Disclaimer (1): This is a fan written work based on the works of J.K. Rowling. It might possibly also have some elements of a number of other works. There is no money being made from this, it is merely a work meant for the entertainment of myself and the masses. This is merely for fun, and no profit. I repeat: I am not making any money out of writing this.
Disclaimer (2): I also do not own anything that has to do with Juuni Kokki, Juuni Kokuki, Record of the Twelve Kingdoms, The Twelve Kingdoms. The only things that will probably be mine to claim are some of the names that will appear in the fic.
Warning: OCs OOCs Sues, and some crack. You have been warned.
Note 1: Post-DH Disclaimer (2) anime/novel Crossover
Legend: # denotes change of time, while "*" denotes change of scene/perception/POV/center of attention/small change in time
Asari's home life was not anything he was used to.
While he was used to either Aiko or Eiko fussing over his health, he wasn't all that used to someone living with him that he couldn't simply order around unless they were working. It was a new experience for him. He was used to having subordinates and servants, but not anything like Kousui.
The woman at first didn't really know how to act around Asari, but eventually warmed up to his presence, even though it should have been the other way around.
She really didn't have anywhere else to go since the place that she had called home, since her second to the earliest memories, had kicked her out. She stayed with Asari and vowed not to be a burden to him.
She didn't understand why she wanted to please him so much, and just chalked it up to his being friends with one of her first friends, a friend that she hadn't seen in quite some time due to an errand that Asari had sent her on.
"Asari! We're running out of brown sugar!" Kousui said from the cellar where all the materials and ingredients for the bread and pastries were kept, she was checking their inventory at the end of day in preparation for the next day.
"I already posted an order for some more," Asari said after thinking for a second about the sugar and that it was needed for some of their cookies and cakes, the bakery had grown in wares ever since Kousui arrived since he had a tongue that could give him an unbiased opinion about his concoctions.
"Ok!" she said still in the cellar, "Well that's everything, I'm coming back up, so no jokes on how my beauty has been tarnished from spending my time in your dungeon."
He once told her she looked as pale as a ghost after the remnants of a sack of flour had fallen on her, coating her in white. She had been teased in a good way for the first time, it was a pleasant experience, but felt a bit embarrassed when he helped her clean up. She wasn't used to such an interaction, not yet but was getting there.
Their lives were rather uneventful seeing as there wasn't all that much problems all over the world that affected the rest of the world as a whole. In Han there were no real problems dealing with anything, just the politics that were mostly generally harmless for those that lived as the middle class did.
Kousui had grown used to the occasional odd person that visited their shop and home. These odd persons usually wore some sort of military attire and others were so covered up that they could have passed off as lepers, spies, rogues, bandits, or assassins. They were a mixture of karasu and soldiers of Kurai's heavenly army coming in for orders. Kousui had yet to figure out that they arrived at certain times on certain days only.
One such odd person entered their shop the very next morning just after it had opened up for the day. Kousui had the job of manning the front while Asari could concentrate on the baking in the back and bottom of the place they lived and worked in.
"How may I help you today, sir?" Kousui asked as she heard the bell of the door of the shop jingle.
"Ah, err," the man said, it was a soldier this time and not a crow or raven, "Where's...A-Asari-sama?" the soldier wasn't used to calling his boss by such a name since he was more used to calling him Kurai or something else, but not by that new name of his. He didn't really approve of all this hiding in plain sight thing, but what could he do, it wasn't like he could tell his superior what to do, since this was the very same person that could go toe-to-toe with Tentei himself.
"Asari! There's someone here looking for you," Kousui called out.
"Who is it! The rolls are at a critical point I can't leave!" it was one of those times that his baking took precedence over other things, "What do they want?"
Hearing his orders, or as close to orders as he could get with her, she turned back to the unfortunately not customer.
"So, as you've heard him say, who are you and what business do you have with him?" she asked him, "And if you're not buying you might want to make your answer short and sweet, before I decide that you're scaring our other customers."
"Heheh...I'm Sho, Kazukihara Sho...I was sent here to receive new orders from A-Asari-sama," Sho, the soldier, replied.
"Oh, new orders? So you are a customer after all," she said, not really knowing the truth yet, "So what'll you be having then?"
"Err...not that kind of order, but I'll gladly have some chocolate chip cookies if you don't mind, a baker's dozen would suffice," Sho said, just to placate the woman and not get himself in trouble with his boss who was coming out from the back with a tray filled with some goodies.
"Why do you still keep on coming back here every week?" Asari said, "Well, new orders, I suppose you can just continue as you have been doing, patrolling and all that, and I'm extending the invitation for anyone willing to apply to work as my delivery service, business has been booming as of late. I need more hands!"
"Its too early for you to be complaining!" Kousui said as she bopped him playfully on the head the helped with with placing their latest batch of wares on the shelves, then turned to Sho once again, "On the house, since you'll be delivering some sort of message to whoever you work for," she handed over the parcel with the cookies.
"Uh..thanks, ma'm," Sho said, and bolted out of there with the cookies. He was scared for some reason. He didn't really know why, cause he sure as hell knew that the woman with his boss wasn't Kasumi in another form.
"Why'd you have to go and scare him off?" Asari asked his companion as he finished laying out everything that he had finished baking which was quite a lot, "They're a regular occurrence here anyway, you should be used to them by now."
"I didn't scare him off, I was actually a bit scared myself," she admitted, she didn't really like admitting such things to him even though she had been living with him for quite a while, "Those people keep coming by, you usually are out here to speak with them, and you left me alone with one of them..."
"I apologize for that, his arrival actually slipped my mind," Asari said, "It won't happen again, though you'll have to get used to the ones that will eventually come looking for work. Business is expanding after all."
"Yes, yes it is," Kousui said, "I was wondering if...well.."
"Go on," he told her, wanting to know what it is that she wanted.
"If once we get more help around here...you could take me on a vacation of sorts..get to see the world and all that," she said hopefully.
"I suppose," he said thinking about it, "If we do leave, Kasumi will have to be here to oversee everything, I will not leave my masterpiece in the hands of amateurs!"
With those words she more or less got her wish to see what the world had to offer and possibly get some of the fuzziness out of her head. Asari on the other hand believed that it was a good enough excuse to get back on the road in search of whatever it was that he was still searching for.
Kasumi returned to the shop a month and a half later, bearing some good news from Tai as well as Hou. Kousui didn't really know why she was happy that other countries, different from the one where she had lived for so long, were doing so well. She just accepted it as being a part of being with Asari as she was.
"So...have fun on your journey," Kasumi told them before they left through the gates of the city, just her luck as she turned around she found herself face to face with Ranjou, though this time not in his commoner clothes, but his royal ones.
It seemed that the reason why she had failed to hear any other noise other than herself and Kousui was that Ranjou had managed to supress his presence long enough for his soldiers to get everyone else out of the vicinity.
"So we meet again Kasumi," Ranjou said, "Where have you been hiding all this time, and how do you know that former servant of mine from the palace, hmm?"
"How about I skip answering you and get to getting away from you," Kasumi said, "Since you only managed to find me now and I know you don't know where I live.." she paused, before springing into action, "Can't catch me Dog of Heaven!"
"Dog? DOG?" Ranjou exploded in anger and ordered his men, "CATCH THAT BITCH! NO ONE INSULTS ME AND GETS AWAY WITH IT!"
His soldiers sprung into action as well. They chased after a far superior Kasumi who had a lot of battle experience under her belt. She was Kurai after all, the female part of him. She jumped up onto the roofs and ran as fast as she could before transforming into a hawk to go even higher.
The soldiers followed her on kijyuu of their own. A hawk wasn't supposed to be a match for them, but she managed. As soon as she could tell that all of them were on her tail, she dived down, and came out of the dive when she was close to the ground. The chase continued through the streets themselves, and people began wondering why the royal guard were chasing down a hawk of all things.
She was being hunted, hunted by amateurs compared to her. She would evade capture, she would not get caught, and if worse came to worst, she could just simply vanish, return to the state of being where there were only two halves to a whole instead of three thirds to it. No one outside of Kurai's inner circle knew about that little tidbit.
She chose a route that lead away from where the bakery was, and when she was about cornered. Trapped more like, she transformed into a rat at the last second and dropped into one of the drains on the side of the road. Once down in the sewers, it was only a matter of time before she would make her escape.
But she forgot that a kirin had shirei helping them, and found out that the only way that she could get away, without alerting anyone to where she stayed, was by vanishing. She couldn't afford to transform or change her looks in such a place where a shirei could be watching.
It would later be reported to Ranjou that his prey had drowned in the sewers, another death on his watch, and this time due to his rash actions. It was a good thing that it didn't count against him since his capital was not visited suddenly by a youma or two.
It had been a month since he had sent a Karasu to take over the bakery in his stead, since Kasumi was temporarily out of commission and Fuka was too far away. Ranjou was getting a bit too curious now, and if things spiraled out of control he would be on the receiving end of a nasty beating courtesy of Tentei. He was in a way meddling with the mandate of heaven more than even he would like.
He had a troubled look as he traveled with Kousui for that month, and while she didn't pry, she wasn't quite sure if she could hold out her curiosity and worry any longer. She had rarely, if ever, seen Asari wear such a mask over his face showing her a smile when he was clearly not happy about something at all.
"Asari...are you alright?" Kousui decided to brave his false face and ask him, as she had grown quite concerned, just a moment ago he was telling him about the town that was to be their next stop, and how he was so sure that there were some traveling performers there.
"What do you mean Kousui?" he asked her, as he came back to the real world and out of his sudden dive into his thoughts on his presently slightly growing and at the same time lessening problems. He gave her a slight smile, one that didn't manage to hide what he wanted to keep hidden longer.
"I know you haven't really been all that happy this past month, ever since we left the capital," she told him, "I've been a bit worried, so...please tell me what's wrong...do you miss Kasumi or something?"
"Eh? Miss Kasumi, no, that's not it," he said, "Though I guess I have been a bit troubled as of late. But things should turn out fine, I apologize for worrying you. Come on, let's move a bit faster so we won't miss whatever performance those performers will be having, hopefully they won't have anything about Karasu no Kurai this time."
"I don't think you should keep something that's bothering you bottled up inside," she said to him, halting in her walking making him stop as well, "I mean, it can't be all that good for you."
"Hehe, well you got me there," Asari said, then admitted, "To tell you the truth, I'm not all that used to sharing what I'm feeling with others, much less a pretty girl I've only been in the company of for a few months. Though thanks for offering to be the ear or shoulder I need. I really appreciate it."
"Anytime," she said, then blushed a bit upon realizing that she might had overstepped herself that time and was about to apologize for getting into his personal space when a finger upon her lips stopped her from saying anything.
"Shh, don't speak," he said, "I didn't mind what you did. Its the first time that someone actually genuinely cared about me, after such a long time. Thank you."
"Y-you're welcome," she said once he removed his finger, she was really not feeling comfortable with his presence anymore. It was a weird feeling really.
"So shall we get going? The town's not that far from us now," he said to her, "Though if you're tired from all the walking I could carry you the rest of the way if you want."
"Err...thanks but no thanks," she said, sheepishly and decided to walk ahead of him and a bit faster than him. The sooner they got to be around more people, the sooner she would be a lot less uncomfortable. She liked and didn't like the alien feeling, and thought that she needed some time to think about what it could be.
During the month of their travels so far, they hadn't really come across anything strange whatsoever, or anything rather troublesome for that matter. Nothing had come for them, attacked them, nothing bad had really happened. While Asari wanted nothing to change that or jinx that, he was growing a little bit bored as he was rather used to having to fight or something. He also didn't have that outlet to vent any frustrations he had.
So without further ado, it was with great pride and pleasure that upon reaching the town, it was a port town of course, Asari and Kousui stumbled upon a hostage taking situation. Kousui was immediately grabbed once the ambush was a success and Asari was separated from her via being knocked out. He was actually knocked out. It was a first of many things that have happened in his life.
He had been taken by surprise as he didn't think that one of those one in a thousand or a million things that happened in prosperous countries would happen to him. Curse his want for adventure, it had just gotten someone that he cared mildly for in trouble.
At least the situation gave him a reason to cut loose, it wasn't often that he got to play the hero anymore. He was far too busy being a baker, a simple caterer to the palette of people wanting baked delights. He pulled created a pair of sai, as that was what he was going to use to do battle. He didn't need to pull out his many trump cards. He would be going at this old school style.