Know a Dirty Word
When Ash came to, she only knew and cared about the fact that her head was pounding. And it was hurting really bad.
Also, apparently she was on something really warm and comfortable because she didn't want to move.
Then she became suspicious and moved her head to see Cyrus quietly laying there, stiff as a board and attempting to regulate his breathing.
"What are you doing?" she asked lazily.
His face twitched, and she found that both cute and amusing. His predicament wasn't that bad. She was just apparently using him as a pillow, which wasn't too different from all the times he'd snuggled up to her (even if it had been in sleep).
"Trying not to move," he said stiffly. At her raised eyebrow, he admitted at least part of the problem, which was a surprise for her to know he'd been considering this particular notion. "I didn't want to wake you," he confessed. "I was attempting to make sure I kept as still as possible so I did not disturb your sleep."
She was kind of touched actually. His consideration of her was surprising and not something she would have thought he would come to care to think of, or at least not yet. Hell, she could even say that she hadn't expected him to ever think of her consideration, because with his personality and his usual beliefs it just didn't seem likely. Perhaps he really was trying and perhaps he really meant it when he said he was going to do his best to change himself and his outlook.
She moved up slightly from him and looked around, missing the flash of disappointment on his face before it became neutral again. She noted they had somehow made their way back to the library, which was looking a little worse for wear than before. It was probably her fault, and probably a cause of her first time drinking and becoming drunk.
Arceus, she was never doing that again.
Well, she knew herself enough to know she'd say things like that and end up still probably doing it again later on, so she wasn't going to hold herself to that.
"Cyrus, do you remember what happened and what I did?" she asked curiously, starting to sit up fully and move away from him.
"…I was fully sober, so yes."
"Well, damn. I didn't do anything too crazy, did I?"
By the pinkish tint on Cyrus' face, she probably did do a lot of crazy things and probably a lot of it to do with him. He wouldn't have such a telling face otherwise.
"Yeah, I thought so," she muttered, getting up slowly.
She wobbled on her feet, and Cyrus was quick to get up and make sure to steady her. His hands felt warm on her arms, and she just wanted to lean on him.
"Thanks," she said quickly, then started to remember a little bit of what she'd done earlier. "Um, let's go find Harry, okay? I want her to try my apple pie, since you gave it your approval earlier. I was trying to find her earlier, but ran into Giovanni and that's when I got drunk. 'Course I went here to meet you and that went wrong too, didn't it?" she grumbled at that last part, already heading towards the library's exit.
"It wasn't that bad," he said suddenly, catching her attention and surprising her. She was further surprised when he smiled briefly and said, "I was rather entertained."
She laughed aloud. "I finally manage to open you up, have I? Perhaps I should get drunk more often!"
"Please don't," he deadpanned.
She snickered at him, though she was wondering at the odd stillness and silence in the air. She knew the place was huge, but she hadn't thought it would feel and sound this way. And it hadn't when she'd first got there, despite Harry's muteness and the few people that were there at all.
It seemed so much livelier before, that this strange change made her uneasy.
"Is it just me or does it seem way too quiet and dead around here?" Ash asked hesitantly.
Cyrus noted it too. "No, I also find everything too strangely silent. And I have not seen or heard anyone but ourselves. It is a large area, so that maybe it but…at least some echo of something, in some interval, would have happened by now."
"Good, so I'm not being paranoid," Ash was relieved that she wasn't alone in her feelings. "Do you think something happened?"
"We shouldn't jump to conclusions," Cyrus tentatively said. "We'll look around a bit more. After all, we've both agreed this is a big place."
"I'm just not so sure," she admitted, feeling her gut tell her something was wrong. "My instincts are telling me to be wary and worried, and they're usually not wrong."
Cyrus nodded slowly. "If we can't find anyone in at least an hour, or anything that could tell us what's going on or where everyone is, then we'll figure something out and try to do something about it."
"Promise?" she asked him, looking at him imploringly and taking him aback by how she had actually looked to him and by how she was actually counting on him. He nodded and she smiled widely, coming over to him and hugging him gently.
It made him feel strange, but it was a pleasant strangeness he couldn't help question and know he wasn't used to it.
"Hey, Pikachu's been off since we've got here," Ash said and he noticed they had finally reached the kitchens. He saw what she was talking about, with Pikachu lethargically laying on the floor near the pokémon's food area, with Harry's Glaceon comfortingly laid up next to him and Giovanni's Persian nuzzling the electric pokémon's head.
Ash worriedly strode over to Pikachu, kneeling down by him and petting his head.
"Hey, what's up, Pikachu? Are you okay?" she worriedly brought Pikachu into her arms.
"Pika…" Pikachu said weakly.
"Cyrus, what's wrong with him?" she asked him in a panic.
Cyrus grimaced. Of course. Ash would be the only one who didn't really know about the separation of the Regions and Mainland. He came over to her and checked Pikachu's head with his hand.
"He just needs to get used to the Mainland pressure," he mumbled. Ash looked at him in confusion, so he elaborated. "You've seen Sirius' initial reaction to your Pikachu, right? You haven't been out of this manor yet, so you probably haven't seen the outside world of the Mainland, but you'd probably notice the lack of pokémon around."
Ash looked at him in surprise at that. "What, really? Why?"
"For the most part, the Mainland and the Regions are part of the same world," Cyrus started vaguely. "However, to travel back and forth to the Regions and the Mainland, it's more difficult than one would think. That's because of a temporal rift in the area surrounding the Regions, which sort of puts the Regions on a separate plane of existence that allows it to have the land be larger than would be possible for it to fit in with the rest of the world."
"Is this like the Bermuda Triangle or something?" she asked hesitantly. At his raised eyebrow, she almost pouted. "I do know about that of the outside world, thank you."
"Maybe, if the Bermuda Triangle theory could actually be proven," Cyrus said dismissively, answering her question. "In any case, the rift makes it harder on those from the Regions, most especially pokémon, to be in the Mainland, unless you'd been born here or have been frequently in these parts that your body had adjusted and can handle the atmospheric change. Likewise, it is the same for Mainland natives going into the Regions. Pokéballs help pokémon not feel the effects and can also help them adjust."
Obviously, by the look on Pikachu's face, they could already tell his answer to that.
"Yeah, I know. No reason in the world will ever get you into a pokéball, buddy," Ash smiled weakly, cuddling Pikachu to her. "So you just got to suck it up and get used to this place."
He hesitantly came over and joined her by the floor. Harry's Glaceon moved towards him and gracefully leaped onto his lap, while Giovanni's Persian lay down a small distance away and watchfully kept an eye on them as he relaxed on the floor.
"My pie got wasted," Ash said suddenly, pouting to herself.
Cyrus' lips twitched. "I'm sure Harry would have appreciated your gesture and would have loved the flavor. And we can always just share it between the two of us now, so it won't go to waste."
"Okay," she agreed, feeling her stomach growl. She laughed at herself as he rolled his eyes, getting up while carefully putting the Glaceon onto the floor. He retrieved the apple pie that Ash had been so eager to want to show off to Harry, with a few forks.
"We're going to eat straight from it then?" she asked in amusement.
Cyrus, already having sat down, looked to where the plates where and then back at Ash, who had settled close to him and grabbed a fork from him for herself.
"Yes," he said simply, inching just a bit closer. She hid her smile.
"I still can't help but feel odd about everyone having seemingly vanished on us," Ash grumbled. "You'd think they'd leave a note at least or something."
They thought on that.
"Wait a second, where are the likely places that a note could be found?" she asked excitedly.
"After we eat, we should recheck the library and then see to Giovanni's study and office," Cyrus suggested. "Perhaps we may find a clue then."
Ash was relieved that he seemed so calm about all this and had managed to clearly think things out, because if she was being honest she really was feeling extremely anxious about things right then. Something was really off, she could just tell.
She really just hoped she was wrong though.
Archer sat there with a stoic face, continuing to watch furiously as Harry continued to struggle from her chains.
'Patience,' he told himself. He had to be patient.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He was good at waiting things out. This time shouldn't be any different. It couldn't afford to be any different.
Archer frowned deeply as he read over the paper, Harry having outlined a plan that she wanted him to go through with in the case things went the way she suspected it would.
"I don't like this," he said firmly.
Honestly, he hadn't been sure or happy with what Harry had been thinking of then, and he sure as hell wasn't happy now. He knew, for Harry, that she wouldn't tolerate her godson spending a second more in that place, and being left there any longer than she could help it. There was no time to waste and they had to be quick.
She was also aware this time that there was probably consequences and that there was a more than likely chance they wouldn't escape unscathed. She'd learned from the last time with Sirius, but she was still stubborn and overprotective enough to rush in and want to save someone she cared for. Only this time, she was conscious of the fact that things could and would go spare on them. The secondary difference from last time was that she could at least plan for that.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked her.
She nodded unwaveringly.
'No more chains,' she mouthed determinedly.
When they'd been caught, Archer still felt confident enough that they could escape. He could see Harry didn't and that she'd been prepared to send her godson out of there, and the look she sent him asked for him to help out. He was still sure that he and the Armatix handgun he had on him (and currently still had on him) could have taken the group out, but Teddy had been their first priority and Harry had predicted that at some point they would have been confronted.
She wanted to be caught.
It made him balk when he came across that part of the plan, and it still did as he forcefully made himself go through with it. She had asked him with her eyes, at the same time as she asked for him to help make sure Teddy manage to safely escape, that this was the time for them to enact their other plan. Because just the right push and, as Rufus had noted, Harry's magic would break through to the surface.
And more than that, every restraint they'd put onto her, and all of them would become undone.
Harry just had to suffer through all this for that to happen, and Archer hated that the most about this plan.
'I just want to really feel again,' Harry gave him a muted smile. 'I don't want to be half a person anymore.'
But he swore that as soon as this was over, he'd put some bullets in people's heads.
Ash muttered under her breath as she continued to pilfer through the library in some attempt to find a clue to everyone's whereabouts.
"I know we're newcomers and had just come here, but they couldn't have just forgotten that we were here, had they?" she asked Cyrus grumblingly.
"We were incapacitated in here earlier, so they could have decided to leave us alone," Cyrus replied thoughtfully.
Ash threw up her hands in exasperation. "But no note or anything?"
"We should check Giovanni's study," Cyrus brought up and Ash reluctantly agreed, following him out the door.
"Hey," she tugged on his sleeve. "I know Pikachu's feeling horrible in this place, but how come you or I'm not affected?"
"I've been here a few times, enough for my body to have become familiarized with the atmosphere changes," Cyrus admitted.
"But not enough," she observed shrewdly, leaning into his space and examining the light sheen of sweat on his temples and the strain in his eyes. "And I'm guessing like Arceus' realm, my Aura thing's doing something to help me here as well."
"Most probably," he muttered, taking a more shakier breath than usual. "There are better times for me here than others, but at the moment, I believe the strain is more apparent. May I rest when we reach Giovanni's study?"
She furrowed her eyebrows. "Of course. You don't have to ask me that."
"I didn't want to upset you for not helping…"
Ash huffed and grabbed his arm, pulling him along to the rest of the way to Giovanni's private office, where they entered to find it empty as well. Ash brought Cyrus over to a chair in front of the office desk, and after began to look around curiously.
"Yeah, I don't think we'll find a note around here either," Ash said. "It would be on the desk or something too. Plus, if I tore this place up, I have a feeling you'd be out one girlfriend and I'd be ten foot under."
She missed Cyrus flushing red as she called herself his girlfriend, too busy trying to think what to do next. Her attention was caught by an odd-looking stone bowl on Giovanni's desk, strange carvings on it bringing her closer to it. She noticed the silvery liquid inside and was about to touch it, when Cyrus snatched her hand.
"It's probably wise not to touch unknown substances," he advised her warily, wondering if this was what Cynthia had meant when she'd told him this girl was a hazard magnet. The Sinnoh Champion had a great many things to say to him about Ash Ketchum that stuck in his head, despite her non-presence physically in his life then and supposed to be a non-presence to him in general.
"Right," she said sheepishly.
However, it glowed slightly anyway and all of a sudden it had somehow thrown out two individuals that Ash and Cyrus recognized after that strange appearance as Giovanni and Sirius.
"What the hell was that?" Ash tried not to freak out, but it was a very hard thing.
However, neither man answered her and Cyrus only caught the aggravated movement, enough time for him to leap closer to Ash and pull her out of the way as Giovanni angrily snatched up whatever was in reach on his desk and throw it at the wall, smashing it to bits. Sirius was looking equally angry, tensed up and face frozen in a snarl as his hands clenched up.
"Are we interrupting something?" Cyrus stoically interrupted, subtly squeezing a shaking Ash's arms and pulling her closer to him.
Their attention swerved to the couple, and it was rather intimidating to have two furious gazes locked onto you. Giovanni forcibly took a deep breath, scowling as he faced them again.
"Is there something either of you need?"
Ash regained her bravado and took a step forward. "We've been looking for everyone all day. I don't remember seeing anyone since we saw that Archer guy come the night before last. I don't remember much that night, but I can guess I passed out sometime later. Cyrus and I woke up in the library this morning, and have been trying to figure out where everyone has been all day. I guess you two were in a magic bowl?"
"Pretty much," Sirius raised an eyebrow, but his straight face made his joking answer not match and Ash just got more confused. But he had been joking though, right?
Giovanni frowned. "You haven't seen Archer or Harry around at all?"
At their negative answers, he grew worried. He grabbed his phone and started to call Archer's, growing increasingly worried when he was getting no answer. Finally, it was answered and he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Archer, where are you and do you have Harry with you?" he demanded immediately.
"I'm sorry, but he's not here," an unfamiliar voice answered hesitantly.
Giovanni gripped his phone tightly. "Who is this?" he growled, causing the others to look at him in alarm at his tone and his words.
"My name's Rufus Fudge," and Giovanni recognized the name as one of Archer's contacts in relation to Harry. "Um, Archer apparently left me his phone and specific instructions on what to tell you. I-I just got here and was about to call you…"
Giovanni glanced at the others briefly before taking deep breaths to calm himself.
"What did he say?" Giovanni asked neutrally, while putting his phone on speaker.
"He said to inform you that he and Harry have gone off to save her godson, who had been kidnapped by the Ministry. Also, that –per Harry's instructions –if there was an opportunity presented, that they were supposed to be caught."
"What?!" Sirius yelled, straightening up and glaring at the phone in Giovanni's hand.
There was silence on the other end, causing Giovanni to impatiently prod the other.
"She theorized that she could push the restraints on herself just a little bit further, and that eventually she'd be able to break them one by one until she would be able to be free of them," Rufus said quietly. "She thought that the people who'd held her captive would unknowingly help push that limit over the edge, even if she was under duress."
While Ash and Cyrus were lost and confused, Sirius was cursing up a storm. Giovanni had become scarily silent, eyes completely black in fury.
"He also wrote down to tell you that he'd already, on your behalf, had informed a 'Ariana' to begin transferring agents from the Regions to this side of the rift. He doesn't know the exact amount of time it'll take for a sufficient amount of Rockets agents to be formed together, nor of how long it will take Harry and he to finish."
Giovanni gritted his teeth before tersely replying. "Thank you for informing me of this. Is that all?"
"Um, there is one more thing…I currently have Harry's godson with me. Should I continue to hold onto him?"
Giovanni was already close to the end and clearly had no more patience to spare, as could be seen by everyone else, so Ash took the initiative to stride over and pluck the phone from Giovanni's hand.
"Hold him for now. Myself and a friend of mine will be traveling there to retrieve him and bring him here for when Harry comes home," Ash cheerfully spoke into the phone. "Oh, and I'm Ash, a friend of Harry's! Anything else?"
"Good, talk to you when I see you!"
Ash hung up, looking to see Giovanni closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose, clearly wanting to lash out. She threw his phone at him, hitting his shoulder before falling to the ground. He angrily faced her, but she frowned back.
"Getting angry isn't going to help Harry," Ash told him steadfastly. "If you want to help her, then pull yourself together and be the Rocket Boss I know you are."
Giovanni held her stare for a few more seconds, before his jaw clenched and he nodded. Cyrus also, surprisingly, began to help Ash calm Giovanni down and offer help.
"She's right," Cyrus added on. "You are, irritatingly enough, the Team Boss to be really feared. Also, you know your subordinate and your wife. Archer is supposed to be intelligent and capable, is he not? Harry is also someone who seems more than able to handle herself. I don't think you actually really need to worry about them too much, and put your focus towards –to what your subordinate seemed to be hinting –in organizing some sort of strike force for whatever it is the two of you are planning."
"And, like I said, Cyrus and I have Harry's godson. That part of everything is settled so at the least her godson is safe and sound, and will soon enough be home here. Harry and Archer are currently finishing off their own plans and there's really nothing we can do to contribute on that end, but be on standby. I guess you've now got your part of the whole plan to do," Ash finished off.
As much as Giovanni wasn't too happy to leave things be with Harry and Archer, he acknowledged their words as logical.
"In the meantime, I'm going to be trying to locate or at least find out what happened to my friend Remus," Sirius interrupted, a sour look still on his face. "From Harry's memories, I know my niece died in childbirth, but Harry didn't have a clue what happened to him aside from the fact the Ministry made sure he couldn't be with his son."
"Alright, I assume you all need a car?" he asked them. "The three of you are free to choose any in the garages attached to the manor."
He, on the other hand, had to call Ariana and find out the current situation on her end.
Harry felt faint and could barely move. She knew when she came up with this idea, that it was dangerous and might not even work, but…Rufus had said her magic was close to the edge. She could feel it bubbling from under the surface, ready to burst out. It was just there, ready for one more push.
And as she remembered from these sessions, she had always felt pushed to her limits and reaching breaking points. If this is what it took to break free, well Harry's always had a high pain tolerance, and if that was crossed she had endurance in spades.
And as soon as she started screaming, she knew that at least the voice block was gone. So slowly, more and more of her issues were being fixed. And even though everything hurt so much, she felt free and herself for once since forever.
"It's okay," she whispered, her voice hoarse and pained as she watched Archer sit near her, having been watching angrily as she was experimented on in the last push towards finding a way for immortality. They were alone now though.
"It's not," he answered miserably.
"It'll be over soon."
"Not soon enough."
But she laughed genuinely and gave him a soft look with a gentle smile. He looked back into her eyes wonderingly, and she couldn't help letting a few tears slip out of her eyes as she looked at him sadly.
"It'll be okay."
And instead of the usual forced, familiar transformation, she let herself attempt to shift naturally. It hurt still, but actually not as much as before.
Harry fully transformed into her phoenix state, seeing Archer staring up at her in awe from the ground. She lifted up her head and let out a loud screech, and it wasn't long until there were wizards swarming into the room in a panic, screaming and yelling at each other.
She violently lashed out, her wings swinging out and hitting a few people, making them fly out and some even harshly slamming against the walls. Around her, wizards attempted to tie her down, using their wands to conjure up more chains and try to capture her. She struggled against them, creating debris and rubble as she rampaged in the room. She only wished Malcolm was there so she could have tried to stomp on him and flatten him beneath her.
She knew that Archer's magical bindings had long since vanished, and looking down she could see his tiny figure easily contributing to the chaos by eliminating a few more wizards with the handgun he was shooting with.
If maybe she felt nothing for the people he was killing so easily, then it was just because she couldn't find it in herself to care for them anymore.
This would be the last time she would ever find herself feeling anything for the British Wizarding World.
It wasn't long until Archer managed to find his way to her side and had found himself holding onto her for dear life, while she continued to destroy even more of her surroundings. She then flapped her wings once and leaped into the air, destroying the building more as she created a hole in the ceiling and then through the rest of the Ministry as she escaped destructively.