Confrontations and Portents
Unbeknownst to Harry, his actions or at least the impact of his actions did not go unnoticed. The presence of Death and the magic of granting a sentient being actual life, sent out a magical shockwave the reverberated in some of the most obscure corners of existence.
Constantine had just arrived, not long ago, in the Batcave and was quickly reading through the information Batman had been able to supply him when he froze and put his hand to his head. "Whoa…"
"What is it?" Batman asked looking over at John Constantine with his piercing eyes knowing John wouldn't just say that.
"I… don't know. Something… with major magical juju just went off. Like a bloody bomb..." Constantine said with some uncertainly as he closed his eyes for a moment before he jolted forward slightly. "Something has changed…"
"What has changed?" Superman asked with far more concern reflected in his face as John swayed slightly again and placed his hands on the table to steady himself.
Constantine looked up, confusion evident in his expression, "Everything..."
"John…" Batman started to question only for Constantine to hold up his hand to hold off his questions.
"I don't know. I've never felt anything like this before." He looked up suddenly and fixed Batman with a stare, "You need to check for any disturbances, something big has just gone down. I don't know where it might be, but we have to find it. Look for anything… newsworthy."
Batman didn't wait and began quickly checking his systems, "I disconnected and pulled us offline, when Superman arrived. I didn't want anyone being able to trace anything we'd come up with while we talked." He left unsaid that he was fairly certain that if there were anything earth shaking, or planetary level, Superman would hear it with his enhanced senses.
The moment Batman's computer reconnected, it was obvious that something happened because several insistent alerts appeared on the screen. Batman opened the first, "Batman, something's happened to Superboy, something took him over."
Both Batman and Superman stiffened at this, remembering Superman's recent experience with Maxwell Lord. "We could use some help now."
Batman didn't wait, he instantly called Robin back, at the same time he activated the miniature tracking device in Robin's uniform, it showed up in San Francisco. The instant the com picked up, Batman barked out, "Robin, report."
It wasn't Robin's voice that answered though, "It's Nightwing, Robin's getting his arm examined right now. He's okay. But… it's been kind of a long day."
"What happened?" Batman demanded, only those who knew him really well would be able to hear the sound of relief in his voice.
Nightwing proceeded to explain the events of the day, in quick clipped sentences, conveying the majority of information and as much as deemed pertinent without rambling as he'd been taught by the man on the other end of the line.
Batman barely let him finish before responding, "Understood, we'll be there shortly."
Constantine didn't say anything, but he looked very troubled.
There were rapid taps of a staff upon gleaming white marble steps as a being walked rapidly up the stairs. He passed pillared buildings that rose majestically with the mountain. Architecture that saw it's height of popularity a millenia ago and was still copied by civilizations to this day.
The being was male, with pale, nearly chalk white skin. He had dark hair that was short, but was in curls, that hung down in individual rivulets over his forehead. He was dressed in a white toga, leaving his legs and a portion of his chest bare. The staff in his hand was gold and the top burned with fire that seemed to have no source of fuel, but it burned endlessly.
He was well aware of that as he passed, walking at a rapid pace he was garnering attention from all those in the buildings around him, but he didn't care. Nor did he care about the fantastic view offered by the position of this place above the clouds.
He approached the largest building at the very top of the mountain and ascended the stairs. A small crowd, having sensed that whatever reason brought him here was of great import, trailed behind him.
He entered a large open area in the building and had barely made it more than a few steps in when a deep booming voice rang out, "Brother, what brings you here? You so rarely venture up to socialize with us."
The voice wasn't exactly welcoming, and very slightly bordered on unfriendly, but that didn't stop the pale man as he continued until he came to a stop in front of the throne. On the throne sat a man whose hair was white, with a thick, albeit short, white beard. The man was dressed in a white toga, similar to the pale man, only it was trimmed in gold and matched the gold pointed crown he wore.
Despite his snow white hair and matching beard, the man was powerfully built, with a musculature that showed no sign of age. He raised a goblet, of whatever he was drinking, in recognition of the new arrival. His entire bearing was one of confidence and arrogance. Though at the moment, his expression was only reflecting curiosity.
"It has been some time since you graced us here on Olympus, Hades." A beautiful female said from a smaller throne next to the central throne. Her skin was nearly golden, with matched golden red hair, and she was adorned in a pale green dress adding additional grace to her beauty.
"It has, sister. However, this is not a social visit." The pale man spoke, his voice cultured and gentle, as he answered her before returning his attention to the man who had asked the question. He bowed at the waist, though only just enough not to give offense. "King Zeus… I bring news."
"What tidings do you bear, Brother?" Zeus' deep and booming voice inquired.
"You all know who my Mistress is," Hades began, and as his statement floated in the air, he was easily capable of seeing some subtle uncomfortable shifting of those in the room. It was a topic not often talked about, since Gods generally did not appreciate discussing beings more powerful than they; especially this particular one. But it was undisputed fact that the Endless were above even the gods.
Zeus on the other hand did not looked bothered at all by the mention, merely nodding and gesturing for Hades to continue.
"I do not know the circumstances, but my Mistress…" Hades took a breath, hardly believing he was saying the words, "She has been bound to a master."
There was stunned silence throughout the entire throne room. Then a loud outburst of conversation occurred from pretty much everyone present. Shock. Disbelief, all of the emotions Hades himself had felt when it had happened.
"Surely… you jest." Zeus's voice cut through and cut off the outburst. He couldn't hide the disbelief in his own voice.
"I have never been known for my sense of humor," Hades replied flatly "And I would certainly not attempt humor about this."
"To bind one of the Endless… that… how is it possible? I believed that the only being capable of binding the Endless was one of their own… as Destiny binds all." Hera spoke up once again.
"I do not know." Hades answered, for once allowing a slight trace of frustration to enter his voice. "My connection to her allowed me to feel what had happened. As to how, or why? I have not the slightest understanding."
"This means one of two things, and we must find out more. Immediately." Athena who was resplendent in a red dress, along with her seeming ever-present owl on her shoulder, spoke up, her voice firm. As usual, when the Goddess of Wisdom spoke, people listened.
When she saw she had their attention, she didn't wait for the inevitable question, she followed up. "It either means a being of incredible power has somehow managed to subdue the strongest of the Endless. A being I'm not sure even one such as I could begin to comprehend has been somehow overpowered without rending the very fabric of reality, or someone has managed to be clever enough to trick Death itself in a way no one has ever dared imagine."
The gods around her all seemed startled as they pondered that. She continued on. "Whether it be due to arrogance, avarice, lust for power, or some other reason… one thing I am certain of… We must know who would hold power over one of the Endless. We must know why… and we must know how!"
There was silence at the pronouncement of the Goddess of Wisdom. While gods would argue and disagree with the Goddess of Wisdom, when they felt confident, no one else present seemed to have any other ideas. Most of them were still completely caught off guard by the news.
After a brief pause, Zeus spoke up, his voice firm and booming once more, "As is so often the case with her great wisdom, my daughter is right. Send out the call to all corners, and all connections. We must know who had this sort of power. We must know why and how this was done, and we must figure out what this means."
Immediately, the various gathered gods of the Pantheon and various other attendants broke out into a cacophony of conversation. No one in the room notice a blonde male, armored in dark blue slowly sink into the shadows without saying anything to anyone. His absence was only noted by two of the Pantheon.
Dumbledore looked up sharply from his desk as one of the devices in his office began whirring and whistling loudly. It only took him a moment to rush around the desk, with a speed that belied his age. A quick check was all it took to confirm that the item was responding to the magic of Harry Potter.
He straightened with a look of grim satisfaction. The boy had been hidden for months but once more the trinket had a fix on the boy who had caused him so much frustration in the past few months.
Now that it had a fix, it would be able to track him for at least six hours, plenty of time to hunt him down. Dumbledore sent a patronus message off to notify those closest to him. He wasn't going alone to retrieve the boy, especially if the boy was on guard, and could somehow fly away without the aid of a broom. He and his allies would retrieve the boy, and bring him back where he belonged.
His thrice-damned godfather might be a problem but, once they got Harry back to Britain, with the charges of kidnapping pending against him, the irresponsible, and far more importantly, uncontrollable man would not have a legal leg to stand on.
Dumbledore knew he needed Harry Potter under his control once more, he needed to start mitigating some of the massive amount of damage done over the past few months. The boy also had to be brought back because Voldemort was clearly still out there and still a threat. The entire country knew it. Normally this would be a good thing. The proof of Voldemort's return would have had people flocking to him as the only wizard Tom hadn't beaten.
But Harry's pronouncement in front of the Minister, aurors, and somehow, Rita Skeeter, changed up that whole dynamic. Everyone now knew there was a prophecy about the boy and the Dark Lord. Two ministry employees, who had taken bribes from various unknown organizations, had been driven insane attempting to retrieve it without knowing about the protections on the prophecies.
Everyone knew that the only person who could vanquish Voldemort was not only missing in action but had proclaimed that the wizarding world deserved it. And that he blamed the former Minister Fudge as well as Dumbledore. This had the effect, along with Skeeter's damn muckraking, of putting him in a very untenable position.
Harry's entire attitude had been nothing like the Harry he had known and groomed toward his own ends. He had been combative, violent, and not at all timid or eager to please. Dumbledore was very worried about that. Either the boy had finally succumbed to the horcrux in his head or his mother's contrariness had reared its head at a most inopportune time.
Based on the things the boy had shouted, the old wizard wasn't certain. Either way it could not be tolerated. Dumbledore knew it might require some powerful memory charms, and mind work, but he would have Harry back fixing all the damage this entire mess had caused.
That thought in mind, Dumbledore, with more than a little reluctance, sent off another Patronus spell. This one to the current Minister. While he and Rufus differed on a number of topics, they both wanted Potter back. Not to mention that the Minister's involvement would certainly provide more bodies to bring Potter in. A show of numerical power might help their cause in this case.
A figure clad in a dark purple hooded robe looked at the image before him on a giant screen. It showed a decimated landscape outside of a sturdily built facility that showed surprisingly little damage. There were pieces of Superman robots strewn everywhere.
Desaad stared at the screen with an evaluative expression. His dark eyes were narrowed.
He muttered mostly to himself, "Hmm. Interesting. Remnants of Kryptonian technology, though primitive by their standards. Residue of a Tamaranean unleashing a great deal of power." The image panned around to show the rest of the ground, most of the island looked torn up. With a few presses of buttons, he rewound what his miniature spy drones had caught. They were programmed to keep an eye on major events. To his frustration it had only caught the events from the middle of the battle on.
"I see I was correct," Desaad muttered to himself as he observed Starfire sending a beam of immense power down at the battle beneath her. He was dismissive of the human in the green battlesuit, having encountered him before.
His expression became focused after the fight played out, and then the aftermath and then rewound it again.
He froze the image not long after the start of the battle and zoomed in.
On the screen a bald Superboy in a black teeshirt and jeans was forced down against a much leaner boy, one he did not recognize, who seemed to nearly equal the power level of the cloned kryptonian.
"Interesting…" Desaad murmured, only to be jerked from his thoughts as by a harsh and marginally feminine voice, if only because the average person on Apokolips had more gravel in their voice than an Earth road, spoke up.
"You have found something Desaad?"
Only long practice kept Desaad from visibly jumping from the voice of one of Darkseid's elite suddenly intruding on his thoughts.
"Perhaps," Desaad commented, not deigning to look back and not speaking further.
"Well… what have you found that garners your interest?!" demanded the heavy set woman, the threat heavy in her voice.
Desaad paused several moments more, making it clear that her demands didn't frighten him, though he was hardly surprised by the implied threat. With Darkseid currently absent for an undetermined amount of time, trapped in the Source Wall where he had been thrust, supposedly by Superman, his Elites were each in charge causing contention between them frequently.
"Patience has never been your strong suit."
"My name is Goodness, not patience. Don't make me ask again." Granny Goodness stated flatly.
Desaad paused a few moments longer, as if to make a point, his hood shadowing most of his face briefly before he pointed a thin hand at the screen. "The possible emergence of another Kryptonian on the planet Earth."
"Another one?" Granny Goodness muttered staring at the screen, "Once more on that blasted planet."
"I said possible, some of the features match the majority of the other known males, dark hair, fair skinned. However, the young one's build is different than the standard Kryptonian's, I do not have enough information to know for certain." Desaad's comment was dry and straightforward, allowing no hints of his true thoughts through.
"Hrm…" Granny Goodness considered thoughtfully, "Kal El has long been out of our voluntary control. Our Lord has forsworn all attempts on Kara Zor-El. But no such deal was made for this brat. Perhaps we could claim him... convert him to one of ours. It would be a suitable present for our master when he returns."
Desaad nodded his head slightly, in acknowledgement more than agreement. Without knowing which way he wanted things to fall he wasn't going to risk manipulating the older woman one way or the other. "And if he can't be turned?"
"Well, then his corpse might make a suitable present instead." Granny grinned with a smile that was full of pure malice.
"I'm uncertain that is the wisest course…" hedged Desaad without any true force in his voice.
"Of course you're not certain… you snivelling worm." Granny sneered dismissively before turning and stomping from the room, calling over her shoulder, "I shall be preparing for the opportune time, and then when I am ready, my Female Furies and I shall procure him, one way or the other."
There was a brief pause as she walked farther away before she called out, "I'll be taking Kalibak too. Might as well put him to some use."
Desaad did not even bother to reply. He wasn't going to argue with her. But he also had no intention of playing the recording far enough to show events at the end of the battle.
If what had seemed to happen had actually occurred… Desaad was somewhat at a loss. The idea of a being able to grant life. He had no idea what that meant or what sort of being the unknown was. He would keep that to himself until he knew what it meant, and certainly wasn't going to give up such information to another of Darkseid's elite.
If Granny brought back the boy to Apokolips then he could claim a small part of the success. If she failed, then he could blame the failure entirely on his compatriot.
Darkseid would be unlikely to kill her for failing, but it didn't mean he wouldn't make things… unpleasant for her.
Desaad also couldn't shake the feeling in his gut that this was bigger than he was yet able to perceive.
On a far off planet, at the center of the universe several white haired beings in red robes, all floating in a circle, felt the disturbance.
One of them looked at his fellows and spoke in a near monotone, "Most interesting."
There were nods from all around.
A being with long white hair and a matching beard, as well as snow white robes, sat upon a throne of stone. The Rock of Eternity. A stone tablet in a language long forgotten to any mortals sat on his lap. Next to his throne leaned a staff with a gold lightning bolt on top of it. The Wizard Shazam looked up from the tablet with wide eyes. For one of the first times in his long existence he was completely speechless.
A powerful being in another dimension lifted his massive horned head and narrowed his eyes. He couldn't piece the dimensions to see everything clearly but that did not mean Trigon the Terrible was unable to perceive something of such power occurring. His eyes narrowed and then a slow smile curved on his lips. While he didn't know the specifics, he understood that Death had been mastered… and one of his most powerful offspring was close by. This would bear closer watching for any opportune moment.
"One final bit of advice. Using your power to stop someone from dying may work, but not only does it take a great deal of your still growing power, but usually a person is dying for a reason. Age. Injury. Those cannot always be stopped. And to even pause it can cause them pain."
"And remember, no one but myself or you, as my Master, has leave to claim or destroy souls. Your charge is to protect those souls who can't protect themselves," Death's voice floated through Harry's mind. After a brief pause, her voice drifted off to the distance, "Now, it is time to wake!"
Harry's eyes flicked open. And he found himself staring up at florescent lights above him. There was a murmurs of several voices around with many of them close by.
"Why do I always seem to wake up in the infirmary?" Harry muttered as he sat up with a soft sigh, though he noted it didn't seem as hard as it had the night before.
"Harry!" Speedy's voice rose immediately.
He found that she had been seated next to the bed he was on. She had her arm in a sling, and her outfit was covered in ash and dirt. The observation made him wonder briefly about how long he had been knocked out, as Speedy obviously hadn't even changed out of clothes she had done battle in, despite being injured.
Her exclamation seemed to cut off several of the conversations that were occurring, though some of the more distant ones continued.
"Welcome back to the land of living, lad." A man with a british accent spoke.
Harry tensed up and looked up to find a blonde man who appeared somewhat tense with his arms crossed and looking down at him.
"Seriously Harry, I'm starting to wonder if Lils just dunked you in a bad batch of luck potion or something," Sirius' voice intruded.
Harry whirled around to see Sirius sitting on his other side. The man had a bandage over his cheek and jaw, his arm was in a sling while his leg was resting straight out from his position in a way that made it seem like it was braced. He definitely looked worse for the wear. However considering he was conscious, that was much improved from before, Harry was pleased.
The man was also making jokes. A joking Sirius meant that, despite the situation possibly being bad, it wasn't that bad.
"You're one to talk," Harry snarked back at the other man, not able to entirely contain his relief, "You ended up in here first. When I first heard, I thought you might have broken your pelvis or something."
Sirius blinked once then grinned slowly, "Not for lack of trying." He paused a moment before continuing, his voice shifting slightly and dropping the humor. "You okay, kid?"
"I'm fine, Sirius." He replied almost automatically. His brow furrowed a bit. He wasn't… not really, but he wasn't sure how to go about explaining the whole Death thing to Sirius. Or to anyone.
On the flip side, this was the first time he'd woken up in an infirmary bed and actually felt physically okay. So that was a strange feeling as well.
Harry could see some of the tension drain off of his godfather at the quick banter. He smiled ruefully, "So what did I miss?"
Sirius snorted, and he wasn't the only one, which drew Harry's attention back to the other people in the room. Most of whom were looking at him.
The blond guy who had spoken stepped up, a bit closer to the bed, "You tell us kid."
"Um, no," Harry said slowly, drawing out the last word and then glancing back at Sirius briefly before he turned back to the blonde man, "At this rate, I'm pretty much becoming an expert on waking up in infirmaries. So I know that's not how this works. The unconscious person doesn't tell the people who are awake what happened while he was out."
The blonde actually seemed a bit amused, a look that only increased with Harry's response, "Fair enough. You were unconscious. You were brought inside. People are getting patched up. You woke up. There. You're up to speed."
Harry blinked at the retelling and looked over at Sirius. His godfather shrugged a bit with his good shoulder, "More or less the truth."
"Is everyone okay?" Harry asked, glancing around and taking stock of the people around him, noting several beds were full.
He noted that Starfire was in one bed, being looked after by the girl with green skin and hair, Jade, he belatedly remembered.
In another bed, Harry saw the shirtless form of a bald teen he realized was Connor. The teen seemed like he was still unconscious. Most pointedly Harry noticed that the teen wasn't restrained.
Standing next to the bald student's bed were Wonder Girl, Robin, along with a large man that looked similar to the Superman robots they had fought. It didn't take Harry more than a moment to surmise his identity.
The next bed over, Thunder, the dark skinned girl he had earlier thought had oddly blonde hair, now was sporting short dark hair was sitting up with her feet dangling over the edge of the bed.
The large muscular woman with short red hair and tattoos, Grace, stood with her arms crossed talking to Thunder. Though her gaze kept flicking to the other side of the room.
Harry followed her gaze to see the woman with teal skin who had been willing to sacrifice herself to end the threat inside. The woman Death had said he 'saved' was standing on a platform surrounded by a cylinder of blue energy that seemed to be scanning her. Several people were standing there studying readouts. Harry saw Cyborg with several displays floating in front of him. Nightwing and Arsenal were looking closely at the readouts.
There was another man, dressed in black with his back to Harry that he didn't recognize. None of the others seemed to mind him there; he was studying his own monitor closely.
The only one not looking at a monitor was Shift, the orange and purple being that was alternating looking between Indigo and the people obviously scanning her.
"Um. Well... more or less everyone is physically fine. In part because of the goblins helping out. Which, how the bloody hell you managed to get the blighters to be willing, much less eager to help any… well any not Goblin really..." the blonde man replied once Harry's attention returned from his visual inspection, still somewhat amused and amazed, "But that's not what's sent everyone spare."
"You seem to have a habit of that, kiddo." Sirius added, a mischievous smirk on his face.
Harry looked back and forth between Sirius and the other British man. Then he quite deliberately turned his back on both of them to look at the blonde girl beside him. "Speedy, how about you fill in the blanks for me?"
Speedy smirked as she glanced at the two men before going back to Harry.
"They didn't lie, we've been getting patched up. When Mr. Bla- Sirius asked them, your goblin friends did actually help. The healing potion they gave me cleared up most of my cuts and bruising, I'm just having to take it a bit easy on my shoulder overnight rather than what was likely a month to six weeks or so of rehab."
She looked genuinely grateful and gestured drawing attention to her good hand, "But everyone's showed up since Connor went insane and then whatever you did to the robot. They've been torn between trying to figure out what you actually did to her, and deciding what to do with her now."
Harry nodded slowly, as he took that in, glancing around once more, before the blonde man spoke up, garnering Harry's attention again.
"Look, kid," he spoke, "This is where I have to ask questions."
At Harry's puzzled look he forged on, "I don't need all their fancy equipment to get my answers. I know what you did, just not how you did it," He gestured where Indigo remained in that energy cylinder.
"But to actually give life to something? That's… some pretty serious juice, and at your age, I'm kinda doubting you're a budding necromancer… so I have to get an idea of how you did what you did." He said, his voice turning serious.
Harry met the man's blue eyes for several seconds before replying somewhat in disbelief, "I don't even know you. Why the bloody hell would I talk to you, much less explain anything about myself?"
The blond actually blinked and then chuckled, "You're right. My apologies. I'm a magic user, though not like the wizards you are familiar with, if what Black says is accurate. My name is John Constantine."
Harry had opened his mouth to ask what he meant by the first part of the statement but he suddenly felt lightheaded, and he blurted out "The Constant One."
Constantine started slightly, not so much because of the mentioning of that particular monicker, but because he had been looking right in Harry's eyes and for several moments. The shape of his irises had shifted. Each eye shifted from an emerald circle to that of an Ankh.
Harry blinked, and immediately put his hand to his head, massaging it, grunting in pain as his face scrunched up. He had heard what he said, and he had said it, but he had no idea where it came from.
"Harry?" Sirius sat forward looking at him, intently with concern etched on his face. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah… I…" Harry started to reply and then trailed off, "It feels like someone tried to jam a Hogwarts' History sized book in my skull just now."
"What did the book say?" Constantine asked cautiously as he regarded Harry with narrowed eyes.
"I… don't know." Harry responded.
"Shoulda studied more…" Sirius responded trying to lighten the mood slightly.
"Okay Hermione." Harry shot back with a roll of his eyes. The pain having subsided almost as quickly as it came. "It's like… only bits and pieces are even in a language I should be able to understand… but can't."
"Hmm." Constantine responded, regarding Harry intently for several seconds before finally replying, "I have been known by that name on occasion. I would've never have guessed anyone coming from the circles that wand wavers tend to gather would have ever heard of it though."
"That's nice," grunted out Harry, "I wasn't aware I knew it either."
Constantine rubbed a hand over his cheek as he stared down at Harry contemplatively. However, anything he might have said seemed to be lost as he looked up when he heard and sensed the presence of someone approaching. He relaxed slightly as his gaze took in the familiar form of the person coming over to join them.
Harry turned his head to see what the man was looking at just in time to see Superman approach the foot of his bed.
"Hello there, it's good to see you awake," Superman said by way of greeting.
Harry looked at the S shield on the man's chest, and kept his expression cautious. He had seen that symbol a lot today, and each time seemed to involve things hitting or blasting him.
"Hello," Harry greeted warily.
Sirius beside him, could tell Harry's caution and he also straightened in his seat. Not that he could do much with his current injuries.
The large man was clearly able to read the tension and held out his hand, "I'm Superman, it's a pleasure to meet you."
Harry hesitated for a moment, but the man's expression was open and friendly. So he reached out and took the man's hand, "Nice to meet you, I'm Harry Potter." He froze for a moment when he touched the hand. Harry suddenly knew, without knowing how he knew that the man had passed the line between life and death at some point. It was just a brief flash but something Harry filed away in his mind.
Superman shook his hand firmly before releasing it, not seeming to realize anything had passed between them, "I'm sorry we had to meet under these circumstances."
"Heh, with as often as I spend in places like this, I'm lucky I meet anyone when I'm not in an infirmary." Harry responded with a sardonic grin.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Superman responded, with genuine regret in his voice.
"Must be the company I keep." Harry responded with a smirk over at Sirius who was watching the interaction closely.
"Oi." He protested immediately. "Don't even think of blaming this on me. You've ended up there loads of times without me around!"
Speedy snickered, drawing their attention, "Don't worry, I'm pretty sure it's not you, most of us seem to have the same problem."
Sirius seemed to be mollified by that, enough to stick his tongue out at Harry, "Hah."
Harry rolled his eyes at the man's immaturity, but a fond smile was on his face as he did.
"I've been informed of your history," Superman spoke up once more, in a patient tone, "I was wondering if you had any more details on your… unique heritage?"
"Been informed by whom?" Harry asked, his eyes narrowed in suspicion once more.
"What business is it of yours?" Sirius added in challenge, slightly more aggressively.
Superman didn't seem bothered by the tone from both of them, and kept his voice friendly. "Informed from what Cyborg passed along to us and what we could find independently. And I am merely curious to see if our heritage was at all similar. The planet of my birth was in a completely separate galaxy." Superman answered honestly.
Harry seemed to take this far easier than Sirius, "Well, I don't have the faintest clue. I didn't even know it until I talked with ghosts of my parents."
"Hm," Superman responded, his tone remaining polite. "Did you find out anything else? It might help us narrow it down."
"Er, not really?" Harry offered, "Supposedly my dad's mum claimed his biological father was alien named Nolan and could do some of the things I can do, only without magic, before he disappeared."
"Magic…" Superman responded, his voice considering but not doubtful.
He looked like he was going to say more but was misdirected when the man in black, one that Harry could now see from the front, showed his outfit underneath was mostly a dark grey, save for a yellow circle in the middle of his chest, with some sort of emblazoned bird type symbol.
Harry thought it vaguely reminded him of a golden snitch.
"Cyborg is finishing up the scans." Batman stated without preamble to Superman.
"I know," Superman said, though his tone came out as somewhat of a question.
"We need to decide what to do with it, and I thought it best to have this discussion out here, as Shift is unlikely to be cooperative," Batman stated quietly.
Harry was already well aware of the topic of the duo's discussion, and the apathetic way this new man in black referred to Indigo as an 'it' struck Harry as a bit insensitive.
"Recommendation?" Superman asked Batman, with a tone that sounded like he suspected what the black-clad man would say.
"Indefinite containment," Batman replied bluntly, "We have no idea what it's capable of, and better to act with caution."
"Oi!" Harry spoke up, interrupting whatever reply Superman was going to make, and drawing their attention to him.
"You're talking about her?" Harry gestured toward where Cyborg was continuing to scan the teal skinned woman, as he took a moment to recall the name, "Indigo?"
"That is correct," Superman responded honestly glancing over at Batman, "We are merely discussing what are options are regarding her."
"Imprisonment is simply the best option." Batman added flatly, whether his comment was directed at a reluctant Superman or Harry, was anyone's guess.
"That hardly seems fair," Harry protested, his eyes narrowing as his voice retained it's protest. "I don't know much about what was happening but it certainly didn't seem like she was doing it by choice."
Beside him, Sirius straightened up in the chair, looking between Harry and the two men he was arguing with, sensing the rise in tension. John Constantine simply glanced back and forth, a faint trace of an amused smirk on his face.
"She was made by an advanced intelligence from the future whose goal was the destruction of organic life forms. No matter what she has been changed into… Indigo already turned on the Outsiders once. There's no guarantee it won't happen again." Batman answered Harry without a noticeable shift in expression. "She has assaulted and endangered a number of people in this room, yourself included. We clearly can't guarantee some part of that doesn't still exist."
Harry's jaw tightened and he lifted his chin stubbornly, "Then, are you going to do the same thing to that bloke? Conner?" He pointed where the young man lay unconscious.
That seemed to catch the attention of literally everyone in the room, whether they were in Harry's immediate vicinity or not.
"What?" Superman asked, caught off guard by the sudden shift in question.
Batman didn't respond, save for a slight tilt of his head, which could have meant anything.
Harry had gained steam though, "Yeah? Isn't it the same thing? Created by some guy Kid Flash compared to Satan. He turned on all his friends because someone was controlling him, and hurt several of them. He nearly killed my godfather. Not to mention blasting me in the face. Which… kinda didn't feel great."
"You can't guarantee some part of that doesn't still exist." Harry said echoing Batman's words as he ran a hand through his hair, relieved to note it had seemed to return to its former state, "If you imprison Indigo?... you have to do the same to the other bloke, Conner, don't you?"
"Wait, what? You're not going to be imprisoning Conner for this!" Another young male voice came from behind where Batman and Superman stood causing them both to shift their attention to where Robin stood. His arm was still in the thick tube-like cast and his glare was going back and forth between both Batman and Superman. Clearly he had been attracted by the sound of the brewing argument between the three of them.
"It's not his fault that Luthor was controlling him," Robin stated, his tone challenging as he stared down his mentor, even as Nightwing came to stand behind him.
"Robin-" Batman started to reply, only to be interrupted by a British voice from behind him.
"The lads have a point," Constantine spoke up, his tone rather offhand but with an underlying firmness, "If you do that, then everyone is responsible for their actions, even when they've been controlled."
That statement caused Superman to flinch slightly. More than one person present looked glanced toward him at the same moment.
Harry and Sirius exchanged a look with just their eyes, as clearly they were missing out on something.
"Of course we're not going to be imprisoning him," Superman said, his tone calming, "Or her."
That seemed to mollify most of the people, though Robin still had a brief glare for Batman. However, they were cut off, by a loud protest.
"I don't care what you do with the kid, but the overgrown calculator just tried to kill us," Grace Choi snapped angrily, making an entrance into the conversation while simultaneously stepping away from the bed where Thunder had been sitting.
"Grace," Nightwing started before being interrupted.
"No!" The large imposing redheaded woman said, "The kids might have bonds with Supes-junior that has them stupidly thinking otherwise, but I don't trust the tin can as far as I can throw her."
There was a brief pause, before Kid Flash asked Robin, "Can't she like… bench press a semi? I'd bet Grace could throw her pretty far..."
Grace seemed to falter, a moment before glaring at the speedster teen, who reflexively stepped back slightly behind Robin, "Not. The. Point."
She turned to glare at Nightwing, and in turn, Jade and Arsenal who had joined the growing discussion. "I don't trust the sentient ipod is not going to pull another Mr. Hyde and revert completely on us. Next time it might be when we aren't in a position to stop her."
"Grace," Superman said, his voice firm, "That's enough."
"No. You didn't dismantle the robot after it killed Donna. Then Arsenal didn't listen to us last time when we said it was a bad idea, and we should have turned her into scrap." Grace snapped, stepping forward to glare down at Superman from her superior height. Superman just looked up at her calmly, appearing unruffled.
"It wasn't Indigo's fault that Brainiac 8 took over." Arsenal countered, his voice filling with anger, "She's not even a robot anymore!"
"Which just means you probably won't let us outright put her out of our misery and end the threat permanently…" Grace huffed, and barrelled on, well aware that present company would not allow the robot to be killed, "I'll make it easy for you, Roy… and I guess Jade, as you're in charge of the Outsiders now... Either it goes or I go."
There was silence as the ultimatum hung there in air and the group stared at each other in a standoff.
"Wow, she's kind of a bitch…" Harry muttered to Speedy in a voice that carried because of the silence.
Nearly every person in the room turned their head to him as if on a swivel, their eyes slightly wide with surprise.
"What did you say to me?" Grace said, her voice soft but demanding as she turned away from Superman and glared at him.
Harry considered apologizing briefly, as it was a rather rude thing to say. He didn't know most of the people here. However, he did vividly remember the teal woman begging for someone to take her life. To sacrifice herself to protect others. Harry also remembered what Death had said about family and what he had done for Indigo.
Grace turned and stalked up to the edge of the bed and with no actual effort twisted the metal rail at the end of the bed into the shape of a twizzler. "Well? Cat got your tongue kid?" Her tone a mix of smug and condescending.
Superman shifted forward, he didn't touch her but moved to stand up next to her, his presence alone essentially seeming to act as a buffer to prevent any sort of physical violence.
However, her action and comment had the opposite effect of what she intended, Harry had been used to people attempting to intimidate him his entire life. He pushed off the bed to stand up, turning to face her, noticing that even being taller than the shrimp he'd been, Harry still was dwarfed by the woman who was close to seven feet tall. It made no difference. He wasn't at all intimidated.
"I said 'you're kind of a bitch'." Harry said slowly with enunciation as if the woman in front of him was slow, hard of hearing, or mentally challenged in some way.
"Harry…" Sirius said, his tone a bit of warning.
"No, Sirius," He waved off the attempt from his godfather as he glared defiantly at the woman, "You made your opinion clear. You don't like her. Fine. We get it. Everyone understood what you said the first half dozen times you said it. Now piss off. Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out."
Several heroes' eyes widened and they all took a step back as the large woman lunged forward only to be held back by Superman's arm across her shoulders.
The man barely looked to be exerting any effort as Grace swung her arms wildly at Harry, "What did you say to me brat?! I'll beat you until you're black and blue!"
Harry hadn't jumped back but his arms did come up, prepared to meet the larger woman's charge. "You mean you'll try." Harry snapped back, the threat not impressing him at all. He didn't even notice the arm of Wonder Girl wrapped around his waist from behind prepared to try and pull him back if he lunged forward.
"That is enough!" Batman barked, his strong voice freezing everyone in place. Harry wasn't as impacted simply because he had heard similar voices most of his life.
"He started it." Grace reflexively said as if a child being yelled at.
"No, pretty sure you've been a bitch longer than I've been around." Harry retorted. Of course his barb caused the woman to lunge forward once more.
"Stop it." In contrast to Batman's voice, Superman's was calm but filled with authority. It did have the effect of causing Harry to lower his arms, and Grace to stop struggling. There was just something about the confidence and assertiveness in that voice. Filled with the knowledge that he absolutely could stop the fight if they didn't stop it themselves.
"Acting like children and name calling reflects poorly on you both." Superman admonished, his tone calm as he lowered his arm from around Grace's shoulders.
Harry took a breath and closed his eyes a moment. He didn't know why he kept reacting like that when people tried to intimidate or threatening him. It had worked out the previous two times. But snapping like that wasn't usual for him. As he relaxed Harry felt the arm he hadn't realized was at his waist slip away. He glanced back at Wonder Girl who smiled sheepishly.
He took another breath before nodding and looking at the larger woman. He was still irritated at her but that didn't excuse the insult. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have insulted you. I was just reacting, I don't know you-"
"You know nothing," Grace snapped, interrupting him and not looking at all mollified, "You're not on a team with her. As far as I know you're not part of ANY team. I won't be part of a group that has it as a member. So like I said, I'm just making it clear and simpler for our glorious leader. It's her or me."
"I can make that even simpler," a new voice joined the group.
The group whirled as one to find Indigo, standing there calmly facing the group. Shift was standing right behind her, glaring at Grace with clear anger on his face.
In contrast to Shift, Indigo was calm and seemed almost amused. Several people tensed, and Grace made no attempt to hide her attempt to shift into an aggressive stance once more, her fists raised, ready to strike at the slightest impetus.
Indigo didn't react at all, her pink eyes flicking from one person to another.
"What do you want?" Grace snapped her.
"I merely wished to inform you that there is no reason for your ultimatum, Grace." Indigo said, her voice pleasant.
"Oh, why is that? You are going to pinky swear to us that you won't flip out and won't go all Ash in the original Alien on us…. again?" Grace sneered.
It looked like she might have jumped at Indigo but Superman only moved slightly and once more, his presence seemed to be enough to keep her from doing anything.
Harry was slightly impressed how people seemed to respond to just the presence of the man who only seemed to stand there.
"Not at all," Indigo responded, her tone firm. "I am removing myself from membership in the Outsiders, effectively immediately."
That seemed to take most people there aback.
"You are out?" Arsenal demanded, "You… you can't just do that…"
"I was not aware membership in the team was now compulsory," Indigo countered focusing on Arsenal, still speaking in that same polite tone.
While Arsenal stuttered in response, it was Nightwing that spoke up, "It's not for most people, but you were created to destroy all organics-"
"Even if it wasn't just my body created for that, it was Brainiac 8 who was created for that purpose." Indigo responded.
"Brainiac 8 who was hiding inside you, and could still be." Nightwing countered.
"Brainiac 8 is gone from inside of me," Indigo responded, "And the goal of destroying all organics, would be rather... imbecilic. Especially considering that, as you have seen in your own scans, I myself am now organic."
"Like we haven't heard that he's gone before," muttered Grace.
"If we just let you go, what will you do?" Nightwing asked, cutting off any chance for the argument to restart.
"I believe I will chose to spend time with the people who managed to save me." Indigo said, turning her attention to Harry, who looked a combination of sheepish and embarrassed at the attention.
"You can't expect us to just let you wander off without any sort of supervision and without anyone to watch you in case you don't lose it again." Nightwing said reasonably.
"Indi's not the only one out. I'm gone too." Shift stated bluntly, crossing his arms and glaring at the people around them. "I'll 'keep an eye on her'." The way he spat the last words made it obvious just what he thought of that particular idea.
"While that's all well and good Shift, you're not the most impartial judge…" Arsenal spoke up once more.
"No worries Bats junior, Arrow junior." Constantine spoke up, drawing attention, "I'll hang around and keep an eye on things."
"John?" Batman, who had been silent up to this point, stared at Constantine. It was impossible to tell what his expression was, but the slight hint of surprise in his voice was the same as everyone else staring at the man agape with shock.
"No worries," John waved him off "I was due a vacation anyway. I can do that while keeping an eye on the lass."
The adults in the room all exchanged looks, they were uncertain on what to say about the idea of him volunteering to do so. But no one had specific objections.
"Fine," Grace snapped, "Glad that's settled, now can we get the hell out of here? I'd like a hot shower and then to sleep for a day or three."
That it seemed was that.
The remainder of the Outsiders; Nightwing, Arsenal, Grace, Jade, and Thunder prepared to depart. Starfire was going to be held at least until she woke up.
Harry watched as Nightwing hesitated by her bed and seemed to debate with himself before walking away.
Out of the group, Nightwing was the only one who came over to where Shift and Indigo remained standing, not far from where Harry had pulled up a chair rather than sitting back in the bed. He felt fine and wasn't going to stay on an infirmary bed any longer than necessary.
He looked at Shift and Indigo for a long moment before holding his hand out to the girl first, "I really do wish you the best of luck."
Indigo reflected no surprise as she shook his hand. Shift only nodded slightly before shaking the offered hand.
While Superman had moved to check on Conner once more, along with Robin and Kid Flash, Batman had moved over toward the hallway entrance and got Constantine's attention with a slight tilt of his head.
Constantine slipped away from where Sirius, Harry and Speedy, who hadn't left the vicinity, were doing introductions with Shift and Indigo.
Constantine followed Batman into a smaller side room that appeared to normally be used as a conference room or a break room. Constantine moved to speak but Batman held up his hand to forestall any comment. The englishman shrugged and took a moment to pull out another cigarette.
Less than a minute later they were joined by Cyborg, and another minute or two later Superman.
Superman looked around the room slowly before nodding, "We're clear."
At Constantine's raised brow Superman shrugged slightly, "No listening devices or recording devices that I can see."
Cyborg nodded, "StarLabs spends a great deal of time to make sure they're not spied on for corporate espionage, or other… even less pleasant goals."
"Hmm." Constantine took in a breath before folding the fingers of his hand into a seal and concentrating for a few moments. His hands gleamed briefly.
"There." He said, exhaling a bit of smoke, "If anyone is listening or watching, all they'll hear is us discussing something unimportant."
"Alright, report." Batman stated, his voice just short of a command.
"Where do you want to start?" Cyborg asked calmly, not appearing bothered by Batman's blunt demand.
"Let's start with Superboy," Batman said with a glance over at Superman.
The half of Cyborg's face that was still human scowled, "Well, physically, other than some bruises, Conner's in remarkably good shape. His involuntary reflexes are intact, but he hasn't regained consciousness which is the only surprising thing."
"I'm not surprised," John countered, "According to the kids, Potter hit him with a stunning spell. Unless it's dispelled or canceled, he won't wake up for at least a few hours. Possibly more depending just how much power was in the spell."
Superman fixed Constantine with his piercing blue eyes, "Is there any danger involved?"
"From the spell? Nah," Constantine waved his hand negligently, "Like I said, stunning spell, does pretty much what it sounds like. Though given the source it might have been packing a bit more 'oomph' than average. I can go in and lift it when we're done. I just figured he might not be keen to wake up in the middle of everyone especially given some people's tempers. Clearly a good choice."
"Which brings us to the big problem, his mental state." Cyborg said grimly.
"What are we looking at?" Superman asked, frustration filling his tone.
"Well, aside from the worry of how he'll be after attacking his friends, it clear that Luthor left some sort of programming in his head." Cyborg stated.
"Luthor." Superman practically growled. Hands that could turn coal into diamonds clenched tightly at his sides as his jaw flexed briefly.
"Yes, which makes me wonder just how deeply Luthor's tendrils truly extended into Cadmus." Cyborg added, his cybernetic eye flashing briefly betraying his own irritation with the situation.
"Did you know?" Batman's voice cut in, his gaze focused on Superman.
"Did I know what?" Superman asked, his tone quizzical.
"About where the other fifty percent of Superboy's genetic code came from?" Batman clarified. "We knew he was only half kryptonian, but the fact that his human side was Lex Luthor wasn't ever mentioned."
"No." Superman gave Batman an incredulous look. "I had absolutely no clue. I don't have Luthor's genetic code memorized offhand just in case I could compare it to anyone I meet. I never even considered the possibility of any link to Conner."
"He's going to need counselling," Cyborg said, ignoring whatever unspoken thoughts were hovering between the two League titans.
"Even with counseling there will be no way to be certain that there isn't some programming buried and just waiting for Luthor to exploit." Batman grimaced, "We might have to try some in depth brain and thought pattern scans to see. You might check and see if Conner is willing to have a session with Dubbilex."
"If Conner consents." Superman added sharply.
"Why wouldn't he consent?" Constantine asked looking up at Superman. "I thought the two of them were thick as thieves."
"After… everything that happened with… Dr. Light and Zatanna and not to mention Maxwell Lord…" Superman hedged with a grimace, remembering his trauma, "And after this experience, he might not trust anyone to go poking around his head."
"I'm inclined to think he'll allow us to check brainwave patterns, if only because the alternative is the thought of something of Luthor's control left lingering in there. It will of course be his choice." Batman stated brusquely.
Superman and Cyborg exchanged a look that clearly showed they were less confident about the resolution. But as the decision rested with Conner, they both resolved to talk to him.
"Next topic. Indigo." Batman's voice drew their attention back to him.
"I'm curious, what did your fancy scans come up with?" John interjected before they could go farther.
Cyborg held out his hand palm up, and from the mechanical palm floated a three dimensional holographic image. "Well, her points from earlier are all correct. She is no longer mechanical. Her body is now entirely organic."
"Obviously, variances had to be made for Shift to turn non-organic material into something organic. Based on the scans… well, her internal organ structure is… well it's in flux. In some ways it's very similar to scans of Shift. In others, it appears that some of the structures from her technological body transferred over only in organic form. So… what she is is relatively hard to classify. But I would say she is not human. But she is now technically an organic being." Cyborg continued, as he did the foot tall holographic image highlighted different parts matching his words.
"'Technically'?" John inquired. "Is that like how my last date said that her parents 'technically' lived in a gated community and it turned out they were both doing an extended stint in prison?"
Cyborg flicked his gaze to him and shrugged, "I don't know. Beyond that, her cellular structure is so different from anything I've ever seen, I've got no idea where to begin there."
"I noticed the same. When I used my x-ray vision on her, I noted that some of the cells had similarities to kryptonian cells, but whether that was because of the origins of the robot or something else. I am uncertain." Superman stated, "And as much as I hate to say it, I agree with Batman's earlier statement, we need to keep an eye on her for more than the obvious reasons."
"Which brings me neatly to my question," Batman spoke up, "Why did you of all people, volunteer to keep an eye on her, John?"
"I was curious about that as well," Cyborg added, "You've never made any secret that you hated babysitting duty of any sort."
"I'm not so much keeping eye on her as I am going to keep an eye on Potter." Constantine admitted as he flicked cigarette ash carelessly off to the side. "He's the important piece here."
"What do you mean?" Superman asked, though Cyborg's eye narrowed slightly. Batman looked entirely unsurprised and was simply waiting for an explanation.
"I mean, everything that happened to your teal skinned girl? That's majorly important and all. But you seem to forget that it was all because of the kid," John stated with a bit of annoyance in his tone. "Aside from all the physical changes, whatever Potter did to her gave her life. And not in the evil necromantic-sacrifice-an-infant sort of way. It set off a magical disturbance the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time. The closest description I can give is that it was a Deity Level disturbance."
"You were right when you sensed the disturbance part," Superman mused slowly. "It did lead us to find out what was happening here…"
"Then there was the interesting reaction the lad had when I introduced myself a few moments ago," Constantine added almost offhandedly, but his expression was serious.
"What was that?" Cyborg asked for them all.
"What do you know about the symbol of the ankh?" Constantine asked in response.
"It's the ancient egyptian symbol for life," Batman answered promptly, "It's also used with some regularity by Dr. Fate. It's a powerful symbol."
"To an extent you're correct. But that's only a part of it." John paused a moment to inhale another breath through his cigarette.
"Bit of a history lesson for ya lads. The ankh is thought to represent the life-giving elements of air and water. In what we know of the symbol's history, in ancient Egypt, chains of ankhs were frequently shown being poured out of water vessels over the king as a symbol of the regenerating power of water." Constantine explained.
"More commonly, and given the circumstances I would argue more importantly, the ankh was depicted as being offered to the king's lips by various gods or goddesses, as a symbol of the 'Breath of Life'," He finally stated, emphasizing this last part as he looked at each man with a serious expression on his face.
"And Harry Potter just… breathed life into something so to speak." Cyborg said, putting the pieces together.
'Right." Constantine agreed, "It's a symbol recognized as holding a lot of power for a very long time, and it's the symbol that appeared in his eyes when I introduced myself and he called me the 'Constant One'."
"So what, you're saying that Harry Potter is able to bring people back from the dead?" Batman asked, there wasn't disbelief in his tone, simply a demand for answers.
"That's not quite what happened here, is it?" Constantine admitted, "And though I know of some obscure rituals that could infuse a spirit into something that isn't alive, or bring someone back from the other side in a new body. Those sorts of rituals are incredibly hard, require a metric shit ton of preparation and probably a dozen magic users. "
"He brought something to life. She has a bloody soul. I always say there are exceptions to everything you learn in magic. But I would have said that was nigh impossible." Constantine turned and looked back at the doors that separated them from the other room. "I don't think he has any clue how he did it. Bloody hell, I have no idea how he did what he did. But I don't fancy him just wandering around without any sort of guidance until we've got a better handle on what he can do and what's going on."
Batman seemed to consider that before he turned his head to Superman, "Anything you have to add? Is he Kryptonian?"
"I... am uncertain." Superman confessed. "His biology is incredibly dense, and there's some sort of interference that seems present in his body itself, but I did x-ray and attempt to look at his blood. I couldn't glean much, but there are definitely different structures there."
"Differences…?" Cyborg asked immediately with great interest, having not been able to get a sample of his blood for any sort of analysis. "I honestly couldn't get anything from any of my equipment. Black said he'd paid those... goblins who are here healing everyone to do something which would prevent….things from being done with his blood without his consent."
The sudden introduction of a Earth-based species of life which he had absolutely no previous knowledge of, on top of one of the Teen Titans turning on the team, the damage to his body that was fixed, but that would take days of adjustment and tweaks to be operating at peak efficiency again. On top of injuries to most of the team, Cyborg could readily admit to being a bit frustrated.
"Like I said, I couldn't get much." Superman answered. "Whether that is because he is not Kryptonian, or because he is only one fourth Kryptonian and a magic user, I'm uncertain."
"We've seen in Conner's physiology that there is differences. The solar absorption is less efficient, and the powers seem to manifest differently. Connor is only half kryptonian, and an engineered one at that." Batman commented. "We have no reference for someone who might be a second generation human Kryptonian hybrid, even without the influence of magic."
"What does your gut tell you?" Constantine asked of Superman, cutting short the musing he knew would continue to perlocate among some of the worlds sharpest minds.
"Gut reaction is that I'm not sure. There are too many unknowns. Similarities and differences." Superman responded. "When I get a chance, I'm going to check the Fortress' archives for any mentions of a Nol-An. I'll also ask Kara, at least make her aware of the situation, see if it jars any of her memories."
Batman grimaced at that comment but didn't say anything.
Constantine snorted at the non-answer, "Does it actually matter?"
At the curious looks he was getting, John threw his hands into the air. "The kid is definitely a mage, with a side of alien thrown in there. If you ask him what he thinks he is, I doubt he really is certain enough to think 'alien' before 'magic user'. And I think that's what matters. So what if he's Kryptonian? According to Black, he was born and bred here on Earth. Had parents who died for him in a war here on Earth."
"And most importantly, I'm pretty sure his… alien-ness has less to do with his ability to give life than his magic." Constantine said dryly.
Silence descended on the group for several moments, before Batman spoke up, "I don't like that he just dropped out of nowhere. We do have to keep an eye on him."
"Well, that's just the holes in your own information network, Bats, because I was well aware of his existence for the last fifteen years," Constantine said with a trace of smugness. "He most certainly didn't drop out of nowhere for me."
"The same information network that had you thinking his godfather was a betrayer and out to kill him?" Batman asked dryly.
"And you already said you were as surprised as any of us by his alien heritage and ability to give life," Cyborg added with a smirk of his own.
"Touche," Constantine winced and looked away. "That bit of information on his innocence is only a few months old and I'll admit that particular group of mages is so insular that it usually isn't worth following up with all that often for more than just the general highlights. Still, obviously there is something major is going on with the kid magically, and I'm going to keep tabs on him. Deity level disturbances are incredibly rare. I won't be the only one who felt it."
Superman raised a brow and looked at him, "Are you certain you'll be able to keep an eye on him? I saw the way the boy's godfather was looking at you, I don't know if he'll be keen to allow you to hang around."
"Leave that to me." Constantine smirked, "I doubt he'll object for long."
"So far, outside of his godson, the only one who got Black's attention for long was Starfire," Cyborg said tentatively. "And, pardon me, but you appear to lack the… 'equipment' to draw that same look from him."
"Aye, and I doubt either of them would be interested in a Devil's Threesome," Constantine waved him off, "I have an angle. Don't worry about it."
The other three exchanged looks before nodding one after another.
Constantine nodded at their unspoken approval. He turned to head back into the room before stopping and looking over his shoulder, "I wasn't kidding by the way. I have a feeling that there are going to be people looking for what caused the disturbance. I felt it all the way in Gotham. You might want to keep your ears open. Some'll be curious, others… well I doubt everyone is gonna be full of good intentions. My presence ought to misdirect all but the most focused or informed parties. But I doubt it will cover everyone."
The expressions on Superman and Cyborg's face hardened. Batman's didn't change, didn't reflect the slightest surprise.
No further words were needed.
"Are we all ready?" Albus asked the assembled group, his expression serious as he looked around at the group of nearly three dozen wizards he had gotten to help him. He knew they were on a timeline, the only reason the detector had worked for as long as it already had was because it was previously attuned to focus on Harry. Without it they would have lost his location hours ago.
Some of those gathered were utterly loyal to him but there was also the current Minister. Scrimgeour felt the need to be a part of it and brought along a contingent of aurors. The man might not be the biggest fan of Dumbledore but he also had a vested interest in getting Potter back.
Dumbledore knew the minister wouldn't like Dumbledore taking control, but a promise of support from both Dumbledore and the 'Boy Who Lived' was enough to mollify the Minister who was on shaky ground.
As the Minister who helped bring Harry Potter back, where the boy belonged, his administration would get a bump in popularity just from the knowledge alone, to say nothing of the bump he would get if Harry could be persuaded to give some sort of statement of support.
Dumbledore had reluctantly conceded more wands would be helpful.
He actually wished he had Miss Granger here, but the girl had somehow gained political asylum with her parents in France. Apparently, Harry Potter had gotten a lot closer to the French Champion in the aftermath of the 2nd task than Dumbledore would have preferred be allowed to happen.
Miss Granger had, apparently, been aware of the connection and had used it to seek sanctuary for her and her family.
He didn't think she would necessarily help, so much as her presence there would be an ace that would keep Harry from just flying off if for some reason the boy wasn't incapacitated.
Flight was a most concerning skill the boy had developed, assuming it was still Harry. The worry that the portion of Tom Riddle in the boy's scar had taken over plagued Dumbledore more than a little.
"Remember, our goal is to get him out with as little muss as possible. When we arrive, we'll figure out the building he is in. I will cast anti-apparition and portkey wards as well as anti-flight charms so that he can't get out easily. Then muggle repelling wards to keep any muggles from interfering outside." Dumbledore said.
"We will try and do it the easy way. Alastor will sneak in under an invisibility cloak, while I am setting up the wards and he will endeavor to simply place a portkey on Mr. Potter that has been specially enchanted to get through my wards." Dumbledore looked around, "If that works then we will simply apparate back here with none the wiser."
"What if that doesn't work? Or what if Potter's not out of commission?" Moody half growled, half asked.
"Then we may have to try a more aggressive approach." Dumbledore said evenly.
"Headmaster, what do we do if Black tries to stop us?" Asked Emmaline Vance.
"Sirius Black is once more a wanted man for kidnapping our target, and thus is once more a fugitive. Harry Potter is required by international magical law to remain under certified instruction until he has completes his OWLS and British Law to complete NEWTs, and he has not registered with any magical school." Scrimgeour spoke up. " By keeping Potter out of school, Black is violating the law. Not to mention putting an important wizard out where he could be in danger. Black likely will not come quietly as he knows his destination is Azkaban."
Albus glanced at the rest of those assembled, it worked to his advantage to have the Minister angered at Black. It allowed him to keep his goals intact but not take blame for one or two of the wizards, like the young Miss Tonks or Remus Lupin, who may still hold some loyalty toward the reprobate. "Remember our priority is bringing back Harry Potter. If Sirius Black tries to interfere then he must be… stopped however possible."
Sirius Black had, in almost record fashion, become an influence that could not be allowed to continue in the Wizarding World.
The man had money along with a ready-made media image, that had drawn the general public to his cause as moths are to a flame, after the full details of his illegal incarceration and his single-minded devotion to Harry had been revealed. Even making him a wanted man once more had faced challenges from some families on both sides of the aisle. Thankfully, appealing to the public's desire to bring Harry back to the Wizarding world had quieted all but the most virulent critics.
As much as Dumbledore might regret it, he was aware that Sirius might have to be dealt with in a more permanent manner, leaving Harry alone to be guided by Albus once he was returned to the fold.
He had already put some thought into guardianship.
His muggle family were not an option. The outcry against it would be enormous and there had already been three attempts at killing the family. It would have been more but Dumbledore had moved them to a safe house.
His first option had been the Weasleys. A family that loved Harry as one of their own and would welcome him with open arms. Additionally, young Ginevra was an ancillary enticement, give them some time together, he could let things progress naturally among the teens. She would make a good wife for the boy, and be a good tie to the wizarding world.
Unfortunately, Ronald's recently displayed anger toward Dumbledore had made that unpalatable. Having Harry around someone else who distrusted the headmaster to such an extent would not be beneficial. There was no way for him to get away with modifying the boy's behavior with some compulsions without even the Weasley's becoming suspicious.
He had considered several other families, like the Tonks, but they weren't viable options because of their possible divided loyalty.
He had finally settled on the perfect candidate. Snape would be perfect to act as guardian to the boy. They would hate each other, but Snape would help ensure the Potter boy was returned to an appropriate frame of mind. Potter would hate Severus and be thankful when Dumbledore kept them away from each other during school time.
"We must hurry, we do not know how quickly he might be moved and my tracking spell will only be able to detect his magical signature for a limited amount of time." Dumbledore said. The tracker targeted to Harry's blood, had long ago stopped functioning, Dumbledore left a mental note for himself that he would need to procure some more of the boy's blood so future incidents would be far less of a hassle.
"For the moment, we have a trace on his position because of his magic. Because of the amount of magic used, it possible Mr. Potter is unconscious, or at least weakened. It is also very possible that someone has captured him. We are to assume that he is being held by hostile forces, and that anyone present is a lethal threat. Treat them accordingly." Dumbledore said grimly, wanting to impress the seriousness of the situation on people.
He didn't know what Harry had gotten into that had caused such a reaction but it was likely he was under incredible stress to put out enough magic to reach magical detectors halfway across the world.
The members of the group heading out lined up to take the portkey that had been arranged for them.
With the familiar suction sound of a portkey, the group was pulled from their current position and were gone in an instant.
As Constantine once more approached Harry's little group he heard the middle of the ongoing conversation.
"-ack to Metropolis? Is all our crap still in the hotel?" Harry was asking Sirius, before narrowing his eyes suspiciously, "Are we even allowed back in the hotel?"
Sirius went to reply, only for Harry to cut him off, "Please tell me those two blonde airheads didn't steal all our shite?! And I don't want to hear any more bragging about those two. You know you only got the two of them because you were throwing money around more than Draco threw around his daddy's name."
"Please. Like Dobby would leave anything behind." Sirius replied, ignoring the rest. "Given how accommodating the goblins have been, I doubt they'll mind checking us out of the hotel."
Sirius then lifted his braced arm and looked down at his leg. "I don't think we'll be leaving here for at least two or three days. Besides, we can leave the most expensive hotel in Metropolis and find the most expensive one here!"
"So you can make a run at seeing about getting banned from another hotel?" Harry asked doubtfully.
"Given some of the… behavior hotels put up with from rich guests, and illicit activities they get up to in private, there isn't much that will get you actively banned…" Speedy commented from where she was sitting with an amused smile on her face. "I'm not sure setting fire to a hotel room will get you kicked out if you're rich enough. I've actually seen a lot worse happen and they just nod along, especially if the people are regulars and rack up big bills at the bar and through room service."
Sirius opened his mouth but Harry immediately leaned forward in his chair to point an accusing finger at his godfather, "That was not a challenge."
Sirius looked affronted while Shift, snickered at the expression on the wizard's face. He had seemed to relax considerably since the confrontation with the Outsiders had ended. He was currently sitting in another chair, while Indigo perched on the arm of the chair.
Indigo was watching the interaction with an expression of amusement on her face, though her posture was still stiff and there was more than a little uncertainty there.
Harry looked around as there was a lull in the conversation. "I'm actually sort of hungry, is there anyplace we might be able to grab a bite to eat nearby?"
"Actually, we need a word with you Lord Potter," A voice spoke up, while normally about waist height, the chair Harry was sitting on put him much closer to eye height.
There were two goblins standing there, one carrying several scrolls under each arm, and the other holding a scroll in his hands.
The one holding the scroll in his hands spoke up, "My name is Gorbag, your account manager. We have corresponded a time or two. We … ah, need to discuss… a family matter."
When Harry just looked at them with a puzzled frown, the goblin coughed delicately, "That means we have a matter you might prefer to discuss in private, Lord Potter."
"Oi, you're being awfully polite…" John spoke up as he looked down at the goblin with a combination of suspicion and confusion.
"Of course we are, Mr. Constantine, we are talking to the owner of one of our most profi- important accounts." The goblin huffed as he sneered up at the blonde man before dismissing him and turning back to Harry.
"Oi. You're not that polite to me! I thought I was one of those accounts too." Sirius protested indignantly.
"We like him more than we like you." Gorbag responded with a wide toothy smile, that was either meant to relay amusement… or that the goblin was contemplating which of Sirius' internal organs might taste best served raw and how messy on the spot harvesting was likely to be.
Harry snickered at the looks that were on both Sirius' and Constantine's face as they both seemed uncertain on how to react.
"You do that on purpose, don't you?" Harry asked the goblin.
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about Lord Potter." The goblin replied without so much as changing his expression. It just produced more snickers from Harry and an affronted look from Sirius.
"However, as I said, you may want privacy to discuss family matters…" Gorbag addressed Harry once more. Though his eyes flickered around the group, taking time to acknowledge each person, though lingering longer on Constantine, and Indigo than it did on Speedy, Sirius or Shift.
Speedy, who was still sitting in the chair next to Harry's bed, glanced at the people surrounding him, none of whom seemed inclined to take the cue to leave, and then to Harry, taking initiative to speak for them all, "Do you want us to go?"
"Meh, if it involves my family, Sirius might know more about it than I do." Harry waved his hand apathetically.
"Are you sure?" Indigo asked, her head canting to the side curiously. "We wouldn't want to invade your privacy."
"Given everything that has happened today, you all seem to roll with things fairly well," Harry answered dryly, "Besides after finding out you're magical, a crazed dark lord is after you, and that you're part alien… and other stuff... I kind of doubt there is anything I can be told that will completely surprise me now. So go ahead."
The goblin hesitated and then glanced back at the one carrying the scrolls.
"Very well, Lord Potter, If you're sure..." Gorbag said, "As we are keeping a very close eye on your account, a sudden entry rather caught our eye, and we thought it best to ask you directly."
"Ask what?" Harry tilted his head.
"About your child, and whether you wished to acknowledge a place for them in the Potter family." Gorbag inquired, his tone mild.
"What." Sirius blurted, actually choking on his spit and wheezing a bit.
Harry blinked and his eyes flicked over to Indigo whose eyebrow quirked as the only reaction of surprise. He facepalmed and let out an exasperated sigh. "Oh god…"
"Child?" Constantine asked, his tone reflecting concern.
"Oh Merlin, I did hear that correctly! What child? What are you talking about?" Sirius demanded, his voice rising, first staring at the goblin, and then he whirled to look at Harry.
Harry hesitated, unsure how to actually explain it to his godfather. His hesitation seemed to confirm the idea for his godfather.
"No way," whispered Sirius, looking back and forth between the Goblin and Harry, not giving them a chance to respond as his good hand went to his hair, "No... no no... no no no!"
Everyone close by, Shift, Indigo, Speedy, Constantine and even Harry looked up, from where his head was in his hands, at Sirius, whose voice was getting ever-more frantic.
"No!" Sirius pointed at Harry in a voice of absolute authority, as if his denial would make it not-so.
"No?" Harry questioned in a somewhat bemused manner.
"Absolutely not!" Sirius agreed emphatically. "You cannot have a child. No way. In fact… I… I forbid it!"
"What." Harry said flatly echoing his godfather's first tone.
That seemed to set Sirius off, "You cannot be having a child! Do you know what that would mean? It would mean being a parent before… before you were sixteen! Even James didn't have his first pregnancy scare before he was sixteen!"
"I know how old I am." Harry replied, a trace of amusement crossing his face.
"If I let you have a kid that young, when I die, James and Lily will be waiting for me! Oh Merlin, your mum will kill me!" Sirius wailed dramatically, as more attention turned that way.
"I hardly think that would be a problem if you're already dead," Speedy opined with her own amusement clearly reflected at Sirius' reaction.
"His mum would find a way to kill my spirit!" Sirius replied, "Or… or… she'd torment me forever!"
"Forget Azkaban!" Sirius looked at Harry, "I already braced myself for that lecture. 'Sirius Orion Black you got yourself locked up for a decade and left our Harry all alone because you were a hotheaded prat.' Or a variation of that from your mum."
"Sirius-" Harry started to say
Sirius interrupted Harry, "But I let you have a kid before sixteen and that's gonna be even worse! Because then I'm not just irresponsible and made a mistake! I'll be a 'bad influence' for making them grandparents before you were old enough to graduate Hogwarts!"
"Sirius, I-" Harry tried again only to be cut off.
Sirius eyes widened even more, "Oh Merlin, your parents would be grandparents. They would be my age! Harry James Potter! I am way too young to be a grandfather! Or a… grand godfather! All because you forgot your contraceptive charms! No no no. I forbid it. Absolutely forbid it. In fact… you're… you're grounded! That way it can't happen!"
"How are you going to ground me?" Harry challenged.
"I will find a way! Or… Or I'll charm you to look like Snivellus! That should prevent anything from happening… ever!" Sirius retorted angrily.
"Isn't that kinda like closing the barn door after the horses got loose?" Shift asked, unable to keep from adding fuel to the fire, merely in amusement in reaction to the other man.
Sirius deflated at that and put his face in his one good hand. "Oh Merlin, Lils is gonna hold onto this for eternity." His eyes narrowed suddenly, and his head lifted as he focused on Harry once more. "Wait, how is this possible? Based on everything you've told me I was positive you were a virgin! Harry James Potter! Have you been holding out on me?"
Harry's head smacked into his hand again.
Everyone in the room or within basic hearing distance had turned as Sirius' rant got louder.
Harry groaned as he took a deep breath and for just a moment pretended he couldn't hear several snickers the origin of which he didn't even bother to try and figure out.
There was a clearing of the throat next to him, clearly to get his attention. Harry turned his head to look at the Goblin who was standing next to the group and looking up at him. For once he was thankful not to be able to read the expression of a goblin. He was also thankful the goblin seemed to be offering up a topic change.
Taking it as an opportunity to continue, Gorbag spoke up, "Yes well, your Godfather's… enlightened… opinion on the matter aside. The circumstances of birth are odd as the other parent wasn't automatically listed in the Potter family rolls kept by the goblins. An incredibly rare occasion. Thus… Mr. Potter, you have to determine whether or not to recognize one... Indigo, as your daughter."
"Wait, what?" Shift and Sirius said simultaneously. Their head's moving in unison to look from the goblin, to Indigo, to Harry and then back.
"Daughter?" Shift asked in a bit of a strangled tone, he would have inquired further but Indigo laid her hand on his arm to calm him.
Sirius was simultaneously calmed by John Constantine who put a restraining hand on his shoulder, as well as a mild calming charm on the wizard. His own eyes were narrowed in consideration.
"This doesn't surprise you?" Harry asked with raised brows as he focused on Indigo.
"I was made aware of the possibility…" Indigo's pink eyes flicked from the goblin to Harry to regard him calmly. "It is obviously up to you."
Harry blinked and then met her eyes, with narrowed ones. A very subtle nod of her head answered Harry's unspoken question, so he followed up with, "You don't have an opinion?" He resolved to ask Indigo about her discussion with Death at a later point.
Indigo smiled faintly, "Of course I do, however the choice ultimately is yours."
"What is it you want?" Harry asked bluntly, ignoring the confused sound from Sirius.
There was a long pause as Indigo's pink eyes didn't look away from his emerald ones, "I… would not be averse to a family," she replied, with uncharacteristic hesitation.
"Allright..." Harry nodded slowly, unable to identify the odd emotion briefly welling up inside him.
"Gorbag," Harry said, "I'm going to accept her. What do I have to do to recognize her as a Potter?"
"You just had to have the stated intention. Which you just did, Indigo Potter is now officially an acknowledged member of the Potter family." Gorbag stated officiously. Oddly reminding Harry of Percy Weasley.
Harry turned his head back to Indigo and narrowed his eyes, "One condition, call me Harry."
The newly named Indigo Potter smiled widely, "I believe I can do that."
Harry was about to say more when Sirius finally grabbed his shoulder and got his attention. "Okay. Harry. I'm being a patient godfather here. But I would really appreciate an explanation."
"Don't you mean grand-godfather?" Harry inquired innocently.
Sirius choked before glaring, "Spill young man."
"Well, it's a bit complicated…" Harry hedged, looking somewhat uncertain. He really didn't want to just blurt out having a conversation with Death or anything of that nature in front of everyone.
"I'm a smart guy," Sirius said, his eyes narrowing further when Harry snorted in response, "I'm sure I can follow along."
There was a pause as Harry struggled a bit, and it was actually Indigo that spoke up.
"Do you know what it's like to be in your own body, completely aware of what is happening, trying to stop it and being powerless to do so?" She asked quietly.
Sirius looked at her, his expression lacking any of the normal humor. "I've been under the imperius curse before. So yes, I do."
Indigo nodded, without a shred of doubt. "I was being controlled by Brainiac 8. I managed to wrest temporary control back. And Shift granted me my one request. To turn me human, or rather, organic. He loved me so much that he did, knowing that he couldn't give me life. That it would kill me. But it would end the threat of Brainiac 8."
Shift crossed his arms and clenched his jaw, looking away, until Indigo set a reassuring hand on his arm, her small smile causing him to untense.
"It should have killed me. But your godson stepped in, and using his magic, gave a portion of it to me to give me life. In a way it was much like a parent gives their magic to a child. Thus… he became a parent..." Indigo explained.
There were four sets of narrowed eyes at that explanation. Harry because it had sounded so much like the logic Death had used when talking to him.
John Constantine and the goblin Gorbag both from the story itself.
Sirius' eyes were narrowed for a whole other reason. "... that… completely removes the fun part of becoming a parent."
His eyes regarded Indigo for several moments before he turned to Harry with a solemn expression. "Two new rules. First, no more children before you're seventeen. Second… the next time you can't skip the fun part! I'm most disappointed about that. Although I guess I can't see the same sort of thing happening twice."
Harry stared at him and then put a hand to his head and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation, "Really? Really? Do you realize what you've just done?"
Sirius' brow furrowed at Harry's response.
"We talked about this! You just dared fate and circumstance to invoke the 'Harry Potter effect'," the boy said with a resigned tone.
Sirius opened his mouth before his eyes widened in realization.
Harry's look was a mix between exasperated and smug. "So that means if there is another situation. It becomes your fault. I am completely absolved of responsibility."
"What? No… but… no it doesn't!" Sirius sputtered.
"Yup!" Harry said brightly, enjoying his godfather's discomfort.
"The bizarre happens! But there's bizarre and there's once in a lifetime circumstances! That have never happened to another person ever! And you think it will happen more than once to you!" Sirius protested.
Harry nodded agreeably with a too bright smile, "You're probably right Sirius. I mean what are the chances? It would be like someone surviving getting hit with a killing curse. Twice. I mean… what are the chances? Oh… wait…"
"Twice?" Constantine finally spoke up, his eyes focused on Harry.
"Yeah, once when I was a baby and at least once a couple of months ago." Harry said absently glancing at the blonde who was staring at him with furrowed brows.
The goblins had the same reaction staring at Harry with wide eyes, which was their equivalent of jumping in shock.
"I still haven't seen proof of this that's anything more than bad luck or circumstance. The killing curse thing was tied together and a bizarre and unique situation. It doesn't mean I'm tempting fate by doubting it." Sirius finally huffed crossing his arms as best he could. Which wasn't very well considering one was in a sling.
"Sirius…" Harry warned.
"Just saying things like, 'what else could happen?' does not make bad things happen!" Sirius stated imperiously.
Harry facepalmed instantly. "God damnit, Sirius…"
Speedy was right there with Harry as she gaped at the injured wizard, "Oh my god. You really are asking for trouble."
"Harry, you really need to relax some," Sirius admonished. He looked like he was going to say more when the two goblins there started speaking in gobbledygook and John Constantine stiffened.
"You two expecting company?" John asked, looking between the Harry and his godfather.
"No…" Harry said slowly.
"Wanded anti-apparition and anti-portkey wards just went up." John said with narrowed eyes, he waved a hand and glanced at a brief flow of glowing symbols that appeared there, "Powerful ones."
Harry and Sirius looked at one another and said simultaneously, "Dumbledore."
Harry pointed at Sirius at the same time Sirius held his hand up defensively.
"This is all your fault!"
"This is NOT my fault!" They said simultaneously.
Raven walked urgently over to Constantine, flanked by Robin and Wonder Girl. "Mr. Constantine, did you put up magical protections? I sensed them go up." The purple haired girl inquired.
"No lass, this wasn't me." John said turning to Harry and Sirius with raised brows.
"If it's Dumbledore, he's probably here to try and drag me back to Britain." Harry said bitterly. "He usually isn't into violence, but he might try to memory charm everyone here."
"Or its the Ministry. They've been trying to drag Harry back for months." Sirius added darkly, already pushing himself to his feet, which was a struggle given his injuries.
"Not to mention… he's probably pretty pissed off at me," Harry said sheepishly, "The last time I saw him, I grabbed his wand and destroyed it."
"You what?" Constantine asked in disbelief, a smile crossing his face.
"Yeah. He was pointing it at me and I figured it was fitting payback." Harry shrugged briefly before looking around.
Sirius was struggling to push himself up, "We've got to go. If Dumbledore is around we don't want him to catch us, especially with me not at my best."
"Actually… if he really is here. I think it's a good time for Albus Dumbledore and I to have a bit of a chat." Constantine said, his look promising anything but pleasantness.
"You don't want to do that, he's the most powerful wizard in the world. I don't trust him… And I don't want to risk him getting his hands on Harry." Sirius said, as he straightened up. "We have to get out of here."
"May I ask a question?" Indigo finally inquired politely.
Harry turned to look at her with a nod, "Can it wait? We're a bit busy and I'll answer anything about magic you like later…"
"I was merely wondering if it were possible to make yourself invisible using magic." Indigo asked in that same polite and curious tone.
"Yeah? A couple of different ways," Sirius answered absently as Harry had moved to his side to help the man.
"Good to know." She said in that same tone and then whirled around, pointing away from the group of teen heroes and magic users. Her arm shifted slightly and a bolt of pink energy left it and shot toward the wall. Only it seemed to stop in mid air and there was a cry of surprise as the outline of a body sparked and spasmed in midair, with bits of electricity cascading through the person.
The person dropped to the floor, still invisible but outlined by the electrical discharges.
The Titans all shifted to defensive stances, Harry shifted to put himself between the person and his godfather.
John however, was a bit slower in rushing the fallen invisible intruder, and glanced at Indigo first before he moved over toward the body
With a casual wave of his hand, which glowed briefly over the body, he attempted to dismiss whatever enchantment was present.
However, much to his visible surprise, nothing happened. "Hrm." He muttered before reaching down and putting his hand on the body.
"Ah. An enchanted artifact that grants invisibility." He tugged off the apparent article of cloth that had rendered their quarry invisible
A man familiar to both Harry and Sirius appeared, unconscious on the ground.
"Moody!" Harry said loudly.
"Moody?" Constantine asked.
"Alastor Moody. Former auror and definitely one of Dumbledore's men. Probably sent in to catch us unawares." Sirius said, already turning to limp away toward one of the exit, "We have to get out of here."
There was a brief pause before Harry spoke. "No."
SIrius turned his head toward Harry with a puzzled expression, "No?"
"No." Harry affirmed, his tone firm and with more than a trace of anger. "I'm done running from Dumbledore."
"Harry…" Sirius started in a cautious tone.
"Dobby!" Harry called, ignoring Sirius' tone.
"Master Harry Potter calls Dobby?" The diminutive being asked as he appeared looking excited.
"Dobby… I need you to keep an eye on Sirius again. Bad wizards might try something. And I trust my friend to protect him." He explained.
"Dobby protect Dogfather from nasty wizards!" The small being said with a devotion that bordered on the fanatical.
"Dobby, no!" Sirius protested, only to turn to Harry knowing arguing with the houself on something wasn't going to do any good. "Harry, this isn't a good idea. You never know what Dumbledore has up his sleeve!"
"No Sirius, otherwise we're going to keep having to flee anytime he gets close." He said grimly. "I'm not going to keep running from him."
Sirius saw the determination in that expression and seemed to hesitate regarding Harry without any of his usual humor. Finally he nodded slowly, "Alright, let's go see what the old bastard wants. If I know him, he's keeping his distance while waiting to see if Moody was successful."
"We're coming too." Robin spoke up, causing Harry to turn to look at him.
"You probably don't want to do that…" Harry hedged, "He's a wizard and I'm not willing to put anything past him at this point."
"You helped us. We help you. That's how it works." Wonder Girl said decisively.
"You probably saved my life." Raven commented. "Besides I'm always interested in meeting new magical users. One way or the other."
"Do you suppose any of them dress like Zatanna?" Kid Flash asked brightly. It earned him a glare from Wonder Girl, a flat look from Raven and a grin from John.
Harry looked from one to the other before he nodded, "Just... be careful, they can be dangerous. We're not certain who they are, and whatever you do… if you see any sort of light shot at you, do not let it hit you."
"We're familiar with dangerous." Robin said flatly. "How do you want to do this? Can we get around and see what we're dealing with?"
"They might have muggle-repelling charms up or be charmed invisible as well." Sirius said. "You might slip right past them without even realizing they were there."
"Direct and straightforward it is." Harry said decisively.
"Harry…" Sirius said warningly as he shifted slowly around.
"No, let's not play games his way." Harry said as he turned toward the door. "He doesn't seem to be able to manage when people don't dance to his tune."
John glanced at the unconscious auror on the floor, tossing the invisibility cloak back over the man. Then he grinned and waved his hand over him, his magic coursing to life with a bit of a grin on his face. He then looked at Sirius who was very slowly and awkwardly hopping after the departing group on his one good leg. With a wave of his hand he levitated the man and followed the group.
Sirius let out a startled cry and then turned to look at John. His surprise fading away to first embarrassment then a nod of appreciation. "Thanks" he said grudgingly.
"No worries mate," Constantine replied as he walked after the departing teens.
There was a loud BOOOM ahead of them that sounded suspiciously like a recently replaced metal door being slammed open so hard it broke the hinges and was embedded in the cement wall it had been attached to.
"What's going on?" Cyborg demanded as he pushed into the room from the side room he had remained in after Constantine had left. He had been busy calibrating replacement parts while uploading information to various files. He saw Sirius and Constantine were the last ones leaving, along with a floating unconscious man.
"Remember me telling you how some wizards in Britain might want him back? Yeah, they're here." Sirius said, his expression going flat. "Pretty sure that was Harry's mother's temper coming to the fore. Again."
"Ah, so what are we doing?" Cyborg asked.
"Going to watch the show for a bit, before we do anything." Constantine said firmly.
Sirius paused and glanced at Constantine and then at Cyborg. "No matter what happens…If things get hectic, please… protect my godson. Do not let those bastards get their hands on him."
"No worries, mate." John replied again, only this time his tone had the edge of something far more unpleasant in it.
Harry slammed through the doors, giving no concern for the snapping of the hinges as he did so, to look outside. The place was a mix of destruction, of pieces of concrete and pavement, of twisted wreckages of vehicles, to go along with newly formed craters for several hundred yards. It looked like a small war had been fought, now that Harry had a chance to look around.
He couldn't help but think that Starfire really was a bloody badass.
Without waiting he pushed himself into the air to float thirty yards up, knowing he would have much freer movement if he needed.
Harry's eyes, with their enhanced perception, scanned the area before they settled on a shimmer some fifty meters or so among several concrete pieces. He wasn't sure if he would have noticed the inconsistency before but now it stood out fairly well.
"Alright Dumbledore, c'mon out. I know that you're there." Harry called loudly as he hovered in the air, crossing his arms and glaring down at the area, while the rest of the Titans spread out a bit remaining on their guard against entities they couldn't see.
There was a short pause and then the area shimmered and revealed a group of wizards. Harry was surprised there were so many. He was less surprised when he recognized some of them.
Harry glanced back and noted that Kid Flash, Speedy and Wonder Girl were all there, though they had stepped out and spread out a bit. While Speedy didn't have a bow, and probably couldn't wield it in her current condition, she did have what looked like a miniature crossbow in her good hand.
"Whoa." Kid Flash said from where he stood at the door. "It looks like a one of those fantasy video games… or a traveling renaissance fair."
Harry snorted, not even bothering to hide it, then began speaking loudly enough that everyone, even the wizards across from them could hear, "They're European Magicals. They live hundreds of years in the past. Most can't even pronounce electricity, much less explain what it is."
A bit of movement behind him let him know Raven and Robin had taken to the roof. Robin was staying mostly out of sight while Raven was just standing at the edge, watching below.
It felt… good, Harry realized, to once more have peers who weren't letting him face danger alone.
Dumbledore moved to the front of the group of wizards and spread his arms, though Harry noted his wand was already in his hand. "Harry my boy, it is good to see you. We've come to take you home," the man said with a genial smile on his face.
Harry considered several snappish replies, and comments before an amusing thought occurred. "No." he said flatly.
Dumbledore stared at him for a moment as if expecting more. When Harry just floated there without changing expression, he tried to pick up the thread, "Harry, I'm not sure you understand, we're here to help you, to get you back home. We'll take you back to Hogwarts where you belong."
"Still going to go with… No," Harry said in an almost bored tone.
"Mister Potter, I must insist you accompany us back to Hogwarts." Dumbledore stated, a hint of steel in his voice.
"Why should I?" Harry asked, honestly curious exactly what sort of reasoning they would have for insisting he come back.
"You don't miss seeing your friends?" Dumbledore asked, though a hint of frustration leaked into his voice.
"My friends?" Harry asked, a smirk crossing his face. "I'm surprised you didn't bring my friends with you to try and convince me. Oh wait. Hermione's in France. From what I hear, she's enrolled in another school that probably won't include life and death experiences along with the room and board, and Ron… well how's the nose, Albus? Better yet, I'm surprised your voice isn't a bit higher."
Dumbledore grimaced and glared up at the boy, when another man, with shoulder length brown grey hair and an old fashioned suit, stepped forward. "I'm afraid Mister Potter that you have no choice. You must come back to Hogwarts, you are required by law."
"And who the bloody hell are you?" Harry asked bluntly.
"My name is Rufus Scrimgeour. I am the Minister for Magic." The man straightened a bit.
"Right. Minister of Magic. Just for clarification… is this the same sort of law that locked my innocent godfather up for 12 years without a trial? The one that stuck me with abusive relatives for those same twelve years? The one that sent Rubeus Hagrid to Azkaban in order to be seen as doing something? Or was it the one that was going to lock me up for the audacity of defending myself?" Harry asked, flicking his gaze between Dumbledore and the man beside him crossing his arms.
Rufus tugged slightly on his suit coat, and lifted his chin, "I'm sorry I don't know anything about any of that. I wasn't Minister when any of that happened. What I do know is that by not being enrolled in Hogwarts, you are violating British law as you began your education there."
Harry took an exaggerated look around. "Funny, we don't look like we're on British soil."
"And the fact that you are not enrolled in any magical institution means you are violating international law as well." Rufus forged on, continuing blandly after the interruption. "That is enforceable anywhere."
"And you needed a whole group of people to come collect a teenager for truancy?" Harry rolled his eyes, looking at the group of assorted wizards, aside from Dumbledore, some of whom he recognized, Snape, Lupin, McGonagall, Arthur Weasley. The majority of them though, he didn't recognize. He did however recognize the auror uniforms on half a dozen of them.
"We had to make sure Sirius Black didn't pull some trick and whisk you away. He is known to be clever and capable, not to mention he is already wanted for kidnapping you from the lawful requirement to attend Hogwarts. But if you come with us now, I'm sure we could find a way to have those charges waived." The Minister offered with a bit of a smirk.
Harry glanced back at the doorway, still partially hidden by rubble, where Constantine seemed to have muted Sirius' natural inclination to respond loudly and violently.
"That's funny. The British government has emancipated me. You did that when your representative agreed that I could be entered into a contract, and it was signed off by the headmaster of my parent's chosen institution. The goblins were oh so helpful in making sure it was applicable in the regular non-magical government as well," Harry replied, keeping his tone level.
"Muggles." Rufus sniffed in dismissal. "Their laws mean nothing to us. They're an inconvenience at best."
Dumbledore glanced at Rufus and stepped forward slightly, taking control of the conversation once more, "Now Harry, I really must insist. Let's not make this any harder than it already has been. Come down and let us return to Hogwarts."
"No." Harry responded once more simply.
"Mister Potter we are fully entitled to use force to drag you back, you are a danger to yourself and others if your abilities are not trained until you reach NEWT certification." Scrimgeour said, "So are you going to cooperate and come with us, or will we have to force your compliance?"
"I know for a fact that the law used to be OWL certification," Harry responded calmly.
"The law has recently been changed." Rufus said shortly. "It is now NEWTs to ensure a witch or wizard is appropriately responsible and able to control themselves."
"Oh? And are you tracking down the hundreds of wizards alive who haven't gotten their NEWTS while mob-handed?" Harry asked idly. "By your own acknowledgement I'm able to accept a contract and participate in a tournament with life threatening tasks. Thus by wizarding law I am an adult."
"We are not here to debate this with you, Mr. Potter. Are you going to come with us quietly or will we need to force your compliance?" Dumbledore cut off the back and forth between Harry and the Minister. "It's clear your godfather has run off again. We don't want to do this the hard way, but we will if you force us. There are plenty of us and one of you."
"You know… I hate to be the one to point out my record versus that of wizards threatening me… but it's just something to consider." Harry responded, his hands dropping to his sides as he tensed slightly, preparing to vacate the spot he was currently floating in, knowing the spells were going to be coming shortly. "In case it wasn't clear. I refuse."
The reply sent a visible wave of unease through the intruders. The surlier types all raised their wands, while those he thought would be on his side, like Lupin and Arthur, didn't raise their wands, though they were in hand and gripped tightly. They glanced in apprehension towards Albus and Scrimgeour waiting for a signal of what to do.
He noticed the gazes of the wizard shift slightly to his right, and he glanced over to find Raven floating calmly in the air next to him, darkness under her cloak, but her hood was down as she gazed down on the group below them, her eyes narrowed in irritation, "And you have gravely miscalculated if you think Harry Potter is alone."
Slight movement to his left had him glancing the other way, to see Wonder Girl floating there, and he could tell by the way she shifted, she was ready to move at the slightest provocation as well. She didn't say anything, she just glanced at Harry before narrowing her eyes at the people in front of them.
"More of them!?" One of the aurors gasped, looking around, apparently only now realizing that there were a number of oddly dressed individuals behind Potter, all of whom demonstrating, in one way or another, something that was most assuredly not normal behaviors and powers.
"Can all American magicals fly?" Arthur asked loudly, though judging by the expressions on the face of the others, he was only saying what they were all thinking.
That seemed to snap whatever patience Scrimgeour had, "Enough, we will make Potter teach us the spell when we get back."
He looked up at Harry, "You are still outnumbered ten to one. You wouldn't want to risk your… friends getting hurt if you resisted would you?" His tone making it clear he would not care at all for any casualties occurred.
That actually gave Harry pause as he was stuck between being furious at the implied threat and concerned for his new friends. He was trying to think of a reply to that when Cassie spoke up quietly, just loud enough to carry to Harry.
"We can take care of ourselves," he heard her say. "...and each other, and we're not leaving you, so don't even ask. Just remember they have no idea what they're dealing with."
Harry straightened slightly at those words, before meeting the Minister's eyes, "You can bloody well go bugger off."
His gaze shifted to Dumbledore, and he said grimly, "Your move, old man."
"Then I truly regret it has come to this, my boy," Dumbledore said, looking sorrowful as he raised his wand, a movement every single one of the wizards accompanying him mimicked as well, "Stun him and the others we'll take them all wi-"
Snape wasn't waiting for Dumbledore's okay, His wand was already moving and the tip already glowing as he began to cast something at Harry with a sneer on his face.
There was a sudden sound of displaced air in front of the wizards. To them it looked like some flicker of light. Even with his advanced senses, Harry only managed to see a blur amongst the group of wizards.
The flicker of light caused them to flinch. Several wizards quickly shifted to casting shield spells, only to realize something was very wong.
Every hand that had held a wand was now empty. The hands were still curled in fists showing they had clearly been in possession of their wands moment before. Even Snape, who had been mid-cast, found himself staring at an empty hand.
A few stood there gawking while trying to understand where their wands went. Two of the aurors were more on the ball, and immediately reached for a backup wand.
A second flicker of light happened among them and those two aurors found themselves missing a second wand.
It took Harry only a moment but once he realized what had happened his smirk grew and he crossed his arms in front of himself again.
All the magicals took a step back and alternated between looks of fear and awe at Harry.
"What magic is this? What have you done with my wand Potter?" Snape, who had thus far remained silent as he seethed and stared up at the Potter brat, demanded as he glared upward.
"I do believe I didn't lift a finger yet, Death Eater," Harry countered with his own sneer.
"This is outrageous!" Shouted Scrimgeour. "You will be going to Azkaban, mark my words, Potter. Stealing a wizards wand is an Azkaban-worthy offense!"
"Oh, a wand waver, who lost his bloody wand. That's right careless if you ask me." Another British voice spoke up, this one was not in front of Harry Potter. It was behind him.
Constantine, casually lit a cigarette as he strode out of the entrance of the building, the body of Alastor Moody was floating casually beside him as he walked out, stopping a little in front of where Harry, Raven and Cassie all floated in the air above him. He glanced up, "I hope you don't mind me intrudin'," He grinned and winked at Harry before focusing once more on the magicals.
"We found this lump inside," Constantine said before he kicked the unconscious Moody in the side. "Now I'm not really one known for my manners but, sneaking into a hospital invisibly doesn't usually imply good things. How about you explain what sorta business he was up to, eh?"
"I demand you return our wands to us this instant!" Rufus pointed a finger accusingly, wavering it slightly to point first at John then at Harry, not really sure who was to blame for the mysterious loss of their wands.
"I don't think you're in much of a right spot to be demanding anything, ya muppet," John said, blowing out a puff a smoke before, focusing on the oldest wizard there. "Albus Dumbledore. I admit, I sort of assumed our paths would cross much sooner."
Dumbledore, who was shaken by the loss of his wand... again... but was doing a better job of hiding it than most of the nervously shuffling wizards around him, regarded the new arrival cautiously. There was something about the man that prickled at Dumbledore's mind. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"
"I don't know. You might've heard of me." He blew out another little cloud of smoke, "The name's John Constantine."
Harry watched with interest as Dumbledore, Rufus, and Lupin all stiffened and regarded the blonde cautiously. None of the rest of the wizards or witches there seemed to recognize his name.
"Constantine…" Dumbledore murmured, his face briefly flickering with worry before shifting into a scowl, as he looked up at Harry, "This is the sort of person you've taken to keeping company with? And it's any wonder we know you're incapable of being out on your own?!"
The old wizard fixed Constantine with a glare, "What is someone like you doing here?"
"You mean here on American soil, far outside of Europe, where you literally have no legal power or authority on the ground you currently stand? Especially without a wand? Or you mean right here, right now, around your precious Boy Who Lived?" John's voice had taken on a definite mocking tone.
A sneer crossed Dumbledore's face, "I mean away from those steeped in dark magic like the demons and other dregs of the magical world that you spend so much time around!"
Harry, who knew Raven was directly behind him, actually felt her magic twitch at the comment. He glanced behind him to see her scowl for the first time in his life, her power starting to visibly come into being around her; a surge of darkness which distracted more than a few of the wizards watching the byplay between Constantine and Dumbledore.
Constantine, for his part, looked barely bothered by the question or the insinuation which had caused a uniform reaction amongst the assembled witches and wizards, each with scowls on their faces as their expressions nearly matched Dumbledores. "Eh, can't spend all my time there. It's not like it's always demons making bad things happen. Sometimes my duties take me to other places. But then, I could ask the same of you. You still head to Nurmengard every few years to plough the Greater Good into your old pal?"
Dumbledore hissed and jerked as if he had been stabbed. "You should not speak on things you know nothing about!" He barked in a voice that none present amongst the wizards had ever heard before from the normally grandfather-like man.
"I know plenty about it. I had to visit there a few years ago, to ask about a dark relic he had picked up. Gellert was helpful in pointing us in the right direction. Didn't tell us about any of the magical traps around the item, but we pretty much expected that. Overall, he wasn't a bad chap, you know… for a psychopathic genocidal maniac with visions of world domination," John responded airly.
Harry just looked confused, he had no idea what John was talking about, but the way Dumbledore had paled and stared, agape, at the British man, told Harry his insults were clearly striking home.
The older man seemed to gather himself after taking several calming breaths that had even his supporters looking at him curiously. "I am not here to bandy words about. I am here to retrieve a wayward pupil, and now to demand you return our wands."
"I don't have them." Constantine said casually, before pointing to the side, "He does."
The heads of the wizards all swiveled as one in the direction John pointed, to find another teen, perhaps 14, dressed in a yellow suit with red lightning bolts. One that all of them would have sworn wasn't there five seconds earlier.
"You mean these?" Kid Flash held up a whole bundle of wands, requiring both of his hands to hold. "They looked like good back scratchers. I'll never have to worry about buying one ever again. Thanks!"
Dumbledore stepped forward away from the line of wizards and held out his hand, and had a calm grandfatherly smile on his face, "Please return those to us, dear boy."
Kid Flash looked at Dumbledore for a moment and then his eyes widened, "Oh, oh! This is one of those 'stranger danger' moments they made us watch those warning videos about in class, isn't it?"
"You ought to be careful, you don't know where some of those wands have been or whose been touching them," Harry opined with a smirk at Snape who sneered at him.
He looked down at the wands in his hands in horror and suddenly dropped them to the ground, "Ew, I'm not even sure I want to know!"
The dropping of the wands, had most of the wizards and witches instinctively moving forward a step to retrieve their most precious items along with protests at them being treated so horribly.
They were beaten to the punch as Constantine, who seemingly, absently flicked the remainder of his cigarette at the pile of wands, and unseen by the wizards made a small gesture with his hand.
The instant the butt made contact with the pile of wands an eldritch green flame burst into existence, incinerating the wands almost immediately.
There were various shouts of "No!" and "You bastard!" heard from the various ministry goons and stooges but, Dumbledore and Scrimgeour both stared in disbelief where their wands had been only moments before.
"Whoops. My bad." John said, looking anything but apologetic as he retrieved another cigarette.
"This is becoming a habit for you, isn't it Albus?" Harry said mockingly, his smirk widening. He was actually enjoying getting one over on the old man.
The look Dumbledore shot Harry was anything but genial and grandfatherly, before he glared at John, "This changes nothing."
"Oh, is this about that advantage of numbers thing you were so proud of?" John interrupted with a gesture of his hand indicating behind Albus.
Dumbledore's brow furrowed, but a gasp from Scrimgeour had him turning around.
Several of the witches and wizards with them were clutching their throats and stumbling, falling to their knees. The ones farther away were already unconscious on the ground.
"Stop it! What are you doing to them?" Dumbledore demanded, looking back at Constantine.
"Once again. Not me." Constantine said, looking unconcerned as he puffed on his cigarette. "Or at least, mostly not me."
Harry watched the happening with wide eyes. He glanced over at Raven who was watching impassively before gazing at Cassie who gave him a look and floated over closer to him.
"I don't know either," the blonde murmured answering Harry's unasked question. "It looks like John's got it under control… but we'll just keep our eyes open just in case."
Harry nodded slightly at the sensible plan, noticing the last of the wizards collapsing. He idly noted the last two were Remus and the pink haired auror, who looked vaguely familiar and whose hair changed to brown as she collapsed.
"What are you doing to them!?" Rufus demanded as the last of the wizards collapsed to the ground into unconsciousness.
John just smirked, "The better question is what are you going to do to convince me not to turn them all over to my sort for imprisonment?"
Dumbledore scowled and then smirked slightly at John, "Hogwarts portkeys activate." That smug look disappeared when nothing happened.
Rufus reached down and pulled out his own necklace, "Activate!" He said only to look up when nothing happened.
"Yeah. Bit of work, that. Tweaking your own wards to stop anything you had left to go through. Only way those will work is if a friend of mine gives an okay." John said with a grin, "Maybe you've met him."
He glanced over toward the doorway to the building where Sirius slowly stepped out, supported by Indigo, who assisted him without any look of strain as she held his arm up. Behind them was the metallic figure of Cyborg, and they were flanked by two Goblins.
"Albus, I see you've met our friends." Sirius said with a smirk.
It took several seconds for that sight to filter in before Scrimgeour pointed, "Black! You are a wanted man."
"Oh gee. There's a life switch! I heard! I think this time I'm wanted for kidnapping." Sirius replied. "It really looks like I'm holding him against his will doesn't it?" He glanced up at the teen, "Harry! I demand you remain properly kidnapped and let me go back and lock you up in a trunk or something!"
"Eh. I spent eleven years in an a broom closet. I'll pass." Harry said, his smirk growing to a full blown grin. "Although, if it means I don't have to hear you and your girlfriends again, I might give it some thought…"
"Look, you keep bugging me about that. But who would you rather hear, me and some hot girl or girls, or your aunt and uncle?" Sirius challenged.
Harry visibly cringed, "If I wasn't so convinced it would mean that the world was coming to an end, I would be convinced Dudley was conceived via immaculate conception. You mention that possibility again and I really will run away!"
"Oh. Well then. I'm not really a very good kidnapper am I?" Sirius looked over his shoulder at Cyborg.
"I have seen better." Cyborg replied dryly, although his eyes never left Dumbledore and Scrimgeour.
"Sirius Bla-" Rufus started to say only to be cut off by Dumbledore.
"Enough!" Albus looked over at John, and sighed visibly, "What is it you want?"
"Ah, right down to business eh? Simple. I want you, both of you, to forswear Harry Potter."
"What?" Dumbledore sputtered.
"It's simple. You give your oath that you forswear any attempt or claim upon him and his godfather, and I let you take your minions with you. You don't, and a bunch of your wanded friends are going to end up guests of friends of mine." John said.
"You have no idea what you're asking!" Dumbledore said angrily.
"Sure I do. I'm stopping you from bothering Harry under any circumstances." John said with a grin. "Your minions may not be held by the oath but you can't direct them to do anything. And if they want to try on their own… well you can't ask, or entreat them to. You'll have to surrender power to let them do it won't you?"
"You have no idea what he is to our world," Dumbledore countered.
"You mean that we don't understand what Harry Potter's name does for you?" John smiled broadly. "Or how very soon you'll both likely be kicked out of the offices you're only barely clinging to if your 'savior' isn't returned and under your thumbs?"
At their lack of responses, which was held up by them both choking on air for lack of words to deny the truth of Constantine's words, the only sound that could be heard was the popping of knuckles as Harry tightly curled his hands into fists at how quickly Constantine had apparently nailed the new Minister and Dumbledore's true aim.
"In the end, whatever reason you're here really doesn't matter, and I'm pretty sure I don't care anyways." John eventually said with a smirk. "But it's your choice. I might even let Harry's goblin friends have some of them, I'm sure they're looking for people to work in some of their mines… or you know… feed to their dragons."
Dumbledore seemed uncertain and he looked up at Harry with a piercing angry expression that had never been on his face before when dealing with the boy before. Harry's expression didn't so much as flicker. Finally the older wizard slumped his shoulders in defeat, "Very well."
"Say the words, Albus." John insisted, his hands held up in front of him in an odd hand sign.
Dumbledore's head raised, he glared and, after nearly a minute, he spoke through gritted teeth. "I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, do forswear in all forms, Harry James Potter and Sirius Orion Black."
His body briefly glowed white at the same time John's hands glowed, but nothing else seemed to happen.
Constantine's expression shifted to the other man, "Your turn."
Rufus glanced at Dumbledore before, after some consideration, he repeated the oath.
Dumbledore glared at John before one final look at Harry, "I hope you know the wizarding world is in great danger without you, Harry."
"Maybe if those in charge had done their jobs it wouldn't be." Harry said with an uncaring shrug as he floated in the air. "It's not like you've ever lifted a finger to truly stop Riddle."
He straightened and then held out his hand toward John expectantly.
John seemed confused for a moment, "Oh right! Here you go." Moody's body, which had simply hung in the air beside John, was carelessly tossed forward and it rolled to a stop at Dumbledore's feet. John shifted his hands "You can use your portkeys now."
Dumbledore glared and leaned down to put his hand on the man at his feet, gripping his collar as his whispered word had the entire group being pulled away by a portkey.
There was a long pause Harry seemed to take as a signal to descend.
Harry looked around cautiously before he slowly floated to the ground looking around. "Is that the last of them?" He asked carefully.
"I detect no more within range." Indigo said as she stepped out of the doorway holding Sirius up by the arm as he came out carefully, on his injuries.
"Same," Cyborg said.
Sirius looked at John, with a new hint of respect and wariness. "What was that magic you did to knock all of them out? That was pretty impressive."
"It wasn't magic," John smirked again and put out his cigarette with another flick. "Shift, did we miss any?"
"A few," Shift's voice responded from near Constantine, before he suddenly coalesced, appearing as if from vapor, solidifying with a grin. "They'll all wake up in a few hours with some dry mouth and maybe some upset stomachs. A few moments plugging their airways, supplying them with a strong dose of desflurane and they were down for the count."
John looked at Harry and grinned in return, "I made him swear to leave you alone in return for not dumping his friends with some of my friends."
"That wasn't magic?" Sirius stared at John and then slowly grinned, "You pranked them!"
"Not magic?" Harry laughed, "That was bloody brilliant!"
Sirius snickered and then outright laughed as well, "They'll be terrified of the horrible dark magic that knocked them all out. I bet it won't even occur to them to think that it was anything but magic."
"What about Dumbledore… are you sure he's going to back off now? You trust him to keep his word?" Harry asked, his expression shifting quickly from humor to grim. "I was about five seconds from flattening him."
"He made an oath, his minions aren't really held by it, but he can't do anything more. Anything they do will have to be their own ideas and initiative. He doesn't have a choice." John said with a shrug, "Now, that all that excitement is done with. You've had a longer bloody day than I have, and I'm starving."
Harry was reclining and looking up at the stars. Technically he wasn't sitting as he was floating in the air on clouds that moved around him. After eating, most of the Titans needed rest or needed to check in with various people.
Sirius had decided to call it a night, and actually get some sleep, though Harry had noted the man had checked in on Starfire before taking a bed of his own. However, before he had, Sirius had made Harry swear not to leave the town for any bizarre reason. And if he needed to help someone he was to summon Dobby so Dobby could get help if needed.
Harry was surprised at how well thought out that was. He wondered if it had been someone besides his godfather's idea or if the day's events had shaken Sirius enough to be at least a little bit more concerned. Harry hadn't gone far, in fact, he was directly above the facility in the sky.
Cyborg, Shift and Indigo were trying to figure out exactly what Indigo's different biology meant for her. Apparently she was organic, but still retained many of her synthetic mental abilities, and Harry had stopped being able to follow the conversation far before they were throwing around words like organic nanobiotechnology, meta-syntax derivation and systemic redundant neural pathway at the same time as words like humanity.
After the day they had, Harry had needed some time to process himself as well. He wasn't… physically tired. A bit drained, but he actually felt pretty okay. There was something calming about looking at the stars, and Harry wondered if he was feeling drawn to them for some reason. He wasn't sure, but he knew it helped him think. He just plain enjoyed looking up at the twinkling stars in the distance.
A flapping sound drew him out of his thoughts, and it took him a moment to realize it was the sound of fabric flapping in the wind. He moved himself to be more vertical and look around for the cause.
It only took him a moment to see a someone approaching, he was easily able to identify the muscular teen as Superboy. He was wearing blue jeans though this time the tee shirt was plain black rather than one with any sort of symbol in it. The teen was also no longer completely bald. His hair had grown slightly, giving the other teen a buzzed look.
Harry immediately shifted defensively and prepared to attack but the teen held up his hands, palms flat, in the universal sign of surrender, "Wait! I'm not here to attack."
Harry narrowed his eyes and shifted slightly, though his stance was still wary. "Are you sure?"
The teen flinched and looked down as he floated closer, while Harry watched him cautiously.
"I don't know…" The boy floated in the air about ten yards from Harry, but looked down at his hands as if they had betrayed them. "I can't be sure of anything…"
Harry thought back to Indigo, and Sirius' explanation of the imperius curse. He found himself surprisingly concerned for the other boy. An awkward silence hung in the air with neither teen seeming certain what to say.
Finally, Harry broke the awkward silence by moving forward and holding out his hand. "Hi. I'm Harry."
The more muscular teen looked down at Harry's hand in surprise and then somewhat hesitantly took it, "Hi… I'm Su… I'm... Conner, I guess?" He said, sounding anything but certain as shook Harry's hand cautiously.
Harry furrowed his brow but shook the hand just as cautiously, still on his guard from earlier in the day. "Harry Potter. It's nice to meet you… again I guess?" His own voice tilting into question.
Conner flinched and looked down, "Look, I'm… I'm sorry about what happened."
"I thought you weren't in control?" Harry said after a moment's consideration.
"I wasn't. Not really?" Conner answered, clenching his fists while taking a deep breath. He looked off into the distance, "It was… I could see everything I was doing. But I couldn't seem to stop myself."
"Then it certainly sounds like you weren't to blame," Harry offered, remembering his experience with the imperius curse once more, and Indigo's own experience.
Conner managed a smile, but there wasn't any lightness to it before he looked at Harry again, "So… if you don't mind me asking. Where did you come from? Are you kryptonian too?"
"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" Harry rolled his eyes in exasperation.
"Well. You kind of have a lot of the Kryptonian package… flight, super strength, durability, that sort of thing." Conner rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
"I hadn't even heard the phrase before yesterday." Harry answered.
Conner blinked at that information, "But… almost everyone has heard of Superman's history?!"
"Tall bloke, with the S on his chest?" Harry asked before snorting, "Well, I mean I saw a lot of those today, but I mean the one that didn't try and kill me or anyone else."
Harry saw Conner flinch again, and he winced realizing the implication he'd just made, "And not a robot either," the wizard hybrid added somewhat lamely.
"That's him." Conner once more managed a weak smile at Harry's attempt.
"Before today, never heard of him," Harry responded with a shrug.
"Oh." Conner whispered quietly, as if unsure how to even respond to that bit of information.
"I told him the same thing I've been telling everyone else. I haven't the faintest idea whether I'm kryptonian or not." Harry followed up, moving past the awkwardness.
"Where did you come from then?" Conner asked.
Harry hesitated and then smirked slightly, "Well… when two people love each other… or get sufficiently drunk…" He not only was still a bit cautious sharing every bit about himself with someone who had burnt his face less than twelve hours earlier.
Conner sputtered a bit, and looked away.
Harry grinned, enjoying winning the little game he and Sirius were so fond of.
Conner pulled his attention to the ground and to all the damage from the battle that had taken place earlier today. His eyes looked at all the craters and still destroyed pieces of building. "I… really did a number out there, didn't I?"
Harry followed Conner's gaze and then chuckled, "Honestly? You didn't do most of that. That was Starfire."
"Wow." Conner shuddered a bit as he processed that statement, "Don't think I've ever seen her do that much damage before."
"Eh. I figure I'll probably see it again when… not if, Sirius pisses her off as well." Harry waved his hand dismissively.
"Oh. Yeah. I heard when I got back last night…" Conner said, shuddering at the same time Harry did.
"Yeah, he tends to forget his silencing spells." Harry said, a small smirk on his face.
"He might want to watch out for Nightwing." Conner said after a moment's consideration.
"Oh?" Harry asked, his brow furrowing as he remembered the man in blue and black that had even shaken Indigo's hand before leaving earlier. "Why? He seemed like an alright bloke to me…"
"Yeah. But he's got this back and forth thing between Starfire and… this other woman, Oracle." Conner cut himself off midthought, before changing the last part of his statement.
"Great." Harry sighed, "Well… that's his problem. I shall merely wait until the fallout happens. And then laugh or… you know... try and save his life. And probably still laugh."
Harry glanced at the other teen, finding himself surprisingly not bothered by the other, despite their factitious start.
"Anyway, I was leaving and I happened to see you up here… and figured I owed you an apology at least before I… " Conner turned his attention back to Harry and then trailed off, his intention clear.
"You're leaving?" Harry asked curiously, narrowing his eyes at the other teen.
"Yeah… I can't…" Conner looked down at his clenched fist before looking up at Harry, "I need to get away. After what I did...I… I can't be here."
"Well the repairs on your tower are going to take a couple days." Harry said with a bit of uncertainty. "So I guess that means staying nearby isn't an option at the moment."
"I don't mean here." Conner gestured at the area below him. "I mean here with the Titans. The Titans are… are heroes. And I'm… a monster."
"A monster?" Demanded a female voice causing both Harry and Conner to whirl around.
Raven floated there in there air, staring at him intently. "Is that what you think you are?"
"What else do you call someone who betrays their friends like I did?" Conner demanded as he pointed at the facility below them. Quickly getting over the fact that neither of them was paying attention enough to note her approach.
"You were not at fault-" Raven started to say.
"I know. I know." Conner said dismissively before heat started to enter his voice "They say Luthor programmed my brain like I was one of Cyborg's fucking computers!"
"The thing is, my voluntary impulses were shut down. But I watched and felt it all!" Conner spat. "I watched myself attack you! I watched myself attack Bart!"
"I tore Cyborg into so many pieces that he is still re-calibrating! I burned Beast Boy!" Conner's voice was rising before he slumped and his voice dropped and sounded defeated, "I... broke Tim. And I… I hurt Cassie."
"None of that was your fault, Conner." Raven repeated quietly.
"You don't understand!" Snapped Conner as he turned to glare at Raven angrily. His eyes flaring red briefly.
"Oi!" Harry moved instantly to put himself between himself and Raven, tensing up and preparing for an attack, but Raven's outstretched arm stopped him from moving completely in front of her.
"You don't understand," Conner repeated, his eyes had stopped glowing red his tone more upset with more than a trace of despair, "Since… since I escaped from Cadmus… I thought I was accomplishing a lot."
"Protecting Metropolis when they said Superman was dead. Joining Young Justice and then the Teen Titans." Conner sighed and closed his eyes, his shoulders slumping as he hovered in the air, "I… I admit I started off kinda rocky… but with Tim and the rest of you… I was getting better. I was figuring it out."
Harry could tell this conversation was between Conner and Raven, and felt like an intruder, but given the other boy's volatile state he wasn't going to leave to give them privacy. He glanced at Raven and she wasn't saying anything, but she was regarding him intensely as shadows ebbed and flowed around her in the air.
"I was going to tell you all, you know. Today even." Conner said, lifting his head to look out at the sky as his voice got soft, "Everyone… everyone was going to be cool with it, I thought. Just like you all were with Mia…"
Harry wasn't sure what the other boy meant about them being cool with Mia, but he decided now was not the time to ask.
"I would still be a Titan, and it would be fine," Conner said, "And we'd go on together… and one day I'd… I'd be Superman."
"And now… and now Tim is telling me everything is going to be 'All right'. But... But I can see it in the others' faces." Conner looked down at his clenched fist once more. "It's like we know the same thing now. The truth."
"What truth, Conner?" Raven asked softly.
"I wasn't cloned to help people." Conner said, his jaw clenching briefly, "I was made to hurt them."
Harry watched Conner warily, but made no move to intrude on his space.
"I don't even know who I am anymore, Raven. Conner Kent... Kon-El… Superboy. I don't deserve to be called any of them." Conner said after a long pause, "I'm not… I'm not natural. I'm a clone. I've seen the movies and read the books, clones don't have souls! I don't even know why I have to exist!"
"I am so sorry, Conner…" Raven said quietly, before shadows bursts from around her to surround the area, but ensnare herself and Superboy.
Harry wasn't sure how he knew but he could tell Raven was trying to avoid her shadows wrapping him up as well. Harry almost instinctively reached out and touched the pulsing shadow. The instant he did he felt like he was being pulled into a vortex.
When the darkness finally faded, it did so slowly. Harry realized he couldn't see either of the other two, and when he spun around to look for them, a glance down revealed something even more startling, his body appeared insubstantial, almost ghost like. "What the bloody hell…" he muttered.
However his attention was drawn as the darkness started to fade. Harry found himself floating in a room, similar to the medical trauma room he had been in twice in the past twenty four hours.
It was filled with high tech machinery, computer banks and scientists that swam into view. In the center of the room was a massive tube filled with liquid. And inside that floated a black-haired teen that even the liquid slightly obscuring his face, Harry could tell was Conner.
In the liquid he floated there wearing what seemed to be an outfit much like superman's, only with some of the colors shifted, the legs were red rather than blue and the boots were black with gold stripes.
In front of the tube with his hand outstretched was the bald man from earlier in the day that Dobby had blasted. Harry had learned the man was, apparently, Lex Luthor.
Harry's eyes flicked to the other scientists but they were mostly blank or lacking detail. The entire thing reminded him of being in Dumbledore's pensieve, with everything slightly washed out but still remarkably clear in detail. All of a sudden it started to move.
"He's perfect." Luthor said, his tone smug.
"It's been over sixteen days and it's skin hasn't decayed into chalk," one of the scientists, an older woman said, looking between Luthor, the tube and the clipboard he held.
"That's because the human DNA is stabilizing the cellular structure." Another scientist, this one male, sounding almost giddy. "You're a genius, Mr. Luthor."
"Hm." Luthor replied dismissively, ignoring the compliment with the tone of someone who had heard a remarkably obvious statement.
"He's special… isn't he?" The first scientist asked.
Luthor didn't even glance at the scientist, "He's my boy." He said by way of reply.
"It's awake, Mr. Luthor." The woman spoke up again glancing at the figure that shifted slightly in the tube.
"And Dr. Westfield will be held up at the Lexcorp Medical Seminar the rest of the day," Luthor said smugly, referring to the head of the project had planned to be in charge of the programming of the boy himself.
"Programming should be complete within the hour. Project Superman: A.K.A. Project Luthor is sixty minutes away from being successful." The female scientist dutifully replied.
"This… project needs a name." Luthor responded his attention returning from his scientists to the tube. He stared at the tube for several seconds before continuing. "...Lionel. Yes. Lionel Luthor. Because my father always said, in his drunken stupor and smug arrogance, Vincere Aut Mori."
"Conquer or Die." Luthor said with a smirk before turning away from the tube. Just as he turned away Superboy's eyes snapped open and looked around wildly, before a look of anger crossed his face and he drew back his fist and smashed the side of the glass tube.
The tube exploded in a rush of liquid as Conner tumbled out and fell to the ground. But the Conner that fell to the ground was not the same one. This Conner was dressed in his dark shirt and jeans, and was the same conner they'd just been talking to. The rest of the scene faded completely away as Conner coughed and seemed to get his bearings.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked stepping forward, but Conner didn't seem to either hear or acknowledge him. Another voice abruptly intruded.
"He's a danger to everyone." A grim and firm voice floated in.
A scene seemed to waver out of nothing drawing both Harry and Conner's attention.
"Batman?" Conner asked, as he slowly pushed himself up from his knees.
He recognized the voice, and the scene once more seemed to be from the lab from earlier that day. Superman floated in the air with his back to Batman and didn't reply.
"Especially the Titans." Batman continued as if he hadn't heard Conner at all.
"You know what he did to Robin. His right arm suffered a comminuted fracture. Superboy crushed his bones."
"I didn't mean it!" Superboy protested as he pushed himself completely to his feet, looking back and forth between the two.
"It's a memory… or something like it…" Harry said, reaching out to get Conner's attention only to find his hand stopped by a barrier.
"He's a good kid." Superman said firmly, unaware of the byplay going on.
"He's a robot." Batman shot back, turning toward Superman and away from where Superboy stood, before gentling his tone slightly. "I know it's not his fault Clark. But it's who he is."
"He's a boy. Trying to find his place in the world." Superman argued.
"He's a weapon that was grown in a test tube." Batman countered.
"I'm not!" Superboy protested, "I'm not a bad guy!" He reached for Batman only for the scene to shift again only this time it did so abruptly and they were no longer in the lab setting.
"Not yet." A harsh voice said, causing Harry to turn to see a man grip Conner and spin him around.
Harry watched as Conner found himself face to face with someone who looked like an older… version of himself. He was dressed in Superman's outfit, only it was darker, mixed with black rather than yellow. But his face was the most startling, dark hair slicked back, with an expression that seemed to have an innate cruelty.
"You're not bad yet. But you will be, Conner." The older version said. "You've seen the future. The Superman of Tomorrow."
"The future can change!" Conner spat at the older man.
"Yours can't." The older version said definitively, even smugly. "You're just an empty shell, and nobody is going to be able to fill that void. Nobody but Pa… Lex. Someday you'll be proud to be a Luthor."
"You are not my future!" Conner shouted as his fist slammed forward to hit his older self. Only for his older self to shatter and crumble like glass.
The scene shifted again.
This scene Harry actually recognized. It was the Titans tower he had stayed at the previous night. Only it looked untouched. He wondered if that was Raven's doing. Once more he glanced around and couldn't see any sign of her, though the pulsing shadows around the edge of the memory's washed out colors hinted that she wasn't far.
There was a large crash and one of the walls of the tower exploded outward. Harry spun in time to see Wonder Girl thrown through the wall to go skidding along the ground.
She was followed by the blank faced and red eyes glowing version of Conner.
Behind Conner, on the ground all around them lay unmoving bodies of the different Titans. Harry recognized Robin, Kid Flash, and Cyborg, he also saw a green male, and Starfire, and then half buried by a wall, his own godfather, completely unconscious.
"No!" Conner's voice protested, as he watched himself pin Cassie against the tree.
"Please…. Conner, it's me… Cassie… we're… we're your friends…" She choked out.
"Nooo!" The first Conner cried out, soaring forward and physically tossing the other Superboy away, "Don't touch her!"
The bald one spun in the air and charged at the same time Conner did the same and they met in a match of strength and visible heat vision.
The bald Superboy got the advantage and tossed the real Superboy back into the building. Partially through the hole already made.
Conner looked around in desperation seeing his friends all unconscious. He spotted something under the same wall that Sirius was half covered in and he rushed over. "Tim!" He lifted the wall off and tossed it aside, revealing Robin, whose arm was at an unnatural angle.
"Tim! No!" Conner reached down to check on him, "Tim, I'm sorry! I didn't-ARGH!"
The bald Superboy had pressed his advantage and blasted Conner with a shot of heat vision, sending the real Conner flying. The bald Superboy kept on the heat vision right into Conner's chest. Very slowly and deliberately drawing an L once more. It finally spoke in a slow monotone. "You are nothing but a program. A monster created by a monster."
Conner slowly pushed himself to his feet despite the continual onslaught of heat vision. A feat Harry was rather impressed by, remembering how it felt to get hit in the face with that.
"No...NO!" Conner shot up into the air and with all his power plowed a fist into the false Superboy. "I am not a monster!"
His fist plowed into the chest of the other superboy who froze and stared with blank black space were the eyes should be. There was the sound of glass cracking but the bald headed Superboy, with its face frozen in stunned surprise, simple seemed to fade away.
Conner looked around as the entire area turned to darkness and it seemed to stay that way. He spun in a full circle and then his eyes fixed on Harry, "What's going on?"
"You can see me now?" Harry asked to be sure, caught off guard at suddenly being addressed. It was enough to distract him from looking around as they appeared to be surrounded by darkness without any other identifying features.
"Of cours-" Conner started to reply, only to be cut off.
Suddenly there was a sphere of brightness in the dark that caused both of them to spin around. It looked like a ball of liquid light hovering there above them.
"What… what is this?" Conner asked.
"It's your soul."
This was said by two voices, male and female, at the same time, causing Conner to spin back around.
Raven, head slightly bowed and covered by her hood had faded in from the darkness. Harry was staring at it as well, only his eyes were now ankh's of emerald fire. They had both spoken.
Harry put his hand to his head as he stared at the soul, Raven had cast him a startled glance before focusing on Conner. "It is young… and new. But growing."
Conner looked between Raven and the glowing ball of light. "I asked you… I asked you months ago. You said I didn't have one." His voice was torn between confusion and accusation.
"I never said that." Raven said flatly.
"When I asked you-" Conner started,
"I didn't answer. It was buried so deep." Raven cut him off, "I couldn't see it. Not until you broke free from Luthor."
"No one gave this to you, Conner. No scientist. No donor." Raven said, looking up at the ball of liquid light.
Harry frowned, he could feel the sense and the truth in the words, but he also felt something else.
"You made it." A new voice joined the conversation. This one calm and soothing. Raven, Conner and Harry all looked around while only one really recognized the voice. There was a soft sound of wind, which was strange in a featureless black space and between one moment and the next, Death was standing there, looking up at the soul.
"Who are you?" Conner demanded, shifting into a defensive stance.
Raven's eyes were pure white as she looked at the other woman, brow furrowed in concentration.
Harry, on the other hand, held up his hands as if to ward off blame, "I didn't do anything to call you!" Then he winced and swallowed, remembering their conversation about neither of them knowing how any of this worked. "I didn't… did I?"
Death smiled in amusement, "No, Master. Not this time. This was entirely his doing." She waved a hand at Conner.
"Me? I don't even know who you are!" Conner protested, though seeing that neither Harry nor Raven had attacked, he held his defensiveness. "Or why you're here…"
Raven for her part seemed to be trying to work out the identity of the woman.
"I am often there when a soul is created. When the first living thing existed, I was there. Waiting. When the last living things dies, my job will be finished. I'll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave," Death said before tilting her head to look at Harry while a slightly puzzled expression, something that looked very much out of place, crossed her face. "Or perhaps not."
Raven's eyes widened and she started violently, "You?!"
A faint smile crossed Death's face once more. "Yes, Raven, even your father fears one such as I."
Raven opened her mouth to say something before her mouth closed with an audible click and she stopped to merely look between Harry and Death with wide-eyed confusion.
Death did not seem to notice or care and turned her attention back towards Conner. "It happens so very rarely, you know. Someone for various reasons, will be created without a soul. A naturally born soul grows, forms connections with others. And, somewhere along the way, those connections can help form a soul where one did not exist previously."
"This is your soul. You made it. And like so many, it is beautiful." Death said quietly as she gestured around them. "But don't make the mistake of thinking you did it in a vacuum. It was the bonds you have formed with your friends which made this possible. It was the ones you designate as your family that allowed you to break free."
Harry's brow furrowed at that statement and he spoke up, "If that's the case then-"
"Indigo was different, Master. She had far fewer bonds, and she was not a single entity but two in one being struggling for supremacy." Death answered, before turning to Conner once more, "A word more. No matter what you may be told, do not think your future is set. Even my brother Destiny can be surprised."
She paused and then turned her back on the group, though she looked over her shoulder at Harry, "I'm sure I'll be seeing you again sooner than either of us expects, Master."
Conner opened his mouth to ask a question, but suddenly the three of them were once more floating in the night time sky, with no sign of Death.
Conner looked around for any sign of her, "Who…?"
"It is a long story, but trust her word. I have never heard of her lying." Raven said quickly and firmly, drawing her cloak around herself, though her violet eyes flickered to Harry briefly. "The more important question is; what are you going to do now?"
"I… I don't know what to say," Conner admitted, looking down at the facility below where most of the Titans slumbered or remained unaware.
"Say you'll come back to the Titans. Let us help you get through this together. We've seen what happens when we don't stay together," Raven said, an open plea in her voice.
"I…" Conner froze, uncertain.
It was Harry who spoke up, drawing both of their attention, "Look mate, I don't know much about you. And we kinda got off on the seriously wrong foot."
"But… you've got friends down there who want to be there for you." Harry pointed downward before meeting Conner's eyes. "Friends willing to put their life on the line just to help you. I've been locked away from friends when I really could have used them. I didn't have much of a choice when I was separated from my friends when I left England. You do."
"What… what if they blame me?" Conner asked, looking up.
"No on-" Raven started.
"Then they blame you," Harry cut her off. "That's not something within your control. But if you just assume they will blame you and act as if they did, then you're taking the choice out of their hands. But given how hard they fought for you? I'd be willing to bet there won't be much blame thrown around."
"I'll… I'll always be a Luthor…" Conner said quietly, staring at his hands.
"What you will always be is a Titan." Raven countered, "That is what matters to those who know you."
Conner looked down at his hands and then back up first at Harry and then at Raven, "I… I think I'm going to go see if I can talk to the others." He smiled weakly before descending from the sky toward the complex below.
He stopped several meters down and looked back up at both of them, "Thank you…" He seemed to want to say more before deciding against it as he floated downward again.
Harry watched him descend back down. He found himself feeling sympathetic for the other teen, just like he had for Indigo. Though he was glad that his godfather's tempting of fate hadn't ended up with him being blamed for somehow ending up with another bizarrely appropriated offspring.
His attention was drawn to Raven, whose shoulders were shaking slightly and her arms were crossed in front of her. Harry floated around to face her and though her hood was up, it had been pushed back slightly. He could see her gaze directed on the building below and he could see the tear tracks down the girl's face. "Raven? Are you okay?"
Raven shuddered slightly but didn't say anything. Harry wasn't entirely certain what to do. Crying girl was way out of his comfort zone. Then again, dealing with robots, clones, Sirius' girlfriend obliterating large urban areas, and souls were as well. So it was pretty much a day for that.
He was about to ask what was wrong, when she spoke, her voice tremulous.
"I know what he's feeling," Raven whispered. "He's scared that he doesn't have a choice in who he is or how his life will turn out. That he's cursed and damned by what Luthor tried to do with him. That he's a weapon someone else forged for a purpose and he'll never be anything else."
"I know how he feels," she continued before she bit her lip and closed her eyes as a small shiver wracked her body. A moment passed, before her illuminated eyes opened again to focus intently on Harry. "You know how we... he feels. You've… felt that way."
Harry found himself meeting Raven's violet eyes, but found himself compelled to look away from her intense stare. He let his eyes drift downward to where Superboy was even now disappearing into the building. "I… yes. At one point." He responded slowly as his fists clenched. "For most of my time at Hogwarts really."
Raven drifted closer in the night air peering at Harry's expression.
"Every time I've ever seen something wrong going on around me," he began haltingly, as he tried to answer her question and really sort out how he felt at the same time, "Someone hurt in front of me, I've never seen anyone who should have done something about it... actually do it."
Raven shifted in the air, moving a bit closer, and was focused on his words. She seemed to fixate on them to give her a focus for her own emotional control, which she seemed to be fighting a losing battle to maintain.
"Whether it was to put a stop to bullies, abusive teachers, protect magical artifacts, save other students' lives, fight monsters, or oppose a Dark Lord." Harry said, his words now slow and measured, his answer honest and reflective, "The majority of the people around me simply let it happen. Even if they had the solution to the problem themselves, they often let it get worse, until eventually it became unbearable. And when that point inevitably came, it seemed to fall on me to fix it."
"I never really put together that I was being guided and manipulated to feel that way." Harry took a deep breath and then let it out "I never realized that I was being set up and groomed."
"What changed?" Raven asked, her voice quiet, but with a desperate intensity.
Harry considered that and looked up from the building below to Raven's eyes. His answer seemed terribly important. Not just for Conner, but terribly personal for the purple haired teen. He looked up and away from her gaze once more. "I found out… that, to the people that truly mattered in my life, I was anything but a weapon. I wasn't a tool or someone expected to martyr themselves. To the people that really loved me, I was simply Harry... and I didn't have to do anything to earn their love."
"You make it sound… so simple and easy," Raven said after a pause, her tone carrying traces of doubt.
"It wasn't. Not really. I don't know if I'd call what happened to me more or less traumatic than what happened to Conner. I essentially died before it was pointed out to me. On the other hand I never turned on my friends." Harry ran a hand through his hair and slumped his shoulders, "But I learned that in the grand scheme of things, the expectations and desires of the people I thought I should look up to, were not important in the grand scheme of things. The people that really cared about me? They didn't blame me for things beyond my control. They wanted me to be happy."
At the mention of what his parents wanted, Harry actually smiled as he remembered what they had told him in that brief conversation as he hung in between life and death. The change in his emotions as he pondered his parents parting words for the thousandth time even caught Raven's notice, and her eyes widened just slightly as her empathy was momentarily overwhelmed by the emotions felt by Harry.
"Above all else," he whispered as he basked for a few final moments in the memory of his parents love. "Whether they agreed with my choices or not. Their only desire was for me to be myself and to be happy."
"Happy…" Raven echoed, a faint tone of confusion and uncertainty entering her voice.
Harry's emerald eyes drifted down to lock onto Raven's amethyst gaze. "The hard part is figuring out who really cares. I think… once you have that, the rest falls into place easier. I think that's what Conner is figuring now. If he can get past the guilt for something beyond his control."
Raven stared at him and took a breath, crossing her arms in front of her chest, her hands on her shoulders. "I wish there was something I could do." Tears welled in her eyes as she started to shake a bit.
"I hate what was done to him. I hate what Luthor and Braniac did to him… to us. That they put us in this position." She took a hiccuping breath and closed her eyes as tears began to run down her cheeks. "All he's ever really tried to do is good for people. And I hate they tried to erase that spark from him."
Raven looked up to meet Harry's eyes and her shoulders began to shake with repressed sobs, "And I hateknowing that someone I care about feels like I do."
Harry glanced around, his expression reflecting his uncertainty, before floating closer. He put a hand on her shoulder, and when she didn't stiffen or pull away, he gently pulled her forward into a hug. She stiffened only for a moment before pressing in close and breaking down fully against his shoulder.
As an empath, the emotions she'd absorbed for the day from those around her finally overwhelming her control.
Harry wasn't exactly comfortable in dealing with crying female. So he could only offer her a hug, gently patting her on the back as she cried herself out.
It was several minutes later that Raven seemed to slowly regain control of her emotions, and seemed to realize where she was. She pulled back abruptly in surprise and looked at Harry with a furrowed brow. "My… emotions didn't effect you?"
"Er… wot? I mean… I feel bad you were crying?" Harry said, brow furrowing.
"No… I mean…" Raven stared at him for several long seconds before she seemed to shake it off as her mind latched onto another fact. She bit her lip briefly as she considered the thought before looking into Harry's eyes, "Can I ask you a question?"
Harry hesitated a moment before nodding, "I might not answer, but sure…"
"When we were in… Conner's… self. I had not intended for you to be there. Your magic let you follow somehow," Raven ventured.
Harry nodded slowly, as an inkling formed of where this line of questioning was about to go.
Raven hesitated again, as if she was afraid to ask the question, but took a breath and pressed forward, "When we saw his soul. When that other being joined us. You know who she is?"
Harry grimaced and looked away. Eventually he answered, and his eyes did not meet Raven's as he spoke.
"Yeah. I do."
"And she calls you Master?" Raven pressed further.
"So not my idea, or my fault," Harry responded dryly.
Raven searched Harry's face and felt his emotions, "Would you like to talk about it?"
Harry looked up in surprise that she didn't sound afraid, and she didn't sound demanding either. It sounded like a question that Raven would drop if he indicated he preferred that.
"I don't know…" Harry was concerned that if he explained that she might run for the hills. And he hadn't talked to anyone about it before, certainly not Sirius. He wasn't sure he could handle being looked at differently if he explained something he didn't even understand yet.
"I'm willing to listen if you would like. I promise not to share what you tell me in confidence. Sometimes a burden shared is a burden eased," Raven answered, not even needing her empathic abilities to sense his hesitation.
"It's kind of a long story…" he hedged, his voice tinged with uncertainty. He did want to talk about it, and based on what he'd learned of Raven's own history, she wasn't likely to judge him or flee.
"I have all night," Raven answered with a gentle smile before she shifted to a sitting lotus position as she crossed her legs to float in the air in front of him.
Harry hesitated another moment and then allowed a small smile, matching her position as best he could. Raven was obviously far more flexible than he was.
"Well… it all started with my parents…"
1) Wheee chapter. And further PROOF that Kat isn't dead. Mostly. Just seemed like it. But is okay. I know there wasn't a ton of action in this chapter, but it hit 20k words and we were setting up a lot of plot points going forward. Of course editing took it to 30k. Sooo.
2) Yes, Dumbledore was bad in this story. It happens occasionally. But honestly? He is not at all important for ANY reason going forward. I just wanted a final break from that wizarding world and didn't really want it hanging over Harry any longer. Didn't want anyone wondering if any of those would be popping up to make an ass of themselves. They've done it. And yes Constantine took center stage. But he's gonna be around for a bit (no matter how Plums grumbles about Zatanna being so much better) But let's face it, in the greater DC world? The wizards of Harry's world are… really inconsequential.
3) Yes, this means there will not be any females from the wizarding world showing up. No Fleur, Tonks, Daphne, Ginny, Hermione, or anyone else. They're out. Sorry/Not sorry.
4) Plums Ponderings - once again.. Kat's in the driver's seat on this one… she actually had to send me comic dialogue for scenes like Superboy's transcendantal out of body experience with Raven for me to know what the heck was going on.
5) That out of body scene was directly from the comics with some tweaks because of Harry's presence, Teen Titans (version 3? I think) issue 26. I even had the aftermath of it planned out to relatively match what happened in the comic.
I was ALLL set to send Superboy off to be emo like he was canonically! For him to go pout in Smallville like he did before the events of Infinite Crisis. But NOOOO. Plums decided to poke at the characters and insist that based on characterization the change would happen. Despite the fact that he was ALL for killing Conner in the last chapter! This? This right here is why my stories veer off! The character have to go and develop personalities! And force changes I didn't initially intend.
Also. This right here is why I desperately need a DC universe expert. Especially as the confusing as HELL events of infinite crisis are on the horizon. If you are willing to help write, I'm even willing to collaborate on this story! (so long as you accept Plums and I are a package deal on it)
"Man… she really enjoys those wide shots showing other people's reactions." - Reviewer #1
"Yeah, we don't need to know any of that!"- Reviewer #2
"How dare she do any sort of foreshadowing or expanded view in a universe as large as star wars or DC!" - Reviewer #3
*sound of chainsaw revving*
"AHHH NOT THE FACE!" - in unison.
"Did… did we just do… what we think we did?" - Kat
"Technically… yes..." - Plums downing a bottle of vodka
"Will they forgive us?" - Kat
"I donno… maybe they won't realize YOU accidentally... technically wrote an mpreg story." - Plums
"Me?! This is a collaboration." Kat
"Yes, but the mpreg is 100% your fault." - Plums
"He was never pregnant!" - Kat
"Yes, but the analogy was that he was just like a mother! Thus he bore a child. Thus mpreg!" - Plums then slams back the rest of the fifth in his hand.
This is not my fault!" - Kat shuddering
"Hey, don't blame this on me! I'm not the comic expert! I have one job in this story! See how many people I can convince you to get Sirius and Harry to sleep with. Everything else? Your fault." - Plums
"Well, that's not entirely true! You affect story just as much! I was going to send off Superboy in preparation for him to die like he did in canon before you changed-" Kat
"Lalala, you're at fault. You wrote an mpreg story!" - Plums covering his ears.
~Sound of Kat making liberal use of brain bleach for her unforgivable sin~
"She really is your daughter?" - Shift
"If you call me your mother in law I will break you." - Harry.
"Dumbledore departs stage right!" - Plums
"ZOMG! Manipulative old Bastard Dumbledore! YOU H8 HIM! SO MUCH! Such a CLICHE. SO STUPID. You have a grudge against the character! He is not so stupidly Evil! You are -THUNK" - Reviewer
"Pretty sure he's unconscious now." - Kat.
"Are you sure?" - Plums wielding a sledgehammer
"The whole Dumbledore family is stranger danger. Between Albus being obsessed with young boys and his brother and the goat's he keeps locked up in the pens behind his bar. Illegal charms on goats was an awfully vague crime he was arrested for." - Constantine's original comment after Flash Jr's Stranger Danger observation before Kat decided Plums was dipping into the Trope-Well a bit too much..
"And don't call me Shirley!" - Hades
"No one got laid this chapter." -Plums, mournfully.
"Ooh. Binding me already Master? I didn't know you were that kinky!" - Death
"... I… can't even." - Harry
"I'm pretty sure Grace can pitch Indigo into orbit. That's a pretty far throw." - Kid Flash
"Still not the point!" - Grace
"Still to young to be a grandfather." - Sirius
"Plums saved me from death!" - Conner
"I know. I assumed he'd use his one save on an attractive female. But he chose you." - Kat
"What… but… no! That's not fair!" - Plums
"No backsies!" - Kat
"Is it too late to genderbend Conner?" - Plums
"No! There will be only ONE Supergirl in this story!" - Kat
"Sirius Stupidly Tempts Fate." - Speedy
"I'm certain that won't come back to bite us in the ass." - Sirius
"Hi!" - Death.
"Is this going to become a thing? You just popping up randomly?" Harry
"Maybe?" - Death
"... that is so fitting for my life." - Harry
"Look at it this way, at least you didn't become a mother a second time!" - Death, brightly.
"When that's a reassurance… yeah, I clearly have problems." - Harry