The youth in the hospital-bed didn’t look disbelieving or afraid, so much as annoyed. After Tsuzuki finished there was silence. Then,
“Well... bugger. Teach me to put my hopes on another Dark Wizard.”
Another Dark Wizard?!?
Before he could question, the youth produced a box; crystal, palm-sized, rune-inscribed and surrounded by a pulsing malevolence. Tsuzuki briefly glimpsed familiar silver-pale strands inside before the boy tapped it with a wand, murmuring quietly. The box turned blood-red. The youth smiled vindictively then raised an eyebrow at them.
“Well, shall we go? It would never do for a Malfoy to be more than fashionably late.”
The gossip cluster seemed larger than normal.
“…and they say the guy’s a… Tsuzuki! Hisoka!” Wakaba called, “Guess what happened while you were away?!”
“What?” Hisoka’s query was a masterpiece of indifference.
“They finally picked Ishino’s replacement! And…”
“People,” Tatsumi’s voice cut cleanly through the room, “I’d like you to meet your new colleague.”
Eyes swivelled to the door. The murmuring rose in volume.
“Are they nuts?” hissed Hisoka.
Tsuzuki felt a wave of incredulity as he met the smirk and pale eyes of the newest Shinigami.
“Everyone,” Tatsumi continued, “This is Draco Malfoy. He’ll be taking over the Seventh.”
He'd always thought his final resting place would be under willow-shaded white marble in the Malfoy family graveyard. Instead his memorial stood - an upright rectangle of black stone - in a Japanese cemetery; as foreign to him as the letters carved upon its surface, or the incense and offerings laid before it.
As alien as the fact he was dead - really truly finally dead. He felt cold and lost and weak.
“I believe you have seen enough, Malfoy-san.”
The words were formal, but he was grateful for Tatsumi’s reserve. He nodded. The hand on his shoulder steadied him in more ways than one as they vanished back to Meifu.
“Is it just my charming personality, or is there some other particular reason you dislike me?”
Hisoka jumped, caught unawares - Malfoy was one of the few people who could blindside his empathy. Fury was quickly substituted for fear.
“I need some other reason to dislike you than the fact you’re an amoral sociopathic Dark Wizard?”
“A dead amoral sociopathic Dark Wizard, remember.”
Malfoy was mocking him. Hisoka turned and stormed off. Malfoy’s voice followed,
“I may superficially resemble Muraki, Hisoka, but there are some lines I would never cross.”
Hisoka stopped, feeling Malfoy’s sincerity. He nodded briefly, then left. They wouldn’t ever be friends, but perhaps they could be allies.
Tsuzaki yelped at the sharp whack around his ear.
“For Merlin’s sake, enough with the angst already! You’re about as much to blame for their stupidity as you are for the rebirth of disco.”
Malfoy turned to the bodies, prodding the nearest one idly and muttering,
“Circe, didn’t I have to put up with enough tormented-hero types while I was alive? I get to suffer them throughout Eternity too? C’mon, I wasn’t that bad.”
Tsuzaki heard a choked noise from Hisoka, saw his partner’s hand covering his mouth, a rare grin disappearing behind it.
Suddenly, the day didn’t seem as awful.
The new Shinigami fascinated Watari from the first – he’d never met a Western sorcerer before. Draco didn’t mind answering endless questions either, though Watari suspected he’d been told a few fairytales. The mischievous twinkle was a giveaway. However, it hadn’t been fascination that led them here.
“So… I’m not poaching?”
“Seiichirou?” Watari blinked confusedly, “Why woul… Oh. Oh no, not at all. That wasn’t what I meant by ‘partners’. I mean, you and Koyasu aren’t a couple, are you?”
“I rather think Akiko and a sharp pointy object would have something to say about that.”
“She is ra… mmmf!”