DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: For anyone who's been wondering about Bakura's hair ^_^

 

Another Source of Magic
Chapter 8: A Spell from the Heart

By Shadow's Mirror

 

"So, we're agreed then?" Ryou looked hopefully at his disgruntled yami. Bakura sighed.

"I suppose so." She crossed her arms and glared at the ground. Her light was far too eager about this for her liking.

"How about here?" Ryou looked around thoughtfully. "It's quiet and we're out of sight. With Father at home, this is probably the most privacy we'll be able to get."

Bakura sighed and nodded. "Yes, this will do." An anxious look flickered over her face. "Ryou… are you sure you want to do this?" As Ryou pulled the spellbook onto his lap, she eyed it warily. "I don't trust that book."

Ryou smiled slightly as he looked over at her. "I'm sure, Bakura. Don't worry. So far the spells I've cast have all worked perfectly. Besides, thanks to Father, we don't have much choice…" He looked away, sighing softly.

"You know, 'Kura' could always just not turn up at your place tonight. I like that plan better." She fidgeted for a moment. "If we go to this stupid dance thingy, someone's sure to recognise me."

Ryou knew that by 'someone' Bakura really meant 'the Pharaoh'. He looked at his yami thoughtfully. "No Bakura, I really don't think they will. It's not just the red hair; you look different in general as well. Only slightly, but I think it will be enough. People tend to see what they expect to see."

Bakura scowled at her light. "What's that supposed to mean? You're starting to talk like that cursed magician writes!"

"I mean, the few people who know about you won't be expecting to see you there tonight, let alone in female form. So, they won't realise who you are. They might think that you look familiar, but they'll probably just assume that they've seen you around the school at some point." He hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath and continued. "You will need to be careful around our friends though. If you act like yourself…"

That earned Ryou another scowl from his yami. "I'm not stupid, Ryou! Of course I won't be acting like myself tonight! That's what makes me so annoyed about all this. I'm going to have to spend hours acting like some simpering, giggling little girl! Oh Ra… Just thinking about it makes me ill…" She shuddered. Ryou smiled sympathetically.

"At least Seto won't be there," he offered softly.

"Yeah. That's something anyway," Bakura admitted. She sighed. "But you know, everyone is going to be wondering who I am. We probably won't get a moment's peace! I mean, Shadows, if I saw you at one of these things with a girl, I'd wonder about it myself!"

She sent her light a curious look. "Come to think of it… I've never even seen you speak to a girl except about homework or school. Téa, Mai and Serenity don't count," she added, as Ryou started to protest. She stared at her light, as Ryou suddenly seemed to find the ground very interesting. "Ryou?" Her voice softened very slightly. "Light?"

Ryou looked up, but didn't quite meet his yami's eyes. "I've always been… quiet. Most girls just… don't seem to notice me and I've… never cared enough about anyone to try to change that."

"Oh." Bakura was silent for a moment.

"Their loss."

The words were so soft that Ryou wasn't sure he had heard her correctly. He blinked at Bakura in shock and started to ask her to repeat herself, but she glared at him and he closed his mouth without saying a word. Instead, he gave her a very tentative smile. For a moment, Bakura looked as though she was going to smile back, but then she tensed and turned away to stare at the ground.

"If you're going to cast that spell, you'd better go ahead and do it. Before anyone comes."

"Um… right…" Ryou could feel his cheeks heating up as he turned his attention to the book, although he wasn't quite sure why he was embarrassed. After a moment, when he knew he'd stopped blushing, he put the book aside and stood up.

Bakura idly watched her light, looking bored. When Ryou pulled his dueling deck out of his bag though, she tensed. "What do you need that for?"

Ryou blinked in surprise. "Didn't you read what the book said? It doesn't actually have the spell written down, it just says that Dark Witch is able to cast it. So I need to summon her so she can cast the spell on you."

Bakura blinked. She had looked at the spell, but the writing had been so cramped that she hadn't been able to make most of it out. "But… Ryou… you can't summon Duel Monsters! You've never been able to! None of you lights can! You don't have enough Shadow Magic for it." She suddenly brightened. "Well, that's that then! I guess we'll just have to go for my plan instead! You can cast the invisible spell on me and we'll spend the evening dueling in… Why are you looking at me like that? You can't summon Duel Monsters and that's all there is to it!" She scowled at her stubborn light.

"We don't know if I can do it or not. I have never tried," Ryou said simply.

Bakura started to say something but stopped herself. Her light would just have to find out the truth the hard way. She shrugged. "Go ahead then." She sat back to watch the show.

Ryou sighed softly. He hated it when his yami gave him that condescending look. Especially since he already doubted himself. He didn't need his yami doubting too! Deciding not to look at Bakura, he turned away slightly.

For a moment, Ryou stood still with his deck resting on the palm of his left hand. He closed his eyes and relaxed, allowing his mind to drift slightly before he began to focus his attention on what he needed to do. As always, he could feel the slightest pulse coming from deep within the cards. He focused on it, using it to guide him deeper into the magic that lay within his deck, and within himself. His right hand touched the deck and he drew a card. He didn't need to look at it. He knew what card it was. He could feel it.

Long before he had met Yugi, Ryou had known about the Heart of the Cards. The spirit of the Ring claimed the credit for introducing Ryou to the game, but the truth was that Ryou had always known there was something special about it. The first time he had seen a Duel Monster card, he had felt it tug at something deep within himself, like a memory that he couldn't quite recall. The first time he had held one, he had felt the pulse of its heartbeat as clearly as if it was his own heart beating.

As the pulse began to echo inside his mind, Ryou could feel the magic rising within him. Only a little at first, but it quickly grew.

Bakura tensed as something in the air shifted. She looked around, wondering if someone was watching them, then slowly turned back to Ryou as she realised what she was sensing. It was magic. Shadow Magic. Incredibly strong Shadow Magic. And it was coming… from Ryou!

Although the trees and bushes around them were still, Ryou's long white hair whipped around him as though it were being buffeted by a strong wind. As Bakura looked on, eyes wide with shock, Ryou began to glow with a faint silvery light. The light grew stronger until it made Bakura's eyes water to look at it, but she could not bring herself to look away. Then Ryou's eyes snapped opened and Bakura gasped as a familiar eye symbol shone silver on Ryou's forehead.

"Dark Witch! By the Shadow Magic, I summon you!"

His voice was soft, but heartfelt. Then he tensed, a shudder shaking his body as his eyes closed. Suddenly worried, Bakura scrambled to her feet.

Ryou gasped as a burning pain ripped through him. It felt as though his blood was on fire! He closed his eyes, struggling desperately to keep his mind focused on what he needed to do. He refused to give up, but… he hadn't expected it to hurt so much! Ryou heard a faint whimper and knew it came from his own throat, but he was hurting too much to be embarrassed by it.

The magic was starting to fade. Ryou tried to keep going, but his strength was almost completely gone. At least the pain was fading too. As the power completely drained away, he wavered and almost collapsed, but something… no… someone… caught him and held him steady.

Ryou opened his eyes and found himself staring into a pair of startled purple-blue orbs.

"Master Ryou! Are you all right?" Dark Witch gently lowered her young master to the ground, kneeling beside him as she continued to hold his slight form close. She gazed at him in concern and then her gaze flicked up. "Well, don't just stand there staring, girl! Come and help him! I don't bite. Much."

At first, Ryou was confused by her words, then he realised that Bakura was standing over them, hands clenched into tight fists by her sides as though she was struggling to stop herself from hitting someone. Probably him. He smiled slightly. "I'm sorry, Kura. I didn't mean to worry you. I didn't realise it would take so much out of me. But…" He glanced at Dark Witch and his smile became stronger. "I did it, Kura! I… called… her…" He closed his eyes and groaned softly as a wave of weakness swept over him.

"Ryou!" There was worry in Bakura's voice, but even more startling was the hesitation in her touch as she touched his arm. "Ryou? Speak to me!" A moment's pause and then, "Light?" It was so soft, Ryou barely heard it, but Dark Witch gasped.

"Light? Wait a minute… you're not…" Ryou opened his eyes in time to see Dark Witch catch Bakura's chin in one hand. Scowling, Bakura tried to pull away.

"Hey! Stop that!"

The Shadow monster held her face still and stared deep into her eyes. "Bakura? Is that you?" As Bakura pulled away, scowling fiercely, Dark Witch gave a delighted laugh. "It is you! Oh this is marvelous!" Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "Getting in touch with your feminine side are you, dear?"

"Don't. Call. Me. Dear." Bakura bit out, her voice barely more than a low growl. Her eyes blazed as she glared at Dark Witch. The monster grinned back at Bakura, unrepentant.

"Please… don't fight…" The soft whisper made both Bakura and Dark Witch look down at Ryou. His eyes were still shadowed with tiredness, but at least his colour was starting to return. He'd gone so pale…

"We're not fighting, sweet master." Dark Witch hugged the boy gently and raised an eyebrow when Bakura growled softly. "If I truly wanted to anger her, I'd say something about how powerful her protective mothering instinct is. Or about how easily jealous she becomes." She wisely left it at that, seeing as Bakura looked mad enough to hit something. Probably her.

"No, sweet master," she ignored Bakura's growl, "we are not fighting. Although, I had thought that was why I was called…" She looked over at Bakura, one eyebrow raised in silent query. When she just snorted and looked away, she turned her attention to the boy in her arms.

"Master Ryou, was there something you required of me?" She hugged him again and was rewarded by the sound of Bakura's gasp, followed by her sharp retort.

"Certainly not that!"

"Not what?' She looked up at Bakura innocently and hugged Ryou again. The boy really was deliciously huggable. Bakura turned a very interesting shade of red.

"Not… what you're thinking about!"

Dark Witch gave a delighted chuckle. She hadn't had this much fun since the time she'd bespelled D Human to look like the Mystical Elf and he'd ended up having to fend off the attentions of a very amorous Celtic Guardian. "Oh really? And what would that be, exactly?" She hugged Ryou again.

"Dark Witch, stop teasing her." The gentle reprimand was all it took. She looked down at the still-too-pale child in her arms and smiled at him. Ryou smiled back, very slightly. He obviously hadn't recovered from his spellcasting.

"Why did you summon me, my master?" she asked softly.

"Well… there's this school dance tonight and Father's in town and he found Kura and I…" Ryou trailed off at Bakura's warning growl. "Um… anyway… Father is expecting Kura and I to go to the dance together, but there's no way we could get ready for something like that on our own and in the Book of Secret Arts…"

He trailed off again, this time because Dark Witch had growled. He blinked up at her, confused by the irritation that was making her eyes flash. "Um… the book says that you can cast a spell to get someone ready for something like this… That is… if you wouldn't mind?" Ryou finished timidly, uncertain about her reaction. Dark Witch did not look happy.

"This is about that wretched 'Cinderella' spell, isn't it?" She groaned when Ryou nodded tentatively. "I knew it! I told him this wouldn’t be forgotten so easily but oh no, he just refused to believe me! 'The tale will vanish into obscurity in no time.' Sure it has! Can you believe he actually said that? As for the Dark Magician…"

Dark Witch suddenly paused in her rant and glanced at Ryou suspiciously. "What was it listed under?" At his blank look she elaborated. "The spell, what was it listed under?"

"Oh… 'Quick make up tips from Cinderella's Fairy Godmother.'" Ryou blinked as Dark Witch shuddered and closed her eyes.

"I am going to hurt that wretched Magician."

"Get in line," Bakura muttered, earning a quick grin from the Witch.

Her good humour restored by Bakura's obvious ill-feeling towards the bane of her existence, Dark Witch looked down at the boy in her arms. Noting his apprehension, she smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry so, sweet master. Of course I will help you."

She studied him for a moment. "My spell is really for girls, but I think it might just work for you… You're certainly pretty enough."

"What! No! I… Bakura, stop laughing! No, the spell's not for me. Will you please stop that, Bakura. It isn't funny. I really don't need any help, Dark Witch, and I'm certain I don't want this particular spell cast on me, thank you all the same. Bakura! Please! The spell's for Bakura, not me!"

Ryou was panting with alarm as he finally squeaked out the last of his panicked ramble. Dark Witch blinked and smiled at him as she hugged him.

"Don't worry sweet master. Your secret longing to be a girl is safe with me." Ryou went pale and whimpered softly before turning wide begging eyes onto Bakura.

"Bakura! Tell her!"

The red-haired girl sighed heavily. "Yeah. It's for me. Father made Ryou ask me to this cursed dance. I tried to get us out of it but… he was insistent." Bakura scowled down at the ground and waited for Dark Witch to laugh.

"How about you Ryou? Do you want to go to the ball… er… dance?"

Bakura looked up in shock at the softly spoken question. She scowled when she saw how closely Dark Witch was holding Ryou. She scowled even more when she realised that Ryou wasn't complaining about it.

"Of course he doesn't want to go to it!" Bakura froze at the look that flickered across her light's face before he could hide it. "Ryou? You… you do want to go, don't you?" she asked quietly.

"Not really… I don't usually enjoy that kind of thing. It's just that… this time… with you… Oh, I'm just being silly! Forget I said anything!" Ryou smiled as brightly as he could, but it didn't quite reach his eyes.

Bakura was silent for a moment, then she sighed heavily. "All right. Let's get this over with. What do I have to do?" She refused to look at either Ryou or Dark Witch, instead staring at the ground.

* * *

"Is this really necessary?" Bakura fidgeted as she watched Dark Witch check the water in the bathtub. "I just had a shower this morning! Really!"

Dark Witch grinned at her master… er… mistress. "That's one of the funny things about us girls, Bakura. We like to be clean and smell sweet when we go out on a date."

Bakura tensed. "For the nineteenth time, this is not a date! It's a method of torture that Ryou and I can't avoid, thanks to Father! That's all! And I am not having that prissy stuff in my bath!" She glared at the bottle of pink liquid in Dark Witch's hand. The witch blinked and looked down at it.

"But Mistress, you need to smell like a girl if this is going to fool the Pharaoh and his light. Looks alone will not work." She started to uncap the bottle. Bakura snatched it away from her.

"I said no! Don't worry about my smelling like a girl. Ryou's cursed soap has that covered already." She glared at the innocent-looking white soap. Dark Witch raised an eyebrow and picked the soap up to sniff it cautiously.

"Hmm… roses… with just a hint of lemon… Oh yes, that's very nice. You're right, it's a very feminine smell. It also won't do at all for you."

Bakura blinked. "Huh? Why in the Shadows not?"

Dark Witch smiled gently at her. "It's Ryou's scent. Haven't you noticed? He always smells very faintly of roses. I've always wondered why. That's one mystery solved. Now if only I could work out if D Human is really as big an idiot as he sometimes seems to be…" She looked up at Bakura. "Is something wrong Mistress? You look shocked."

"I…" Bakura fidgeted uneasily. She had noticed Ryou's scent in the past, but she was stunned to realise that the soap had the same scent. Somehow, over time, she'd come to think of it just as 'Ryou's scent'. She had never wondered what caused it. But there was no way that she was going to admit it to anyone!

"Why won't it work for me? I'd smell like a girl. Isn't that what you want?" She glared at the witch, retreating from her unsettling thoughts back into the anger that she was comfortable with.

"Like a girl, yes. Like Ryou, no." At Bakura's confused look, Dark Witch grinned wickedly. "If I let you go to the b… dance smelling like Ryou, I can guarantee that within the hour everyone else there would believe that you and Ryou were decidingly… closer… than you really are. At least…" She looked thoughtfully at Bakura. "I assume that you and he are not…"

"No we aren't!" Bakura could feel the heat in her cheeks as she snapped out her instinctive denial. She silently cursed when the speed of her denial caused Dark Witch's grin to widen. Her mind raced for a way to get them off that topic as soon as possible, but one thing puzzled her.

"What do you mean, everyone would believe… that? How could a smell make them think something so… unbelievable?"

Dark Witch smiled. "Think about it, dear. If you saw a cute boy and a very pretty girl attending a dance together, and then you realised that they both have the same scent…" She shrugged at Bakura's blank look. "It's a girl thing… Trust me, there isn't a girl that wouldn't think the same thing about it, and the girls would tell their dates, naturally."

"Oh… Ra…" Bakura groaned and had a sudden urge to go and tell Ryou to forget about the dance because there was no way she was going to it.

"Don't worry, dear, I have just what you need!" Dark Witch held out one hand, then slowly waved her other hand over it. A delicate little bottle made of pale purple glass with a glass stopper in the shape of a Key Mace appeared in the palm of her hand. She had the bottle unstopped and its clear contents poured into the bath before Bakura could protest.

"What is that stuff?" Bakura crossed to the bath and leaned over to sniff suspiciously at the water. The overwhelmingly strong smell sent her into a coughing fit. "By the Shadows! No! No way! I am not getting in there!" Shaking her head, she started backing away.

Dark Witch's lips tilted into a wicked grin. "Oh yes, my dear Mistress, you most certainly are! If you don't get in willingly, I'll just have to get you in there personally. Of course, I'd probably need Ryou's help with that…"

Bakura's eyes widened in shock. "You wouldn't…" Dark Witch raised an eyebrow and Bakura sighed. "Of course you would…"

Moving away from the door, Bakura waited for a moment. She glared at Dark Witch when the monster remained leaning against the sink. "Well? Why are you still here?"

Dark Witch laughed. "Oh, come now, Bakura! Surely you're not shy?" She shook her head. "I think you're forgetting something, dear Mistress. We're both female."

"Oh." Bakura blinked at that and looked away. Her hands hesitated on her belt. "But…" She mentally consigned herself to the dark void of the Shadow Realm for hesitating. If she'd been her normal self she would have stripped off without a second thought. There was just something about the situation that made her more self-conscious than usual.

Dark Witch's smile became seductive as she gave Bakura a knowing look. "Anyway Bakura, male or female, it's not like I haven't seen you naked before."

"Huh? When have you…?" Bakura stared at her in shock.

"That time you went swimming in the Shadow Realm. Remember? I was passing by while you were getting out." Dark Witch smiled at the memory. "I never did thank the Red Archery Girl for the timing of her arrow. If she hadn't startled you, you might not have dropped your towel…"

As Bakura spluttered indignantly, Dark Witch laughed. She headed for the door. "Since you're so nervous, I think I'll leave you to it and go help Ryou get ready instead. Don't worry about using the soap or shampoo. The fragrance I added to the water will overpower anything." She paused at the doorway and grinned at Bakura. "Just don't stay in the water too long or it will overpower you too. Then I'd have to get Ryou to help you out!" She ducked the soap that Bakura threw at her and left the room.

Bakura sulked as she got undressed and slid into the water. The smell had faded a little but it was still cloyingly sweet and strong. She could hear Dark Witch laughing in the bedroom. Leaning back against the tub, she wondered how she'd gotten herself into such a mess. Then a thought made her sit up again.

*Did she say she was going to help him get ready? Dark Witch… and Ryou… alone in his bedroom…* Bakura tensed. "Dark Witch! Don't you dare do anything to my light!"

Dark Witch's laughter was not reassuring.

* * *

"There's no way I'm wearing these!" Bakura stormed out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. A pair of black lace panties and bra, the same ones that had caused so much trouble with Father that morning, were dangling from her hand. She glared at Dark Witch until a strangled sound made her gaze snap to the other side of the room where Ryou was standing in front of his wardrobe with a white shirt in his hands and a very startled expression on his face.

For a long moment, she and Ryou looked at each other in shock. Suddenly aware of how skimpy the towel was, Bakura whirled around to head back into the bathroom. Her sudden movement caused the towel to shift. She grabbed at it, managing to catch it before it fell, but she also managed to make it come undone.

As the bathroom door slammed, Ryou leaned weakly against the wardrobe door, his eyes frozen on the place where Bakura had stood as his mind replayed what he'd just seen.

"If only she'd been facing you at the time…"

"Hmm…" Dark Witch's words suddenly registered. "What? No! I… Dark Witch!"

Dark Witch laughed as Ryou busied himself with looking through his wardrobe, trying to hide the fact that his face was now bright red. She was still laughing, and Ryou was still fighting his embarrassment, when the bathroom door slowly opened again.

"Now what?"

Dark Witch and Ryou turned in surprise at the uncharacteristically subdued voice. Bakura was standing in the doorway, dressed again in her school uniform. Her feet were bare and her long dark red hair fell in waterlogged strands over her shoulders, leaving wet patches all over her pink school jacket. She fidgeted uneasily as she withstood their silent perusal for a moment before her patience snapped. "Well? What am I supposed to do now?" She glared at Dark Witch, unable to bring herself to meet Ryou's eyes just then.

Dark Witch looked at Ryou. "How much time do we have before the b…dance starts?"

Ryou looked at his watch and was startled to see how late it was. It had taken them longer than expected to plan and cause a distraction major enough to get Father out of the house so they could get ready. "Oh my, we should hurry! It's almost six-thirty!"

"Quit panicking. We've plenty of time. You told me the dance doesn't start until seven." Bakura spoke gruffly, but at least she finally managed to look at Ryou.

"Yes, it does, but…" Ryou shifted uneasily as he eyed Bakura with the slightly wary, very nervous look that Bakura hated. It always meant her light had something to tell her that she wouldn't like.

"What? Spit it out, Ryou!" She glared at her light, her embarrassment forgotten in her annoyance.

"Well… It's just that Father said he'd drive us to the dance, remember. We're supposed to be leaving here at a quarter to seven, and you need to 'arrive' before that." Ryou winced at the look Bakura gave him. "I know! I don't like it either, but Father insisted!" Thinking about it reminded Ryou of something.

"He wasn't very happy about your meeting me here." Ryou bit his lip, looking anxiously at Bakura. "I'm afraid that he's going to insist on dropping you home…"

Bakura scowled. "That could be a problem."

Dark Witch smiled. If D Human had been there to see it, he would have shivered, warned Ryou and Bakura that she had a plan and that usually meant trouble, and then escaped before she managed to draw him into another of her wild schemes. "Not necessarily. You said that he questioned you both about 'Kura's' mother, correct?" At their nods, her smile widened. "Then all you need to do is say that Kura's mother will collect her from here. I'm sure he'll be happy with that, since he wants to meet her."

Ryou hesitated. "But… when she doesn't come…"

"What makes you think she won't?" Dark Witch's eyes gleamed with amusement. "If I can cast the Cinderella spell on Bakura, I can certainly cast an illusion to change my own appearance to that of a human!" She walked over to Bakura and slipped her arm around her shoulders, despite Bakura's attempts to pull away. "What do you think, Ryou? Don't you think I'd make the perfect mother for our sweet little Kura here?"

Bakura snarled and finally managed to escape the surprisingly strong hold. "Don't call me that!"

As his yami stalked over to stare moodily out the window, Ryou smiled at Dark Witch and shrugged. "He hates being called 'sweet'." His expression turned thoughtful. "Do you really think you could pretend to be Kura's mother?"

Dark Witch grinned. "Red hair and all."

Ryou nodded. "Then that's what we'll do. Is that all right with you, Bakura?"

"Whatever." Bakura stared down into the backyard and frowned. "If we're going to cast this spell, we'd better get it over with fast. Father's almost cornered Milus Radiant."

"What? Already?" Dark Witch joined Bakura and spent a few moments watching the man run around the backyard chasing the Shadow Monster that bore enough of a resemblance to a large dog to avoid any suspicion about its true nature. "He's faster than he looks."

Dark Witch moved into the middle of the room. "Come here, Bakura. Now, stand here, that's right. Stand very still and close your eyes. Now, for this to work, you need to focus on one thing. You need to think about Ryou, and your feelings for him."

"What!" Bakura's eyes snapped open and she glared at the monster. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Exactly what you think it means." Dark Witch was suddenly completely serious, all signs of her usual good humour gone. "You're doing this for a reason. You need to focus on that reason for the spell to work right. In this case, your reason is Ryou. It's as obvious…" She gently tugged on a lock of Bakura's dark red hair, causing the girl to scowl. "… as the colour of your hair."

"Leave my hair out of this and just do the cursed spell!" Bakura glared at Dark Witch for a moment before closing her eyes. "Well? What are you waiting for?"

Dark Witch sighed and shook her head. "It won't work if you're angry."

"Bakura, you don't have to do this if you really don't want to." Ryou could keep silent no longer.

Opening her eyes, Bakura glanced at her light. Their eyes met, their gazes locked. A long moment later, Bakura sighed and looked away again. "No, Ryou. I… There's a part of me that… does want to do this," she admitted softly. She fell silent, a troubled look on her face.

Mr Bakura's voice suddenly came floating up the stairs. "Ryou! It's almost time to go! Your date should be here soon."

Ryou winced and darted a worried glance at Bakura, who had also winced. "I…"

"Go finish getting ready, Ryou. As soon as Dark Witch has cast her spell, I'll sneak downstairs and outside, then make my arrival." Bakura smiled slightly as her light nervously bit his lip. "I'll be fine. Go."

Nodding, Ryou did as he was told. He couldn't help giving his yami one last anxious look before going into the bathroom and closing the door.

Bakura sighed and looked up at Dark Witch. "I'm ready. Let's do this." She closed her eyes.

Dark Witch moved in front of Bakura and closed her eyes too. She suddenly leaned over and lightly brushed a kiss across Bakura's forehead. As she did so, there was a flash of brilliant white light.

"What was that for?" Bakura frowned, but didn't open her eyes.

"Just part of the spell," Dark Witch lied, smiling slightly at her mistress. In truth, although it did make the spell stronger, it wasn't really necessary. But Dark Witch hadn't been able to resist. Bakura was so out of her element in all this, and yet her whole heart had been in the spell. The monster had been able to sense it through her connection to the Shadow Magic.

"It's done."

Bakura swallowed hard and opened her eyes. She slowly turned to look in the mirror. Her eyes widened. "Oh Ra…" Raising one hand, she grasped a lock of her hair and pulled it so she could see it without looking in the mirror. "It's… it's different. Not as dark. It… it looks like…"

"Fire. Of course it does. This spell is a heart-spell, like the one you used to become a human girl, only nowhere near as strong. With heart spells, the Shadow Magic is strengthened by a much more powerful source of magic. The magic of the heart. The emotions in the heart at the time of the spell's casting influence the effect of the spell."

Dark Witch came up behind Bakura and rested her hands lightly on the girl's bare shoulders. "If you cast such a spell out of selfishness, anger, vengeance or a desire for power, the spell will be darkened by those negative emotions. With appearance-altering spells, the hair colour comes from the emotions in the caster's heart, while the eyes reflect the soul. Your heart holds a great deal of passion and determination, but it is your growing friendship with your light that gives your heart such intensity of emotion. Without that friendship, your hair would be red, but it would be cut short and straight. It would have the colour, but not the life. With that friendship…" She lifted a lock of the fine strands of vibrant fire that fell down Bakura's back.

"The spell you cast originally was done when your heart was shadowed, so your appearance was shadowed too. But this spell was cast with your heart bathed in the light of your friendship."

She smiled as her eyes met Bakura's in the mirror. "If you don't believe me, look at your eyes and remember what I said about their reflecting your soul."

Bakura blinked and stared hard at her eyes for a moment. She tensed when she realised what she was seeing.

"Ryou… My eyes look just like Ryou's."

"Two halves of the same soul," Dark Witch said softly. "But neither half is completely light or dark. Just as Ryou has a little darkness in his soul, so you have a little light in yours. In the end, it all balances out." Her arms went around Bakura's shoulders and she gave her mistress a gentle hug. Bakura did not resist. When the bathroom door opened, she pulled away slowly.

Ryou emerged from the bathroom, dressed neatly in creased dark blue pants and a simple white short-sleeved shirt. He'd also changed his usual sneakers for a pair of black lace up dress shoes. His long mane of silvery-white hair seemed to glow faintly in the light. He was smiling slightly as he looked up from doing up his watch. His smile faded to a look of wide-eyed shock when he caught sight of Bakura.

She wore black ankle boots with a flared black skirt that reached to mid-thigh and a rich green silk top shot through with silver threads that caught the light as she moved. The top came down just over the waistband of her skirt and left her arms and shoulders bare. Her hair was the biggest surprise though. No longer dark red, it was now a mass of vivid red flame that rippled in waves down her back to her waist. She raised her head slightly and their eyes met. Ryou smiled at her.

"At the risk of insulting you, Bakura, you look incredible."

Bakura smiled back, relaxed for the first time since she'd cast the spell that had turned her into a girl.

"Thanks Ryou, you're not so bad yourself. So, what are we waiting for? Let's get this torture over with!"

 

To be continued...

 

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