Chapter 124 & 125 – Ghost
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Aerith was cheerful throughout February; after all, her birthday was on the 7th of Feb, and she went out with Cloud; she never told anyone what she did, and both she and Cloud acted as if nothing happened, but it was enough to keep her happy and cheery all month.

When it looked like nothing could dampen her spirits, not even Umbridge’s New Decree, one day, hearing a woman's sharp screams dampened them. She ran out of the Great Hall, where dinner was still taking place, going to the entrance hall, to find it was Professor Trelawney doing the screaming.

“NO!” She shrieked, “No! This cannot be happening; it cannot! I refuse to accept it!”

“You didn’t realize this was coming,” said a high girlish voice that Aerith turned her eyes to, screwing her eyebrows as Umbridge continued, “Incapable though you are of predicting even tomorrow’s weather, you must surely have realized that your pitiful performance during my inspections and lack of any improvement, would make it inevitable that you would be sacked?”

“You can’t! You can’t sack me! I have been here sixteen years!! Hog-Hogwarts is my home!!”

“It was your home. Until an hour ago when the Minister of Magic countersigned your Order of Dismissal. Now, kindly remove yourself.”

Aerith raised her eyebrows in a flash of anger, but she stopped seeing Professor McGonagall walk past the students, consoling Professor Sibyll, “You are not going have to leave Hogwarts.”

“Oh really, Professor McGonagall? And your authority for that statement is?”

“That would be mine.”

Aerith breathed out hearing Dumbledore’s voice when Tifa found her in the crowd, exchanging a look with her, “What do you think is going on?”

Tifa watched as Umbridge showed the parchment, introducing Dumbledore to the Education Decree that gave her the right to inspect probate or sack any teacher. Yet he kept smiling like a spring breeze.

“You are quite right and possess that authority, but you do not possess the authority to throw out people from my castle. That still lies with me, the Headmaster.

Tifa smiled, and she chuckled, hearing the wild laugh of Professor Trelawney, who gloated over Umbridge and said, “No! I’ll go, Dumbledore! I shall leave Hogwarts and seek fortune elsewhere!”

“No, it is my wish that you stay here,” Dumbledore sharply said and asked Professor McGonagall to take her up, and Professor Flitwick helped.

Umbridge stood still, staring at Dumbledore, whose smile didn’t miss a beat, “And what will you do with her once I appoint a new Divination Teacher who needs her lodging.”

“Oh, that won’t be a problem,” Dumbledore smiled, “I found a new Divination teacher, and he prefers commuting every day.”

“You have found?!” Umbridge shrilly raised her voice, “Might I remind you Dumbledore, under Educations Decree Number Twenty-Two—”

“The Ministry has the right to appoint a suitable teacher if the headmaster cannot find one. And I am happy to say that on this occasion, I have succeeded. May I introduce you?”

He turned to face the open doors, through which the night mist was drifting, and Dumbledore watched it, expecting an entry. He cleared his throat, hoping the person would hear.

“Are you…looking for me?”

Dumbledore turned back, and Umbridge yelped, realizing someone was standing beside her and a smile appeared on Dumbledore’s lips, seeing the young man with blonde hair and blue eyes with a beautiful light green glow, “Mr. Strife. I see you made yourself feel welcome.”

Cloud raised the pudding, which slipped his fingers, falling on the ground, “I had to have it. I couldn’t wait.”

“W-w-why are you here!” Umbridge screamed in her shrill voice.

“Mr. Strife will be the new Divination Professor.”

“Him? You call him qualified?!”

Dumbledore nodded, smiling, “I was surprised by his knowledge of Divination too. I knew Mr. Strife was a young man of many talents, but I did not know Divination was one of them.”

“Divination? Him?”

“If you are doubtful, then you can attend my class,” Cloud seemed cavalier about it, “In fact. I will give you an…trial lesson.”

He opened a book that Tifa and Aerith nodded to, and they both gasped, realizing what was happening.

“That’s Genesis…right?” Hermione appeared beside them, and they nodded, seeing Loveless in ‘Cloud’s’ hand.

“I predict that Professor Umbridge here will slip and fall.”

The students watching the show became confused; some laughed while others stifled it. On the other hand, Umbridge scoffed, “I will not entertain this! I will tell you that I have the right to sit in the classes and judge.”

She started walking away and stepped on the pudding; her leg slipped, and she fell to the ground, hitting her head.

Cloud (Genesis) smiled, his voice overshadowing the gasps, the laughs, the painful moans, “Now. I prophesied that she would fall, though she didn’t listen to me. And I was the one who dropped that pudding being the cause too. I ask you all, what type of prophecy was that? Or was it even a prophesy and not a phycological suggestion?”

“That is the question to which you need to find an answer before you have your first class with me. It will tell me how much you understand prophecies, and don’t worry. Professor Umbridge here has volunteered to be in all my classes,” He put out his hand for her, with a smile on his lips, “I am sure. She will be a stellar example of how prophecies come true.”

Umbridge stared at his hand, gritting her teeth, and got up on her feet on her own, and he pulled his hand back, greeting her.

“If I remember correctly, then you asked about the weather tomorrow? Well, there are going to be dark clouds, thunder, and heavy rain,” He smiled, turning to walk away, “Now, that pudding.”

Though he let go, Umbridge didn’t, she looked back at the main gate, and she knew it was a clear sky, and she laughed, which sounded like a hiccup, “It’s a clear sky! Clear!”

“Eh, looks can be deceptive. You never know, what’s hiding under,” He snapped his fingers without looking back, and a booming sound appeared in the sky. They all hastily ran out, looking at the clear sky turning dark, and lightning thundered, and rain started pouring in moments, leaving most of them shocked, wowing, and a few stepped out to see if the rain was real.

Dumbledore watched Umbridge shiver from sheer fury, narrowing his eyes, “I hope you are satisfied.”

He walked forward, looking at the crowd, “Miss Gainsborough, Miss Lockhart. If you could spare me a minute.”

“I knew it,” Aerith curled her lips and dragged her legs as she followed after Dumbledore, who took them to his office, sitting down, all the while without saying anything, but when he sat down, he didn’t look happy.

“Who was that? I talked with Cloud, and he asked me to give him the position if Professor Umbridge sacks any teacher. What I was not expecting was someone else appearing to take that position entirely!”

“Uh,” Tifa parted her lips, speechless, “It’s not someone else…not entirely. It’s him…it’s like a different personality of him.”

“Do not take me for a fool; that was a different body,” Dumbledore narrowed his eyes.

“Yeah,” Aerith sighed, “He should have told you. He got the idea from Horcruxes; when his mind became too chaotic and he was acting out, he cut that part of his soul that housed that personality and planted it in an object. Since Genesis has magical powers, he transfigures himself into a human so he can live normally.”

“I didn’t feel any dark magic, so I am assuming he didn’t commit murder?”

“Oh, no. Cloud possesses numerous magical talents and must have been one of them. Even we don’t know the details,” Tifa shook her head, “Not about this.”

“Hm, what kind of person is this…Genesis?”

“Uh…complicated?” Tifa looked at Aerith, seeking if she agreed or not.

“Helpful,” Aerith said, nodding, “I don’t mean good of heart, but helpful when there is a mission. But that doesn’t matter. He should be here…I need to…we need to talk to Cloud. Can we?”

Dumbledore nodded, “Hurry, and he better has a good reason.”

“Yeah.”

Aerith walked out of his office, and the two of them made their way to their room, where Aerith picked up the Sling Ring and opened a portal to Cloud, wondering where he was. Though they opened the portal, they realized that the one in front of them wasn’t Cloud. It was someone else, surrounded by agents, who all pointed their guns at him while he held the Buster Sword in front of him, and she froze seeing Zack and pulled back, “Ok. Good enough, I guess. I will see you later.”

She closed the portal, standing blankly in the room, “Do you have…any idea? What has he been doing behind our back?”

“How could you if it’s behind your back?”

Tifa still couldn’t come to terms with it; she looked back, “Uh…Natasha. You know?”

“Nah. I did realize that wasn’t Cloud…so I came to see if you would see him as well,” Natasha muttered, “I don’t like that guy. I don’t like the fake smile on his face.”

“Hermione?”

Hermione, ashamed to even appear in front of them, walked out from the corner of the room, shaking her head.

“Yeah, you three? Guns, him, surrounded?” Aerith pointed to the place where she had opened the portal and closed it.

“Echo, give me the short of it,” Tifa went to her bed, taking out her things as she started to take out her gloves, boots, and other gear.

[Yes.]

They watched their surroundings change, and it seemed like every other day for Cloud since he was standing in front of a school, Yelena’s school, waiting to pick her up.

“Ah, that used to be the only good thing about school days,” Natasha leaned against the bed, crossing her hands, looking at them. But since Tifa said to keep it short, the scene cut to when Yelena had come out and hugged him; in the next, her friends surrounded him, and then next they saw a man, black, wearing glasses, disheveled, slightly fat, and his head, “H-help!!!” dotted a white cloud.

The frame changed, much like comics and the cloud appeared on Cloud’s head, with his answer, “No.”

Echo must have skipped a lot of back and forth since in the next frame, Cloud was in front of a car, tucking Yelena in, and that man was still right behind them, having caught his breath, putting up a last-ditch struggle.

“The girl! The girl is like your daughter…she was in an accident, a quantum tunnel exploded and her molecular structure….”

He stopped, “Every day, she feels searing pain of her cells being torn apart and stitched back. I took her to SHIELD so she could be helped, but they plan to turn her into a weapon!”

In the next frame, Cloud had stopped, his eyes were fixed on Yelena, who was looking back at him, and in the next, he looked over his shoulder, “Can you afford me? I am not in the mood to do a Pro Bono.”

“I can! I can! Thank you!”

In the next frame, Cloud was in front of their Riverdale House, watching Yelena as she waved her hand, going towards Dobby and Winky, who waited at the house door in human form. There was only one white cloud in this frame above Cloud’s head, “Where?”

“Ok,” Aerith sat down, covering her face, taking a deep breath, “Ok, I am fine. I…am…fine.”

Tifa bent her knees in front of her, taking the palm of her hand, whispering, “No. You are not. I’ll make sure to let him have it.”

“No, don’t,” Aerith muttered, taking a deep breath as she fell backward on the bed, “Don’t.”

Tifa furrowed her brows, sighing sadly as she nodded, “Ok.”

“Stay with me?”

“Mm,” Tifa sat down near her head, putting Aerith’s head on her lap and stroking her hair while Natasha stood quietly. She climbed on the bed, lying down beside Aerith, hugging her.

Hermione wasn’t sure what to do, so she sat down, and it barely took Aerith a moment to bounce back, but they decided to wait, or Aerith wanted to wait. It was the wait; the time seemingly had slowed down, they were aware of every second, every minute, and then everyone who went to dinner started coming back.

Tifa sent him a message that it wasn’t safe anymore, so he should not come, but after an hour, he did say he was in Hogwarts and would go to see Dumbledore. So…from tomorrow onwards, they’d see more of him.

This should have been happy news, but Aerith had skewered her eyebrows and walked out of the room as if she was on a war path.

“Oh boy,” Tifa muttered, “Someone’s in trouble.”

“Who’s in trouble?”

“Cloud,” Hermione said, but at the same time, Tifa answered Angelina, “Aerith.”

“Aerith?” Hermione confusedly asked, “Why?”

“Yeah, why?” Alicia asked, “Where is she?”

“She went to see Cloud.”

“Ohh,” Katie oohed with everyone else in the room, and Angelina raised her eyebrows, “That’s kind of hot.”

“Seriously, I am here too,” Natasha stormed off, “All the time!”

Hermione waved her hand, “I’ll go too.”

Natasha gave them one last look and walked down the stairs, and even when she left Gryffindor’s common room, she didn’t go to her own house. She took a long detour, going toward the teacher’s quarters.

By the time she sneaked around and found her way to Cloud’s quarters, she hid and realized there was no way she could hide from both of them. So, she gave up and entered, “Are you two decent?”

“No.”

“Yes,” Cloud opened the door, welcoming her in, while Aerith was sitting on the bed, her cheeks puffed up.

“What is it?”

“I want answers,” Natasha walked in, poised, only he held her collar, throwing her out, “When you grow up.”

“Wait!”

*SLAM*

Cloud turned his eyes away from the door and back to Aerith, “You were saying.”

“Nothing. I said nothing,” Aerith looked away, “How’s that girl?”

“Fine. I think…that guy, the one who gave me the job, might be a problem,” Cloud sat beside her, waiting for her to ask, but she didn’t.

“Why?” Aerith turned on her side, “That guy? Why?”

“He wants the blood,” Cloud showed her an illusion of a hole in the moon, and she could see a box, airtight, with a drop of blood floating in between, glitching in and out of existence. However, it was just an illusion of the original thing.

“That’s…?”

“He talked something about Quantum…whatever? I have no idea. Anyway, he wants the blood…just in case, I have someone keep an eye on him. But the girl should be safe in his care.”

“Good job,” Aerith sat up and patted his head.

Cloud slapped her hand away, “Sorry…. I have…no excuse.”

“You do. You weren’t expecting us to be there,” Aerith leaned over, lying down on his lap, closing her eyes, “Don’t…do that again?”

“Yeah,” Cloud caressed her head, “Now, you shouldn’t be in a teacher’s room this late at night.”

Aerith turned on her back, taking his palm, bringing it to her lips, kissing them, “That…strangely turns me on.”

Cloud lay down on the bed, “I am tired.”

Aerith raised his shirt, kissing his abs, taking in his scent, “Okay…want a massage?”

“Actually…yeah.”

Aerith raised her body in surprise, “Did you say yes?”

“I did,” Cloud lay down on the bed, resting his head on the pillow, “Yeah. Get to work.”

Aerith parted her lips, closing them, confused, “What just happened?”

Cloud glanced back, “Massaged, you offered.”

“I did…didn’t I? Not the sexy one?”

“Not the sexy one.”

Aerith wrinkled her nose, “I don’t like you.”

“I don’t mind losing a few points.”

“Many, you are losing many points for this!”

“Get to work…I am tried.”

“Wait…where is Professor?”

“Our house? She liked the luxury part, sunbathing, pool, and all that stuff. She said she wanted to try it.”

“Does Dumbledore know?”

“He will…in the morning when Professor refuses to come back.”

“Oh…are you sure she would…yeah…she’ll refuse,” Aerith grinned, starting with his shoulder.

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