready for that yet."

"I know that." Yugi whispered, and he squeezed his eyes tight. "But I can't be alone. Not tonight, please Mou Hitori no Boku."


"Please. I need to know that everything's alright between us."

The image of Yugi's soul room door, flashed in his mind's eye, broken and violated. That wasn't something Yugi would be able to just shrug off. It seemed that even Yugi could see that. But...

Yami shook his head as he pressed his fingers to the middle of Yugi's third eye, and pictured the fortified tone of his soul room.

There would be time to deal with everything tomorrow.