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Waking up is like a dream. He feels warm and comfortable, without a hint of tiredness clinging to his eyes. He can feel Eraserhead sleeping next to him, a heavy, comforting weight.

 

“Good morning,” He croaks, throat dry from sleep. Eraserhead huffs, clearly not wanting to wake up. Hizashi laughs and carefully gets out of bed, washing up and applying salve to his wounds before coming back to find Eraserhead in the same spot he left him. A warm sunbeam falls across the bed, and Eraserhead is lying right in it.

 

The bard crawls in beside him, gently petting at him. “Wake up, Eraser.”

 

The Sphinx rolls over in response, purring loudly as he bares his stomach. Hizashi laughs, gently scratching him as he leans over. “We should begin our day…” Eraserhead only purrs louder.

 

The bard bites his lip, humming before he bows his head, pressing a kiss to Eraser’s lips.

 

Eraserhead kisses back slowly and lazily, inching closer to Hizashi. Hizashi pulls away, leaving Eraserhead chasing his lips for a moment. Eraserhead opens his eyes and glares softly, letting out a small huff.

 

“The kids can handle themselves,” Eraserhead says, matter-of-factly, “and I want to sleep more.”

 

“You want to be lazy,” Hizashi says with a grin as he sits beside the Sphinx.

 

Eraserhead lays back down, smiling up at Hizashi with a grin that was all teeth. “Maybe so.”

 

Hizashi sighs as he leans down and kisses him again. The Sphinx gives a low growl as his eyes fall shut. Hizashi presses closer-

 

Then the door bursts open, a very tall and very loud man bursts in, his armor barely covering his rippling muscles.  

 


 

My friend! ” The man cheers. Midoriya pops out from behind the man only to turn away quickly, cheeks burning bright.

 

Hizashi pulls away, eyes wide as he grabs for a weapon- the voice is so familiar-

 

In a burst of smoke, the man deflates into a grinning Yagi.

 

“Yagi.” Eraserhead growls, already on his feet and launching to the floor. Yagi sputters as he soaks in Eraser’s full form, blood dripping from his mouth in shock.

 

“You really are a Sphinx now! My friend- my friend….uh… Shit. You really are cursed.”

 

“What? Did you think I was half-cursed?” Eraserhead eyes him warily. “And I see you have a new student.”

 

Yagi makes a show of introducing Midoriya. “Feeling better?” Midoriya asks Hizashi. Hizashi blinks and tilts his head.

 

“The poison is almost gone, if not gone already. I feel fine.” Hizashi says. Midoriya goes pale at the mention of poison. Eraserhead harrumphs indignantly. “Don’t listen to the Sphinx. He worries too much.”

 

“You should worry more.” Eraserhead tells him, before turning to Yagi. “Are you cursed as well? You didn’t look like a skeleton before.”

 

Instead of responding to the joke, Yagi’s face turns serious. “I was greatly injured. My body is weaker than it used to be, but I can still use my magic!” He explodes into a muscular form, all round muscles instead of hard angles. Another burst of smoke appears, and Yagi is back in his original form.

 

“I’m sorry to hear about your injury,” Eraserhead says awkwardly. He shifts his paws, unsure of what to do with himself.

 

Yagi gives him a look. “I never thought you’d settle down with someone-”

 

Eraserhead sputters, then growls, turning away quickly.

 

Midoriya tilts his head. “So Present Mic lied when he said he wasn't involved with him?”

 

Yagi waves his hands, trying to dodge the subject. “Perhaps this isn't our business to discuss… why don't you head out with the children who brought us here and thank them?”

 

Midoriya nods, glancing back at Eraserhead and Hizashi. He gives a quick, nervous bow. “S-sorry for waking you!”

 

Hizashi laughs awkwardly and waves, watching the kid run down the hallway to the main room. He mentally berates himself for not hearing them approach, though he's surprised Eraserhead didn't hear them either. If he wasn't so embarrassed, he'd feel proud of how distracting his kissing must be. Yagi has the foresight to close the door.

 

“I'm, ah, rather sorry for this. I was told you'd be sleeping and I should wake you up. I see that was unnecessary.”

 

“How observant,” Eraserhead huffs. His face is sporting an impressively judgemental expression. Hizashi wishes he could hide under his blankets for awhile.

 

“Well! I wanted to discuss some things, but if now is not a good time, we can arrange for it later.”

 

Hizashi sighs and shakes his head.

 

“Now is fine. I'm curious how you got here. And how did you know I was injured?”

 

“We met Shouto at the border. He told us everything. We-ah, were a bit stressed on our way here.” Yagi’s voice softens as he covers his mouth with his hand. “There was a lot of blood.”

 

“Whose blood? Mine or yours?” Hizashi asks.

 

“When you put it that way, a bit of both.” Yagi says. “Regardless, it took us a bit to get here. We had to make some side stops.”

 

“What happened?” Eraserhead sits up, suddenly alert.

 

“The usual, I suppose. We ran into some evil magic practitioners. That was far from good.”

 

“You’re here now. And alive,” Hizashi claps his hands together. “That’s all that matters.”

 

“Same to you, my friends!” Yagi chuckles. “I’m glad to see you both!”

 

“Why else are you here?” Eraserhead asks, a little bit of annoyance still in his tone. “I assume it’s not just a friendly visit.”

 

“Oh, did you not know?” Yagi says, confused. He nods at Hizashi. “Mic mentioned your curse, and we’ve come to help break it!”

 

Eraserhead turns his annoyance on Hizashi. The blond raises his hands in defense. “I didn't ask them to!”

 

Yagi looks baffled. “Is it a bad thing we came?”

 

Both a yes and no were yelled from the bard and the Sphinx.

 

Hizashi sighs while Eraser’s wings puff up in aggravation.

 

“Sorry. It’s just- it’s his choice. Don't force the issue. We already talked about it.”

 

Eraserhead calms as Hizashi talks, flexing his claws as he thinks.

 

“Let’s not talk about that. Have you eaten? Lets get breakfast and you can tell us of your journeys. Hizashi hasn’t eaten anything either.”

 

Eraserhead pushes past them as he walks out of the room, tail flicking behind him. Yagi and Hizashi exchange a look.

 

“So… how are things with him?”

 

Hizashi smiles. “We're fine, he's just a little high strung. Seeing me return half dead wasn’t any fun for him.”

 

“Ah,” Yagi says as he considers Hizashi’s words. “I suppose that could do it. He doesn't seem to have changed much from when he was a human.” Yagi chuckles to himself. “We best get going, or he'll be upset.”

 

Midoriya is waiting for them outside the tavern, talking to Shouto and Shinsou. They all seem pretty happy to see a new face their age, so the two adults decide to leave them be as they walk over to Eraserhead’s house. When they arrive, Yagi lingers in the doorway, studying the long scratches on the inner side of the door.

 

Eraserhead gives him a warning growl, glaring until Yagi moves.

 

Midoriya sits with Hizashi, jotting down notes. Hizashi looks over at Midoriya’s book and comments, “I think you need a spell on that book of yours- if anyone got ahold of it it would be a real threat. I could help you with one.”

 

Midoriya grins, closing the book. “I would be grateful.”

 

“Can't you wait until you're healed before you start teaching everyone new magic?” Eraserhead grumbles. He's actually eating with them today, but he only has sausage on his plate.

 

“Hey, I don't need to use magic to teach it! Shouto was a special case.”

 

“Special because you forgot to limit yourself?”

 

“Don't call me out like this at the table.”

 

The kids are all laughing to themselves at the playful argument. Eri doesn't seem to understand the joke and she comes over to hug Hizashi’s stomach. He grimaces as she brushes his stitches but bears it quietly.

 

“Don't be too mad at him sensei. Mic-sensei will do better this time, right?”

 

“S-sensei?” Hizashi has a pleased blush as he tugs Eri into his lap, ignoring the twinge in his shoulder. “Eri, you're so precious! And I will be better this time, I promise!”

 

“Good!” Eri turns to Midoriya, peering over the top of his book. “Is that supposed to be Sensei? He doesn't look like that!”

 

“Eri, don't be rude.” Eraserhead chastises.

 

“But Sensei! You're not a human! You're a big, cute kitty!” Hizashi leans forward and catches a glimpse of the drawing in question.

 

When Hizashi first looked at Eraserhead’s page, the drawing of him had been close to a stick figure. Now, however, there is a detailed drawing of him as a human, although a few of his features were off. The nose is too small, he looks well rested, and his face is too narrow. He’s depicted wearing dark colored armor, a long thin scarf wrapped around his shoulders. On a separate piece of paper taped to the page, there is a small sketch of him as a Sphinx, as well as some information and speculation about his curse.

 

Eraserhead catches sight of the page too. “Yagi described me, didn't he?” Midoriya nods, pushing the book forwards so Eraserhead can read some of it.

 

“Can you really not read my name? It looks crystal clear to me.”

 

Hizashi leans in. “Your outfit was boring .” The Sphinx glares.

 

“I was a rogue, the whole point is to blend in.”

 

Yagi laughs, gently holding his side as he did.

 

“He hated being noticed, even with his friends. Always kept to himself.”

 

“Because you all found trouble every waking second. “

 

“And you never left.” The warrior is beaming, smiling at him. It quickly turns to a frown. “It was nice… After we lost you, the group fell apart.”

 

Eraserhead pushes the book aside, focusing on All Might. “I heard. I lost tabs on everyone… Tell me about the meeting with Endeavor.”

 

Yagi glances at the blonde, then Midoriya. “Perhaps this is a conversation for just you and I.” Deku frowns, but gathers his things. Hizashi helps, scooping up the book. “Young Midoriya, leave the journals from the town.” He nods, setting down a different hardcover journal- as big as the one Hizashi held, and another in a language Hizashi recognizes from his studies as a young prince.

 

“Well, how about I teach you some spells for keeping your things private? Shinsou, if you could get my bag, I can demonstrate an example without using any magic myself!”

 

“Sure. Can we invite some of the others?” Shinsou asks, their small group heading outside, leaving Yagi alone with Eraser. Tense silence shrounds the room as Yagi slowly opens the book Midoriya left behind.

 

“So, uh, Sens-”

 

His friend growls. “Call me Eraserhead.”

 

“Ok then, Eraserhead, I need to talk about Mic.”

 

Eraserhead raises his eyebrow. “Is this about our relationship?”

 

Toshinori splutters, trying (and failing) to keep blood from spilling out of his mouth. He pulls out one of his handkerchiefs and cleans up the blood on his lips.

 

“No, erm, if I may ask what-”

 

Eraserhead thinks for a moment and frowns. “I'm not sure I've ever felt this romantically inclined towards anyone before.”

 

Yagi shakes his head and waves his hands. “That isn't any of my business- I... I was wondering how much you knew about his life before he came here…”

 

Eraserhead has the nerve to hide his blush, looking away. “He's a travelling bard who ran from a life of royalty. “

 

Yes, a life of royalty, from the most powerful kingdom in this region. ” Yagi opens one of the notebooks, the page opening wide with notes on the Yamada family. He removes a folded sheet, handing it to the sphinx.

 

A missing poster- from the sheet glares a younger, more rebellious Hizashi. His blonde hair isn't long, but instead pokes out from the top of his head like he hasn't brushed it in weeks. His green eyes look sad, long tender neck hidden by a high fancy collar.

 

The amount of gold listed as a reward stops Eraser’s heart.

 

The Prince? He was in line for the Heavenly Throne?” Eraserhead taps a claw to his lips as he thinks. It feels like it should change things, but the only thing he's worried about is people coming to take Hizashi away. The thought to turn him in never even crosses his mind as he worries over Hizashi’s stories of assassins and mercenaries.

 

“He didn't tell you?”

 

“He did say he was a Prince, but not what kind. This- no wonder he seemed so worried.”

 

“Has it ever occured to you to turn him in?”

 

“Never.”

 

“Loyal to a fault,” Yagi sighs, putting the wanted poster back into his pocket. “But that wasn’t what I was asking.”

 

Eraserhead raises an eyebrow.

 

“Has it occured to you that the people looking for him might attack this place if they found out he lived here?”

 

“I knew it was a possibility ever since I found out he was on the run.”

 

“But now you know just how powerful his enemies are.”

 

“I’ve cast spells to erase this place from maps, as well as the minds of anyone who came here before. It would be difficult to find him here, and I’m sure he’s taken the steps necessary to cover up his tracks.”

 

Yagi smiles weakly before opening the other book, flipping to another page about Hizashi and placing it besides the other one. “It might surprise you to know that not many people know  Present Mic is the missing prince, but what concerns me more are his magical abilities.”

 

Eraserhead leans over and takes a look at the two books. The page about the bard lists his magic to be hypnotic, not much about the high volumes he could summon. It also lists “the ability to sense intent”, an ability that explains the blond’s trusting nature. Eraserhead turns to the Yamada page, which also included the magical background of his parents. Eraser’s blood runs cold.

 

“His mother…”

 

“Yes, she had the same abilities. But magic abilities aren't usually passed on so cleanly. They morph and change with each person. Many can be taught, but the innate magic? Something must have happened. I know she died, but I never heard how. Not the real reason, anyways. Everyone knew the proclamation of sickness was a cover for something.”

 

“Are you insinuating—“

 

“I know you trust him,” Yagi scratched the back of his neck. “But it’s time you considered perhaps things aren’t how they seem.”

 

“You think he stole her magic? Is that even possible?”

 

Yagi winces and sighs, nodding his head. “I do know of someone who can steal magic, but I’m not sure if he was involved. It’s also possible that she gave up her magic, but it’s unlikely. That means she would have killed herself willingly.”

 

Hizashi wouldn’t do such a thing. He is so selfless! A man who takes a knife for another can’t be evil. He thinks about the way Hizashi has acted, nothing really standing out as suspicious or incriminating. Even without the truth spells they used, he’s naturally attuned to sense intent, and while Hizashi has certainly kept many secrets, Eraserhead hasn’t sensed anything like malice or hostility.

 

“Yagi… I appreciate you telling me this, but what do you expect from me?”

 

Yagi folds his hands. “Help him, if you trust him.”

 

Eraserhead gives him a confused look. “Help him with what?”

 

Yagi gently places his hand over his own heart. “I may not be what I once was, but I can still feel when someone else is hurting.”

 

“I thought you didn't trust him.”

 

“Eraser, if you trust him, then I do as well. I just thought it best you know everything.”

 

The Sphinx sighs. “Leave me for a bit… in a few minutes, send Hizashi here.”

 

Yagi nods, leaving the rogue to sift through the books.

 

In the other end of the house, Hizashi is lost reading stories about Eraser, his eyes wide as he reads detail over detail. He concluded his lesson awhile ago and sent the children off to do their chores, staying behind to rest. Midoriya lent him one of his notebooks for entertainment, especially with all the questions Hizashi was asking.

 

Most of the stories are from Yagi or Eraser’s other friends, because a stranger wouldn't know some of these details. Outside of the lists, detailing skills and magics, there are little blurbs about victories and failures. Hizashi likes the one about Eraserhead falling into a river while saving a kitten.

 

He's giggling over another story when Yagi sits with him, a grim smile on his face.

 

“Yagi? What’s up?”

 

“It’s nothing to concern yourself about. What are you looking at?”

 

Yagi leans over Hizashi, easily peering at the page the book was opened to. “Oh! You’re looking at the stories Midoriya wrote!” He seems a little nervous about Hizashi looking at them, but Hizashi assumes it’s due to a story about himself that he didn’t want Hizashi to read.

 

Hizashi chuckles. “Don’t worry, I haven’t found anything embarrassing about you. I was reading about how Eraserhead and Midnight once had to disguise themselves as each other.”

 

Yagi laughs, a bit of blood dripping out of his mouth. “They both hated that!” He says as he reaches for a napkin and wipes his face off. “Sorry to tear you away from those stories, but Eraserhead needs to talk to you. Maybe you could ask him for stories?”

 

Hizashi stands, shutting the book and handing it to Yagi. “Any idea what he’d want to talk about?”

 

Yagi shrugs, a strained smile on his face. It makes Hizashi feel weird, but he pushes his suspicion aside, patting Yagi on the shoulder as he turns to leave. “Thanks anyways!”

 

Hizashi casts one last glance at the book. “Please tell Midoriya I said thank you, and I would love to read more…” And then he’s off, making his way back to Eraserhead. He knocks quietly, waiting for Eraser’s answer.

 

“Enter.”

 

Hizashi slips in with a grin. “I didn't know you liked licorice, Eraser.”

 

The Sphinx raises a brow, “Yagi told you that?”

 

“It was in Midoriya’s notes.”

 

“Ah.”

 

The blond plops down beside him, pressing against his side. “You have more dislikes than likes, you know. I could only find three: cats, sleep and licorice candy….”

 

“I've started liking new things…”

 

The bard turns to him, nuzzling lightly against his neck- “Yeah? Like wh-”

 

He freezes when he sees the books, his face staring back at him from both. “This… is what you wanted to talk about?”

 

Anxiety spikes his heart rate. Sure, he told Eraserhead about his past, but he left out certain details. The large reward listed at the bottom taunts him, a reminder of his father’s power. More social and economic power than physical or magical, but power nonetheless.

 

“Are you going to turn me in?” He whispers, swallowing around the painful lump forming in his throat. His eyes burn, his stomach twisting as his anxiety grows. Is this it? Is this how he falls back into his cage? He knows if it comes to a fight he won't win, and not because he's weak. He can’t imagine himself lifting a hand against Eraserhead. He looks up to see a shocked expression on Eraser’s face.

 

“No! No. I wouldn't.” Eraserhead shakes his head as he leans forward, trying to convince Hizashi of his sincerity.

 

Hizashi tries to push his nervousness aside, but seeing his miserable young eyes staring at him from the page doesn’t help. “So what did you want to talk about? The people after me? My kingdom? The reward?” Each suggestion makes Hizashi feel worse.

 

Eraserhead sighs, eyes watching Hizashi’s face- watching Hizashi’s anxiety manifest. He wraps a dark wing around him in an attempt to comfort him. “I need to ask you about your magic.” Hizashi’s blood runs cold. “Did you steal your mother’s power?” Eraserhead asks, slowly pulling his wing away as Hizashi tenses.

 

Hizashi shudders, tears he had been holding back cascading down his cheeks. He opens his mouth, but can’t find the words. It’s like he’s being choked again, his father’s cold eyes boring into him. He pulls his legs to his chest and tries to ignore the memories flooding in.

 

“Hizashi? Are you alright?” Eraserhead’s tone softens, but Hizashi can’t make himself move. He wants to wipe away his tears and brush off the question, ignore the ghosts haunting him, but he’s frozen. Eraserhead nudges him. “Hizashi?”

 

Eraserhead stands, circling around so Hizashi can see him. His face is twisted with concern, unsure of what to do. “Hizashi, did you do something? Did something happen to you? I need to know.”

 

“I didn’t want it.” Hizashi replies, a whisper so quiet Eraserhead barely hears it.

 

When Eraserhead leans in to comfort, the blond pulls away quickly. “Don't-” he stands, arms out and limbs shaking. “N-not now…” Hizashi moves away from him, putting the table between them.

 

Eraserhead wants to comfort him, but keeps his distance, letting the bard have his space.

 

Hizashi scrubs at the tears on his cheeks before grabbing the book that holds details of his family. He opens it to the picture of his mother.

 

Hizashi looks just like her.

 

That only made him rub at his face more, willing the tears away.

 

“I was born with an enchanted voice, like my mother.” He carefully traces the picture. “She could manipulate and read people… During her adventuring days, she called herself Song Bird… her enemies tossed around Siren, or Banshee because of her knack for tricking men with her voice and body. She was a brilliant rogue.” Hizashi bites his lip as he smiles. “I was born with the ability to amplify my voice to the point of destruction- it was more harm than good for a long time. It's hard to tell a baby that he's hurting people because he's crying, hard to keep him from harming himself when his emotions run high...” Hizashi brushes his hand over his ears.

 

He stares at the portrait of his father beside hers, his face contorting into something closer to disgust.

 

“I inherited her abilities when she passed….”

 

Eraserhead pauses, letting Hizashi’s words sink in before he replies. He could charge ahead, and say something accusative, and get an answer, but it wouldn't feel right. Hizashi is still crying silently, finger stroking at the picture of his mother safely tucked within. His face is red and blotchy, and Eraserhead can hear him sniffling as mucus collects in his nose. Eraserhead feels guilty for even thinking Hizashi is anything other than sincere.

 

“What happened?” He asks, voice gentle. He wants to offer comfort, but perhaps it's better to let him come when he’s ready. Hizashi sinks to his knees as he hugs himself, no longer ready to run now that Eraserhead doesn't look ready to pounce.

 

“It was my father’s idea. To make me the ultimate king.” He takes a shuddering breath as he struggles to keep his voice steady. “I don't know how he got her to agree to the idea, or if she even agreed at all. With what I know now, I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a choice. Like I didn’t have a choice. Her skills for manipulation, and my sheer power- with one shout I could charm anyone within miles. Or at least, that's what he thought. I’ve never tried. I never wanted to.”

 

“He forced you to take her power?”

 

“Yeah. I-” Hizashi’s voice cracks as he begins to cry again. “She looked so scared and I-” Hizashi wipes away his tears and breathes deeply, calming himself down. “I left a week later. My coronation would have been a month from the day she died. I wouldn’t have minded becoming king with my own power, I could have improved the fate of others, even if I wouldn’t be able to escape my own.”

 

Hizashi lets out a pitiful laugh. “But after that... I couldn’t be a ruler. If the people knew the truth, they would never accept me. I couldn’t accept it. ” He pauses, gathering his words. “I should probably leave here, shouldn’t I? I’m a danger to whoever’s near me.”

 

Eraserhead stands suddenly, making Hizashi freeze. “The last thing I want is for you to leave.”

 

“He owns me. He has enough money to destroy and find whatever he wants- you would only be endangering everyone here.”

 

Hizashi carefully pulls his hair up and out of his face, tying it back. He looks up, eyes red and watery, pale skin blotchy. “It wouldn’t make sense to risk everyone here when you’ve worked so hard to give them such a good life… I’ve worked hard to make sure Hizashi Yamada and Present Mic are not the same people, but… “ He stares at the open book detailing his bard exploits, and the book detailing his life of royalty.

 

Recognizable. Easily. The eyes, the face. And if you held up Midoriya’s drawing of him presently?

 

Hizashi saw his mother, through and through.

 

“It’s only a matter of time before someone connects the dots.”

 

Eraser’s face furrows as he listens, a low growl emanating from him.

 

“It doesn’t matter.”

 

All of Eraserhead’s doubts are gone. It is hard to believe he could have had any in the first place. How could he doubt Hizashi like this? After all he's done, purely from the goodness of his heart. There's no money, glory, or fame for him here. Only… himself. Eraserhead’s heart aches. Hizashi looks up.

 

“I'd be putting everyone in danger! I'd be putting you in danger. I don't want that.”

 

“And I don't want you out there alone, dealing with them yourself. The children are already in danger. It's why we have all those spells up in the first place. We would all be much safer together.”

 

“Heh. Why must you be so rational about it?” Hizashi sniffles, but there's the slightest hint of a smile on his face.

 

“Someone has to be rational for you, you big dork.” Eraserhead attempts a comforting smile, hoping his fangs are well hidden. Hizashi laughs. Everything will be fine. Eraser stands with his hind legs and leans over the table to shut the books. Hizashi gives him a curious glance.

 

“You know, I don’t think you’re that recognisable.” Eraserhead says. “The prince had sadness etched into his face. The bard has happiness.” Eraserhead tries another smile. “And even if they are the same person, I don’t want to lose them.”

 

Arms wrap around Eraserhead as Hizashi rushes forwards. “Thank you.” He mutters quietly, face pressed up against Eraserhead’s mane. “I don’t deserve you.”

 

Eraserhead ignores how willingly he leans into it, pressing his face into the bard’s neck and breathing him in. His voice is soft, pressed against his ear.

 

“What I deserve isn't your decision.” He presses a small kiss to his cheek. “You should take a moment, wash up if you would like… I feel like Yagi’s news about Endeavor has to do with you, and that’s why he shared this with me… It wasn't my intent to snoop.”

 

Hizashi nods, sniffling lightly as he pulls his cloak tighter around him. “Alright…“ He leans close enough to press a kiss to the sphinx’s nose. “Thank you, Eraser.”

 

Eraser’s wings fluff up happily even as he tries to hide behind a frown. He leans against Hizashi’s side, urging him up off the floor and acting as his support. He waits patiently while Hizashi washes up in the bathroom, sitting outside like a loyal pet. He flicks his tail in irritation at the thought. He's no one's pet. He's just got a crush. A big, mushy crush on a tall, handsome man.

 

“Heh, you remind me of a puppy, waiting for me!” Hizashi jokes as he comes out. Some of his hair is wet, hanging free of his ponytail. It's a charming look.

 

“Fine, I’ll leave.” Eraserhead says in a monotone voice. He turns, amused by the blond’s loud and rapid protests. He looks back at Hizashi, who pouts, a far too adorable look on his face. Eraserhead’s cheeks heat up and he prays he isn’t blushing.

 

“Did you want me to leave you?” He snorts. Hizashi shakes his head no, looking cuter than a thirty year old should. “Then don’t compare me to a dog. ” He turns around and begins walking away again.

 

Hizashi quickly catches up with his stride. “What? Do you hate dogs?” Eraserhead nods, and Hizashi lets out a cry of mock-outrage. “What do you mean you hate dogs? How could anyone hate a dog?!”

 

“I’ve hated them my whole life.”

 

“Why?”

 

The Sphinx’s feathers ruffle as he thinks. “They disturb cats.”

 

“Have they bothered you?”

 

“Dogs have tried.”

 

The blond reaches over, ruffling his mane. “I'll protect you from the big ol’ mean dogs then.”  Eraserhead doesn't mean to start purring at the contact, or to stretch out and push into the touch, but he does.

 

Yagi stares at them from the doorway he's standing in. He heard them coming and had meant to greet them, but seeing Hizashi pet Eraserhead is certainly a sight. Eraserhead stops purring when he spots him, his mane bristling as he hides his embarrassment under anger.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Ah, my apologies! I just meant to come and see how you were. You talked to him?”

 

“It's fine.” Eraserhead scowls as his tail whips Hizashi in the shin. Hizashi bites his lip to hold back his laughter so he can reply.

 

“Yagi, a part of me wishes you hadn't told him, but in the end I'm glad. We talked it out. And if you have any doubts yourself, you can ask me. I'm not here to trick anyone. I don't want anyone to feel unsafe around me, so I'll do what I can to make sure that isn't the case.”

 

“You’ve already done enough.” Eraserhead hums, slapping him in the side with his tail. “Remember your injuries.”

 

“One act of sacrifice does not make a hero,” Hizashi says. “My mother used to say that.”

 

Yagi bows his head. “You have the spirit of a hero. I see that now.”

 

“I’m no hero. I’m a bard that tried to destroy his own kingdom’s wealth out of spite.”

 

“And used it to feed the poor,” Eraserhead finishes. “That part of the story is just as important.”

 

Hizashi shrugs. “It was the least I could do.”

 

Eraserhead rolls his eyes and turns to Yagi. “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”

 

Yagi nods, then hesitates. “Yes, but I need to ask you a question.” Yagi pauses again, trying to find the right words. “Do you want your curse broken? Or would you like to stay a Sphinx?”

 

Eraserhead expected this question sooner or later, but that doesn’t mean he has an answer to it. Being a Sphinx isn’t the best. The only real upside not tied to magic is that he can fly, and the biggest downside is that he has to eat people to satisfy his hunger. In truth, he knows he wants to be a human again, but he’s scared. He’s lived as a Sphinx for so long…

 

“I want to continue protecting the kids. I don’t care what form I’m in.”

 

Hizashi looks between the two as Yagi continues. “I know you said it’s none of my business, but if we broke the curse, you could leave the village . You could see your friends again, go out and help kids on your own…”

 

Eraserhead bristles. “My powers were locked away for a reason.”

 

Yagi frowns. “You had control over your powers, I don’t understand-”

 

“It wasn't because of me.”

 

Eraserhead sighs heavily, looking around as if searching for any spies listening in, before casting a silence spell. It makes Hizashi shiver as he feels it forming in the air around them, like a haze of static electricity. Hizashi blinks- it's that important to keep secret?

 

“The Nomus, Yagi. They make them out of people, then curse them, morph them into demons. Or something practically indistinguishable, anyways.”

 

Yagi covers his mouth, his brow furrowed.

 

“They wanted to make me one. They chased me. Found me. So many people died because of me.”

 

“So they cursed you?” Yagi croaks. He clears his throat. “Did it backfire?”

 

“They didn't curse me.” Eraserhead growls. He tries to speak, but nothing else comes out, and a heavy stone settles in Hizashi's stomach as realization dawns. He wasn’t cursed by an enemy. He cursed himself, out of desperation and fear.

 

“What does that have to do with your curse?”

 

“I can fight better as a Sphinx. I can protect the children —“

 

“What if you could do both?” Hizashi interrupts. “What if you could transform back and forth?”

 

Eraserhead stays silent, opening his mouth to speak and then shutting it, over and over until he finally finds his words. “The curse is difficult to completely break.”

 

Hizashi grins, knowing that is as close to a confirmation as Eraserhead can give. “Then do you want us to help you partially break the curse?”

 

Eraserhead pauses, clearly thinking it over, his face twisting as he argues with himself inside his head. Eventually he speaks, a simple, confident “Yes” reaching their ears. It’s the best of both worlds. Protecting the children, and returning to himself. The real him. The person he was before all of this.

 

He almost forgot that person existed.

 

There was that version of him, and then there’s the new version of him, the one who creates and protects a village full of children just because no one else would. The version who can fly, can battle any man, can conquer anything.

 

If he can have both that person, and this new version of him, he would be complete.

 

Yagi smiles. “Alright then! Is there anything you can tell us about your curse?”

 

Eraserhead thinks for a moment before shaking his head. “No. My body is bound to my name and my name is bound here. That’s all. Part of the curse was keeping me from ever uttering it.”

 

Yagi sighs, brushing his bangs back. “You would make your own curse this difficult.”

 

“That’s the point of a curse, Yagi. It’s only logical that the one being cursed shouldn’t be able to break it.”

 

Hizashi hums softly as he closes his eyes, thinking.

 

“Let’s talk to the kids and then head to the door. You may be the riddle master here, but you also have the riddle solver.” He gives the Sphinx a wink, grinning as his eyes burn bright.

 

“I’m sure with a little more info, I can figure out some plan.”