Mahou mo Ken

That summer's end

Mahou mo Ken

All rights to Harry Potter and its world, characters, and settings belong to JK Rowling. I don't own any of its characters, and I am not making any money off this.

Chapter four – that summer's end

Harry swallowed, and stared down at the floor of his bedroom. Once again, he had cleared the center, the black pentagram that he had burned into the floor now fully visible once more. His eyes trailed the names of the five elements, one by one, only now realizing that he had used the Kanji symbols instead of the English words.

I sure did a job on the floor, he thought silently as he surveyed the damage. Upon his return, he had been forced to acknowledge just how much power he had wasted on his little joyride. Sure, it was a heck of a lot faster than the way Ken had shown him, but the downsides were downright scary, not to mention, hard to cover up. Even now, almost a week since his return and over a week and a half since the pentagram's creation, it refused to be covered up by any magical means. No matter how many scourgify charms he used, no matter how many illusions or glamours he cast, the pentagram would always emerge after no more than five minutes.

He had finally purchased a rug to throw over the thing, which covered it up nicely as well.

The rug was rolled up against one wall at the moment. This was one time he was glad the pentagram was there. It would act as a focus in a way a chalk drawing could not, and it would allow him to do this a lot easier.

Knowing that what was to come would generate a tremendous amount of magical energy, he glanced at the concealment Seal that was still present around his room. Drawing two more concealment Seals, he threw them at the walls, making sure that nothing would get out and alert the Ministry.

Taking out his trusted piece of chalk, Harry then knelt down in the center of his pentagram, and drew a perfect circle around it. At the four positions of north, south, east, and west, he stuck Seals to the wooden floorboards. Upon the Seals, the Kanji sign for 'shield' was visible, glowing slightly in the midnight gloom.

Finally, inside the pentagram, he drew a square, labeling the four corners with the internal elements. Heart, mind, body, and soul, Harry thought to himself.

Finally, he erected himself, and drew the staff from outside his drawing, careful not to disturb his artwork. Closing his eyes, he reached, and tapped the pentagram once; letting his magic flow like water the way Ken had shown him in his mindscape the previous night. Finally, all the pieces were ready.

The pentagram flashed, almost angrily, at the infusion of power, and Harry stood up, watching his drawing, following the spread of the angry light as it flowed from the pentagram to the inner square. Now that the room was illuminated by more than just the moon, the stars, and four faintly-glowing Shield-Seals, Harry noticed the spooky shadows, and had to smile faintly.

The smile vanished fast enough, as his mind focused on the task at hand. He was here to activate his staff, and bind it to him.

Closing his eyes to the outside world once more, he focused his magic. Simultaneously working from his mindscape and in reality was still something that took every bit of focus that he had.

As his body in the outside world started whispering, mindscape-Harry appeared in the Headmaster's office in Hogwarts castle, and started the task of focusing on bringing the physical staff to this mental realm.

If anybody were watching Harry at that moment, they would have seen him giving off a faint light, as energy started crackling along the shield-circle, racing around the enclosing, dying out and climbing, before dying out and climbing again. A tremor went through the ground, and it was a good thing it was midnight, or his aunt and uncle would have felt it. As it stood, they just rolled over in bed and slept on, unaware of the magic being wrought in the room just down the hall.

As physical-Harry continued to whisper, mindscape-Harry felt, rather than saw, the staff beginning to appear in front of him. Slowly, it took shape, a white mist that gradually took on the shape of the physical staff. Finally, it was complete, and mindscape-Harry opened his eyes, at the same time physical-Harry stopped his casting.

In the physical world, the staff was glowing faintly, the air shimmering with magical energy within the shield, both the pentagram and the square it contained pulsing with white light.

The first stage bind is complete… now I need to activate it, then bind it to me permanently. Harry drew a breath, both in the physical world and in mindscape. Activate the staff by binding it to the elements.

In the mindscape, the scenery blurred and shifted, and Harry and his staff were standing in the green pastures surrounding Hogwarts Castle. For just a moment, he stared at the castle, still far from complete, but already, stronger than it once was. He would get there. Eventually.

He shook his head, clearing his mind, and focused on the task at hand. A representation of the artwork in the physical world appeared around him. The next part would take here, in his mind, in his heart, closer to that part of him where his energy resided. Letting the tip of the staff rest against the ground, he pointed the head of the staff towards the first external element on the pentagram.

"I stand before the Element of Fire, motivated and passionate, filled with determination. I implore thee… bless me and my faithful companion, now and into eternity."

The pentagram flashed a bright red, fire suddenly filling the drawing, swirling around Harry, not touching him… rather, judging him. He felt power and motivation burst through him, filling him with the determination to see this through. Finally, it flashed once more, and seemed to vanish into the staff. The dragon's head, silent, closed-mouthed, staring at the heavens, started to change. The sightless eyes, carved in dead wood, burst with red and gold fire, to be replaced by shining jewels, red-slit pupils over a golden background, almost alive in the intensity of their sightless stare.

Harry swallowed, turned, and pointed to the second element. "I stand before the Element of Water, my heart filled with emotion, aware of myself and others, ready to defend myself and to roll with the blows of life. I Implore thee… bless me and my faithful companion, now and into eternity."

The pentagram flashed blue, and the clearest waters Harry had ever seen spilled around him. Once again, he had the feeling that he was being judged, and once again, emotions burst through his heart. All of his emotions seemed heightened, and for a few seconds, he didn't know that he was at once laughing and crying, experiencing the dizzying heights and abysmal lows of human emotion. Finally, the water flashed, and seemed to withdraw into the staff.

The dragon's scales, carved out of dead wood, seemed to liquefy, before turning beautiful blue, reflecting the air and scenery around them, reflecting light in all the beautiful intensity of the rainbow.

Taking just a few seconds to collect himself, he turned, and pointed to the third element. His heart was thumping, and he was breathing harshly, and deeply. He was aware of how much energy he was expanding here, and shuddered. He did not want to fail here! "I stand before the Element of Earth, aware of myself and my limits, sure of the action I am taking. I implore thee… bless me and my faithful companion, now and into eternity."

Dust exploded around him, once again, not touching nor harming him, yet seemingly, judging him. He was aware of his physical limitations now, forced to concede that he could not have enough energy to complete this ritual, yet, at the same time, sure of the way he was going, and of what he was doing. The sand and dust flashed, and receded into the staff, the staff itself flashing, and the outer layer seemingly crumbling like dust and sand, revealing the wood underneath, hard as stone yet warm like wood. Harry closed his hand around the staff, feeling the warmth of the wood, coupled to the iron strength of metal and rock, the near-indestructible gift of the Element of Earth.

"I stand before the Element of Wind," Harry intoned, feeling his strength sap, making him gasp for breath in the middle of his speech. "I know what I want, yet I care not how I get there. I will do whatever I have to do, and will consider anything." He gasped again, panting for breath. "I implore thee… bless me and my faithful companion, now and into eternity."

Wind burst forth around him, forcing open his mind, making him consider the inconsiderable, and opening his heart to those who needed his compassion. He was of the wind as it burst round him, placing its judgment, before it, in turn, slowly receded into the staff. The top of the dragon's head, a small wooden fin that seemed to aid in aerodynamics, should the wooden dragon ever need it, wavered, and vanished, only to be replaced by the most beautiful piece of wind. Almost-transparent, barely warping the vision of those that looked through it as it moved back and forth, the piece of wind took the dragon's fin for itself.

Harry fell to one knee, exhausted beyond recognition. He still needed the last element, and he knew that he just did not have the energy to continue. With Gryffindor stubbornness, he forced himself to his legs, using his staff as leverage.

"I stand before the Heavenly Element of Void," Harry whispered, knowing this was the important part. This was where the magic would join the staff. He just wished he were sure that he had enough power left to complete his task. "I am creative, spontaneous, and inventive." He felt his energy sap, fell down to one knee. "I… implore thee… bless me and my faithful… companion… now and into… eternity."

Energy exploded around him, tugging at his robes, passing judgment. And this time… Harry just knew that he wasn't going to make the cut. His second knee joined the ground right next to the first one, holding onto his staff for dear life, feeling the Void turn against him, the very Element of Magic rejecting him.

Ken's voice spooked through his mind, her lesson on the elements dredged up from his memories. Magic is in everything, Harry. But Void allows you to use magic in different ways, it allows you to sense your surroundings when you're cut off from your senses, and it allows you to reach deep within yourself and draw upon strengths you did not know you had.

He grasped for his magic, knowing that he had exhausted too much of himself as it was, but still, trying. His mental fingers scraped rock-bottom, all his magic gone, nothing left. He hadn't progressed far enough with Ken's trainings, his reserves hadn't deepened enough… for just a fleeting moment, he allowed himself to despair.

But then, the strength he had felt while joined with the Element of Fire took over, and he reached, desperate for strength, any sort of strength, each scrap of magic he could get his hands on.

Something blurred, and his focus seemed to shift. Time slowed to a crawl, and the searing pain of losing himself against the raging torrent of the Void vanished. He became aware of his surroundings… and Harry realized that, even though it was turning against him, he was still joined with the Element of Void… and for just a few moments more, he would be able to use the gifts that element entailed!

As his magical senses shifted, he felt something nearby. A source of power, of strength, of magical energy left untapped for hundreds of years. Mentally, he reached out, and grasped it.

The Ley Line, untapped and unused since the time of the druids, was filled to the brim with magical energy. It was fat and full of raw power, and the moment Harry tapped into the stored potential, he felt energy explode through his magical core. The Line was underused and overpowered, and Harry was untrained and had no idea what he was doing.

Together, that was a combination ripe for disaster. Vaguely, he was aware of his own body screaming. At the same time, a second part of himself noted that the Element of Void had judged him worthy, and was now receded into his staff. His screaming stopped, his vocal cords giving out under the strain, as his detached awareness witnessed the final transformation of his staff.

The upturned dragon's head opened its mouth widely, a shimmering crystal of pure magical energy appearing, clenched between the powerful jaws, pulsing with magical potential.

As the ritual completed, and the drain fell away, Harry felt the energy of the Ley Line beneath Surrey explode through his body, ready to tear him apart, his body unable to channel the energy correctly and the Line's gates, now opened, would not soon close on their own.

By pure, sheer reflex, Harry managed to release the Line, but then energy he had absorbed was still too much for him to handle… and the feeling was as if his body was tearing itself apart at the seams. He needed an outlet, and he needed it now!

Reaching out, he grabbed for his sword.

The next moment, an explosion followed as overcharged magic and improperly completed ritual combined into a devastating explosion that leveled Harry's mindscape.

00000

Harry slowly opened his eyes, finding himself on his back, in the middle of his room, lying crossed over the pentagram. The Shield Seals, the circle, and the square had fully vanished. Pain shot through his body, yet Harry was aware of only two things.

One. His right hand was holding onto his staff.

Two. His left hand was holding onto his sword.

Slowly, he sat upright, still holding on to the two items. He felt physically exhausted and spiritually drained. He blinked, trying to look at his wards, to try and make sure that the power surge hadn't alerted the ministry. He sunk back to the ground, too tired to even look at magic. He closed his eyes. There was no owl tapping on his window… and he was sure that the Ministry would make sure that he were suitably woken up, should they detect him.

He sunk into a slumber, too tired to move to his bed, or even to release the two items in his hands. Suddenly, a voice startled him awake.

Harry? Harry, are you alright? I felt you screaming! Maya's voice seemed right next to him, yet he knew that she was in Japan. Too tired to realize what he was doing, he thought back at her.

Yeah, I'm alright… Suddenly, he did realize what he was doing. Maya?

Can you go into mindscape? This talking is wearing me out. Less than I thought it would, but it's still exhausting.

Yeah… Harry agreed, closing his eyes right where he lay on the ground, unable to even make it to the bed. He materialized in his mindscape, preparing for the worst.

His worst wasn't bad enough. Harry's mental representation sank to its knees on the desert-like landscape. Everywhere he looked, everything was gone… the trees, Hogwarts, the Whomping Willow, the lake, everything. All that remained was black sand, coating his mindscape in a cloak of blackness, the only true light appearing from a small, reddish sun hanging just over the horizon.

This was worse than when he first learned to use his Mindscape. Suddenly, Maya appeared right next to him, way faster than she had done two weeks earlier, when she came to warn him about Ken's injuries.

Harry looked up to where she was standing. She looked down to where he was sitting. "I… I didn't let you in," he whispered.

Maya stared in shock at him. "Harry… I felt you screaming in pain, somehow. Then I find you, sitting in black sand where a mindscape used to be, and all you think of is the fact that I got here without you letting me in? Your shields are devastated, no doubt!"

Harry closed his eyes and focused. His opened his eyes a few seconds later. "My shields are fine, Maya-Senpai," he replied levelly. "I can feel them… they're intact. Strange as that might be, seeing how they were tied to Hogwarts, and it's now… gone."

Maya sighed, reigning in her curiosity, and sat down next to him. "Harry, your shields are autonomous processes, remember? You visualized them being tied to your Hogwarts representation, but they don't need it in order to survive."

Harry just nodded. "I'm glad for that, at least… but then… how did you get in here? I didn't let you through."

Maya stared at him, realizing what he meant for the first time. "Good question."

The boy sighed, and looked at his devastated landscape.

Maya shook her head. "We have more important things. What happened, Harry? Oh, and I don't think anybody else felt you the way I did… otherwise, I'm sure Ken-Sensei would be here as well."

Harry nodded once, accepting that last sentence. He sighed again. "Ken-Sensei… she got me a sword and a staff."

Maya smiled widely. "I knew you would like that sword! You should be very honored, Harry… She gave you the sword from one of her ancestors!"

Harry nodded once again, still unable to speak much. He drew a deep breath, and turned his head to look at her. "Maya-Senpai… I did the binding ritual for the staff."

Maya's mouth sagged open. "That is what did this?"

Harry nodded, dumbly. Maya shook her head. "I can't help you here… I don't know nearly enough. Sensei taught me how to do it, and nothing like this ever popped up. We'll need to talk to her."

Harry drew a deep breath, and nodded. "Can you ask her to come here? I don't think I have the strength left."

Maya smiled widely, and grabbed his shoulder, an incredibly personal move to make for a Japanese person. "Harry, I feel like I have known you all my life. It might be because of the thing we did, I don't know. But whatever it is, I'm glad it's here. If you need me, I'll be here." She winked at him, and smiled widely. "I'll get Ken-Sensei."

Harry nodded gratefully. "I feel like I know you, too, Senpai. And I'm glad it's here, too. It feels like… like I have a sister. Like I'm not alone."

Maya's smile softened. "I know," she whispered. "Ever since my parents… since my parents died, Sensei was my family…"

"But it wasn't the same," Harry took over. "I know. But now…"

"Now it's like we have a family," Maya said in a whisper, voice trembling emotionally. Both teens remained silent, in each other company, stared softly at each other.

"I'll go get Ken-Sensei," Maya finally whispered, after an undetermined amount of time had passed. Time they had both used to think about the change in the present situation.

It took only ten minutes before Harry felt a tug on his shields, and he allowed Ken inside. Maya materialized right next to him, right before he was able to open his shields for Ken.

"Good evening, Harry," Ken said, rather sarcastically. Harry shot her a rueful grin.

"Good evening, Sensei," he replied levelly. "Welcome to my hellish nightmare of a mindscape."

Ken glanced around, and nodded. "Accurate description. You were still healing after that last stunt you pulled. What did you do this time?" The look on her face was contrary to her stern words, and Harry could see her worry reflected in her eyes.

"I'm fine. Or… I will be," Harry replied, trying to ease the worry of his teacher. He had managed to do so with Maya… and both of them had come to some startling revelations about themselves because of it. He shook his head, yet glanced at Maya. She looked at him with a worried look as well.

"I tried to do the activation ritual for the staff," he told his two female companions. The sand underneath his feet shifted, a small wind sweeping up some grains, stinging wherever skin was exposed.

Ken nodded. "Maya told me as much. What element did you try to bind?"

Harry shrugged. "The Void," he answered.

Maya's mouth sagged slightly, her eyes growing wider. Ken grinned, her eyes shining softly. "You tried to bind the Void itself, huh? No wonder things went awry… the Void is the hardest element to bind."

Harry nodded. "Tell me about it," he grunted. "I could bind the other four without problems, but the Void was just too much for me."

Maya snorted, and finally started laughing. Ken just shook her head in obvious amusement.

"Harry, you didn't try to bind all five elements, did you?" his teacher asked, a slightly crazed look on her face.

Harry just nodded, unable to say anything else. What was he supposed to say?

"Harry, you bind one element! Some can bind two or three, but those are rare!" Ken said, her voice shaking. Whether it was laughter or anger, Harry didn't know, and he didn't want to know. He preferred it was laughter, so he would delude himself that it was.

"I… eh… that instinctive knowledge you gave me, said nothing about one element, Sensei… I just knew how to bind the elements, so I bound them. I… eh… ran out of energy, though. But… eh…" he stammered as both Maya and Ken were stared at him oddly.

"Keep going, Harry. I'm not angry. Just curious. And surprised," Ken said, alleviating his fears, finally. He guessed his delusions weren't as good as they once were.

He drew a breath. "Anyway, I ran out of energy when trying to bind the Void. The other four accepted me, but the Void… the Void was so much stronger, it didn't accept me, and it started rejecting me. It felt like it was killing me."

"What do you mean, it felt like it was killing you?" Ken asked. "Usually, you ask an element to bind. It either accepts or rejects you. Plain and simple."

Harry shrugged. "I asked the elements to bind… one after another. They all accepted me, and bound to my staff. But when I got to the Void, it flashed through me, judging me, finding me not worthy, I guess, and it started to kill me. I don't know why, it's just what it felt like. I needed more power, energy, to keep going. And then… the Void gave me sight, I guess. Or it was myself, I don't know, it was just so confusing, a everything is jumbled together. Anyway… I saw power, and I reached for it. I guess it was a Ley Line… I read about them in school. The Druids used to tap them, but their knowledge was lost, and nobody's been able to tap the Lines in two thousand years."

Ken was staring at him with her mouth open, while Maya was still giggling madly. "And then…"

"Then I was accepted by the Void. But the Ley Line… well, the best I can describe it, is that it… was like overcharged. Like a battery, where you expect a certain voltage, but get something ten times more powerful. Maybe because it hadn't been used in so long. But anyway… I… I felt like the power from the Line was going to blow me to pieces. I disconnected, but I still had too much energy. I tried to do the Soul Bond with the sword, to try and use up the energy. Then… things exploded, and I woke up on the ground. That's when Maya contacted me."

Ken stared from one apprentice to the other. "I have too many things to question you about," she grunted. "You tried to Soul Bond with the sword while still overcharged from tapping a Ley Line, and while barely out of an Elemental Binding ritual designed to make a staff into a magical weapon?"

Harry nodded.

Ken shook her head, while Maya sniggered again at their teacher's exasperation expression. "Did it work?" Maya asked.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know."

"Try," Ken instructed. "Pull your sword and your staff in here. If they are bound to you, you can pull them across with just a thought."

Harry looked at his hands, splaying his fingers as he did so. Halfway, he expected to be blasted to pieces… and to his immense surprise, a tingle spread through his arms and hands, two items seemingly teleporting into them.

His staff and his sword.

"I guess it worked," he stated superfluously, shocked to his core.

Ken shook her head ruefully, while Maya was laughing wildly. "I guess it did," his fellow apprentice said, still laughing.

"Can you activate your staff?" Ken asked Harry. "I'd like to see what a staff looks like, after it's been bound to all five elements."

Harry looked at her, not understanding. Granted, his staff looked once again like the staff she had gotten him, just the same way that it looked out there, when he had woken up, but he still didn't understand what she meant. Did she want him to bring it back to the state it was in when he had bound it?

"Like this," Ken said, summoning her staff to her. The two-meter tall black wood item ported to her without issues, and as her fingers curled around it, she gave a mental shove.

Suddenly, she was holding a column of pure fire, a column of red-gold energy that seemed to scare Harry to the depths of his soul. Unable to stop himself, he shuddered. Somewhere deep inside, he recognized the danger the item posed, and the fact that it would and could do very serious damage to him. He shuddered again.

"Maya?" Ken said, turning to look at her female apprentice. "Could you show Harry your staff?"

Maya nodded, summoning her meter-and-a-half cherry-wooden staff to her. A mental push later, she was holding a column of the purest, cleanest water Harry had ever seen. Immediately, he felt better, the water staff of-setting the fire that was still clenched in Ken's hand.

"What you need to do is focus on your staff, and tell it to reveal itself. It will show its true colors then… it will also be at its full power. Harry, revealing your staff to your enemies is done only when necessary. As you can see, it reveals all your secrets. It shows your full power level, and it shows your element. Don't give your enemy the advantage of that knowledge unless you are sure of the power that it brings."

Harry nodded, closed his eyes, and focused. Thinking to his staff, a notion he didn't find as ridiculous as he once would have found it, he told it to reveal itself.

A shudder went through the black desert that was Harry's desolate wasteland of a mindscape, right before his staff was engulfed in a brilliant column of light, which slowly receded as the staff's composition changed. Blue scales reflected off the carved dragon's head, brilliant red and gold shone in its eyes, the wood shone with hardness, and the wind formed fins around the head. And then… then the head opened, the Void creating its stone clenched in between the dragon's jaws.

"Incredible," Ken whispered, sounding slightly stunned. "I can feel the power from here, and you haven't even used it yet. Incredible."

Maya just kept grinning. At least she wasn't laughing anymore, and Harry shot her a smile. She gave him a thumbs-up in answer, her grin widening. Somehow, it felt so good to have someone he could share this incredible experience with. As much as he like Ken, she was still his teacher. But Maya… Maya was his sister now. They had adopted each other earlier, of that he was sure. Somehow, the connection felt deeper than he felt with anyone else… and that included the Weasleys, whom he had always treated as family, and who, in return, had treated him as such.

"Now," Ken said, looking at the two of them, watching Harry smile genuinely at Maya, the girl returning with a wide smile and a thumbs up. "What happened with you two?"

"I don't know," Harry replied immediately. "All I know is that Maya-Senpai no longer needs my approval to come in here."

"And I could hear him in Japan when he was screaming," Maya added in, still finding time to stick out her tongue at Harry as he called her Senpai.

Ken was silent for a few seconds. "Nothing else? You two seem… closer." She smiled. "Are you hiding something from me?" Her smile remained, but her eyes narrowed as she looked at Maya. "You're not going to end up pregnant, won't you?"

Harry dropped his staff in shock, the item making a rumbling sound as it hit the mull, black sand, half-way disappearing into it. Maya just let out a squawk of indignation.

"Sensei!" she screamed.

"Just checking," Ken replied levelly.

Harry bent down, and picked up his staff. "It's not like that, Sensei," he whispered, unable to look anyone in the eye without blushing furiously; the thought alone made him incredibly uncomfortable.

"Yeah! Most definitely not!" Maya grunted out. She looked at Harry, who looked back when he felt her looking at him. It was as if a thought passed between them, although neither could define what it was.

"Then, what is it?" Ken asked, noting that something seemed to pass back and forth between them without as much as a single spoken word. This was getting more and more interesting.

"We know each other," Harry replied, the first to be able to find the words to describe what passed between them. "When we synchronized our magic, it was such a personal experience, we knew what the other knows. Both of us stayed away from the other's private thoughts, we had too much respect for each other to invade each other's privacy like that… but still…" He trailed off, not knowing how to express what he felt.

Maya nodded. "We got… glimpses," she said, looking at Ken. "Impressions. We know each other. Like we're brother and sister."

Harry nodded. "We unofficially adopted each other, right before Maya-Senpai came to get you, Sensei."

Maya playfully stuck out her tongue at Harry, who returned the favor immediately. Both teens broke out laughing, and Ken's eyes glistened with suppressed laughter. "Well… I'm glad to see that both of you are getting along so well, and I am also pleased to see that you have found some connection with each other. I'm sorry it took such an event, but at least some good came out of it. I am aware of both of your painful pasts… it's way beyond time you found family of your own."

"Thank you, Sensei," both teens replied at the same time. A little startled, they looked at each other, and smiled.

"I don't think this connection between you will grow stronger than this. Although I am still curious as to how Maya was able to hear you while you were screaming," she said the latter to Harry.

The boy shrugged. "I don't know… all I know is that I was glad she was there when I woke up."

Maya smiled supportively at him. "Always. You're my otooto now." (a/n : otooto: Japanese way of addressing for a younger brother)

Harry returned the smile. "And that goes for me too. If you ever need me, I will be there…oneesan." (a/n: oneesan: Japanese way of addressing an older sister.)

Ken shook her head. "You do know you're both the same age, right?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't mind Senpai calling me the younger brother."

Maya stuck out her tongue. Harry jerked his thumb at her, while still looking at Ken. "Although she does act like the younger sister on occasion."

Ken chuckled as both Harry and Maya burst out laughing, fully comfortable with teasing each other.

"Okay, Children," Ken said, effectively calming them. "Harry," she said, focusing her intense gaze upon him, making him realize that fun was over, and training was about to start again. "You have successfully drawn your sword to you, which tells us that you have managed to bind it to you. Could you draw it for us?"

Maya turned and looked at him while he looked down at his right hand, still holding on to the sheathed sword. He nodded, put his staff down, and grabbed the sheath with both hands, bringing it up level in front of his eyes, as if studying the weapon once again. Something definitely felt different about it, now that Harry thought about it.

His right hand shifted, clenching around the handle of the weapon now, fingers slowly curling until his hand was fully closed. He did not know why, but somehow he realized that this was another test he was supposed to pass, even though he had no idea what to expect.

He pulled.

The sword moved five centimeters, then seemed to be stuck. He pulled harder. Still soundlessly, another two centimeters slid out, before sticking again.

"How…?" he asked.

"Your sword is now a Soulbound Sword," Ken explained. "It is linked to you via your soul. Only you an draw it… but only if you are you. Harry, you must become at peace with yourself and your surroundings. Now you will also see why it was necessary to start you off with all those meditation lessons." She looked around. "Had your mindscape been built up the wy it once was, you would have been able to draw the sword completely."

Harry stared at her. "You mean… if this happens again, if I mess up and burn my mindscape… I won't be able to draw my sword anymore?"

"Harry, one thing you must realize. This is Soul Magic. This isn't magic that is lightly understood. It is not a simply matter of conjuring fire, or water, or drawing a Seal. It is not a matter of working or not working. This is magic pertaining to the matters of the soul. There are many variables you must consider, and it is never as simple as that. Now, there is a pretty big chance that, should you be threatened right now, you will grip that sword, and draw it completely."

Ken drew a breath. "Now, in the future, once you are able to draw the sword, while fully conscious of the fact, it will bind to you even closer. You will not want to leave it, and it will not want to leave you. Anyone who wants to touch it will feel its wrath… and that is why touching someone else's sword is a very bad idea. Touching a Soulbound is asking for punishment."

Harry nodded, digesting it all. He looked at the sword. "Somehow… when you explain it… it doesn't seem like a bad thing. A weapon that is yours, and yours alone, that nobody else can touch."

"Or even take from you," Ken supplemented. "A Soulbound is bound to your soul, as its name states. It will come to you when you call it, even through the densest of wards of the thickest of obscuring magic."

Harry's eyes went wide. Ken and Maya nodded.

The boy swallowed and went on. "Anyway… it seems like a very good thing. But then, I think of it in another way." He had become quite good at that, thinking of things differently. Ever since he talked to Dumbledore, Harry had begun to realize that thinking about things on his own, rather than accepting what everybody else was feeding him was a good thing. "But binding things to your soul… doesn't that, in itself, sound evil?"

Maya shrugged, not seemingly concerning about it. Ken looked thoughtfully at him. "I wanted to impart this knowledge upon you at a later date, when you had a chance to grow some more," his teacher said. "Harry, binding an item to your soul is not evil. You are merely extending your soul, making the sword an integral part of your body in a way, and making it the integral part of your body in another. Your very soul will protect it, and as long as you life, your sword will be ever-sharp, and unbreakable. It is not evil. Nor is it good. It is Soul Magic, some would call it evil, some would call it good, but as with all magic, it is what you do with it that counts."

She sighed. "Soul Magic can, indeed, have very nefarious results. The darkest of those is called a Horcrux to your Western Mages. Basically, one would split one's soul, attach it to an inanimate object, and hide that object. It would guarantee that part of one's soul would survive one's death." She let out her breath, obviously not pleased with the subject matter. "I find it important that you know this, so I am telling you about it. Do not use these techniques. Although immortality may look appealing, it is not all that it is made up to be."

Harry nodded vigorously. Maya clenched her fest, held it over her heart, and bowed slightly, renewing the oaths she took at various stages during her apprenticeship to Ken. Ken nodded once, and resumed. "One splits one's soul through a cold-blooded murder, then rips it out, places it in the object, and hides it. If one follows the laws of mathematical magic, if one were to split one's soul six times, creating seven pieces, one would become as near to immortal as one can be. The Horcruxes themselves are highly dangerous when disturbed, and can generate wounds that very few magics can heal. At best, the results may be a withered, decrepit existence. Of an appendage. At worst, death."

At one, Harry's thoughts flashed to Dumbledore's withered hand. "How… how do you know all this, Ken-Sensei? Isn't this Dark Magic?"

Ken's intense gaze bore down upon his eyes, and Harry shuddered involuntarily. The very power he could see brimming, just over the edges of her eyes, made him take a step back. Had he not been convinced he did not want to make an enemy out of Ken, he surely was convinced now. "Yes, Harry. It is Dark Magic. The Darkest. But, as with all things, one must know it in order to be able to overcome it. Know thy enemy, Harry. One day, you may be faced by an enemy who has used this in order to make himself nearly immortal, and then you must have intimate knowledge of these techniques in order to fight your opponent."

She shook her head. "As to why someone would want to go through this is beyond me. The results are an existence that is less than life. A half-life, a specter, a ghost of one's self, until one can regain a body."

Harry swallowed for the second time that night, thinking of the rebirth ritual of Voldemort. Dumbledore's blackened hand. Voldemort's rebirth ritual. It all made sense now…

He looked up at Ken, his green eyes intense with disturbing images. "Ken-Sensei."

Ken frowned, and waited patiently until he managed to work his thoughts out. It was obvious that Harry was struggling with something, and it seemed that it had something to do with her teachings here. She hoped that she hadn't shattered his mind… it was not for the weak of hard to know of the darkest magics in existence.

"I think," the boy whispered. "I think Voldemort used Horcruxes."

Maya's jaw fell open, as she stared at him with open mouth. Ken looked curiously at him. "How do you come to this conclusion?"

"I can show you, if you will let me," Harry said; sure of himself now. Ken dipped her head. Maya took a while longer to overcome her shock, then she grinned, and nodded as well. Her grin had no humor in it, though, and it looked like a grimace.

The scene around them vanished, and Harry replayed the memories of his meeting with Dumbledore, focusing the attention of his two guests to Dumbledore's blackened hand, just as Ken had explained the results of an improper destruction of a Horcrux to be. He then showed them the memory of Voldemort's rebirth ritual, the wretched existence he was before regaining a body. He thought about it, and showed them the memory of his first year as well, with the Voldemort-head stuck to the back of his then-teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Professor Quirrel.

As the memories ended, Harry was shaking. Reviewing them, even with Ken and Maya there, was an experience that had rattled him to the bone. Terror still ran over his spine, making him tremble.

Suddenly, a pair of warm arms appeared around him, chasing away most of the cold, and abating some of the terror he still felt. Slowly, he glanced to his side, seeing how Maya had drawn him into a warm hug. "I've got you, Harry," she whispered warmly.

He sagged, relaxing against her, basking in the warmth of close human contact. He wrapped his arms around her, and cried. She tightened her hug, holding him as the years of pent-up emotions finally found an outlet. As Harry shook, Maya looked at Ken with a dark expression on her face, and it did not take words to convey what she was thinking. Ken nodded, momentarily letting her own emotions shine through.

What had they done to this boy, that memories of such age would still affect him so? Did nobody ever take the time to help him through this? Was he just abandoned, making him repress these things in such a manner?

Maya tightened her hold on his body, as if trying to force her strength into him. "I'm here, Harry. I'll help you through this," she whispered, closing her eyes as she held the boy she recognized as her brother in all but blood. Inwardly, she made a second promise. And if I ever find out who abandoned you like this, pray that they have a good explanation for this!

Finally, Harry seemed to realize what he was doing, and he pulled away from her, his face flushed with embarrassment.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. Maya shook her head, while Ken merely looked with sympathy at the young man before her. He could only glance at her, unable to hide his own emotions. What would she think of him now?

Ken placed one hand on his shoulder. "Don't feel embarrassed, Harry. What happened to you was incredibly traumatic, and from the glimpses I got from before you shielded your mind, I don't think anybody ever bothered to help you to deal with them."

Harry just shook his head in answer. Maya's fists clenched, and her body trembled in fury. "Nobody helped you with this? Not even after that first time? You didn't look a day over nine!"

"Eleven," Harry whispered. "I was eleven."

"And that was supposed to make it alright?" Maya snarled. She drew a deep breath, and when she lifted his head so he would look at her, instead of at the ground, all he saw was determination in her eyes. "Harry, you were forced to take a man's life. That it happened in itself was unforgivable, but that nobody helped you through it, that is criminal."

Ken's hand squeezed Harry's shoulder as he listened to Maya. "I will take my leave now… I think both of you will be more comfortable with each other, without me present." She smiled reassuringly at Harry. "Harry, you saved my life. If you ever need me, I will be there. And right now, I know that Maya will be better for you than I can be. You need someone that can relate to you emotionally… and right now, that is Maya."

Harry nodded at her, and Ken gave Maya an encouraging nod, before she vanished. Maya immediately grabbed hold of Harry, pulling the both of them to a sitting position on the black sandy ground, yet remained silent. Half a minute later, Harry looked at her, a question in his eyes.

Before he managed to ask his question, however, Maya smiled slightly. "I'm here to listen, Oniisan." (an: japanese way of addressing a brother of older age, Maya is basically calling Harry older than her now.)

He sighed. "I don't know where to begin."

"Just tell from the beginning… or whatever you feel comfortable enough to tell me." She bumped his arm with hers. "Nothing you tell me will ever leave here. You're my brother. Siblings trust each other, right?"

Harry sighed. He never had real siblings, even with the somewhat-honorary adoption within the Weasley family had he had a real family relationship. But, somehow, through all that had happened, he now had kin, a family, even if it was not by blood, than surely it was by magic.

His eyes opened wide, and he turned to her. "We share magic," he whispered. "We may not share blood, but we share magic."

Maya's eyes sparkled slightly, and her smile grew wide. "That took you long enough to figure out," she teased gently, glad to see him smile slightly in return. "And I hope you can trust me."

He nodded, drew a deep breath, and started talking.

Hours later, the two teens were still there, in the devastated mindscape, facing the dull, small, red sun in the distance, just over the horizon, talking and sharing secrets they had shared with nobody else.

And through it all, their bond grew.

00000

Harry awoke by four in the afternoon, ravenously hungry. As he stood up from the floor, he realized he had never made it to bed. His body ached all over, but thankfully the sickness he had come to associate with exhaustive training in mindscape was absent. In fact, he felt physically and magically tired, but mentally fit. He slowly made his way downstairs, angry at himself for panting when he finished the stairs.

After raiding the pantry, he returned to his room laden with enough food to feed five people for a week. After depositing his treasure, he locked his door, and laid into his meal.

An hour later, he was finally satiated, and closed his eyes to meditate. Appearing in his mindscape, he looked around the devastation, and shook his head sadly. Nothing remained of what he had built here, his mind reflecting the devastation he had wrought upon his body and his magic.

Sighing deeply once more, he focused and set to work.

The ground shimmered, slowly solidifying into solid earth instead of loose sand. Gradually, the air cleared, and the sun brightened in color. It took hours of work before Harry finally broke his trance, and came out of his meditation. The ground was blackened earth still, but it was fertile now, ready to receive life once again. The sun had brightened to its usually yellow shade, and the skies had brightened to an earthly blue color.

The sun was just about to go down, and Harry devoured the rest of the food he had brought with him five hours earlier. He closed his eyes, and slept.

The next morning, more or less the same things happened, only Harry woke up at round ten, feeling better than he had felt days before. But first things first, and Harry went to the bathroom, relieved himself, and then went downstairs. His stomach needed more energy to drive the engine that had become his body. Half an hour later, he had a small meditation session, in which grass was reintroduced to his mindscape, before he had a hearty lunch.

Deciding that too much of one thing would do him harm, he decided on taking the afternoon off from mindscape-reconstruction, and instead settled for a light kata-based workout. As his body flowed through the motions, Harry felt tightly knotted muscles finally relaxing as he continued the exercise.

At about two in the afternoon, he settled back in his bed after a nice shower, and picked up his book on meditation. As he continued to read the now familiar words, his free hand continued to feed fruit to his mouth, the fruit basked being right next to his bed.

His forehead frowned when the doorbell rang. When Aunt Petunia opened the door, he smiled when he recognized the voices. Shaking his head from left to right, he couldn't believe that he had just forgotten about their planned visit.

He marked his page, threw his apple core in the waste basket, and started eating a juice pear right before his two friends entered his room.

"Hey, guys!" he greeted them, taking another bite of his pear, grinning goofily when he felt the juice run down his chin.

"Hey, Harry," Hermione greeted, as always sitting down on the other end of the bed while Ron sat down on the only chair.

"Hello, mate," his best friend said. "So… what happened?"

"How are your Occlumency shields?" Harry returned the question.

"We're coming along," Hermione said. "Right now, I don't think we could keep the Headmaster out if he really wanted, but then again, who can? But, on the other hand, we'll definitely know when he does try, and I don't think there's a reason for him to try and break into our minds."

"I'm not thinking about the Headmaster that much," Harry said. "I'm more worried about Snape."

Ron shrugged, then nodded. Hermione frowned. "But we'd still know."

Harry nodded silently. Ken had given him a couple of lessons in Legilimency, the ability to read minds, but his trained had been focused elsewhere for the most part. "All I can do is try and break in," Harry said. "But I'm not very good at it, so I don't think it will be very representative."

Both his friends were silent, almost, seemingly, holding a conversation with their eyes. "Harry," Hermione finally said. "We both know how important this is for you… but please, you can't keep us in the dark like this."

Harry was silent, before sighing. "I know… believe me, I know. And now you know how I felt when you kept me in the dark."

Both Ron and Hermione had the good grace to look ashamed at that. "All I can say is that we're sorry, mate," Ron said, actually meaning it.

Harry nodded. "I know. But still… I don't want Dumbledore to know this. And his pet potions master worries me." He shook his head. "But you're right, you would know if someone were to try and break into your minds right now. I can feel it. So… I'll tell you."

And so Harry did. He told them about the person he met in his dreams, about how she was helping him, about the training he was getting, and so on. He kept Ken and Maya's names out of it, and he also omitted the relationship he now held with Maya. Both his friends were silent throughout his explanation; both were stunned at the extent Harry had grown since the start of his training.

"And that's why you keep eating," Hermione said, motioning to the now empty fruit bowl, and the waste basket filled with wrappers, crumbs, fruit cores, pits, and other leftovers from food.

Harry nodded. "Building mental infrastructure is incredible draining, and if I didn't limit myself to just a couple of hours in a session, I'd be half-dead when I woke up. And believe me, it is not a good feeling."

Both Ron and Hermione just nodded, no other choice but to believe him.

"Wouldn't you be able to teach us?" Hermione asked, her curiosity getting the better hand of her shock, finally.

Harry seemed to study them for a few moments. "I think I might be able to, but I'm still learning, myself. I think the hardest thing would be to teach you how to get to the mindscape. After that, I'm fairly certain I can teach you what you'd need to build shields and protections."

Ron didn't seem too sure that he wanted to learn, but Hermione was practically bouncing up and down on her spot on Harry's bed. Seeing his friend's enthusiasm, he felt he had little other choice but to go along with her… and really, Occlumency hadn't been as difficult as he had thought it would be, so how much harder could this whole mindscape thing be?

Harry shrugged. "Fine, but I'm limiting the both of you to half an hour, and no more. I was forced to lean, and I know the results. Last thing I want is for your parents, the Order, and Dumbledore to find out."

Ron nodded happily, glad that whatever these lessons would be, they'd be limited in time. And half an hour he could handle, he was sure of it. Hermione looked vaguely disappointed, but she saw the logic in Harry's statements, and decided to follow along with them.

"Okay," Harry said, pulling his legs up and crossing them. "Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. We'll have to do this the hard way… I don't want to rip through your minds, obliterate your shields, and leave you entirely vulnerable to be able to do this the easy way. Most definitely because that would mean that anybody could read your minds."

Both his friends nodded, closed their eyes, and started to focus on their breathing.

"Become the breath you take," Harry said. "Imagine that you are the air that comes in through your mouth, goes into your lungs, and comes out again. Feel your heartbeat as it thumps in your chest. Ignore all other sensations."

Hermione got the hang of it pretty quickly, but Ron took a little longer. But, by the end of the half-hour session, even he had managed. After all, imagining things wasn't that difficult, once he got the hang of it.

"Great works, guys," Harry said, grinning slightly. "We'll pick up tomorrow, I'm sure we can get you into your mindscapes by the end of the week. And then the fun starts." He finished with a small smile, and his friends smiled in return, glad to see that Harry was finally cheering up; he had seemed so very depressed at the start of the holiday.

After his friends left, and Harry was left alone in his bedroom once again, he wondered why he hadn't shown his friends his staff or his sword. And now that he thought about it, he hadn't told them about the two items, either.

Reaching under his bed, he drew the staff into sight, his fingers clenching around the magically imbued wood. It felt powerful in his hands, and he closed his eyes to let his mage senses take over. It was so perfectly in tune with his own magic that he could see his own heartbeat reflect in the way magic pulsed through the item, and a smile appeared on his face when he realized just what kind of magic he'd be able to work with this kind of staff at his side.

For the rest of the day, he practiced his magic using his staff, hiding underneath the reinforced magical camouflage of his concealment Seals, getting used to the increased power of his spells as he channeled them through the highly magical item.

At dinner, he once again ate more than his fair share, thankfully no longer attracting the attention of his family as he did so. Ignoring him had become a way of life for them, one they intended to keep in order to get the money Harry had promised them.

After dinner, he returned to the privacy of his bedroom, changed into his nightclothes even though it was only seven, and sat down on his bed. Crossing his legs, slipped into lotus position, it having become second nature to him after the long hours of practice. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. Almost immediately, his mind sealed itself off from the outside world, and he appeared in the desolation of his mindscape.

Looking sadly, he surveyed the mindscape around him. At least the sky was once again blue, the sun was once again yellow and of correct size, and there was earth on the ground. Knowing what he was to do, he focused on the ground, making grass sprout.

As the fertile earth took life, his mind focused on the next step needed to recreate his mindscape. All around him, life sprung from the soil, the Whomping Willow growing in the distance, the Forbidden Forest slowly sprouting to his left, and a depression that would one day be the lake formed.

Finally, all that was done, and Harry was aware that multiple hours had once again slipped by. As the depression deepened, finally gaining water, and as the Forbidden Forest grew, Harry focused on his mental Hogwarts. He wanted his castle, and he would have it.

A depression formed, and Harry knew he had made the basis for the foundations of the great castle. He sighed, and sat down on the grassy grounds. This would be the third time he built the castle, and once again, he knew more detail would be added to it, giving the structure new strength. And, he knew, that new strength would be added to his mental defenses and his physical abilities. Already, he was aware of increased strength and stamina, and he could contribute it to nothing else but this mental training and Ken's teachings.

He smiled, and looked to one side, Maya appearing directly where he was looking. A fraction of a second later, Ken knocked on his shields. He let her in with hardly a thought.

"Hey, Maya."

She smiled at the familiar way he greeted her. "Hey yourself, Harry," she replied, taking stock of his mindscape.

"Good evening, Harry," Ken greeted; her mental avatar materializing on Harry's other side.

"Good evening, Sensei," Harry replied formally.

"You're doing good work on your mindscape, I see," Ken said, surveying her surroundings in a rather similar way as Maya had been doing before.

Harry dipped his head. "I can feel it's getting stronger."

Ken smiled slightly. "Good. You should be… that means that you've learned more, once again." She dipped her head to him. "Why are you unarmed?"

Harry frowned, before realizing at once that both Maya and Ken had their swords strapped to their sides. He focused, drawing Devastation to him. "You should always have it with you, even if you can not draw it," Ken said. "A warrior without his weapon is merely ignorant. And considering your weapon is a Soul Bound, it would be like letting an armed bomb sitting around for anyone to find."

Harry swallowed, and nodded, not having looked at it like that before. "Remember, Harry, you might be able to draw your sword to you, but it still takes time. Time you may not have; having your weapon at your side at all times as the only way you will never go unarmed. A spell takes time, transporting your weapon takes time. Drawing your sword from its sheath takes less time than either of those… and ducking and rolling takes the least amount of time of all."

Harry nodded, understanding the lesson. It would be had to hit a target that was no longer there. "Good," Ken said, still in teaching mode, deadly serious. "Can you draw your sword yet?"

Harry closing his hand around the handle, his second hand holding the sheath. The weapon slid from the scabbard, but about halfway out, just where Harry thought that he'd be able to draw it, the weapon became stuck once again.

"Good, you're improving," Ken said. "But it's the last half that will be the most difficult… it's always easier to start a thing than it is to finish it."

Harry nodded, sheathing his sword as he did so. Ken nodded when she saw him put the sword at his hip, the sheath locking at a belt that had not been there previously. His teacher then looked both at him and at Maya, who had remained silent. As always, they could laugh and joke with each other, but when Ken was teaching, they focused and paid attention.

"Create training blades," Ken instructed, a wooden sword appearing in her outstretched hand. Both Maya and Harry nodded, the girl succeeding with a practiced flourish, while Harry took a little longer. He still managed, though, even if it took him fifteen seconds longer than she did.

"Copy me," their teacher said, striking a sword-pose. Obviously, this was nothing new to Maya, who copied the pose immediately. Harry tried to copy it, and found that the knowledge Ken downloaded into his subconscious guided him quite well, and he, too, copied the pose. Ken nodded in agreement, and started the kata. Maya followed immediately, and after a small hesitation, so did Harry.

Up the sword came, before taking a step forward, then bend down, horizontal slash, faster and faster the movements came until, to Harry, they looked and felt like a whirlwind of slashes, kicks, and steps. For fifteen long minutes, Ken kept up the relentless pace, Maya following without too much apparent effort. Harry, on the other hand, struggled to maintain the pace, feeling his lungs burning as they tried to feed oxygen to his starving muscles.

And he was in his mindscape, he did not need oxygen, nor did he have muscles, strictly speaking. The sword flashed and danced in his hand as his body copied the movements demonstrated by his teacher, his subconscious guiding him through the high-level dance of death, supplying him with the next step before his eyes realized what it was from seeing Ken.

Finally, they finished, and Ken nodded. "Good." She looked both of them over. Maya had a thin layer of sweat on her skin, and was breathing a little deeper than usual. Harry was sweating profusely, and his breathing was deep and fast.

"We still need to train more stamina into you, Harry," Ken said, levelly. "You've improved, but you're still not where you could, or should, be."

Harry nodded, understanding. "Now, show me how far you've come," Ken said, glancing at Maya as she said so. "Spar against Maya."

Immediately, his magic-sister seemed to get a wide grin on her face. At the same time, Harry looked as apprehensive as he felt. Brandishing the wooden sword in front of him, he waited for her to attack him.

He was not disappointed, as she aimed a downwards strike at his head, which he blocked easily by bringing up his sword. To his surprise, the force of her strike resounded through his body, and Harry let out a dry grunt as he blocked. Grinning, Maya followed up on her charge, and went for his side. He blocked the second strike as well, and dodged her third. Dodge backward, block, block, dodge, block, dodge, dodge, block. Harry kept dancing further and further backwards, her strikes so powerful they rattled his bones, draining his energy. Soon, he was in full retreat, and Ken called a stop to them.

"What is that pitiful excuse for a sparring match?" she demanded, actually sounding angry. All he could do was look at the ground, feeling miserable. He knew nothing he said would make things better. He had sucked at his sword-practice, and he knew it.

Ken drew a sharp breath. "Harry, you tried to block speed with strength. Of course you won't be able to hold that out. Learn to deflect, rather than block. If you must dodge, dodge around the attack, and come up your opponent's unprotected side. Never let your opponent get you to run."

Harry nodded, glad that her anger had abated and that she was, once again, teaching him. He hated to disappoint her, more than anybody else in his life.

"Good," she said. "Vanish the swords. This time, fight with magic."

Maya grinned evilly now. Harry nodded. "I know I won't be able to beat you, oneesan."

Maya dipped her head. "This is a training session. I'll give you a full minute before I use any offensive spells." She held up three fingers. "But after that… three spells, and I have you."

Harry shot a look at Ken, who seemed to be contemplative about the development. Seeing how she wasn't going to stop them, Harry summoned his staff, and released it. He was not about let her get the better of his so easily, not in magic!

Jamming the tip of his staff toward her, he noticed that she had drawn her own staff, but had not released it. "Stupefy!" he shouted at her, the red flash of light slamming toward her. She merely twirled the head of her staff, and the spell spun around her, slamming into the ground. Momentarily stunned, Harry blinked three times before a grin look etched itself on his face, and he started slamming every curse and jinx he could think of her in her direction.

Including the Bat-Bogey Hex he had picked up from Ginny.

Nothing seemed to work, and Maya's right foot stayed right where it was, Harry noticed in a distant location of his attention. Using it as a pivot, she spun around it, changing the placement of her left foot to take the utmost advantage of where he cast his spells, so she had to displace them the absolutely minimum before they drilled into the ground or flashed up into the sky.

This infuriated him even more, especially when she started muttering under her breath as the one minute mark started to come near. "One minute," she stated calmly. Her staff jammed in his direction, and Harry barely managed to get a shield up before she snarled, "kuzuryusen!"

The nine flashes of energy tore into his shield, and for just a fraction of a second, Harry actually thought that it would hold.

It did not, but it took most of the damage, even if the resulting shockwave threw him back.

Her free hand was up immediately after. "Ways of Binding, number sixty-six! Six Rods Prison of Light!" Six thin, long, beams of light speared Harry through his rump, arms, and legs, pinning him in place on the ground.

As his staff appeared in his hand, and Harry worked feverishly on dismantling the Demon Magic equivalent of the body-bind curse, Maya focused her magic. Harry saw something implode before the head of her staff, and bit off a curse as he tried to work even faster on dismantling his prison of light.

"Rasengan!" she shouted, the finishing move flashing towards him, tearing up the ground as it moved, finally exploding as it hit the ground directly next to his head.

Ken walked over, dipping her head towards Maya in acknowledgement before dispelling the demon magic with a wave of her hand. "Why did you lose?" she asked Harry.

"Because power means nothing if you can not hit your opponent," he whispered, slowly moving up to his legs. "Great fight, Maya."

She smiled at him. "So did you… that was some serious firepower in those spells. It took a lot of effort to bend them away."

Ken, however, wasn't about to let him off so easily. "That was one of your mistakes. However, it was not your biggest one. Which one was?"

Harry looked down at his feet, thinking about his fight. "I only used Western Magic."

Ken nodded. "That is another one of your mistakes. But still, it is not your biggest mistake. All of the mistakes you told me flow from your one, biggest, mistake."

"I forgot everything you taught me," Harry whispered, ashamed.

Ken sighed deeply. "Again, another symptom of your mistake," she said, ignoring the ashamed look on Harry's face. "What was your biggest mistake?"

Harry was silent, thinking. It took him only five more seconds… five seconds that showed him the root cause of every mistake he made in that battle. "I lost my temper."

Ken nodded. "Exactly. You lost your temper. Remember, Harry, emotions are a powerful weapon when using magic. They give strength where there was none before. However, be aware of your emotions, and do not let them blind you." She sighed. "It was my mistake as your teacher. I should have warned you, and I should not have pushed you against Maya so soon after your sword fight. What happened to you was only human."

She drew a new breath. "Or rather, it was normal, for a boy of your age. You are used to using your heart, not your head, and it is why you are where you are today. Most others would not have survived, yet your strong emotions, your drive, kept you alive. But now… now you are being trained, and you should learn to control your emotions."

Harry sighed. "I failed miserably," he whispered. "You spent so much time training me, and the first time I had a chance to use them in formal combat, I forget all about them." He swallowed, his body actually shaking. Would she abandon him now?

Ken seemed to read right through him, even with the shields he had up. She put one hand under his chin, and lifted his head to look at her. "Harry, you were in a stressful situation. You grabbed for things that were familiar, things you knew, and experienced. So yes, you grabbed for the western magic that is part of you for years. I do not hold it against you. You were sparring, and this is the reason we practice. Now, you will know, and remember."

Harry nodded fiercely. Ken smiled. "Good. Now, I want you to fight Maya again." She turned, and walked a couple of steps away, Harry no longer even noticing her tell-tale limp. "But this time, when you unleash your staff and broadcast your full strength, at least use the power it offers you."

Harry looked at his staff, which had turned back to its normal state after his humiliating defeat. "I understand, Sensei."

"Good," his teacher said, turning back to look at the two.

Maya stepped back, allowing them both the space necessary for their practice combat. She shot him a worried glance.

"I'm fine, sis," he told her.

Her knowledge of English did not fail her, and she smiled slightly. "Then I will come after you, bro."

Harry dipped his head, reaching for his new knowledge, the knowledge of the Japanese magic, the training he had undergone for hours on end. He glanced up, and looked at Maya; his determination wavered. How could he hurt her?

"Ken-Sensei," he said, still looking at his magic-sister.

"Harry?"

"I don't want to hurt Maya," he said. "I know she's better than me, but even the untrained get lucky."

Ken smiled slightly, even if Harry was too focused on Maya to see it. "You're learning to think, Harry. Good. Now… the power of your spell is governed by intent."

Harry frowned, and looked at Ken. "Create me an apple," she said, still smiling slightly.

Harry shrugged, and created an apple and threw it to her. She caught it in her left hand, and pointed her right hand at it. "Kuzuryusen," she intoned. A magic flash later, the apple parted, neatly carved into bite-size parts.

She then grabbed her staff, and pointed it at the Whomping Willow. "Kuzuryusen!" The tree was reduced to firewood. "Now," she said, turning back to Harry. "The difference lies in your intent. At first, I wanted to cut the apple. Kuzuryusen is a cutting spell, remember? The second time, I wanted to reduce the Whomping Willow to blocks of wood, and it did that, too. Intent. That is why Maya's kuzuryusen did not harm you. She intended it to breach your shields, and catapult you back, not carve you up like a roast. If that had been her intention, we would have been holding you wake."

Harry swallowed, and looked at Maya, who smiled slightly, worry in her eyes as to his reaction. He smiled at her. "Then I'm glad that wasn't her intention," he replied, taking his position.

Maya returned his smiled, and took her own position. "Lets do this," he whispered, brandishing his staff.

For the next fifteen minutes, they traded spells. Harry's consistently were run into the ground, while Maya's always seemed to hit and obliterate whatever shield he had up. "How does she…" he muttered under his breath when he was thrown once again.

Somehow, he sprung to his legs, avoiding her next spell, and firing off a spell of his own. She grounded it, and fired a return curse. He had been trying to do the same trick to her spells that she was using on his, but he always failed miserably, and ended up with a broken shield, and flat on his behind.

This time was no different, but he had felt something. He threw his next spell, and watched as she twirled it into the ground before returning the favor. His eyes grew bigger. There was an extra twist at the end of the movements of her staff!

As he tried to guide her spell, he found his magic, once again, slipping off. There was a spin on her spells, making them harder to deflect!

Harry grunted as he ended up on the ground. "Okay," he whispered. "I give." He rolled over, and slowly crawled to his feet. "How do you do that? That twist? I can't deflect your spells!"

"That was a lot better," Ken said, walking over. "And I see you have finally found the next stage in your training. You are indeed, correct. Maya can deflect magic using her own. And as you tried it on hers, you found her spells spinning, making them harder to deflect. Magic arts are your next training." She put a hand on his shoulder. "And now you know that your training has not been in vain. Just keep your temper under control. Meditation should help."

Harry nodded gratefully at Ken.

00000

Harry was in his mindscape, a couple of weeks later. It was the last day he was here, at the Dursleys. Tomorrow, he would return to Hogwarts. Meditation had come hard for him today, his mind occupied by thoughts of Hogwarts, the school he had loved as a home for so long. But most of all, he had thought about the reactions of the others. Hermione had managed to make great progress with reaching her mindscape. She had not reached it yet, but she was getting near, Harry could tell. Ron was slower, but Harry was sure that he, too, would make it. Someday.

But most of all, he thought about the sword and the staff, about the amount of attention they would draw. The sword never left his side now, always tied to his hip. At night, the sword as on his bed, next to him, ready to be drawn within a moment's notice.

Not that he could, mind you. He was getting closer, now that his mental Hogwarts had been rebuilt, and he was adding in more details than ever before. He could draw about 85 percent of the blade now, before it got stuck and refused to budge.

Right now, he was sitting, cross-legged, in his mindscape, building on yet more mental Hogwarts.

He cursed, and his eyes opened. "It's just not working today. I'm too nervous," he grunted angrily, at once opening his eyes in the real world. "I'm getting better at controlling my emotions, but it's still not where it should be," he whispered to himself as he stood up, and walked to the center of his enlarged room. Once he was done here, he would disassemble his enlargement seals, and take down the concealment seals.

His room would return to its former size, and Harry would go back to Hogwarts. Where he would have to hide his new skills. He glanced at his sword. Well, most of them. He glanced automatically at his staff. Some of them, anyway. He didn't want everybody to know what he was capable of.

As his body slipped through the kata, his mind calmed slightly, and he was able to enjoy the feeling of the movements, of his body and mind at one, and at peace. These last two months of training had shown in Harry's physique. He had developed muscles now, and he moved with a grace that was not part of him before. And yes, confidence. He moved confidently now, secure in the knowledge that he could take care of himself in ways he could have only dreamed about before.

As his kata continued, something slammed into him.

Like a mental push, blackness overwhelmed him, and Harry heard a voice, crying in his head. Vaguely, he was aware of reaching out with his right hand, tugging, pulling, to hear the crying voice better.

It was Maya; it was her voice he was hearing!

Harry's eyes were open, yet they did not see.

Magic strained within him, and as his arm was fully outstretched, reaching for the ceiling above him, something… jumped.

Suddenly, he was aware of sharing the presence of someone; someone in pain. At once, he reached out, 'hugging' the other presence in this odd mental realm where nothing seemed to make sense.

"Harry?"

"You were in pain, so I came," Harry said, not really feeling up to explaining something he did not understand himself.

"Ken-Sensei is training me," she whispered, her mental presence looking at his. "To know and understand the pain-curse, I believe you call it the Cruciatous Curse."

Harry felt himself grow rigid.

"It's part of my training, I need to know, so I can anticipate. I can't block it, nobody can, but at least, someone people are able to operate through the pain," Maya said, feeling him tighten his mental hug. "And now, I should go back to the real world… I think Ken-Sensei is about to have a heart attack. I passed out, and now I'm here, talking to you, instead of waking up." She giggled. "Regardless of the revival spells she casts on me."

Harry managed a weak chuckle, and released her. "When you need me…"

"I know. I do, too," she replied, smiling at him. He returned the smile genuinely now, and willed himself back to his body, hoping against all odd that it would work.

It did, and Harry woke up, on his back, in the middle of his room. It stank like magic in there again, and Harry cursed, not even wanting to contemplate what kind of accidental magic he had cast this time. At least it hadn't wrecked his mindscape.

He felt something jab through his mind, through a mental 'channel' he had not been aware of. It felt like anxiety. Without thinking about it, he sent reassurance back at it, not even knowing how he did that. Surprise was echoed.

Harry?

Harry blinked.

Maya?

The surprise intensified, echoed by his own. At the same time, both teens echoed each other's thoughts.

O-oh. What did we do NOW?

End of Chapter

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