April 11th, 2009


Quotes, Thoughts on the LGBT and CDs of this world, and my Own Damn Opinion

You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because you're all the same.

If you cannot convince them, confuse them.

Meddle ye not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

You are who you are, just as I am as I am.

Those of you who think you know everything, are very annoying to those of us who do.

If practice makes perfect and nobody's perfect, why practice?

Only dead fish go with the flow.

Good things come to those who wait. Better things come to those who take.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. If you can’t join ‘em, kill ‘em.

If you think you know everything you’re stupider than we think.

There is no try. There is only do.

The day Hell becomes our reality is the day when you rule.

I’m going to have to call up allies who don’t really exist, to defeat an enemy who should never have been born, in a time where I shouldn’t be, in a world that I don’t care for, and all in a week. Piece of cake.

There is only one thing I regret. The fact that I have things to regret.

Always forgive your enemies - Nothing will annoy them more.

When I'm not in my right mind, my left mind gets pretty crowded.

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.

They say hard work never hurt anybody, but why take the chance.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

Last night, I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and thought to myself, "Where the heck is the ceiling?"

Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If he isn't there the first time you need him, chances are you won't be needing him again.

A good friend will comfort you when he rejects you, but a best friend will go up to him and say, "It's because you're gay, isn't it?"

These quotes help to describe me. Do you feel like you know me better now?

Gay marriage:
1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, liposuction and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans...

I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.
I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.
I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.
We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.
I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.
I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.
I am one of the lucky ones, I guess. I survived the attack that left me in a coma for three weeks, and in another year I will probably be able to walk again.
I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.
We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.
I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.
I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.
I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.
I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.
I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.
I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.
I am the man who died when the paramedics stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual.
I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I did not have to always deal with society hating me.
I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don't believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.
I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most, love.
I am the person who is afraid of telling his loving Christian parents he loves another male.
I am the enthusiastic friend that comes to a party of a friend's and wonders what her friend would do if she kissed her.

The above post is merely my opinion. Please do not get offended by it if your views are different.


Oedipus Complex :- WRITTEN BY Reichenbach

Oedipus Complex


Robin sat next to Nightwing, looking out the window of the older vigilante's muscle car. The rain pelted the windows and left globing streaks down the glass.

"So. we're reading this play in school in school."

Nightwing never looked up from the road. "Does this have anything to do with the case?"

"No. Geeze. You going Bat on me? We can only talk about work stuff?" Robin glanced from the glass to his pal Nightwing.

"No, I'm not. I was just wondering if you had some kind of inspiration as to what happened to the drug shipment. Figured you had some weird twisted idea about crime families and some great work of American Literature, and could magically divine from that where a warehouse full of guns could disappear to all in one night." Nightwing shrugged with frustration, then a bit of a smile cracked at the edges of his lips. "Sue me, I read too much into it. So what's on your mind?"

Robin shrugged, and went back to looking out the window. "Never mind."

"No, really. You brought it up. I didn't mean to be all. psycho about it. For real. What's up with school?"

"Umm. ok. Anyways, I was just thinking. Here's what I was thinking. Like. Bruce officially adopted you. And you're really his son now."

Nightwing glanced from the road to the boy beside him. "Well, yeah. What's that have to do with school?"

"Eww. road kill," Robin pointed out. Nightwing swerved to miss what was left of the buck lining the highway. They were ten miles from Gotham, and that somehow meant that the roadkill had to get bigger with each road post. "So anyways, me and Cass were talking."

"Wow. Talking like using actual words?"

"Yeah. For like twenty minutes. But anyways, we were thinking. Oracle's always watching out for us, and she bugs us about making sure we have everything we need, and making sure we're watching out for ourselves. She's a nag. But we kinda look up to her as our Bat-mom. I mean. we wait for her to be a pest about stuff."

Nightwing smiled warmly. "Aww, that's really nice. I'm sure Babs'd be flattered to hear that. I keep telling her she's got all these motherly qualities."

"You two thinking about making little Bat-puppies? Cause you know Bruce'll kill you and kill you until you're dead." They drove onto the ramp that lead to the Coast Shore Avenue bridge.

"Shutup. What does this have to do with your school work?"

"You and me're brothers, right? We're pals. Since even before you moved out of New York and back this way, we've talked and fought and stuff."

"Yup. I knew you were brother material because from the moment I met you, I felt this instinctive desire to beat the living crap out of you," Nightwing said with a grin.


"Robin, when you were a little kid, you were the single biggest spaz in the entire world. But now comes the part where you wrap it all up in a nice neat bow for me, cause we're like five minutes off of the cave and explaining to Batman just HOW we lost a warehouse full of guns."

"So, we're reading Oedipus in school and I was wondering how it feels to be sleeping with our mom." Robin never saw the hand coming at him, and Nightwing never took his eyes off the road. The back of the driver's hand connected with the forehead of the younger vigilante almost in an instinctive manner. "OUCH."

"You scare me, Timmy. Sometimes you scare me a LOT."

"What? I just told you, we were reading Oedipus--"

Nightwing scowled. "DON'T repeat it. Don't make me relive it."

"But you're sleep--"


"I just meant--"


Robin went back to staring out the window. "So. Think he'll be mad about losing the guns?"

"The phrase killing us and killing us until we're dead comes to mind," Nightwing answered distastefully. "God. You're DEMENTED."

"I was just saying." Robin didn't finish the thought.

"This is why I live in terror of you. Shit like that."

"What's the last demented thing I said?" Robin questioned in earnest. "You make it sound like I'm always being weird or something. This was just something I was thinking of, ok?"

"Timmy, you know why you got the job as Robin, right?"

"Cause I proved myself to you and Bruce?" Robin asked sarcastically.

"No. We gave it to you because we were SCARED of you. You were this freaky little kid who stalks me and Batman for like years because you're bored, your parents pay no attention to you, and you're too smart for your own damned good. We figured if we didn't train you and give you something productive to do, we'd be aquiring a new arch-nemisis."

"HEY! I wouldn't have come after you guys."

"You probably only started stalking us because you were bored with building your fusion generator in you dorm room at boarding school." The car shot through the holographic façade of the cliff, and they entered the long tunnel leading into the cave.

"I was not building a fusion generator." Robin folded his arms over his chest. "They were missiles that shot off vegetables. But that doesn't mean." the boy paused, some sort of crisis playing upon his face. "Oh man. I AM a freak."

"You're a freak. You're a freak and you scare me."

The car came to a stop next to Batman's vehicle. Both young men sat in silence for a moment, neither moving to get out. After a few moments, both opened their doors simultaneously, getting out of the car.

"Can someone explain to me where those guns are?" Batman demanded of his charges.

"It's Nightwing's fault!"

"It's my-why you little." Nightwing slid over the hood of the car, attempting to grab his counterpart.

Robin backed up two leaps, putting distance between them. "You were in charge! I'm just a sidekick!" Robin called out defensively. "And he called me a freak, Bruce! Nightwing called me a freak!"

Nightwing continued chasing Robin around the cave. They raced through the lab and out again, then back towards the vaults. "I shoulda beat you up the first time I met you! I shoulda let Kory beat you up! You little. Bruce! He said I have an Oedipal complex! He said--"

Batman sighed, turning in his chair. "Nightwing-it's an Oedipus Complex, and. if the shoe fits." he trailed off, turning to the younger of the two boys. "And Robin. Stop running at let him hit you. You deserve it."





Buddha Boy :- WRITTEN BY k4writer02

Title: Ham Sandwiches and Close Escapes


Title: Ham Sandwiches and Close Escapes

Author: k4writer02

Recipient: petitchouette

Fandom: Roswell

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers (if applicable): Season 1, some season 2

Warnings (if applicable): Goes wildly AU from Season 2.03, Surprise.

Summary: The world is ending in Roswell. The Skins are in power, Kyle’s imprisoned, and Michael and Maria make brief appearances as resistance leaders.


Buddha Boy

The first thing Kyle Valenti chooses to do on the day he finds the world has ended is eat a sandwich. He does a few things before that, but that’s the first one he chooses. The other things he chooses to do that day include killing an alien dictator and breaking out of jail with hybrid clones of his ex-housemate. But you know, that comes after the sandwich.

Eating may seem like a weird response, but it’s a really good sandwich. Ham and swiss and coleslaw on a pretzel roll. The bread, meat and cheese toasted and hot and delicious, the coleslaw a cool, crunchy contrast. Mouthwatering. Accompanied by kettle-cooked potato chips and Crashdown Cherry coke—he thinks Liz’s dad may have slipped something addictive into the cherry syrup at the Crashdown, because it doesn’t taste the same anywhere else. When it all arrives—the sandwich, chips, and beverage—it’s better than he ever remembered it. And in the last few weeks, he’s had time to think about food.

He’s never been this hungry before. But he’s never been locked in a cell before either. To pass the time, he does pushups and thinks about food. Sometimes he meditates.

He never masturbates; he’s too aware of being watched, and he’s not an exhibitionist under these circumstances.

He redirects his sex drive into other appetites.

He’s thought about nice, thick porterhouse steaks, rare in the middle, with lots of A1 and not a drop of Tabasco in sight. And heaping helpings of three-cheese potato gratin, with bacon. And Amy’s pies. And Crashdown coke floats.

And beer. No matter how hard he tries, he can never quite remember the taste of beer, even though he’d swilled a LOT of it before…well, before.

Before he was shot. Before Max healed him. Before Buddha. Before Tess moved in. Before she disappeared on the night of Isabel’s surprise party.

Before Vanessa Whitaker called in the “National Guard” and imposed quarantine on Roswell. Before communications with the outside world were cut. Before his father was assassinated, perpetrator unknown. Before aliens who shed skins like snakes arrived offering to free the people of Roswell from military rule in exchange for three citizens—two brunette males, one blond female—and some kind of grain. Before the town turned over Kyle Valenti, Grant Sorenson, and Courtney Banks to the Skin shedders.

Before he was locked in a cell where the only “food” came in the form of a cube of vitamins.

Yeah. Before.

So when he’s pulled out of his cell by masked men, brought into a white room, and shackled to a chair facing two versions of Tess, he starts to realize just how serious the situation is. He knows it’s not a concussion that’s making him see two girls where there’s actually one, because they’re alike and different at the same time. One has short purple hair and bloody cuts that look like piercings were ripped out of her face. Her eyes are wide open, and frightened. The other has bruises so bad her left eye is swollen shut. Her hair is the color of butter and corn. They are dressed identically in paper hospital gowns. White, naturally.

Neither girl meets his eyes. The blonde probably couldn’t if she wanted to; the purple-haired one seems too frightened.

That’s the moment he knows the world’s pretty much ended, and he was on the losing side. He’s not sure who the skin shedders are, but he does know Tess and the Fantastic Four (Royal Four, whatever) were Roswell—and Earth’s—last chance. And he’s not sure why there are two Tesses here, but he is sure it’s a bad sign. Somehow, the pod squad missed the meaning of Nasedo’s warning; they lost the war without even fighting a battle.

Max, Michael, and Isabel failed. They left town the day after Tess vanished—up till now, he’s sort of been hoping that Tess was with them. Like Maria—he hopes to God she went with her Spaceboy, because she hasn’t been seen since Isabel’s birthday either. And last he saw her, Liz Parker was catatonic, unable to explain why Max had abandoned her, where her best friend was, or why any of this was happening.

Failing escape with her pod-pals, he’d held onto some hope that Tess would get away from the men who had taken her. Because, yeah, it was a pain to have her and her girly things around all of the time, but he hadn’t wanted anything bad to happen to her.

He’s not sure what’s going on—all this light is overwhelming after his dim cell. That’s probably the point.

He’s pretty sure they’re being watched. So he doesn’t say anything meaningful. He cracks a nervous joke because the twins are the first people he’s seen in a while and he wants them to look at him, even if they are aliens, “So, Tess, who’s your friend?”

The girls turn their heads toward each other, but not him. “Sister.” The purple one (not the one he used to live with) answers. It sounds like she’s choking on the word. Maybe it’s because her tongue is bleeding.

That’s when a kid enters the room. He looks to be about fourteen. He’s skinny, like Whitman, and Kyle briefly wonders if he’s been on the receiving end of too many swirlies. It would explain the I-hate-the-world attitude vibrating off of him. As if he knows what Kyle’s thinking, the boy sneers more. “Glad to see you’re getting acquainted.” His voice doesn’t break, though Kyle finds himself hoping it will. “Ava, you always were a consummate hostess.”

The girls look back at the floor. There’s a pause.

In the silence, Kyle’s stomach grumbles. “So,” He comments, “We’re in a white room. Where are the black curtains? Eric Clapton would be disappointed.”

“Do you even know who you’re talking about?” The boy rolls his eyes, clearly dismissing Kyle as stupid. Good. When you’re being held prisoner by aliens, it’s usually a good thing to be underestimated.

Kyle’s stomach growls again, louder. “Got any food?” He asks, feigning hope. The protein/vitamin cubes have all the nutrients he needs, but his stomach constantly feels empty. And he really misses eating.

He asks because 1) he’s hungry 2) it’s now obvious to everyone he’s really hungry and 3) anything he can do to seem like a dumb jock seems like a good move.

The boy laughs. It’s not a pleasant sound. Neither girl looks up, but Kyle notices that the blonde (Tess) is tensing up, like she’s holding something in. Purple-Tess—Ava—bows her head.

The kid says, “Just tell us what you want.”

Kyle takes him up on it. He describes in loving, lavish detail, the perfect sandwich. He recounts his memory of the perfect pretzel roll, its crust and texture and temperature. He details the deli ham he wants—wet-cured first, then smoked, and sliced thin. But the sandwich shouldn’t skimp on the quantity, just because it’s sliced so thin. Then, domestic Swiss, two or three thick slices. He’s not picky, he tries to say graciously. He describes the coleslaw he likes—the one at Albertsons, with the little caraway seeds in it. He gives specific directions about the order of assembly—Slice the roll, layer meat on both sides, add cheese, toast, then add coleslaw. He goes on for at least ten minutes. When he finishes, he can tell he has irritated the kid.

Damn alien probably doesn’t have taste buds.


“Shut up.” The boy bites the words out. He’s fuming.

Kyle hopes he still gets the sandwich.

They sit in silence for a while. The boy leaves.

The purple-haired girl sneaks a glance at him. The white room blinks out for a second, while she pulls a mindwarp, just long enough to tell him in the thickest New York accent he’s ever heard, “I’d’a axed for pastrami on rye. With a pickle.”

Which, you know, he can respect.

And Kyle does get the sandwich. Eventually.

When he finishes his food, and the cherry coke that came with it, he settles back in his chair, as comfortably as anyone can while he is handcuffed and chained to a chair. “Well, I’ll give you this. When I get out of here, I’ll have to start making T-shirts to advertise that alien abductors make good sandwiches. I don’t know if there’ll be much of a market, but I know someone who’s always up for distributing stuff with lots of local color.”

He sees the corner of Tess’s mouth twitch, though she doesn’t actually bare her teeth in a smile.

“You’ve been fed. Now tell me what you want.”

“A million dollars and my planet would be nice.” Kyle is impressing himself with how cool he’s being. He kind of wants to huddle in a corner and rock, but he might be the only human left. He doesn’t know.

The boy slaps the table, like maybe he’s been watching NYPD Blue reruns for tips on how to interrogate humans or something.

“Where is the granilith?” He snarls.

“The what?” Kyle isn’t even feigning ignorance.

The girls are even more careful about not looking at him.

“We know it’s here. Vanessa led us to it; we can feel its energy.” The boy sounds desperate.

“Who’s Vanessa?” Kyle asks. He has actually forgotten that that was Congresswoman Whitaker’s first name.

He flies backward then. His legs are still shackled to the chair, so he lands in an awkward heap, with his breath knocked out of him.

The kid kicks him, and Kyle’s endured enough sports injuries to realize that’s going to leave a mark. The boy starts pacing, and ranting. Kyle watches the moving feet, trying to think of a plan that isn’t stupid.

The alien boy explains, “We tested your blood; yours and Sorenson’s. You are different than the mammals who populate this world, but you’re not alike. You’re not even like those hybrids-,” He spits in the general direction of the girls at the table.

Kyle’s kind of glad he isn’t capable of answering. Though when the gist of the boy’s rant gets through, all Kyle can think is “Shit.” He must be changed from the healing.

The boy’s words filter in while Kyle tries to breathe again, “Sorenson’s blood yielded traces of gandarium; he’s nothing in himself. You should be happy to hear we’ve contained it. For now.”

Kyle wheezes. But if Sorenson is different too… Was gandarium kind of like the alien version of an STD? Had he picked it up from Isabel? “Hnh,” Kyle grunts.

The kid picked Kyle’s head up off the floor and spoke the words very clearly. “Listen. I’ve been in this body for fifty something years. You are going to tell me where the granilith is so I can get off this planet and into my own body. Cooperate, and I won’t release the gandarium to exterminate your race. Resist and you’ll find yourself a test subject, like your friend.”

As if that were a cue, a video begins playing on the ceiling. Kyle finds himself kind of impressed by how disorienting it is to be flat on his back and watching TV. Then, his brain processes what he’s seeing. He feels sick.

Liz Parker is weeping on the screen. He can’t see what’s hurting her, or hear the words they’re saying to her, but he can hear her. He doesn’t love Liz Parker; sometimes liking her is a stretch. But seeing her suffer is painful.

Kyle wonders if Liz’s pain has also been chosen for Tess’s benefit.

The image flips to Grant Sorenson, who is strapped to a gurney, screaming. Machines whose purpose Kyle couldn’t even begin to guess are attached all over his body—how very Matrix. Protruding from his chest are the kind of nasty blue crystals that are featured on kid’s home science/crystal growing kits. He’s writhing and screaming, claiming innocence, begging for death.

The pictures cut off. “Tell me what you know.” The boy demands.

Kyle recites the three universal truths of Buddhism, “Nothing is lost in the universe. Everything is change. Every action has an equal, but opposite reaction.” That last one sounds more like science class than religion, but it makes his point.

This time, he’s more ready for the kick.

“Idiot.” His tormentor seethes. “Do you, or do you not understand that I have the power to crush you? To end your miserable existence?”

“I get that.” Kyle breathes through the pain. “But it’s two of the four noble truths. There is suffering, common to all. And we are the cause of our suffering.”

The boy blew a Bronx cheer. Still prone on the floor, Kyle couldn’t guess what his fellow prisoners were thinking. But he could see their feet and ankles—obviously they’d been broken and not allowed to heal, probably to prevent escapes.

“Ava one.” The boy is clearly addressing the girls. “Ava two. Reason with the human. You’ve seen what happens when they resist.”

Tess’s smoky honey voice sounds strange, like there’s gauze in her mouth. “Nick-lath, he dudn’t know an-thing.”

“How stupid do you think I am?” The boy—Nicholas—makes a gesture and suddenly, Tess is also on the floor. Kyle turns his face to look at her. She doesn’t have handcuffs, but her mobility is compromised by those busted ankles. “You were living with him, Ava. He must mean something to you. And I remember you. You weren’t like your sister-in-law at all. Family first, that was you. Of course, since you were nothing but a jumped-up domestic, I guess that made sense.”

Nicholas’s feet are turned away from the prisoners on the floor, and Tess makes a frantic gesture at Kyle. She seems to be encouraging him to keep talking. Or squirming, perhaps.

“I wouldn’t have minded a go with you.” Nicholas drawls. “For all your bad breeding, you were a pretty little thing. And your Zan always looked rather smug after a night in your bed. So you must’ve been good for something.”

The pacing pauses, and Kyle tenses. But then Nicholas resumes his monologue, “Or maybe not. You never did present him with an heir.”

“You used that one already.” Miss New York informs him. “You oughta think up some better insults.”

That leads to Ava joining them on the floor. Nicholas approaches Kyle again. “See what they’ve become?” He sneers. “Once upon a time, people lived and died by this woman’s whim. Now she grovels on the floor, like the animal she is. She’s polluted by flesh. Human weakness.”

Finally, Nicholas is in range. Kyle trips him with a sweep of his (still chained) legs, that motion possible because one chair leg cracked in the tumble. He pounces on the kid. Nicholas is flat on his back, with Kyle straddling his stomach. He uses the chain of his handcuffs to cut into the boy’s throat. It’s violent, vicious, and ugly—so far from the dumb jock who ate a sandwich and the passive prisoner who quoted Buddhist teaching that Kyle’s own head is spinning.

Like a dream, he notices Tess squinting her eyes shut, and he guesses she’s mindwarping the observers.

Ava grabs the chair leg that broke off. “The side.”

“Was it you?” Kyle hisses to Nicholas, absorbed in getting his own revenge. “Are you the one who killed my father?”

“No time.” Ava says. She sounds sympathetic, which he didn’t expect.

Nicholas is kicking and struggling wildly, but Ava’s put some kind of shield around Kyle, because the feared alien powers aren’t hurting him. Kyle inches up the body, trying to make Nicholas’s side accessible for her to bash it, while refusing to release his chokehold.

Ava tries, but her force is totally insufficient. Her muscles are weak, and she can’t stand up to get the leverage she needs.

“Hurry.” Tess begs.

“Hold him.” Kyle orders.

Ava frees Kyle from the cuffs, and then twitches them harder against Nicholas. Kyle stands, grabs the chair, and slams it into Nicholas’s side—the same place the alien kept kicking him, as a matter of fact. Nicholas drops into dust, and Ava’s hands slam into the floor. He hears a crack—probably her wrist, if the pain on her face is a reliable indicator.

She crawls to Tess on her knees, and puts her hands to Tess’s cheeks. They touch foreheads and close their eyes. It’s oddly intimate. In another lifetime, he’d have found the sight erotic—the kinds of magazines that lived under his bed made lots of money on photos of identical women embracing.

But right now, he doesn’t even look. He’s shaking a little, and his stomach, so long empty, is threatening to reject the sandwich, coke, and chips. It hardly matters that Nicholas was evil or that he wasn’t even human. Kyle is a murderer, a cold blooded killer. Serious bad karma.

After he pulls himself together a bit more, he watches the bruises shrinking on Tess’s face. Ava seems to be drawing strength too—her wrist isn’t at such an ugly angle.

“What now?” He asks.

“We escape.” Tess says, and her voice is stronger. She’s still mindwarping somebody though—he can see she’s only half with them. “We gather what’s left of Roswell’s people and form a resistance. We fight them.”

“Not to point out the obvious, but that strategy didn’t work out so well for you last time.” Kyle feels perversely dissatisfied with this solution. “And my feet are still chained.”

Tess is sweating with the strain of the mindwarp. Ava frees his legs.

“Last time, we didn’t fight.” Ava says. “The other three fought, but we died in the first battle. Then we woke up on this planet.”

“Speaking of the other three. Or six…” He leaves the tentative question hanging.

“Dead.” Tess says in a clipped tone, “I think.” He can’t tell if she’s sad or angry, “I know Isabel pulled a kamikaze. Max was captured trying to get her body. He died during a session like this.”

“They made us watch.” Ava supplies.

Kyle wonders how entangled their identities are. They keep saying “we.” It’s getting creepy.

“We don’t know about Michael.” Tess continues briskly, like she didn’t watch the love of two lives die in front of her. “Courtney said he’s gathering troops out there. But, you know, she followed him here from another planet, so you can’t always sort out what she wants to be true from what is true.”

“Courtney’s an alien?” Kyle stared.

“A rebel skin.” Tess confirmed. “Luckily, she doesn’t know anything compromising.”

“Maybe not so lucky for her.” He says, remembering Nicholas’s kicks. “What about yours?” He looks at Ava, easily accepting that if there are two Tesses, there are probably two Maxes, and so forth and so on.

“Lonnie joined them. And where Lonnie goes, Rath follows.” Ava explains, in a matter-of-fact tone. Fear later; planning now. “They locked Zan up. We haven’t seen him in six days. Don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

“So, we free him and he helps us.” Kyle says. “Oh. And what was that about galadrium stuff that’s sticking out of Grant?”

“Gandarium.” Tess corrects. They’re healing each others’ ankles now, so they’ll be able to walk or run out of here.

“What is it?” He presses.

“What made us.” Ava answered.

Tess elaborates, “It fused our alien and human cells so we can exist. The skins don’t know how to use it. They’re dying; they want to find out what we did to make it work for us. But they really want a magic cure and a trip home.”

“The grain thing.”

“The less you know about that the better.”

“So why’s this blue stuff so scary?”

“Its job is to add alien matter to human DNA. But not every human is set up for that, and it kills them.”

“Would it kill you?” He asks, concerned.

“Buddha Boy, you better pray we don’t find out.” Tess suggests.

“I don’t think praying really works like that in Buddhism.” Kyle says. He watches the girls stretch their feet and ankles. They stand up together, testing their healed joints. They hobble at first, like newborn foals finding their feet for the first time. They become more confident, walking around the room more quickly.

“Shouldn’t we try to kill this gandarium, then?” Kyle asks.

Tess shakes her head, “It’s too late—they dumped some in the water. It’s just a matter of time now, till we find out if it’s as bad as we think.”

“Great.” Kyle fumes. “Great.” He pauses. “What is she doing?” He asks Tess, while pointing at Ava.

“She’s searching for Zan. She hears him in her head, sometimes.” Tess explains. “If he’s alive, we try to grab him, and then we run. We stick together if we can, but no matter what, we make sure that one of us lives to tell this story to the resistance.”

“Agreed.” Ava says, though she’s still frowning, making faces.

Both of them look at Kyle. “I don’t really want to leave you.” He protests.

“Do we really have to explain this situation to you?” Tess sounds incredulous.

“Fine, I agree. I’ll leave you to die and then I’ll go running around the desert in the dark.”

“Stop being so melodramatic.” Tess rolls her eyes.

“It’s the end of the goddamned world. I think that calls for melodrama.” Kyle sniped.

Ava comes out of the trance-like state. “He’s not here.” She concludes. “They moved him to New York. Khivar called a summit. He wants the planets to agree to our annihilation for our carelessness in letting gandarium infect Earth, since now it has to be quarantined.”

Tess raises an eyebrow. “How pissed is Lonnie? All that and she’s still stuck here.”

Ava nods reluctantly. “What do we do about the host?”

“Nicholas is dead.” Kyle says, because he can’t think of another host.

“She means Grant.” Tess translates.

“It’d be best to kill him.” Ava says. “I know he’s your friend, but we can’t get that thing out of him and have him live. And if we kill what’s in him, it might kill some of what’s out there trying to kill us.”

Kyle stares. He’s having enough trouble with killing an enemy. He doesn’t think he can bring himself to kill Grant Sorenson. But on the other hand, if he was the guy strapped to a gurney and alien machines with Kryptonite growing in his chest cavity, he’d rather be put out of his misery than learn from that suffering.

Maybe he isn’t a very good Buddhist after all.

“I won’t do it, but I won’t stop you.” He says, and his voice sounds like his father’s—like a man’s.

Tess just nods. “We don’t all need to go for him. Ava, you volunteered. I’ll look for stuff we can carry, in case we have to spend our time in the desert. Kyle, see if you can find Parker.”

“You want to bring Liz with us?” He asks. This is a new development to say the least.

“I don’t want to leave her.” It’s all she says.

“Can you cover that many mindwarps?” He asks, worried.

“Every Skin in the area thinks we’re already gone.” Ava reports.

Tess confirms, “The building’s empty, except for us. It’ll make the actual running hard, but we need time alone to get supplies.”

They split up. Kyle follows directions to Liz’s cell. Her hair has been cut raggedly. Her eyes are vacant; she seems to be lost in a fantasy world of her own. He coaxes her out of the cell, though she keeps whispering brokenly for Max.

He meets Tess and Ava, who have changed out of white paper and into black shirts and pants. Probably impractical for the desert, but they can change it once they’re away from this white room.

They each have a sack, and one for him—he presumes there’s “food” and flashlights and blankets. Liz won’t put on the shoes they got for her, and won’t follow them, so Kyle winds up with her across his back in a fireman’s carry.

Leaving the building is harrowing. Kyle has trouble getting Liz to shut up until Ava threatens to stuff a sock in her mouth. Surprisingly, this is the first thing that penetrates the haze around her. Liz settles into sullen silence.

The unlikely foursome creep around patrols, with judicious mindwarps and lots of luck. They resist going to the obvious places—despite aching temptation, they don’t go to the Crashdown or the Valenti house, or the high school. Not to the Evans’s house or the UFO Center. They don’t go to the library. Kyle draws the line at stealing a car to take off for Fraser Woods, Pohlman Ranch, or the pod chamber. Being on foot sucks, but driving would draw far too much attention.

Ava makes noises about retrieving the orbs or the book, but ultimately agrees that they should seek out the resistance first. Tess leads them to a small group somewhere even Kyle wouldn’t have thought of—the old juvie hall.

They’re all dripping with exertion by the time they get there—even Liz, and Kyle has carried her half the time.

Approaching the Juvenile Detainment Center, he puts her on her feet. He takes the lead.

Liz has an arm draped around his neck as she stumbles with him into the cafeteria.

The six people in the room get to their feet, spilling food. A curly-haired boy draws a pistol.

“Sean!” Liz’s voice reverberates through the room. “It’s me. Liz Parker.”

Kyle evaluates Maria’s no-good cousin, then the wacky British millionaire who bought the UFO Center. Brady something? He recognizes Pam Troy, and his football buddy Malamud. His eyes lock on Amy Deluca, and then dart to the sixth person in the room. “Hanson?” his jaw drops.

“Kyle.” His father’s deputy nods.

A strained moment of silence follows when Tess and Ava show themselves. So their secret’s not so secret; will these humans hold these aliens accountable for the skins’ sins?

“Where did you come from?” Amy squeaks, taking the burden of Liz out of his arms by embracing her.

Suddenly, the questions break out of the stunned humans. Kyle slumps in relief.

“The skins had me locked up. I killed one. These two--,” He indicates Tess and Ava, “They helped free Liz, get supplies, and find you. We’re ready to fight with you.”

Pam and Malamud look at him like he’s insane—or a ghost returned to haunt them. Good. Serves them right for not arguing against turning him in.

Brody is nodding enthusiastically. Sean and Amy mostly have eyes for Liz. Hanson is taking it all in, then offers his opinion, “Let’s take it to the sheriff.”

“My father’s dead.” Kyle said, harshly.

“The new sheriff.” Hanson says. “The remaining human population of Roswell voted him in two weeks ago.”

At that moment, Michael enters the cafeteria, with a badge pinned on. Tess and Ava rush to him, babbling. He holds up a hand for silence—interesting, how he became the leader after all that time chafing under Max’s pacifism.

Ava and Tess stop talking, respectfully.

“What happened to Maxwell?” Michael asks.

“He died.” Tess says. That’s it. She doesn’t tell the whole story—doesn’t waste his time. “We’ve brought some intel; where’s the debrief?”

And just like that, they’re welcome.

Sean puts the gun away. The millionaire brings water. The four escapees drink, and Kyle listens to the information Tess and Ava have gleaned through mindwarps, hallucinations, intuition, and eavesdropping.

He adds his own insights here and there, but in the end, they turn to Michael, “So, Guerin, what’s the plan?” He asks. “Go after Zan, to that summit in New York? Kill the gandarium? Hunt skins one by one? Find out what a grain-lift is?”

“Granilith.” Brody corrects. “And since I’m going to be abducted and taken to the summit anyway, I’d say that the young lady who knows that city should accompany me as a guide. They won’t deny the king his bride; she’ll have a chance to free him.”

“Done.” Michael agrees. Kyle is surprised Michael is taking other people’s ideas—it doesn’t seem like his leadership style. He’s more of an order-giver. But then, maybe he knows when to be flexible.

“As for the other two, we’ll split into two groups. Parker, you and Ms Deluca and Pam are going to look at the science stuff with these crystals. Figure out what causes them, how they’re going to kill us all, etc. And then how to stop it. Once you know, we’ll all do it.”

Hanson adjusts his weight in anticipation. He knows what’s coming.

Michael looks in Kyle’s face, then at Malamud, then to Tess. He glances at Sean and Hanson. “And the rest of us are hunters. We work in pairs, like cops or wingmen. Kyle, as rook, you’re with me till you get five kills; then we’ll look at partnerships. The other pairs—huh, Malamud and Hanson, you did pretty well on the last raid. Sean, meet Tess. She looks like a ninety-pound weakling, but give her a test drive sometime.” Michael shoves his hands in his pockets. “That goes for everyone. I expect you to practice, people. I know this stuff isn’t easy, but it is what’s going to keep you alive. Got it?”

They all nod. Kyle looks at Amy, Sean, and Michael. Even Brody. Where is the one person who links them all? Does he dare to ask?

Evidently, he doesn’t have to—Maria comes in, hair cut ruthlessly short, like last school year. More practical for a fugitive, he supposes. She has four orbs and an Indian amulet with her.

Kyle has never been so happy to see her.

“Hey Kyle. Tess.” She says casually, like they’ve always been here, in the middle of a one-time detention center, during a civil war. “Oh my God, Lizzie.” Her squeal could have shattered glass, and he’s not the only one who thinks so. She grabs her best friend in a desperate hug, and Liz falls apart into tears again. Liz, Amy, and Maria retreat to a less crowded corner; people turn their backs on the scene, like that gives them any privacy at all.

Pam does not look overly excited by these additions to the party. She edges toward Sean, as if advertising that her claim had been staked. Tess and Ava look mildly irritated—they’re not looking to move in on anybody’s man.

Malamud appears to believe he’s hit a jackpot—it’s the end of the world and there are gorgeous twins in his orbit. He’s not quite the last man on earth, but it’s close enough that he’s really hopeful. Idiot.

“A word?” Kyle asks.

Michael nods.

They step away from the larger group, “You holding it together?” Kyle asks.

“Day by day.” Michael says. “But this really isn’t supposed to be my job.”

“‘Supposed to be’ went out the window in October.” Kyle comments. He pauses, then asks very seriously, “Can we win?”

Michael surveys the scruffy civilians before him. Hardly an army. And he’s facing opponents who think like he does. They have superior resources, intel, and training. But his team is fighting for their homes. “Maybe. If we knock out the leaders; get the footsoldiers sniping at each other. It’ll either leave them so weak we just pick ‘em off like flies, or…” He stops speaking.

“Or?” Kyle prompts.

“Or it’ll backfire like a mother and we’ll unify them against us, till they crush us.”

“I like the first one better.” Kyle remarks. What else can he say?

“Me too.” Michael admits. “But I’m planning for both.”

“Ok, then. What do I do next?”

“Eat something. Catch some sleep. We’ll figure it out from there.”

Kyle respects Michael’s style. There were so many times everyone looked at Max, after someone asked “what next,” when he left them hanging that Kyle almost expected not to get an answer.

Kyle says, “thanks.” He’s just turning away as Maria approaches, “There’s a pharmacy not too far away; one we haven’t raided yet. Pam and I want to go and stock up. We’re going to need some tranquilizers.”

All three of them look at Liz, who is weeping in the corner, pulling at her hair, as Amy tries to stop her.

Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way.

“Don’t forget antibiotics. Clean out as much as you can carry.” Michael advises. “If there’s a plague coming, I want us prepared.”

Maria nods, rolling her eyes like she already knows this.

“Oh, and Maria?” Michael stops her with his voice.

She turns back, and he says loud enough for the group to hear: “Take Sean with you too, okay?”

She nods, and they kiss, quick and hard. Now that the rest of the world is completely insane, apparently, they don’t have to introduce drama by fighting. Or maybe they do. Considering he isn’t actually an alien, the millionaire is doing a good impression of a green man. Though how he thinks he’s got a shot with Maria is anybody’s guess.

Kyle crosses the room to where the chow is being heated by a sterno. Baked beans and canned peaches never looked so good. He eats a small amount, then goes to the corner of the room where sleeping bags are laid out. Tess and Ava are sitting together on one blanket, eating from the same plate. It’s eerie to see the harmony of their movements.

They turn to him together.

Kyle nods, unsure of what to say. He’s suddenly exhausted and overwhelmed by the sheer number of people around him. But as he settles in to sleep on the floor of the correctional center cafeteria with possibly the only eleven allies he has in the world, he feels hope.

Maybe Kyle wasn’t on the losing side of this apocalypse.

Not yet, anyway.





Bookends :- WRITTEN BY Solstice Muse


(Harry Potter)

Arthur had given up on the idea of a family photograph.

Just getting all his children together in the same place at the same time was an accomplishment in itself, but then something would blow up and there would be squabbling, or torrential rain, or a screaming baby.

He spread out all the photos from various weddings and christenings, birthday parties and Christmases, and reached for the scissors. It had come to this; he was resorting to making a collage. Picking up a photograph from years ago he sighed and began to try to cut around Fred's shape while he dodged around, mischievously.

At least this way Fred would be included.

As he cut out the members of his family from the various pictures spread across the living room floor he noticed a pattern forming. He and Molly would always stand at the centre of the massed gathering, Harry, Ginny and their children at his side and Fleur beside Molly, then Hermione, Audrey and Angelina. All the wives lined up alongside Molly, it made sense he supposed, but Harry was beside him, holding Al in his arms, and Ginny held a hand each of James and Lilly. Then there was a furious looking Charlie, when he was in the photo at all, once or twice he had a bruise on his face or rumpled clothes.

Arthur remembered how Charlie always used to become tense during family photographs as the family grew larger. He'd assumed that Charlie just didn't have the patience for little children but now he could see that it was something to do with how everybody was made to stand, how every photographer made everybody stand in a slight variation of the same arrangement.

He put the scissors down and picked up one of the most recent photographs he hadn't yet cut into and scanned it.

Why on earth were Fleur and Bill standing so far apart?

Ron and Hermione too, Ron was nowhere near his wife or his children in any of the photographs.

Charlie was always glaring at the camera as if he hated it and Percy would be mumbling to him out of the corner of his mouth in an attempt to calm him down.

George was always in the process of doing something to ruin the picture and one or more of the little ones sitting in the front row would always be crying.

Ron and Bill were always at the far end of the group, on either side, and a couple of times they'd been cropped out of the picture altogether. Arthur only knew they were there because their heads were peeping over the shoulder of whoever was standing next to them.

Teddy was the only figure that never remained in the same place.

Arthur scanned all the pictures and found Teddy in them. When he went through his ‘I wanna be like Harry' phase and his hair was black and eyes green he was standing proudly with his Godfather in the centre of the picture. When his hair was blonde, yellow or white he was placed next to Fleur. If he had a bright and unnatural shade he was put somewhere towards the front of the picture, crouching down with the little ones.

When Arthur found the photo taken when Teddy had been ten years old he finally saw what the problem was; why Teddy always had to be moved, why Ron and Bill were always placed on either end or cut out altogether, why Harry stood at the centre and Charlie looked ready to kill the photographer, why the wives weren't pictured with their husbands apart from Ginny and Molly, and why Arthur's suggesting that they get together for a family photograph was always greeted with moans and groans.

When Teddy was ten years old he was going through another hero-worship phase, this time it was Ron who he wanted to be like. He made himself tall and skinny...and he covered himself with scars.

Bill and Ron, his oldest and youngest boys, both the tallest and both scarred so very badly by the war.

Bill was cast to one side because of his face and Ron to the other because of his arms and neck. They always wore summer clothes because that was the only time to get an outdoor photograph, too many of them to fit inside any one place in any kind of order, and Arthur kicked himself for putting his boys through such a humiliation.

Ron in his short sleeves and Bill with his ravaged face bathed in bright sunlight. Teddy at Ron's side, just as scarred as he was and with Weasley red hair, unless he looked like Harry and could be displayed proudly alongside the real one. The famous one.

Every photograph wasn't about his family, it was about the photographer arranging a crowd of people around the famous Harry Potter.

Charlie's rumpled clothes and black eye...obviously from the punch-up with the photographer who was treating two war heroes as if they were something to be ashamed of. Percy was always strained and weary, trying to calm his aggressive brother's nerves. George ruined the photo or made a rude gesture so it couldn't be sold to the Prophet or displayed in the photographer's portfolio.

All the wives, all the beautiful women who were now a part of his family and mothers to his grandchildren, they were all standing together to pretty up the picture and reduce the freckled faces and red hair from ruining the wonderful composure of Harry's shot.

He wondered if Harry knew.

He guessed not. None of the boys would want him to know.

He wondered if Ron and Bill had worked it out from the first picture or over time. He wondered if they thought he'd noticed how they were being treated and didn't care enough to stop going on about getting a better photograph taken because the last one was so awful.

Arthur felt sickened and gathered all the photographs together again, stuffed them into the box he'd pulled them out of, and put it away in the attic.

He'd never mention getting a family photograph again.

It was several weeks later when Arthur was taking a nap in his squidgey armchair in the living room, on a stifling Sunday afternoon, when four loud snaps jolted him awake. As he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and blinked Ron, Harry, Charlie and George into focus there were two more cracks and Bill and Ginny Apparated before him, staggering into the group crowded on top of the living room table.

"What are you all doing up there?" Ginny asked them.

"We all picture the same spot, apparently," George shrugged.

Ron jumped off the table before he fell and flung himself at his father, grabbing his arms and trying to pull him up out of his chair.

"Something brilliant's happened, dad, some batty old Squib with a chalet on the beach bought too much of George's repellent powder-"

"About a dozen boxes too much!" George snorted, just as Percy appeared in his father's lap and made Ron scream like a girl and fall over backwards.

Ron knocked the table and sent Harry, George and Charlie flying while Ginny and Bill doubled over with laughter. Molly, alerted by the kafuffle, marched into the living room as she dried her hands on a tea towel and froze in astonishment.

"Percy! What on earth are you doing? He's far too old for that!"

George howled with laughter and clutched his sides with both arms. Ginny helped up her husband, who was wiping tears of laughter from his eyes, and Bill ignored Charlie's arm waving up at him for leverage and finished off Ron's explanation.

"Basically, the nearest beach is clear for miles, no Muggle's anywhere, not for a good five hours. I was supposed to grab George and resolve the issue but I figured..." Bill shrugged and grinned.

"He figured, how often can a twenty-five or so-strong magical family all go to the seaside together on a Sunday afternoon?"

"Get ya cozzie on Mum!" Ron beamed at her from the floor.

"And that great big hat you took to Egypt." George added.

"Sun blocking spells, you'll all fry!" Molly gasped before whacking all of her children on the head with her wand and coating them with a sun filtering spell.

"Ow!" Charlie exclaimed, rubbing the top of his head.

Bill sniggered down at him.

"You're so tough," he stooped and offered his hand at long last and hauled him up to his feet.

Molly paused before Harry before hitting him with her wand as well.

"You look pale dear, just to be on the safe side."

"There's gonna be a picnic and cold cider," Charlie said to his Dad before turning to charm his mother, "and lots of grandchildren who need hitting on the head!"

Molly slapped at Charlie's solid arm while Bill chuckled and helped Percy usher their mother away from the kitchen where she was sure she must have something they had forgotten.

The beach was perfect, it was all theirs and they were all there - all who could have been. Rose and Al were digging a hole as if it was the most important project of their lives. George swam through a chunk of seaweed and then ran out of the water like a big green monster, making his little boy Fred and his cousin James run away, screaming with laughter. Teddy was swimming in the sea with Victoire while Percy hovered, fretfully, around his girls. Molly and Lucy bobbed around like little giggling corks due to the number of floatation charms their father had placed on the two of them.

Dominique was playing with Roxanne, helping her to dig a moat around her sand Hogwarts castle. Hugo ran backwards, stretching to grab the Frisbee Louis had thrown over his head and Charlie grabbed him and swung him away from the castle before he trampled it. The girls clapped and cheered their uncle and Hugo panted that he was sorry and rushed off to retrieve the Frisbee.

Charlie turned to return to Bill and Fleur, both were giggling at him as he rubbed his back.

"Getting old eh?" Bill grinned.

"Always younger than you, William!" Charlie said with sarcasm.

"Yeah but I'm ageing gracefully, you're falling apart." Bill smirked before draining his bottle of cider.

Charlie lifted the empty bottle from Bill's hand and handed it, politely, to Fleur. Fleur took the bottle and sighed with resignation as Charlie tackled Bill onto the sand and began wrestling him.

"'Ere we go again."



The boys all ran out of the sea to watch while the girls squealed and fretted.

"Gentlemen," Ginny sighed, "can we please act our age, there are actual children present."

Bill and Charlie looked from their sister, to each other, and then back again. Ginny's eyes widened and she turned to run but they both pulled her down onto the sand with them and began tickling her.

"See, this is why I stay well out of it?" Angelina said as she sat in the shade of the parasol with a fruity drink served inside a whole pineapple, a family recipe that she'd been making for everyone.

Audrey lifted her sunglasses and nodded, before drinking her pineapple dry.

"I hope Percy doesn't wear himself out with the girls today, I'm really in the mood for some attention once they've gone to bed."

Angelina waggled her eyebrows.

"That's the drink talking. It's why I've been forbidden to let Ginny have more than one. Harry said they have their hands full with three kids already."

"But I don't want a third!" Audrey exclaimed, sitting up in her deckchair.

"You don't have to worry. It's just those over-fertile redheads you've got to watch."

"What about Charlie?" Hermione asked as she bent over and reached into the cooling charmed area beside them and pulled out a bottle of orange juice.

Angelina leaned over Audrey and whispered so only the three of them could hear.

"I think he's been fixed!"

The three women burst out laughing and Ginny and Bill pinned Charlie down and ordered him to surrender.

"You only won because you had a girl fighting on your side!" Charlie yelled.

"Don't call me a girl!" Ginny said, putting Charlie into a headlock.

"I was talking about Bill!" Charlie wheezed through the choke-hold.

Molly was attempting to intervene with Harry and Ron's attempts to cook some fish on the grill but they were having none of it and took turns turning the fish and turning Molly away.

"Well if we all get food poisoning on your heads be it!" She huffed.

"She makes it sound as if we're deliberately trying to get this wrong!" Ron huffed.

Harry shrugged as he made his way back to the magic-made grill.

"To be fair, the only reason we're the ones doing this is because everybody else has already been banned for diarrhoetic crimes to food."

Ron laughed before suddenly remembering and shuddering.

"I think my stomach curdled remembering Hermione's muscles abomination."

"Which is why," Hermione called out from beneath the parasol, "you always have to cook."

Harry sniggered and Ron gave a tut.

"She won't even peel spuds, it's not fair, how can you ruin a potato with nothing but an enchanted peeler?"

George ran towards them, dripping wet, and held out a small fish.

"Got another one!"

Ron and Harry leaned over his hands and looked at it.

"It's dead," Ron said eventually.

"Well of course it's dead!" George huffed, "I'm hardly gonna suggest you throw a live fish on the grill so it can scream at me and scare the children."

"I don't think fish scream," Harry sniggered.

"That's because you've never put a live one in the fire," George said knowingly, "When've you had a haddock look you in the eye and scream ‘Whyyyyyyyyyy?'"

Ron snorted and took the fish.

"Well this one can be yours, seeing as you spared it from becoming Sprat of Arc."

George saluted the small fish and wiped away a make believe tear.

"It died a hero. I'll have it well done."

Arthur was watching all of them, his whole family, and felt warmth inside that rivalled the sunshine. He didn't need a photograph. He just needed more moments like this. He scanned the scene along the beach.

Everybody had come in from the sea now and was sitting in disorganised groups, Molly rubbing her namesake's hair dry with a towel, while Charlie arm wrestled with Teddy and pretended to struggle against the fake bicep the boy had morphed.

Carrying his youngest, Louis, away from the sea, Bill was laughing so hard at something the little one said that all his scars pulled tight over the contours of his face and showed up more than ever. Looking at Charlie again, letting Teddy win and grinning, widely, more relaxed than ever, Arthur decided it suited him better than all those furious expressions he wore in the formal pictures. Percy was leaning over Audrey for a kiss while George stole a sip from Angelina's drink and she squealed at him that he wasn't allowed any more...of anything!

Arthur laughed and Lucy sat in his lap and scrunched up her nose.

"Wos funny, Granddad?"

"All of you!" He kissed her and then blew a raspberry into the side of her neck. She squealed and ran to her sister.

Arthur saw Harry carrying a couple of plates and almost walking into the hole his son had dug with his cousin Rose. Ginny took the plates and pointed out the hole to him before reminding him to be more careful. Harry looked at Al and Rose, expecting him to tell them off, and he winked at them and made a big show of falling into the hole. All the children laughed at silly Uncle Harry, or silly Daddy, and he rested his chin on the side of the hole and marvelled at how far down they'd been able to dig in one afternoon.

"Quick, somebody fill it in!" Hermione called as she walked towards Ron, who was pulling off his t-shirt and throwing it aside, "Woo, he's stripping!"

"Lay off, you," Ron grinned, "it's hotter than the sun over ‘ere."

Ron had started to burn, his scars silver against the pinking skin, but he wasn't self conscious about them. He and Bill, unwittingly, were still book-ending the group. But this time it wasn't staged, it was natural, and everybody was happy and comfortable.

"Is he coming back or what?" Ron muttered as he leaned over to see if Harry was climbing out of his hold any time soon. "I've got four plates and two pairs of hands."

"I've got a pair of hands," Hermione said, waving them before her."

"So you have," Ron smiled before turning around and squatting down, "hop on and you can be my serving wench."

Hermione jumped onto her husband's back and then slapped his backside.

"Less of the wench, if you don't mind!"

Ron stood up, made sure Hermione's legs were wrapped tightly around his waist, and then handed her two plates of hot fish.

"Drop these on me and you're going in the sea, just so you know," he warned while picking up his own two plates and then calling out to the crowd, "Watch your backs, two-headed serving octopus on the move!"

"Is that my screaming fish?" George asked as Ron held out the plate to him.

"It is," Ron nodded, "with some tormented vinegar!"

Molly looked over her shoulder at Arthur and waved him over.

"Come of love, come and sit with your two Mollys."

"Yeah!" Little Molly said as she patted some sand smooth for him.

"Righty-ho, here I come."

He joined his ideal picture of the family and found that was the best part of all, because no matter how perfect a photograph...you can never step inside and enjoy the real moment it captures.



Solstice Muse




Freudian Slip :- WRITTEN BY Bookkbaby

Warnings: yaoi, boyxboy stuff here. Lime, implied lemon. May be some slight OOC on Grimmjow’s part. Some language.

Pairing: Grimm/Ichi/Grimm. (Mentioned ByaRen, OriIshi in passing.)

Disclaimer: Bleach is the property of Kubo Tite. I make no money off of this, and if you try and sue me you’ll be lucky to get pocket lint. I write for fun and amusement!

A/N: Okay, first Bleach fic but not my first fic! Please let me know if the characters are too OOC or if you have any other concrit for me. I’d be happy to hear it. Without further ado, the fic. (Not beta’d, as I have no beta. Any mistakes are mine.)

Freudian Slip

Freudian Slip


Ichigo was scowling. The expression wasn't unusual on him, but when it was mirrored by the other people sitting around the table in the Urahara Shoten, it was unnatural.

The group was silent - not even Renji spoke. Rukia sat quietly next to the red haired man, Orihime staring down at the table with a sad sort of expression. Ishida sat next to her. Ichigo, Chad, Urahara, and Yoruichi completed the circle. Immediately after rescuing Orihime, Ichigo, Chad, Ishida, Renji, and Rukia had gone to the Urahara Shoten to decide what to do about the other thing they had brought back from Hueco Mundo.

Nel had chosen to stay, as had her 'brothers'. Any one of those Arrancar would have been fine, as they had proven themselves time and time again while the shinigami struggled to rescue their friend.

It wasn’t even Aizen that they had brought back, in order to be tried for his crimes. He, Gin, and Tousen were still roaming free and likely plotting more havoc.

No, what the group of shinigami had brought back was Grimmjow.

"So, to clarify," Urahara said slowly, holding his fan open so it obscured the lower half of his face. "- Grimmjow rescued you from two Arrancar women, then kidnapped you so you could heal Ichigo, in order for Grimmjow to beat him half-dead again?"

Orihime nodded.

"And because of this, you thought he should get a second chance...?"

Orihime nodded, more slowly this time.

"He's not a bad person,” she said. "I think... he doesn't really like Aizen at all, so maybe..."

"He's not a person at all, technically." Ishida said, pressing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. "He's an Arrancar, a mostly Hollow hybrid of Hollow and shinigami."

"Soul Society won't let him live." Rukia pointed out softly. "As soon as they find out that we captured a full Arrancar alive, one of the Espada, they'll send the 12th Division in to run tests. It would be kinder to spare him that."

"We can't just let him leave either. He tried to kill Ichigo! I say we kill him and be done with it." Renji scoffed.

Rukia shot him a very pointed, very annoyed look.

"And you haven't tried to kill Ichigo before?"

The orange-haired shinigami tuned out their bickering as his thoughts turned to the problem at hand.


Sure, the Arrancar had tried to kill him more than once, but then so had most of his current friends. Ishida had almost destroyed Karakura with his stupid 'contest' while Renji had, more than once, beaten him and left him for dead. Kenpachi, though the crazy captain wasn't here, had nearly killed him the very first time they met, and seemed insistent to make some sort of attempt every time they saw each other. Byakuya, who wasn't really a friend, but who treated him like a tolerable acquaintance, had nearly killed Ichigo at least twice.

So had Urahara, come to think, with his ridiculous training to regain his shinigami powers.

Grimmjow had also saved his life. Ulquiorra's blow would have killed him, had he been left like that. Ichigo would have died if Grimmjow hadn't defied orders and brought Orihime to him. Without Grimmjow, the unofficial mission would have failed.

It was all just too confusing, even without the confusing dreams involving Grimmjow, too much skin, and a difficult problem when he woke up in the mornings. Those Ichigo could definitely deal without, especially if he was going to start seeing the teal-haired Arrancar on a regular basis, rather than whenever Grimmjow showed up so they could attempt to beat each other to a bloody, painful death.

Really, this wasn't helping Ichigo's stress level at all.

Confusing dreams aside, Ichigo believed Grimmjow deserved a second chance. Without second chances, he would have a much smaller circle of friends. Soul Society didn't really need to be informed, right...?

Ichigo thought carefully.

Maybe, if Grimmjow had some sort of information and didn't attack any of the shinigami or the humans, maybe Soul Society would turn a blind eye just this once...

Ichigo snorted.

Like that would happen. They had nearly executed a noble, one of Kuchiki blood, just because she had temporarily lent her powers to Ichigo in order for him to save his family.

No matter what Grimmjow knew, they'd use him in experiments and then slice him to ribbons when they were done.

" - but maybe Yamamoto-san will be nice and let Grimmjow-san work with us!" Orihime said brightly as Ichigo tuned back into the conversation.

Ichigo almost gave another derisive snort.

"No way. He's the Sexy Freakin' Espada. The sixth most powerful Arrancar in Aizen's army. Soul Society won't just let him help us." Ichigo said. He glanced around the small room in irritation when no one replied, taking in the wide eyes and open mouths all around the table.

Well, Chad's eyes were barely visible and his jaw was practically wired shut and no one could see Urahara's mouth anyway, but the shock was still obvious.

"What?" Ichigo demanded. "If Yamamoto was willing to execute a noble like Rukia-"

"The ... 'Sexy... Freakin' Espada'?" Renji asked in disbelieving tones. Ichigo could just picture small quotation marks around the words. Rukia snickered, despite the fact that the atmosphere of their meeting had been serious.

"Why Ichigo, I never would have guessed..." she said lightly and Ichigo's face reddened. He would have said it was anger. The others would have said it was embarrassment. It didn't take a genius to figure out who was correct - and it wasn't Ichigo.

"I did NOT say that." he protested. "I said 'sexta'. It's not my fault if your ears aren't working."

"You said 'sexy', Ichigo." Yoruichi said cheerfully, a broad grin on her face. "I can't blame you, even if he is an Arrancar. It's not like he's shy about his body-"

"I do not think that bastard is sexy." Ichigo insisted stubbornly, reddening even more as his... ahem, anger, grew more intense. It really wasn't helping that a few of the more choice scenes from his dreams decided to play behind his eyes at that moment.

"You did say 'sexy', not 'sexta', Kurosaki-kun." Urahara said mischievously. "Denial isn't convincing anyone."

"You need your hearing checked." Ichigo grumped, knowing he was going to lose this fight. "Look, it just slipped out since the words sound similar. I wasn't even thinking about Grimmjow."

That sounded almost convincing. Maybe the others would buy it...

"And who were you thinking about, Kurosaki?" Ishida asked.

Damn. Trust the fucking Quincy to ask the hard questions.

"Uh... Matsumoto!" Ichigo invented. By the looks on his friends’ faces, he could tell he hadn't convinced anyone.

Renji smirked.

"Really... 'cause I don't remember you ever being all that interested in her. In fact, I remember you kicking her out of her house after she tried seducing you so you'd let her stay at your place."

Ichigo groaned mentally. He had, after all, kicked the buxom Vice Captain out of his room way before Orihime had been kidnapped.

"You never stare at her when she runs, even though every straight man in a ten meter radius drops whatever he was doing in order to watch." Ishida added. Scowling, Ichigo looked away from the group.

"Can we just get back on topic? It was an accident, I didn't mean anything."

"Have you ever heard of a Freudian slip, Kurosaki-kun?" Urahara asked. Ichigo shook his head.

"It's when a person says something they mean, but would never actually say out loud." At Ichigo's blank look, Urahara elaborated. "Like when a girl means to tell her friend 'the new skirt is really flattering' but accidentally says 'the new skirt makes you look fatter'. The second is true, but the girl would never actually say such a thing."

"You're reading too much into it. It wasn't a freudy-whatever."

Rukia opened her mouth to comment, but Orihime beat her to it.

"Let's stop picking on poor Kurosaki-kun!" the orange-haired girl said, then turned to Ichigo with a slightly pained smile. "Grimmjow-kun's a nice person. I think it's cute!"

Ichigo buried his head in his hands and groaned and everyone else around the table laughed.

ii. the night

Ichigo scowled as he leaned against the wall.

The Urahara Shoten had closed for the night. Rukia and Renji would go back to Soul Society in the morning to plead Grimmjow's case - if worse came to worse, Grimmjow could always 'overpower' Ichigo or Chad and 'escape'. Soul Society had to be informed, though, since Grimmjow was one of the Espada and could have information important to the war.

Orihime had gone back home, as had Chad and Ishida. Urahara and Yoruichi had retired for the night. Ichigo had grabbed the short straw and had guard duty.

Sometimes, life really wasn't fair.

Especially since Grimmjow had already woken up and would not stop teasing him.

"C'mon, Ichi, you know you think I'm sexy..." Grimmjow drawled, a smirk on his face. The Arrancar was lying down on a futon Urahara had so thoughtfully provided, one big enough for two people.

Ichigo was certain Urahara had brought the double futon in just to irritate him, especially since the blond man had claimed there were no other futons and if Ichigo wanted to sleep at all he would need to share with Grimmjow.

A piece of thread was tied around Ichigo's left pinky. Grimmjow had one as well. Both were red in color. Ichigo was certain that was Rukia's influence, but again Urahara had claimed he had no more thread in his store and the pieces were only long enough to tie around their pinkies, not wrists. The thread had been imbued with kido so it couldn't be cut or removed except by the one who had tied it in the first place. The thread would also let whoever was on guard duty know if Grimmjow tried to leave, even if said guard was asleep. The only problem was that the guard needed to be in the same room for the thread to operate properly.

Ichigo had insisted the thread wasn't necessary, that he'd stay up all night to watch Grimmjow, but Urahara had immediately gone into theatrics on how Grimmjow would murder them all the moment Ichigo gave in to exhaustion and fell asleep. Yoruichi had commented afterwards how Ichigo just wanted to see the 'sexy Espada' asleep and vulnerable.

Ichigo had taken the thread to shut them up.

"Shut. Up." Ichigo growled, cursing his mouth for his earlier slip.

It wouldn't have been nearly so bad if Urahara hadn't seen fit to inform Grimmjow, of all people, about Ichigo's stupid mistake.


"So I'm stuck here until the fucking shinigami decide whether or not I'm allowed to live?" Grimmjow asked, scowling darkly. He took a small sip of some concoction Urahara had made, some medical thing Ichigo couldn't remember the name of. "And one of you bastards is going to play babysitter?"

The Arrancar made a face at the taste of the medicine, but kept drinking it at a pointed look from Rukia.

There were nods all around the room. Chad had fetched Grimmjow from Urahara's basement as soon as the group had come to a decision.

"Ichigo's on guard duty tonight." Renji told him, smirk showing he was enjoying the orange-haired shinigami's predicament.

Grimmjow shot the scowling teen a deadpan look.

"Oh, joy."

"Same to you." Ichigo shot back.

"Now, now, Ichigo." Urahara said, small smirk tugging his lips. "Don't be like that. Just a few minutes ago you were all excited to be keeping an eye on the 'sexy Espada'."

Ichigo glared at the shopkeeper as Grimmjow choked on the medicine he had been unfortunate enough to take a drink of just a moment before.

"What did you just call me?" the teal-haired Arrancar demanded, once his coughing was under control. Urahara was unaffected by the other's glare.

"It's Kurosaki-kun's name for you." he informed Grimmjow cheerfully. "Why, he called you that just before Chad here brought you to this room."

Grimmjow glanced around the room and, after seeing everyone else nod seriously, looked at Ichigo.

A broad smirk stretched across the Arrancar's face.

"Really..." he drawled.

Ichigo scowled, even as he felt his face heat up.

End Flashback

Shortly thereafter, the others had said their 'good-byes' and 'goodnights'. Urahara had stuck around just long enough to tie the two threads and direct Ichigo to the room he now sat in.

"Are you sleepy yet, shinigami? You look tired and here's this nice big bed-"

"Didn't I just tell you to shut up?" Ichigo demanded. He was actually feeling tired, since he hadn't gotten a lot of sleep the past few nights. His dreams kept waking him up.

It didn't help that Urahara had taken away all of Grimmjow's clothes and given the Espada only a pair of drawstring pants to wear. Did not help at all. Especially since the pants were slung low enough on the Arrancar's hips that Ichigo could just barely tell the other man was a natural blue. Not that he was looking.

Ichigo snapped his eyes back to the wall.

Grimmjow snickered

"Like what you see?" he asked rhetorically. Ichigo pointedly ignored him, but the Arrancar didn't get the hint. "Hm. Going shy on me now, shinigami? I'm not the one who called you sexy in front of my friends-"

"Like you have any friends to begin with." Ichigo bit out, unable to help himself. "And for the last goddamn time, it was a mistake."

"Sure it was..." the Arrancar taunted. "Mistake to fantasize about me while in a roomful of shinigami-"

Ichigo could feel a vein throb in his temple, but refused to rise to the bait. Eventually, the teal-haired man would get tired of this, Ichigo just had to stop rising to the bait-

"-though I bet you do enough fantasizing when you're alone. Does fighting me turn you on, Ichi?"

Ichigo controlled his temper. Grimmjow would get bored soon enough; he just had to wait the bastard out-

"Betcha it does. Betcha you get all hot and bothered after a good fight. Especially when you're fighting me." Grimmjow's smirk said it all. "You know you want me."

"I want you to leave me alone, shut up, and go to sleep."

"So you can watch me sleep? Aw, Ichi, never knew you had it in you to be so romantic-"

"Shut up right now or I cut out your tongue." Ichigo snapped. There was a limit to his patience and his tolerance, and Grimmjow had passed it ages ago.

"You wouldn't be threatening my tongue if you knew what it could do." Grimmjow returned. "Though I'll bet you've imagined plenty-"

With a strangled cry, patience finally snapping, Ichigo leapt at the smirking Arrancar. He fully intended to make good on his threat, or at the very least do some damage so the blue-haired bastard would finally shut up, but Grimmjow had apparently expected the tackle.

The Arrancar rolled them smoothly over the moment Ichigo landed, grabbing Ichigo's wrists and pinning them above the shinigami's head. Grimmjow's legs straddled the teen's waist, very effectively pinning the orange-haired shinigami down.

Ichigo glared and struggled against Grimmjow's hold, wiggling and bucking his hips to try and move the Arrancar off of him.

"Let me go, bastard." Ichigo demanded as his struggles proved fruitless. Grimmjow chuckled deep in his throat.

"I don't think I will. This position has all sorts of interesting possibilities."

"What the hell do you mean, you- mmphf!"

Ichigo's question was suddenly cut off by a pair of surprisingly soft pink lips. The shinigami's struggles abruptly ceased and his jaw went slack, much to Grimmjow's delight.

The teen only began to struggle again when something wet and foreign entered his mouth and touched his tongue playfully. He shook his head quickly before turning his head to the side so Grimmjow was presented with his cheek instead of his mouth as a target.

"What do you think you were doing, asshole?!" he demanded, heart pounding, as soon as he was sure his lips were safe. Grimmjow nipped lightly at Ichigo's ear, causing a shiver of what Ichigo would have said was revulsion through the teen's body.

Grimmjow would have said it was a shiver of desire, need, want. Again, it wasn't Ichigo who was right.

"Kissing you." the Sexta Espada replied easily. Ichigo tried to glare and failed miserably. It didn't help that he only had one eye to glare with, as he was certainly not about to turn his head to face the teal-haired idiot.

Grimmjow would probably kiss him again. Which was a bad thing. A very Bad Thing, he reminded himself. Grimmjow was an Arrancar, an enemy - or at least a former enemy.

Which is why kissing him would be a Very Bad Thing.

"C'mon, Ichi..." Grimmjow moved to kiss him again. Intent on avoiding the former Espada, Ichigo turned his head as far as he could away from the other man's seeking lips.

At the other's throaty chuckle, Ichigo began to suspect just how bad his position was.

The sensation of lips on his neck only confirmed his suspicions. He tried to twist his head back to protect his neck, but Grimmjow's head was very much in his way and the Arrancar wasn't moving away.

Grimmjow's lips trailed down Ichigo's neck, alternating kisses with nips. Ichigo bit his lip, not trusting himself to speak.

Opening his mouth now would probably not produce sounds telling the Espada to stop, and the last thing Ichigo wanted to do was encourage the bastard. There was a very good reason for that, he was sure, even if he couldn't remember it at the moment.

Ichigo got himself under some semblance of control and was on the verge of telling the former Espada to stop and get off him when Grimmjow finally reached the sensitive bit of flesh that joined his neck and shoulder. Instead of the angry reprimand he had planned on, a low moan escaped his mouth as Grimmjow attacked the skin. He could feel the Arrancar's triumphant smirk against his skin and he clamped his mouth shut.

None of this was helping the 'problem' that had started developing the moment the teal-haired man pinned him.

"Don't hold it in now..." Grimmjow murmured, voice husky. Ichigo's face reddened as the other man moved back to the shinigami's face, kissing along his cheek to his mouth. The teen kept his face firmly turned away, determined not to give in.

The former Espada, not the most patient of people to begin with, had apparently gotten tired of teasing. He ground down hard on Ichigo's groin, pulling another moan from the teen.

"You... bastard..." Ichigo gasped, breaking his 'no-talking' rule. Grimmjow's smirk only grew.

"But I'm a sexy bastard, aren't I?"

Grimmjow's words were punctuated with another harsh grind. Ichigo gasped.

He could feel one of the former Espada's hands run down his chest, pushing aside his gi. The man's mouth soon followed, nipping and licking Ichigo's nipples while his hand explored.

The shinigami groaned quietly, rolling his hips unconsciously so his groin brushed the ex-Espada's.

The Arrancar's second hand joined the first, yanking the gi from Ichigo's hakama. Cool air brushed past Ichigo's skin, making him shiver before Grimmjow moved back to cover the teen's lips with his own. The shinigami returned the kiss, wrapping his arms around the Arrancar's neck before his senses kicked back in.

With a cry - muffled by the other man's lips - Ichigo drew back and shoved the former Espada away. Grimmjow, taken aback, fell backwards and landed with a muffled curse on his ass.

Immediately, Ichigo followed, straddling the other man's hips and pinning the Arrancar to the floor. Grimmjow hissed as his head collided with the wood.

Ichigo seized the Arrancar's neck, lifting the other up and drawing his hand back, forming a fist.

They stayed like that for several seconds. Brown stared into blue, blue returning the glare with confidence.

Ichigo let go. He stood, moving pointedly away from the ex-Espada as he fixed his uniform.

Without looking at the blue-haired man, he spoke.

"Just go to sleep."

"Aw, Ichi, can't take a bit of teasing?" Grimmjow asked. The shinigami didn't even have warning before a set of strong arms wrapped around him from behind, pinning his arms to his side. "You always this sensitive?" Grimmjow's lips brushed the shell of his ear, words husky and low.

Ichigo struggled against the hold, ignoring the double entendre. Grimmjow continued speaking, as though he didn't notice Ichigo's attempts to free himself.

"C'mon Ichi, what's wrong with giving in just once?" One of the ex-Espada's hands dropped down to rest low on Ichigo's abs as the Hollow ground slowly and lightly against his prey.

Ichigo tensed.

"You're my enemy, Grimmjow." Ichigo stated. If he was a bit breathless, neither noticed.

"So?" the teal-haired man asked. "I'm not so much your enemy anymore, in case you hadn't realized. Try again."

"We'll always be enemies." Ichigo hissed, shutting his eyes and trying to block out all physical sensation. "You're a Hollow. I'm a shinigami. Shinigami kill Hollows."

"You saying you're going to kill me?" Grimmjow chuckled.

"If you don't let me go right now I might." Ichigo growled. He tried to ignore the sensation of Grimmjow rubbing up against him, but couldn't block it out completely. "Damnit! Let go!"

He twisted in the hold to glare at the ex-Espada, but stopped short when he saw the unusually serious expression the other wore.

"You want this." Grimmjow said seriously, his hand dropping lower to cup Ichigo through his hakama. The shinigami looked away, a choked gasp escaping his lips at the contact. "Why deny it?"

"I'm not a fucking plaything." Ichigo said heatedly. "I'm not going to be some shinigami fucktoy you can use and then forget about. I don't-"

"Somebody's got a mouth on him." Grimmjow commented mildly. He moved his hand, stroking Ichigo through his shinigami uniform. The teen gasped quietly, resisting the urge to thrust into the other man's grip. "Give in already, Ichi."

"Didn't you hear what I just said, asshole?" Ichigo demanded, voice breathy. Grimmjow lightly nipped the top of Ichigo's ear.

"Is that all you're hung up about?"

"You- you bastard-"

"Who says I'm planning on forgetting?"

Time slowed to a crawl. Ichigo could feel his eyes widen.

"Wha- what did you just-?"

"Hollows go after whatever they want. Arrancar aren't so different, 'cept we plan better." Grimmjow lowered his mouth to nip Ichigo's neck, kissing the spot afterwards. "We're better at waiting for an opportunity before striking. That's what makes us different from normal Hollows, makes us stronger."

Ichigo shuddered under the other's mouth as it began to trail down his neck.

"But... I thought-" Ichigo gasped as Grimmjow's hand increased pace between his thighs.

"You were always trying to... kill me."

"Fucking and fighting aren't that different when you're a Hollow. You've got a dead sexy glare, shinigami, especially when you're all defensive and bloody, coat ripped to shreds..."

"Grimmjow..." Ichigo moaned, finally losing the battle with his self-control - or maybe just giving in at last - and letting his hips follow the movement of the other's hand.

"Say my name again, Ichi."

"Grimm-" Ichigo's voice cut off in a choked gasp as teeth clamped down on the skin between his neck and shoulder. Vaguely, he realized that the ex-Espada must have started undressing him again.

This time, though, he didn't mind so much.

A tongue soothed the bite mark, licking and kissing it.

"That's it, shinigami."

"I'm not just - This isn't-" Ichigo tried, to say, gasps interrupting his words. He took a deep breath, trying to get himself under control for just a few minutes more. "This isn't just a one-time thing? I'm not just a handy hole to fuck?"

"You're such a woman, Kurosaki." Grimmjow muttered, but didn't move away. "No and no, does that satisfy you?"

Ichigo was about to respond hotly to the 'woman' comment, but just then Grimmjow grabbed his jaw and turned his head. Lips met with bruising force. Mouths opened and tongues began fighting for dominance, neither caring who won. The shinigami turned completely around in Grimmjow's hold, desperate to be able to touch.

Ichigo shrugged his shoulders out of his top, then reached up and tangled his fingers in Grimmjow's hair, yanking the Arrancar closer. The teal-haired man's hands were busy, yanking the top so it would come untucked and letting it fall to the floor before grabbing Ichigo's hips and grinding hard against him.

Ichigo moaned loudly, breaking the kiss.

"Giving in, shinigami?" Grimmjow asked breathlessly, smirking wickedly. Ichigo glared, knowing the ex-Espada already knew the answer.

"Shut up and kiss me."

Grimmjow laughed, hands sliding along Ichigo's hips to the teen's obi. He yanked the belt, feeling the material loosen as he leaned forward for another kiss.

iii. the morning after

Ichigo's eyes slowly opened. He blinked.

This wasn't his room.

Memories of the previous day began to come back.

He had been at the Urahara Shoten; he had been assigned to watch Grimmjow, the eternal pain in his ass...

Ichigo began to sit up, then hissed and quickly lay back down.

For once, 'pain in the ass' wasn't figurative. His entire lower back hurt, from shoulder blades down to upper thigh. It wasn't as if he was unused to waking up in the morning aching, but he had never ached before in the places he ached now. Muscle aches from fighting Hollows all night were very different from aches gained by fucking a Hollow all night.

The sound of cloth rustling next to him drew his attention to the cause of said aches.

Grimmjow looked... well, not exactly innocent, sleeping with his hair ungelled and face relaxed from his normal smirk. The Arrancar had an arm slung over Ichigo's hips, possessive even when asleep.

Ichigo let a small smile cross his face, aches forgotten for a moment.

He lifted a hand to reach for the Arrancar's face, leaning forward to kiss the teal-haired man awake, when suddenly the door behind him slid open.

"Kurosaki-kun! Breakfast is ready!" Urahara called out, then added a quiet 'Oh' a moment later. Heavier footsteps approached.

"What's the hold up-" Renji's voice complained, then suddenly cut out. The redhead must have reached the door. With a muffled groan, Ichigo closed his eyes and buried his face in the closest available object - Grimmjow's chest.

Soft footsteps sounded from the hall.

"What are you all-" Rukia was next. "-staring... at..."

"Way to go Ichigo!" Yoruichi cheered. Ichigo hadn't heard her approach, but he doubted anyone could hear her walk if she didn't want them to.

"Damn, looks like Ishida won the bet." Renji groused.

Ichigo's face heated and he was about to sit up and demand why his 'friends' were betting on whether or not he'd get laid when Grimmjow began to stir. The Arrancar shifted under Ichigo's cheek and pulled him closer, other hand lazily coming up to turn the shinigami's face towards him. Apparently not noticing their audience, Grimmjow kissed him.

It wasn't even a nice, chaste, 'good morning, how are you?' kind of kiss. It was a full-out, tongues tangling, 'I want in your pants NOW' kind of kiss, the type Grimmjow was especially good at - also, coincidentally, the only kind the former Espada knew.

Momentarily forgetting himself under that skillful tongue, Ichigo kissed back with just as much fervor until a low whistle brought him to his senses and alerted the Arrancar that they were being observed.

"The hell do you want?" Grimmjow asked the group at the door. "Breakfast already?"

"Yup." Yoruichi's smile was at least a mile wide.

"Out of idle, harmless curiosity..." Urahara started, smiling innocently. Ichigo had a very bad feeling about what was going to come out of the shopkeeper's mouth. "... who topped?"

Ichigo groaned.

Warning bells began to go off inside his head. While he wouldn't tell, he could feel the smugness radiating from the Arrancar behind him. Grimmjow would have no difficulties in revealing that bit of information.

"Obviously it was-"

Ichigo elbowed him sharply, causing the ex-Espada to break off mid-sentence with a curse.

Pity Rukia was more observant than he gave her credit for.

"So Grimmjow topped?"

"I believe that's another bet Ishida-san won." Urahara stated cheerfully. The blond man turned back to the now beet-red Ichigo and continued. "When you and your lover get dressed, breakfast will be on the table."

"Or lunch!" Rukia added helpfully, snickering.

"Probably lunch." Renji said as the two shinigami turned away from the room and headed back down the hall to the dining area.

"Don't be too loud - I don't want to have to explain to Jinta and Ururu the 'birds and the bees' until they're older!" Urahara called out as he turned and left.

Yoruichi just laughed and shut the door.

As the footsteps faded, the color faded from Ichigo's cheeks, leaving his skin tone one again normal.

"Well, that was embarrassing." Ichigo muttered. Grimmjow just smirked.

Catching sight of the expression, Ichigo narrowed his eyes.

"What do you want?" he asked. Grimmjow moved closer to the shinigami.

"Breakfast is ready, but your friends don't seem to expect us until lunch." the Arrancar purred. "We have a few hours..."

Seeing where the ex-Espada was headed with that reasoning, Ichigo tried to head him off.

"No way, my ass hurts enough from last night. There's no way-"

Ichigo was cut off by Grimmjow's lips. When they finally broke for air, Ichigo completely forgot what he had been saying.

"C'mon, shinigami, you know you want to-"

This time, Grimmjow was cut off by Ichigo's lips.

They did not emerge from the bedroom until lunch.

iv. the epilogue

Ishida had made a tidy sum of money off the bets, some of which he used to take Orihime on a date.

Rukia and Renji pleaded Grimmjow's case to Soul Society, leaving out the fact that Grimmjow was sleeping with Soul Society's substitute shinigami. Grimmjow was allowed to live, much to everyone’s surprise and delight. (Rukia was never happier that she had been camera-happy a few weeks ago and taken a lot of pictures when Renji was visiting the Kuchiki estate. Brief promises that Ichigo would fight Kenpachi if the 11th Division captain helped them out hadn’t been amiss either, though Rukia never did figure out how Renji got Ukitake, Kyoraku, Kurotsuchi, Soi Fon, and Komamura to vote in favor of pardoning Grimmjow. Unohana had also voted in favor of pardoning Grimmjow, though neither Rukia nor Renji could figure out why.)

Urahara and Yoruichi, both seeing a possible new means of income for the store, began stalking Ichigo and Grimmjow (and Renji and Byakuya, when those two came out of the closet) for the Shoten's new yaoi section.

Ichigo and Grimmjow did get Urahara to remove the kido-imbued thread, even though Rukia insisted it was the ‘red string of fate’ that had brought them together. The substitute shinigami and the former Espada ended up moving in together after a year. To this day Ichigo maintains he said 'Sexta Espada' and not 'Sexy Espada', though they all know otherwise.





H is for Helga :- WRITTEN BY Draegyn

Title: H is for Helga

Author: Draegyn

Feedback: .au

Rating: PG

Home site: check bio

Summary: Professor Potter's first history lesson: the books are wrong and Hermione is going to be remembered as the dumbest best friend in history.

Disclaimer: I have no legal rights to any Harry Potter characters; I just like to put them through hell at my leisure.

Challenge: first line challenge – 'screw the best of times; it was most definitely the worst of times'

Notes: This was written for the fourth wave of the HP/SS fest which can be found at kardasi. It is the first of the history lessons to be given and there will be two more lessons before the lecture block is finished. Be warned, Harry's language is less than elegant.

H is for Helga

(Harry Potter)

Screw the best of times; it was most definitely the worst of times. There was no other way of putting it. Harry scowled ferociously in Hermione's direction and several of the other Gryffindor girls giggled dizzily. Yes, 'other', because Harry Potter, the bane of Slytherins in general and the Malfoy, Snape and Riddle ones in particular, was currently female. And in period attire complete with a nametag to be certain that Harry was correctly identified (read: utterly humiliated).

And. It. Was. All. Hermione's. Fault!

His scowl became a Snape-worthy glare and, behind him, he could feel said teacher's hidden glee. Damn Snape and damn Hermione too! They could both rot in the seventh level of hell. Surely there was a place reserved for people who put their friends through this crap. And all for a history of magic assignment! Hermione bloody Granger betrayed Harry and turned him into a bloody girl!

Hermione was going to pay. She was right up there with Voldemort and the Dursleys on Harry's 'to-get-revenge-on' list. She couldn't do things the normal way, could she? Nooooo! In her history report on the founders, she had to do it orally, with visual aides, didn't she? And did she rope a girl into playing Helga Hufflepuff? Oh, no, of course not! Not when Harry was already such a close bloody match with what the books said she looked like. Both were short, skinny, black-haired and green-eyed. Like that didn't describe half of England… well, okay, a quarter… well, more than Harry anyway.

It wasn't his fault that he was short! Anyone locked in a cupboard for half of their life would have height issues. And his eyes, they were green, so what? Why couldn't people get over them? They did not glow with power or sparkle like bloody Dumbledore's (who was also on The List for letting Hermione do this to him). They did not prove that he was going to be a wizard on par with the founders; and why the Hell didn't the bloody founders leave any bloody portraits of themselves anyway? Surely one of them would have been a better visual aid than Harry done up in a bloody dress. At the very least, surely it would have proven that Harry did NOT look like Helga bloody Hufflepuff.

No. With his luck, Harry would've ended up being a dead ringer for Slytherin and all that heir crap would've started up again. Harry sighed miserably and tried, discretely, to loosen the corset. The damn thing was turning his internal organs into so much mush.

At that instant, adding insult to injury, Harry happened to see Ron snickering at him. Oh, did he forget to add Ron to The List? Because he was up there, way up there. What to do… what kind of punishment for a boy who did nothing while his girlfriend turned his best friend into a girl and then laughed when said girlfriend made it so that only she could break the spell? Harry was stuck doing this bloody show and tell on the life of Hufflepuff. The least interesting of the founders to boot! Otherwise, Hermione wouldn't turn him back!


If the gods hated him half as much as Snape did, then they were surely getting a laugh out of this! Snape certainly was. Hidden in a shadowy corner near the door, he was getting maximum entertainment value for this spectacle. Harry hated him.

Harry hated Hermione. Hell, he just hated the whole damned world. He wished that somebody would just put him out of his bloody misery.

"Not much is known of Hufflepuff's early life. The first written record of her is dated 998AD when she first became acquainted with the other three founders and they began the task of creating Hogwarts." Hermione was rattling off her speech in her usual lecture voice but none of their friends were yawning this time. No, getting Harry in a dress had pretty much guaranteed they'd all stay awake during her presentation. No wonder she'd gone against every tradition the houses had and not chosen Gryffindor for her topic.

"As well as the widely known antipathy of Salazar Slytherin for muggles and the traits all four founders admired, It is common knowledge that Slytherin was a widower with an infant son when he started Hogwarts, that Gryffindor greatly admired muggle swords-smithery and had a dangerous habit of enchanting their merchandise, that Ravenclaw liked puzzles and that Hufflepuff was one of the first women to push for equality of the sexes to include quidditch. But the private lives of all four founders are largely unknown. The problem is larger than the fact that there are no portraits of the four. None of them left any of their own writings to be found after their deaths. Historians have pieced what we know from secondary sources. Gryffindor's sword and Hogwarts' very layout are evidence to the conclusions I have stated about Godric and Rowena…"

Hermione very wisely avoided the issue of Slytherin's… well, issue. Pity she wasn't wise enough to have avoided provoking Harry Potter. She would pay. Hadn't she learned from all the times Malfoy, Snape, and Voldemort had tried to get one over him? Harry always came out on top. His eyes began to narrow but the damned corset distracted him from further death glares.

"The fact that Ginny is Harry's reserve on our team shows Helga's influence. This only proves that, to learn more of an enigmatic woman's life, we need to search for the clues. Obviously she was a progressive woman; one that did a lot to ensure that the written laws were absolutely equal between the sexes. Another fact about Hufflepuff was that she was unmarried in a time where women were married off at obscenely young ages. If we look at the traditional alliances of the houses, we can speculate that she and Godric were close, while Salazar was Rowena's partner. Were these pairings more personal, as well as professional? We will probably never know, but if we consider their specialities; Godric as an enchanter of inanimate artefacts and Helga was a ward-maker and curse-breaker, you can see it is not magical affinities that drew them together. Now, I have found a spell that should show us Helga's actual appearance. It's called the akin appearance curse due to the fact that it caused the creator to look like his grandmother during his wedding.

What?! Harry hadn't heard anything about this before. Even Snape was surprised. So this was not something Hermione had gotten faculty approval for.

"It can only work with the features present, so the closer the original face, the more accurate the reproduction is. This is why we have Harry here, assisting me. According to the most reliable descriptions I could find in the library, Harry is the closest I could get, with a minor adjustment of course."

She smiled as she said the last and if Harry didn't have a sinking feeling in his stomach, he would have snapped then. As it was, the laughter of their classmates was completely unheard by Harry as he realised that Hermione was about to cast an unknown curse on him, a big difference from the gender-bender hex that would've been a snap to break if she hadn't locked the bloody thing. Harry took a step away from her and Snape came into his line of sight. Even he looked uncertain, no doubt wondering if the promise of more Potter torture was worth the consequences if the spell went wrong. Harry's panic must've decided him because the sadistic prick settled back, silent and watchful, without a word.

Harry frantically glanced at Binns, but the ghost wasn't doing anything. He seemed to have turned the tables on them and decided to nap through the presentation. Did ghosts sleep? How did he wake one up? Why the hell wasn't Binns keeping an eye on his class?

Hermione pulled out her wand and a time-turner, at this Harry's reluctance solidified. He could not stand for this. Unfortunately for him, his costume tripped him up and Snape was too busy staring at him to notice what Hermione was doing.

Frantically, he struggled to untangle himself from his skirts. Did no one remember that curses never reacted normally when he was involved? Never! If someone went back through his life and checked it out, they'd find that he either didn't get hit or responded strangely. How else did they all think he'd survived the third task last year? A hex or even a jinx, okay, he was as vulnerable as the next boy, but a curse? One only had to think 'Avada Kedavra' and 'Harry Potter' in one thought to realise why it was a bad idea. For a smart witch, Hermione was being very dumb.

"Using this time-turner, we will reach back through time and impose Helga's visage on Harry for the hour the time-turner would normally take us back for. Ron? Have you got Colin's camera ready? We want to document this properly."

Harry opened his mouth to protest, Ron nodded and then it was too late for any arguing.

"Helga Hufflepuff, resem-recal-recrea!" Hermione tapped the time-turner with her wand and then pointed it at Harry. He couldn't dodge; the dress made him too slow and the wave of white light shot and hit him.

Reality went pear-shaped.

When Harry regained consciousness, it was several hours later at least. He knew this because his previously empty bladder was now full; he hadn't even opened his eyes. He didn't want to, he knew where he was. Once again, he was an inmate of the hospital wing and it was all Hermione's fault! At least Madame Pomphrey should have made her undo the gender-bender.

He groaned and it was still an uncomfortably feminine voice that he heard. He groaned again and then cursed aloud, "I'm going to bloody-well kill her!"

"Who?" It was a lovely voice, smooth, deep and beautifully cultured. Harry didn't think he knew anyone with a voice like that who would visit his hospital bed.

Spurred by curiosity, he pried his eyelids open and then blinked fuzzily. His vision on cleared a little but he still saw nothing more than a dark shape lit by the illumination of a single point of light. He struggled free of the bedclothes and fumbled blindly where the bedside table should have been.

"What are you looking for?" that same wonderful voice inquired solicitously.

"My glasses."


"Yeah, eye-glasses, spectacles, you know, glasses."

"Oh! I'm afraid they were damaged when you… fell."

Harry blinked blankly. "Didn't Madam Pomphrey or Hermione cast an oculus reparo on them?"

"No, but that will fix them will it? Give me a moment."

There was a rustling then a murmur of the spell. The dread that Harry had felt when Hermione had announced her intentions to cast a curse came back in a flood. His glasses… it was such a small oversight but one that meant something was very wrong.

Large hands placed the spectacles in his and then gently helped him put them on when his own hands trembled too badly.

The face came into focus, tanned skin, a rather large nose and intelligent but friendly black eyes all framed by long, silky dark hair. Harry jerked back and the man frowned.

"Don't worry, Child, I do not molest pretty young girls that I find unconscious in my gardens. In fact, I don't molest girls at all." He gave Harry a rather self-mocking smile and added teasingly, "I like pretty boys…"

Anxious to reassure the kind man that the thought hadn't crossed his mind, Harry replied with the first thing that came to mind. "So do I!" Harry couldn't believe he had just said that! "I mean I like men… Oh!" He was making a fool of himself. The stranger seemed amused by it at least, another thing he had in common with another man of Harry's acquaintance. Harry horrified himself by blushing but it was not because as soon as he was able, he was going to undo Hermione's bloody hex so that he would be male and, thus, attractive to this man. "No!" He definitely didn't want to think that! "I mean, you just look a lot like my potions teacher." In fact, if Snape had ever left his dungeons long enough to get a tan, grew his hair another foot or so and maybe washed it too, they would have passed for twins. As it was, they could have been very similar looking brothers.

The man winked. "Ah, you're lucky to be taught by such a handsome fellow then."

Harry had never thought so before but it appeared that he'd need to rethink a few things. Snape was still a bloody git though.

"Anyway, as I said before, I found you in my garden yesterday morning with traces of a temporal portal still discernable. I am afraid you are a long way from home, Child. Oh, excuse me; my name is Salazar, Salazar Slytherin."

Harry felt he had the right to be a little shocked. He was a thousand years in the past with a man that rivalled Voldemort for the title of history's greatest dark wizard. He would not have expected the kindness. Well that and the evidence that Voldemort was not Slytherin's only heir. Absently, Harry wondered if Snape knew about this as he responded automatically, "And I'm H…"

"Helga Hufflepuff," Slytherin interrupted, holding up the nametag Harry had been forced to put on when this whole mess had started.

Taken aback by this new development, Harry hastily thought about being stuck as a girl, then he thought about being transported into the past and then he thought about the case of mistaken identity. Then he thought some more and really hoped he was wrong.

Salazar Slytherin was watching him closely.

Harry was going to kill Hermione.

Imagine the son of your childhood tormentor, the current bane of your existence. He's short, scrawny and impossibly scruffy. He is annoyingly earnest and righteous and has the habit of trying to get himself killed through his various misadventures. He wastes what little native intelligence and talent he possesses and it's questionable whether he'll graduate or get himself killed first.

Now imagine that same brat of a boy turned into a girl. It is a look that he would wear quite well if it weren't for the sulky expression and the birds nest thatch of hair that no real girl would ever countenance. Then imagine him in a rather elegant dress that kept tangling between feet that were all too clumsy on the ground. Finally, imagine him, complete with dress, forced to stand in front of his peers, vulnerable to their ridicule, while one of his hangers-on rhapsodised about how much he looked like a woman. It was a beautiful sight. It had almost had Severus Snape rolling on the floor in hysterical hilarity.

It had made working with these miscreants worthwhile. It had made the humiliation of his childhood bearable. It had, in fact, made his entire decade. Unfortunately, Albus was going to have his head for it.

Severus had been enjoying himself. It was a pity he had not reacted faster to Granger's little surprise so that he could continue to do so. Pity, because when he had ignored his misgivings he had let her do possibly the most foolish thing he had ever witnessed of her, and she was one of Harry Potter's little co-conspirators. In his defence, according to his fellow professors, Granger was normally a reliable student that could be trusted not to foul anything up too badly. She had also turned Harry Potter into a female and then orchestrated today's farce and for that, Severus would have given her a lot of leeway.

Would have, he really meant that he already had, because, unbeknownst to Potter, he had caught the miserable brat's two little followers in flagrant dishabille on Valentine's Day. Granger, showing some rather Slytherin qualities herself, had bargained with him – the utter humiliation of the bane of his existence in exchange for overlooking her little misdemeanour. Suspension or better yet, expulsion for Granger and Weasley, or humiliation for Potter. It had been a difficult decision to make, but one that he had not regretted.

Until now.

For the first few seconds after the spell took effect, the class was frozen in shock. For that matter, Severus, himself, was reluctant to believe the evidence of his own eyes. A handful of seconds after that, Granger's face paling in panic held the little monsters' attention. Then the brainless mob seemed to realise for themselves that Potter was not meant to vanish. It was only Severus' glare that held them back from rioting. He stepped forward and was about to dismiss the lot of them when, exactly twenty-one seconds after he had vanished, Harry Potter reappeared.

A very different Harry Potter at that, but undeniably Potter for all of the changes. A couple of inches taller, a few feet more hair and a lot more power with a master's control of it, this Potter was an entirely different proposition from the fifteen year-old boy that had just disappeared. What had returned to them was a mature, if androgenous, man and Snape found that he approved of the changes.

Or he would when he could think about them. While Severus had briefly been distracted, Potter had efficiently examined the class and then fixed his gaze on Granger. Apparently those green eyes were harder to meet now because Granger had looked away after only a moment. And Potter was smiling too, that smile had always made Severus wary and that was before it had gained that… edge.

"Hermione? Am I back in the nineties now?"

And if that was not a telling question, then Severus would eat his cauldron.

Granger blinked. Evidently she had understood the import of the question as well. Just as evidently, she had missed all of the danger signals that Severus was receiving because she looked up and said, "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry. I don't know what… eep!"

Idiot girl. It was only Severus' quick reflexes that had caught Potter before the boy… man had finished his lunge. They struggled briefly while the class gaped like fish. Luckily, for all that Potter had matured and filled out, and he had done so quite nicely from what Severus could tell as he held the man, Severus was still the larger and, physically, the stronger of the two. Potter seemed to realise it too because, showing unheard of common sense, he gave in and stopped fighting Severus.

Watched avidly by his classmates, the new and improved Potter leaned back against Severus' chest and addressed Hermione very calmly for someone being restrained by the dreaded potions master. If Severus hadn't known better, he'd almost say that the man didn't mind it at all.

Conversationally, Potter addressed the girl, "Hermione, you are going to pay for this and I've had twenty-one years to think up some good ways of doing it."

"T… twenty-one?!" There were shocked exclamations around the room.

Severus sneered over Potter's head. Imbeciles. It had been obvious from the moment he reappeared that the brat was not a child anymore. What did they think had happened? He disappeared and reappeared to and from nowhere and the changes that happened between were a coincidence? Bah! Potter had evidently evolved a brain and grown up, though not enough that Severus was not tempted to rest his chin on the brat's head while he watched the show. Would that the rest of these cretins followed suit.

As was only to be expected, they seemed too interested in staring to think. Potter, on the other hand, seemed to be thinking furiously and whatever was running through his mind was angering him further. Severus could feel the man tensing and he tightened his hold in case Potter became homicidal again. He glanced over o the other students. "Go on, get out. Go to your next class and not a word of this or I'll have you all testing Longbottom's potions for the rest of the year." The threat got them moving but would not keep them subdued forever. Weasley and Granger remained and no sooner than the door had closed behind Finnigan, then Potter exploded again.

"Yes Hermione! Twenty-one years, Hermione! In the past, Hermione!" The words were scathing and Granger seemed to shrink back into her hair under their onslaught.

Potter had learned to use his voice as a weapon in those years and Severus was as interested in seeing him use it as he was in hearing what happened to the brat.

"You sent me to the bloody past, Hermione! Was it not enough that you made me a girl? Obviously not! Forcing me into a dress? Nope! Making me stand in front of the class like that? Of course not! You. Had. To. Curse. Me!"

The way the last few words were bitten off suddenly made Severus understand why he had been uneasy as soon as the spell had been mentioned. Potter and possibly life threatening curses… there was a reason Severus had not mixed the two in the five years he had taught Potter. And it was not that he had not been tempted.

"And guess what, Hermione! You sent me to the past! Your wonderful CURSE sent me back a thousand years! To the Dark Ages! AS A GIRL!!"

Severus could not help himself, he snorted but Potter's furiously hissed, "Shut up Snape!" made him restrain the laughter trying to break free. But really, who would not laugh about this knowing Potter and his ability to get through such misadventures practically unscathed. This one would really have tested his luck too. Still, here he was whole and apparently the better for it.

"As a girl, Hermione!" he repeated, "I was a girl and stuck that way until I found a way to break your bloody lock!

Granger had locked the change? And Potter had broken it? Severus wondered if he should be impressed and with who. Locking a spell was almost impossible to do; the more complicated the spell you wanted to lock, the harder it was to do so. Breaking a correctly cast lock was beyond impossible, it was unheard of.

"I didn't regain consciousness for over a day after I got there! Girl, Dark Ages, defenceless, is any of this sounding any alarms for you? Because it certainly hit me hard when I realised one of my best friends had sent me back to a time and place where women were property and I could have been raped and killed. Such a cheerful thought, don't you think?"

Granger was about to fall over and even Weasley was starting to catch on. Happy that he seemed to have gotten his point across, Potter stopped belabouring the issue and calmed down a little.

"However, I was lucky. I landed in the garden of a wizard who did not take advantage of me while I was unaware."

That was an interesting stipulation. Severus wondered if Potter was aware he had made it and, if he had, it had been intentional.

"Not what I expected of Salazar Slytherin. Where were the dungeons? Where were the cauldrons of bubbling evil? Not that he couldn't be a right git when he was of a mind to be, much like Snape here."

That was unexpected. Very interesting too. Severus wondered what first hand knowledge of Slytherin was going to do when it got out.

"In fact, history seems to be wrong on a great many counts where the founders are concerned. Slytherin didn't hate muggles. He hated Christianity, which is quite a big difference when you think about it. Irrational bigotry on one hand, versus quite a logical fear of fanatical superstition on the other. It's unfortunate for all concerned that generations of pureblood elitists who've been sorted into Slytherin don't get the distinction."

Severus never thought it would happen. He agreed with Potter. Ragnarok was coming.

"Oh, and Hermione? There was nothing between Salazar and Rowena. It was Godric that panted after her. Hell, that's why this place is such a maze; we all knew she wanted to be able to lose him in five minutes or less. Randy bugger that he was."

Severus smirked.

"Of course Rowena wasn't much better. If she wasn't such a delicate…" there was a world of scorn there, "Lady, she could have bloody well gotten up and lent the rest of us a hand with the dirty work."

Severus blinked at Potter's wording. Surely not…

"If she hadn't made such a bloody fuss about her fragile health then maybe Godric wouldn't have felt the need for his collection for sharp things every time someone looked at her cross-eyed. Oh, and Hermione? There was never a chance of anything happening between her and Salazar. She would've expected hearts and flowers and Salazar preferred his bed partners with a little more common sense and a lot less melodrama."

"He was with Hufflepuff then?" Weasley interrupted stupidly.

Severus swore that he could feel Potter shaking with amusement. That intrigued him even more with the new Potter as, from what he could see, none of it was shown on the other man's face. It looked like he was taking the Weasley brat seriously. Potter shook his head quite soberly and Severus knew he was playing with the two teens. If he hadn't been, then his voice would not have been so bland when he informed them, "Slytherin liked boys."

The Gryffindors gasped in shock and Severus sneered scornfully. Innocent Gryffindor idiots. Two of them at least, the one in his arms was not very Gryffindor anymore. It made Severus very interested as to the way Potter had discovered that information, not to mention that Potter had not really answered the question, either. Curious that. Severus considered the facts and formed a very… intriguing conclusion. Releasing Potter, he turned the man around an arched an eyebrow before asking deviously, "What about Helga then, Potter, what gossip would you spread about the fourth founder?"

Potter merely looked at him blankly, which annoyed Severus. He had always enjoyed getting under the brat's skin and he was not about to give up one of his few pleasures in life now that said brat had apparently gained a drop of maturity. Potter-baiting had apparently become more intellectually challenging. Severus found himself strangely excited.

"Well, Potter? No rumours to tarnish her reputation as you are for the other three? Even your precious Gryffindor is not safe from you so why is Hufflepuff exempt? Perhaps there is more to this than you are willing to tell us?"

The green glare was impressive now but Severus knew something that, considering his current silence, the man would prefer he did not and he was too Slytherin not to take advantage of it. He wondered absently if Slytherin had ever found out for himself how much fun harassing Potter could be and rather thought he had. If even a fraction of his reputation was accurate then Slytherin had no doubt left Potter with many interesting tales to tell of their association.

"Oh let me guess then, Potter… annoyingly outspoken, loved quidditch… I would not be surprised if she liked girls. That would not have been comfortable for her back in those times."

Potter stared at him stonily before something seemed to occur to him. He smiled that dangerous smile and Severus could only smirk wider. It had been some time since he had been able spar verbally with an equal so… frankly, as it were. The other teachers were depressingly straight-laced. His smirk faltered when the other man stepped towards him.

"Do you believe in karma, Snape?" He didn't give Severus the time to answer, instead he forged ahead without pause. "I do and do you know what? You have it in spades. I know your weaknesssss." The sibilant was a long, drawn out hiss.

No! Severus refused to even consider that the brat might be telling the truth.

The man leaned even closer, rising to his toes so that his mouth almost touched his ear. Then the infernal brat began hissing in parseltongue.

How did he know that..?

The hissing did not stop and, despite his better judgement, Severus was listening.

How did he know that?

He could feel his eyes glazing over but still the man continued his serpentine monologue.

How did he know that!

Harry stopped and Severus stumbled back a step. There were spots of colour burning on his cheeks. He could feel them, but he was helpless to do anything about them. Dazed, he staggered from the classroom and collapsed against the wall, out of sight of the three inside. Once he no longer had to concentrate to keep standing, he found his ability to think returning.

Behind him, he heard the three speaking. He strained his ears and shamelessly eavesdropped.

"Harry, what did you say to him?" Weasley sounded shocked. Well he should and he hadn't understood what Harry was saying.

Severus could feel the amusement that Harry felt and, for once, felt no anger because of it. Damned brat, he was softening him up.

"Not something I'll repeat to your virgin ears, Ron," Harry remarked archly.

Damned right. If he had even tried, Severus would make sure that he never walked again. Of an age with him or no, Harry wasn't too big for Severus to administer a good hiding too.

"Harry!" Granger sounded scandalised. Hypocrite. After what Severus had caught her and Weasley doing on Valentine's Day, she really didn't have a leg to stand on. "He's a professor!"

"So was I, Hermione, and, with luck, I will be one again shortly. If I remember right, we just lost this year's defence teacher. Dumbeldore'll probably be glad to give me the job."

As Severus suspected that Albus had been keeping the spot open for Harry anyway, the old fool would no doubt be ecstatic.

"What?" Granger's voice was even shriller than usual.

Harry's was becoming impatient. "Do I have to spell it out for you? You sent me back in time. I was found unconscious with a nametag!"

Severus could almost see comprehension rolling slowly over the two as Harry spelt it out for them.

"It was five years before I could break the spell Hermione. I spent the first couple of them under the protection of Salazar Slytherin! Being a parselmouth definitely gained his attention and it let me finish an apprenticeship. I got the reputation of being hardworking because I achieved mastery before I was twenty. I got the reputation of being loyal because I loath traitors and because I stuck by Salazar's side despite his reputation. Even then it was pretty bad. He enjoyed it though, he was like Snape in that…"

Harry sounded quite fond of both Severus and Salazar, a thought that dumbfounded Severus almost as much as the whispered Parseltongue.

"Do you get it yet? A female acquaintance of Salazar Slytherin known for her loyalty and work ethic, who am I?"


"Yes, 'oh'. And that reminds me, Hermione…" There was a sudden flare of light from within the room and then two shrieks of dismay before Harry, quite a bit more cheerful, spoke again, "Just be grateful that this one is merely timed and not locked. Now I'm off to see Dumbledore. Have fun seeing life from the other side."

He walked out the door, the shouts of Granger and Weasley muffled when he shut and locked it. Then he regarded Severus thoughtfully. "No one will believe it you know," he said eventually

Severus surprised himself by laughing. When he recovered his composure, he smirked at the man. "Enough will," he promised evilly, "Should I choose to convince them. After all, it is Harry Potter we're talking about and it's more than obvious that something happened to you." He gestured mockingly at the grown man.

Harry smiled back in challenge. "Are you willing to risk it, ssssSeverus?" he almost hissed, deliberately reminding Severus of what he could do to him simply by being what he was, a parselmouth. "I knew you had to at least understand it and there's too much of Salazar in you for spoken parseltongue not to drive you wild."

The truth of that statement infuriated Severus but excited him too. The implications…

"If I want, I have you by the balls!"

That stopped Severus cold and he narrowed his eyes at the brat. "Did you play with Salazar like this?"

A rueful expression settled over Harry's face. "For a small while. It was fun and he wouldn't retaliate by actually hurting me."

Severus sneered. "And when he learned you were not a fragile female but an impertinent brat of a boy?"

It was Harry's turn to battle burning cheeks and embarrassment but, for all that, there was no resentment in the man. In fact, the brat seemed remarkably comfortable with the implications. "True, but that was then, this is now."

"You do realise that this means war?"

Harry's challenging smile became a triumphant smirk all too reminiscent of his Gryffindor beginnings but his eyes were gleaming in emerald anticipation. "I wouldn't have it any other way, ssssSeverus," he hissed in parseltongue.

Despite himself, Severus had to take a deep, steadying breath. "Let the games begin then."

Harry laughed and began to saunter off, down the corridor. "I'll be seeing you around then, ssssSeverus."

Severus watched him and his graceful stalk until they disappeared around the corner. Thank god the brat was not a student here anymore. He did not think he could bear it. Severus smiled to himself contentedly and glided off stiffly towards his dungeons. Oh yes, let the games begin.