Fanfic: To Devour The Forbidden by TheDruidIsIn (Read for Free, 1,332,114 Clicks)

Description: The first time Hari met L, neither of them were completely honest. He gave her some bullshit name he probably borrowed from one of his cases, she gave him her middle name, and they made a deal over who got to eat the treacle tart.

Characters: No Archive Warnings ApplyL (Death Note)/Harry Potter Harry Potter/Original Female Character(s) Harry Potter & Original Character(s) Amane Misa/Yagami Light L & Yagami LightThe Soul Stone Harry Potter Original Female Character(s) L (Death Note) Watari | Quillsh Wammy Original Male Character(s) Grims – Character Reapers – Character Yagami Light Amane Misa Near | Nate River Mello | Mihael Keehl Ryuk (Death Note)Protective Harry Potter Powerful Harry Potter Master of Death Harry Potter Female Harry Potter BAMF Harry Potter Black Harry Potter Indian Harry Potter Infinity Stones Soul Stone Soul Magic Dimension Travel Omniverse Multiverse Alternate Timelines Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence Post-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pre-Kira Case Alive L (Death Note) L (Death Note) Deserved Better L Needs a Hug (Death Note) Harry Potter Needs a Hug touch starvation Friendship/Love Strangers to Friends to Lovers L Will Survive The Case L Will NOT Die Do You Hear Me fuck you light Fuck Light Yagami what a prick what do we say to the god of death? not today Canon-Typical Violence Canon-Typical Behavior Slow To Update The Author Regrets Nothing Ino is my emotional support wlw Gray Morality Morally Grey Harry Potter Underworld Implied/Referenced Character Death Implied/Referenced Child Abuse Implied/Referenced Sexual Assault Implied/Referenced Slavery I have to put those warnings in because there are mentions of Hari stopping human trafficking and other despicable things Nothing is discussed explicitly or shown on screen Fix-It of Sorts

Summary: Summary:

The first time Hari met L, neither of them were completely honest. He gave her some bullshit name he probably borrowed from one of his cases, she gave him her middle name, and they made a deal over who got to eat the treacle tart.They wouldn¡¯t be properly introduced or meet in person again for some time.

Notes: Notes:

For Aon_Rarsdani.

This fic isn¡¯t a part of my NANO challenge. I actually started working on this story on the 10 of May this year (2021), but never posted it. One of my friends who I shared it with (Ankh, we all know it¡¯s Ankh I¡¯m talking about) really likes this timeline (especially because of The Informant and Ino) and wants me to continue. The truth is that I have every intention of doing so, but it just may be slow to update since I always have a lot on my plate. Every once in a while I come back and fiddle with it, but I¡¯ve resigned myself to it being a long term project. I really like L. He¡¯s one of my favorite people of all time, characters and non-characters included lol. I broke down and decided to let it loose into the wild because I agree that Ino is too pure for this world and should be shared with everyone, and also because I wanted to get out another timeline with more MoD lore and to introduce the concept of The Informant. Mullk6 actually came up with the original concept of ¡®The Informant¡¯, but as you can see, aside from a few barebones details like the name itself and their information hotline, they don¡¯t share a lot of similarities. How and why they do what they do, their branding, the rules, etc, differ, among other details. I¡¯ve linked to the series where Mullk6 mentions their Informant if anyone is curious. I love their OC self-insert group and really enjoyed that series.

(See the end of the work for more notes.)

Chapter 1

Chapter Text
Linking the series that inspired my own version of ¡®The Informant¡¯ here because Ao3 will only let you link to individual works that inspired something.?

|/?A siren blared in the distance. Hari shielded her overly sensitive eyes from the glaring city lighting and the sudden onslaught of millions of jewel-bright souls, each shining at a different intensity. Some were far duller, their shine reduced by misery, others spider-webbed with cracks from stress, and yet others fractured, either from trauma or cruelty. Each, however, darted by like a glimmering luminescent minnow in a pool, individually giving off their own steady incandescence.??The Soul Stone shifted around curiously underneath her skin, metaphorically pressing a hand to hers in concern.??
¡®Why are we here, Beloved? Why have we stopped?¡¯
?Face scrunched in confusion and slight pain from the blazing inferno, the maelstrom of pulsating, ever-shifting brilliance that came from being dunked into a veritable ocean of souls, Hari offered a bewildered response.??
¡®What do you mean? Isn¡¯t this your doing?¡¯
¡®No, my love.¡¯
?With a quick, negligent Scourgify to clean it first and get the worst of the muck off of it, Hari leaned against the alley wall, sagging into it wearily. If she had to stay here for any amount of time, she¡¯d need to develop some sort of spiritual blinders or¡ªor something . It would have been better if she could have eased into it, seen one soul or twenty and not a churning ocean filled to the brim with flitting souls. Instead she steadied herself against a less than desirable surface, half-nauseas from the adjustment to her newfound ability. The Soul Stone¡ªSunny, she decided to call it¡ªcrooned reassurances the entire time, coiling their energy together comfortingly where it touched.??Eventually, the sheer shock started fading. She didn¡¯t know how long she stood there, weak-kneed and disoriented, but after a time she found she could lift her head, could squint out at the suddenly too-bright world through spiritual sunglasses she hastily crafted, for lack of a better descriptor. Looking around her became bearable, less like a Lumos Maxima or Lumos Solem to the face, searing her retinas in the process, and more like the photosensitivity that came from staying inside a dimly lit room then suddenly emerging from it at the zenith of a sunny day. She could at least gather her wits about her to somewhat get her bearings. She needed to know where and when they¡¯d landed, what brought them there, and where they could take shelter. She needed to know the dangers of the new world, its ins and outs and everything in between.??Gritting her teeth, Hari straightened to her full height, her magic snapping out to shove away the sense of lightheadedness that followed. Drawing in a steadying breath, she Banished any residue that transferred to her robe, cloaked herself in a generous application of a Notice-Me-Not, and set off toward the mouth of the alley. Stepping from the shadows into the glare of the afternoon sun, Hari tried to look casual as she walked a few paces behind a group of teens in uniform, their quiet chatter not carrying to her over the other noises of the bustling city street. A discrete Tempus informed her that it was just after seven forty-five in the morning. No doubt the teens were students just going to their first classes of the day.??The former Seeker glanced this way and that, trying to read any of the street signs and realizing with a jolt that she couldn¡¯t decipher the writing. A knot of dread settled in her stomach. While she could recognize the script as kanji, she never studied Japanese. A slight panic set in as she turned off of the sidewalk onto a soft dirt path winding through a public garden. Spotting a bench underneath a sakura tree, she made a beeline for it, pausing when she noticed an elderly Japanese woman already occupying it. Her smiling dark eyes watched the koi in the pond, her snowy hair woven smartly into a single braid and her sunbonnet a cheery sunshine yellow that nicely matched the neat dress she wore. She didn¡¯t turn as Hari approached, continuing to follow the movements of the koi as they swam. Across the pond, a few children threw feed into the shallows under the supervision of their parents.??Hari expanded her privacy spell to include the woman but not the families. ¡°Er, hello,¡± she tried hesitantly, wincing internally as she reviewed her chances that the woman would understand her English. ¡°Do you mind if I sit with you?¡±?The previously inactive woman turned to her with a healthy dose of delighted surprise. ¡°You can see me, young one?¡±?¡°Er,¡± Hari stumbled, momentarily wrong-footed. ¡°Yes, I can.¡±??Then it hit her. She hadn¡¯t? noticed at first because of the never-ending, currently migraine-inducing kaleidoscope of colors washing over her with every step she took, but the woman gave off the same resonance as her parents.? She was dead and clearly not expecting anyone to see her. With a bit of tentative spiritual and magical prodding, Hari discerned her cause of death. She¡¯d simply fallen asleep there on that very bench one perfect spring afternoon and never gotten up again. A non-violent, peaceful death for a soul that Hari could tell just by a rudimentary glance belonged to someone kindhearted and jolly.??¡°I hate to impose, but could you help me? I¡¯m a little lost and I can¡¯t read Japanese.¡±?¡°Uh? Can¡¯t read Japanese?¡± The old woman gave her an uncomprehending look. ¡°But you speak it so well.¡±?¡°I don¡¯t speak¡ª¡±??Once again it took her brain a few seconds to catch up with the flow of things, to fully process everything happening to her in the drowning flood of new senses that came with the Soul Stone suffusing her essence with its own, merging every single particle down to her marrow. If she concentrated, she could hear the smooth cadence of the woman¡¯s voice in her native Japanese, and yet when she spoke Hari understood her every word. How could that be, unless….unless she understood her soul because the woman was dead. Perhaps her own words similarly translated to be understood by the dead? Mind whirling with another piece of new information, Hari smiled warmly at the woman. ¡°So sorry to bother you. I¡¯m just not from around here and I never learned.¡±?¡°Ah.¡± The woman nodded. ¡°I see. Well, I would be happy to help. Not many people acknowledge me nowadays. I get lonely sitting here with no one to keep me company or carry on a conversation.¡±?Hari¡¯s heart went out to her. ¡°I don¡¯t mean to be rude, but¡ªare you aware that you¡­¡±??She hesitated to finish the sentence, but the old woman did it for her.??¡°It¡¯s alright, young one, I know I¡¯m dead, but I hoped with all of the spirits in our culture that at least one person would sense me.¡±?The young redhead once thought of as the Light of the Revolution bowed awkwardly then extended her hand. ¡°That does sound a little lonely, but I¡¯m here now and I see you. I¡¯m Hari.¡±?¡°Hari.¡± The old woman added a slightly different emphasis with her lilting accent, dipping her head politely. ¡°I am Izumi.¡±??¡°It¡¯s nice to meet you, Izumi.¡±?Izumi accepted Hari¡¯s proffered appendage with her own wrinkled one, tensing slightly on contact. Her eyes grew solemn, and she bowed low over her hand, now oddly formal as she addressed her. ¡°It is an honor to meet you,¡± she intoned respectfully.??¡°An honor?¡±??Her dark eyes softened, the kindness from before still evident. ¡°I will help guide you. I would have before, but now I know it is my duty.¡±?
Her duty? What in Merlin¡¯s name?
?¡°Alright,¡± Hari agreed uncertainly. She had no idea what her new companion was on about, but if the woman willingly consented to helping her, then so be it. She watched Izumi stand slowly, dusting off imaginary dust particles. She pressed her aged hands together and gifted Hari a deep, formal bow, then straightened, clasping her hands together in front of herself.??¡°Follow me, Hari-kougou.¡±??Hari blushed. ¡°Please, you don¡¯t have to be so formal with me, Izumi.¡±??Izumi merely bowed again. ¡°As you wish, Hari-sama.¡±?Hari bit her lip, frustrated, but said nothing, merely following Izumi out of the garden back onto the sidewalk running parallel to the main road. Or at least, she tried following, but Izumi positioned herself to be at Hari¡¯s elbow once they hit left the garden path, beside her but slightly behind, creating enough distance that she could reach out and touch Hari¡¯s arm if she felt so inclined, but not close enough to brush against her by side by accident. She patiently read each sign they came across, speaking clearly with each syllable enunciated while also not raising her voice louder than necessary. Her even tones felt somewhat soothing, and Hari found herself internalizing some of the most repetitive symbols as they went. She was far from not getting lost, but at least with Izumi she had the gist of what sort of establishments they passed? as they stepped soundlessly through the crowds, unnoticed by any passerby. They spent the better part of an hour familiarizing Hari with some of the more popular or useful places that Izumi knew of from her life. She still felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of souls surrounding her as far as the eye could see, but grew progressively better at handling the inundation as time passed and exposure increased. She might not be able to take off the ¡®sunglasses¡¯ for a while longer, but the fact that she could still clearly distinguish between any given soul and its peers and ascertain its quality and its condition placated her somewhat. Sunny seemed thrilled, humming cheerfully just beneath her consciousness.??She took Izumi¡¯s advice to find somewhere to stay (at least for the night) and took over an abandoned warehouse for herself. Hari could tell Izumi would have preferred that Hari procure a flat, but as she had no yen and couldn¡¯t exactly pay in solid gold, she had to use a little creativity to meet her needs. Izumi politely said nothing about her choice of residence, nor did she speak up when Hari began casting. She swiftly paced the property lines, tracing out a boundary. Raising wards came second-nature to her. Between her time on the run during the war as a fugitive and her time traveling her world, it amounted to no more than flexing a well-used muscle. She stalked the perimeter, drawing layer upon layer of concealment and protection enchantments alongside those for privacy and repulsion of unwanted guests, one of the first being Muggle Repellent to deter any non-magical neighbors from stepping foot onto her land. At the end, she added a Blood Ward for good measure to make the matrix of enchantments more responsive to her. Her magic blazed, shimmering on the cool air until it faded from sight like a mirage on a hot day.??Reassured that some Muggle wouldn¡¯t walk in on her since she had no desire to broadcast her abilities at the moment, Hari stepped into her fixer-upper of a new home. If that meant she had to perform a few hours of cleanup and renovations, so be it. She at least had the freedom to design it how she wanted it once she Vanished, Banished, or Scorgified anything unwanted then reconstructed some of the less stable parts of the building. Given the charms for reinforcing foundations or repairing support beams that she had to learn to help in the rebuilding of Hogwarts, it didn¡¯t prove a challenge to correct any structural issues. The former Seeker wove magic into the very fabric of the building, soaking it into the concrete, the brick, the mortar, the columns, reshaping the interior of the building to her will. Largely taking inspiration from Gryffindor Tower, the architecture of Hogwarts as a whole, and the less tacky or ostentatious designs of Grimmauld Place, she set to work making the place into something livable. Thankfully one of the flaws of the initial design didn¡¯t include a lack of bathrooms, though she did have to create a kitchen area. She kept the sleeping quarters all on the top floor, while on the bottom she sectioned off areas for the kitchen, dining room, common area, and receiving room. Her magic sizzled through the air, adding staircases, passages, and rooms, expanding the building from within the way her tent was.??By the time she finished spelling everything to her specifications, she felt famished. Another quick Tempus told her she¡¯d worked until just before noon. Her lodgings secure, Hari returned to the streets to learn more about the city and hopefully find a bite to eat. She wanted to build a working body of knowledge so she could get around on her own without having to rely on Izumi¡¯s kindness¡ªnot that the kindly old woman complained. She seemed perfectly content to continue assisting Hari, all smiles and lively laughs, regaling the witch with hilarious lighthearted anecdotes, terribly amusing jokes, and genuinely friendly advice. For the first time in her life, Hari got a glimpse of what it would feel like to have a grandmother. She’d never known either of hers, what with one being murdered in cold blood and one dying of a mage¡¯s disease. She rapidly blinked away the tears that threatened to fall, instead smoothing her lips into a wobbly smile. If Izumi noticed her emotional moment, she refrained from pointing it out, instead sharing her recipe for ramen.?As she idly decided to pick up the ingredients later for dinner, the enticing samples visible in the window of a nearby British-themed? bakery and caf¨¦ caught her eye. Hari ducked inside, bell tinkling over the entranceway. The scents that wafted to her as she paused at the threshold made her stomach rumble, further encouraging her previous decision to buy one of the delicious treats advertised in Japanese, English, and what she thought looked to be a Chinese language¡ªmost likely Mandarin. She crossed the room to the counter, allowing the uncomfortable stares of the occupants to wash over her without reacting to them. From her place in line, she could just see the last slice of treacle tart on its own tray. It had always been her favorite dessert, so she was unsurprised to learn from Sirius that her mother craved it even more than usual when pregnant with her. Clearly she¡¯d passed on her love of the dessert to Hari.??¡°Hi,¡± Hari began as the bell pealed behind her, pausing when her words came out in English before she belatedly remembered that Izumi, a silent presence who waited patiently by her side, only understood her because she was dead, ¡°But could I have plain black tea and the treacle tart, please?¡±?Before the cashier could ring her up, a voice interrupted the transaction behind her. ¡°Excuse me, miss, but I believe that¡¯s the last treacle tart.¡±?Hari turned to see a man around her same height and chronological age, pale as a corpse with piercing slate gray eyes that, in conjunction with purple bruise-like smudges no doubt left from severe sleep deprivation hovering just underneath his eyes and tousled jet black hair, created a stark contrast. She could see jutting collarbones peeking out from the neckline of his long-sleeved white shirt, left untucked from a pair of dark jeans. She couldn¡¯t help but look at his eyes again. They reminded her of Luna¡¯s perpetually startled look, something wide and innocent about them despite the sheen to his. Less than a few seconds passed as she appraised him, too few for things to become uncomfortable.??¡°It is,¡± Hari replied evenly, eyebrows raised.??¡°Do you think you could refrain from purchasing it? This is the only bakery in this part of the city that both carries it and makes it to my liking.¡±?Hari blinked at him, cocking her head. ¡°You¡¯re serious, aren¡¯t you?¡±?He pensively pressed his thumb into his bottom lip. ¡°Quite.¡±?¡°And why should I deprive myself of my favorite dessert?¡±?¡°Why should you deprive me of mine ?¡±?¡°This is insane. Why can¡¯t you just buy something else?¡±? Her exasperation leaked into her voice, though she didn¡¯t raise her volume.??The man hunched his shoulders. ¡°If you¡¯re going to insist on buying the only thing I purchase here, then I insist you help me pick out something else.¡±?Hari¡¯s mouth worked for several long moments before a solution came to her just in time, since it belatedly dawned on her that she only had a few bills of what she assumed to be the local currency that she found along the way laying on the sidewalk. The clipped bundle must have fallen from someone¡¯s pocket, not that she saw anyone around to claim it. Perhaps more pressing was the fact that even though she now had a bit of money, little though it was, she really had no idea how many notes she needed to pay for anything. When putting them away, she also found a handful of euros stuffed into an inner robe pocket that she¡¯d forgotten about at some point, but she seriously doubted she¡¯d be able to spend those, much like she couldn¡¯t simply spend the solid gold weighing down her mokeskin pouch. At least now she didn¡¯t have to cast a Confundus Charm on the cashier. ¡°Fine. We¡¯ll split it forty-sixty to your advantage and you can foot the bill.¡±?His brows drew together as he continued scrutinizing her, gaze unwavering. ¡°Why would you suggest that?¡±?Hari shrugged. ¡°So everybody wins.¡±?Something glimmered in his eyes. ¡°And what if I want more than sixty percent? What if I want the entire treacle tart?¡±?¡°Then I would suggest buying me my own dessert since a few crumbs wouldn¡¯t be filling.¡±?She¡¯d have felt guilty about how much time they were taking up in line if there¡¯d been someone else waiting to place an order. She honestly didn¡¯t think he¡¯d go for the deal, but with the smallest of triumphant smiles, he shuffled up to her unoccupied side. ¡°We¡¯ll take the treacle tart, her plain black tea, a black coffee, and whatever dessert she chooses.¡±?He slipped his wallet out of his pocket, staring meaningfully at her from the corner of his eye. Hari settled for her next favorite dessert. ¡°I¡¯ll have the egg custard tart.¡±?The cashier rang up their order, handing the man his receipt as she scribbled their drink choices onto the barista¡¯s blackboard, then going to box their tarts. Hari shifted awkwardly from foot to foot, trying and failing not to continue studying the man next to her. There was something different about his soul, some quality that distinguished him from those around him. It took her several seconds to notice the glittering stars peaking past the unassuming mask of humanity, an undertone that reminded her faintly of her own and yet not. There was some sort of faint connection to death and rebirth, though she couldn¡¯t say what. The cashier handing them their boxes and a few utensils momentarily nudged her away from her musings. She accepted the egg custard tart, casting one mournful glance at the treacle tart in the man¡¯s hands.??¡°Having second thoughts?¡±??Hari met his eyes. ¡°I¡¯m not. Thanks, by the way. You didn¡¯t have to.¡±?He shrugged. ¡°It only seemed fair.¡±?¡°Still¡ªthanks.¡± She paused infinitesimally, realizing that she could give out any name, any name at all, and he¡¯d be none the wiser¡ªno one would. Far from being ¡®just Hari¡¯, she could be anyone she wanted. She had an entirely new life ahead of her in this world bathed in anonymity, and she thought she¡¯d enjoy it. She extended her hand to him, the appendage still bare since she¡¯d been by herself when she first stepped into the Spirit World and consequently met Sunny. ¡°I¡¯m Nepeta.¡±?He disregarded it, eyes not leaving her face. ¡°Masaru. I don¡¯t shake hands.¡±?¡°Oh.¡±?She let it drop instantly. ¡°Well, it was still nice to meet you, Masaru.¡±?¡°I¡¯m sure the pleasure¡¯s all mine, Nepeta.¡±??Despite the flatness of his voice on the surface, Hari caught the sarcasm in his statement. Part of her wanted to be offended, but part of her found his deadpan delivery and dry remark hilarious. She snickered, not caring if he were trying to insult her.??¡°I swear I¡¯m not that bad,¡± she teased, pleased to see the surprised widening of his eyes when he immediately realized she caught onto him.??¡°That¡¯s rather subjective, don¡¯t you think?¡±?The quiet delivery somehow made it funnier. She could appreciate his humor¡ªsharp yet presented as soft.??¡°Yes and no. Your perception could be wrong .¡±? That got to him.??¡°I am hardly ever wrong, but we shall see.¡±?Instead of leaving as soon as the barista slid their drinks across to them, Masaru followed her to the secluded corner booth she chose, crouching in the seat rather than sitting the way most people tended to. Hari herself drew both legs into the seat, the flats of her boots pressed together, legs resting in a cramped butterfly pose. Masaru¡¯s dark eyes dipped as if noting her seating position, though he refrained from commenting on it. Hari opened the lid of her box and tore the paper packaging off of the disposable wooden spoon. She scooped up the first bite of the egg custard tart, eyes locking onto Masaru as she raised it to her lips. ¡°Do you treat everyone to this sunny disposition?¡±??She plopped the bite into her mouth, eyes closing at the flavor. It tasted heavenly, almost as good as what she ate at Hogwarts. She¡¯d definitely be coming back to this little bakery-caf¨¦ combination. Her eyes opened when Masaru spoke, his own bite halfway to his mouth. ¡°I¡¯m not really a people person.¡±?Her lips twitched at the open admission. ¡°Really now? I¡¯d have never noticed.¡±??His eyes narrowed. ¡°Unfortunately, I can¡¯t say I resent the insinuation when it¡¯s agreeing with my previous statement.¡±?Hari smirked as she fixed her tea the way she liked it. ¡°And by that you mean you walked right into it.¡±?¡°I suppose I did.¡± He freed the morsel of treacle tart from his spoon, added seven sugars and as much creamer as the coffee cup would allow without overflowing, then twirled his spoon in his coffee to stir it all together, only gripping the handle between thumb and forefinger. He set the spoon aside, raising the cup to his lips, again only using his thumbs and forefingers. ¡°You¡¯re new to Japan?¡±?¡°Mm,¡± Hari hummed. ¡°Just arrived.¡±??She gave as much information as was required, nothing more and nothing less. Masaru noticed, she noticed that he noticed, and he noticed that she noticed that he noticed. It made her feel dissected, as if? he were cutting apart the layers he saw, though more by force of habit than anything personal. It still made the war veteran in her bristle, and she had to forcibly smooth her hackles when they rose in response, her body and mind tensing for a threat.??¡°I assumed as much, though it is a bit strange that you haven¡¯t spoken a word of Japanese. Many tourists or students at least learn how to order in Japanese, badly mangled as it may be.¡± He took a measured sip of his coffee. ¡°Why is it that you didn¡¯t?¡±?Was he seriously challenging her for not ordering in a specific language at a trilingual establishment? Then again, he did have a point. In her old world, a lot of people would learn basic phrases ¡ªhello, where¡¯s the bathroom, I¡¯m lost, I want to order ¡ªif they intended to travel to another country with a completely different language or dialect. Even mages did once upon a time before some brilliant inventor or other¡ªprobably an ancestor of hers¡ªcreated the Language Lozenge.? Hermione always insisted it was cheating. Hari just thought it was useless in the long-run. After all, once consumed it only gave the user fluency for the next twenty four hours until they consumed another. Hardly practical long-term if someone wanted to settle down in a new country of residence.???¡°I didn¡¯t get the time,¡± Hari shrugged. ¡°I arrived here a little suddenly because coming here was spur of the moment.¡± She didn¡¯t want to say ¡®an accident¡¯ or he¡¯d write her off as an idiot. She didn¡¯t know why it mattered that he didn¡¯t, but she wanted to avoid it. Maybe it had something to do with the way cunning calculation hid beneath a thin veneer of lazy curiosity and bored interest. She hardly cared what quirky strangers thought of her, but some instinct told her this would be important someday.??¡°Oh? And why might that be?¡±?Somehow he managed to interrogate her while eating half of his treacle tart. Not having any compunctions about eating with his mouth full helped.??Hari ignored the piercing, unwavering? stare from across the table as she cut her egg custard tart into evenly divided pieces. ¡°Something came up in my personal life.¡± When he didn¡¯t press further, Hari¡¯s eyes flicked up to meet his. ¡°How is it you came to speak Japanese? Do you live here?¡±?¡°Yes.¡±?? Occasionally , Hari unintentionally gathered when she scanned his surface thoughts. Legilimency made it all too easy to discern someone¡¯s intentions, and Hari felt the sudden urge to ensure she hadn¡¯t just told a serial killer that she was in a foreign country because of personal issues, alone , without speaking the local language. She might not be able to die permanently and could live through damage that would instantly kill others, but fending off yet another person who wanted to kill her didn¡¯t sound like her idea of a vacation. The assassination attempts in her world got old pretty quickly, regardless of how little she actually had to fear. There was a point when any woman had to put her foot down at one too many stabbings, poisonings, curses, or hit and runs.??She knew she wouldn¡¯t be getting anything more out of Masaru. He seemed even more tight-lipped than her about his movements. Instead she focused on systematically devouring her tart, sipping delicately at her tea the way Aunt Petunia taught her so she didn¡¯t embarrass her in front of anyone. Masaru watched her every move, his light giving off that strange aura. Hari wished she could ask him about it but had no idea how to broach the subject. Did this strange new world have mages like her? No, that wasn¡¯t it. Even if it did, the aura wasn¡¯t simply that of another mage, but something else entirely.??The faint thump of Masaru setting his spoon aside drew her attention to his hands again, long, thin fingers closing the now empty box. Hari savored the last of the egg custard tart, washed down by the rest of her tea. She flashed a genuine smile at Masaru. He might be as suspicious of her as she grew of him during their conversation, but he seemed nice enough.? He wasn’t trying to murder her at the very least.??¡°Thank you for the company, Masaru,¡± Hari murmured politely with a dip of her head. ¡°Maybe we¡¯ll run into each other again.¡±?¡°Hmm. I highly doubt it, but if we do, you¡¯re still not taking the last treacle tart, Nepeta.¡±?Hari couldn¡¯t contain her answering chuckle as she stood, gathering her now empty containers. ¡°At least I know I proved you wrong.¡±?¡°Did you?¡±???He followed her to the bins, almost stepping through a patiently waiting Izumi.??¡°You don¡¯t seem like the type to stick around when things bore you and you don¡¯t care enough about etiquette to fake interest, so yes, you were wrong, regardless of how rare you say that is.¡±?He huffed, tossing away everything in the appropriate place. Freed from their burdens, his hands returned to his pockets, shoved deeply into the recesses.??¡°Point.¡± He swayed slightly but otherwise didn¡¯t budge from his position.?? Probably waiting for me to leave first, Hari guessed. Merlin, and I thought I was paranoid . She wiggled her fingers in a wave as she turned partially, the door already in sight. ¡°Until next time, Masaru.¡±??¡°If there is one.¡±?She could feel him tracking her progress as she exited the shop, heading in the direction of an ATM she saw earlier. Magic could take care of the camera or prevent any witnesses, and needs must.

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