In retrospect, it is not Harry's best summoning spell. In his defence, he only caught a glimpse of purple hair from the girl he'd followed because of said purple hair.
Wait, that makes him sound like a stalker. He's not. Really. It's just, the colour reminded him of the late Tonks, and he'd just wanted to catch a glimpse of her face. That's perfectly normal. Following people around is normal.
So anyway. Purple-haired girl unfortunately has a saving-cats thing and runs in front of a car to save one in the split-second Harry has his eyes off of her. Lucky for her, Harry has a saving-people thing, so that works out fine. She's pulled right into Harry's arms, along with about a hundred purple handbags, clutches, jewellery, and a car advertisement.
Thank Merlin for notice-me-not charms and apparition, that could have ended really badly.
The girl stares up at him, clutching the hissing cat. Harry hovers over her, hands braced on each side of her head. They are on Harry's bed in his hotel room.
He takes back anything good he ever said about apparition.
"Gomen," Harry apologises for what feels like hundredth time. His ears feel like they're burning, but it's better than when his whole head felt like it was on fire. The girl had stopped blushing a while ago and started softly giggling at Harry's embarrassed squawking. It's a nice giggle, she tries to hide it behind her hand, and it's barely audible. It doesn't make him feel stupid - well, any more stupid than he already feels all on his own - and at some point he starts laughing, too. The situation is just so entirely ridiculous.
"Uhm," he scratches the back of his head. "So. I'm Harry."
He probably should have introduced himself earlier.
The girl bows politely (oh Merlin's beard, he should have bowed too, he's messing this up) and introduces herself. Her name is Shimizu Nagi, she's fifteen years old, and she's really nice about being kidnapped and ending up in a compromising position. The cat is not nearly as nice about being cat-napped, it's like Crookshanks at his worst. It glares at him from its perch on Nagi's lap like Harry is the devil incarnate.
Nagi ducks a little. "Uh… thank you for saving me," she says softly, almost too softly to hear. Then her eyes look up at him, wide and violet and so hopeful. "You did save me, right?"
"It was nothing," Harry waves her question off. "I mean, not nothing, it's great that you're okay! I just, uh." Crap, his Japanese isn't all that great. The language-learning potion only goes so far. "I didn't really think about what I was doing. Just like you probably didn't think about saving the cat?"
If he'd been thinking, he'd have been a little more careful about breaking the Statute of Secrecy in broad daylight in a foreign country, that's for sure. He's just glad that so far no aurors have shown up to detain him and obliviate Nagi. Oh crap, Nagi had seen him do magic.
Nagi nods shyly, gently petting the glaring cat on her lap. "That was… really nice of you." She gives him a hesitant smile, so sincere.
"Err…." Harry searches for something to say, and then sees that it's getting dark outside. "Oh, this late already! Do you need to get home? I'll walk you!"
She ducks again and Harry curses himself. Nagi suddenly looks so small and sad. Lonely. Like pre-Hogwarts Harry. Except there won't be a Hogwarts for her, if she had magic she would have said something, right?
"Or you could stay," he offers.
Her smile is a small and tremulous thing, but it transforms her entire face.
"Hermione, I'm fine." Harry rolls his eyes at the phone. "I'm not brooding, I'm eating fine, I haven't been in trouble since I left, it's all good. Stop worrying. Instead, tell me how you are."
"Nice try," Hermione huffs. "If you must know, I'm doing alright. My parents have almost forgiven me, I think. Dad glares at Ron a lot, but Mom says it's a Dad-thing."
"That sounds great!" Harry answers enthusiastically.
"It is." He can hear her smile over the phone. "I'm ready to go home, though. Mom and Dad seem to want to stay in Brisbane, but I can visit them anytime, right?"
"Now back to you." Damn it. "I know you're not fine, Harry James Potter. Talk to me, it'll make you feel better! Or at least tell me where you are! You just took off! Don't you know how important you are, especially after the war just ended?"
And there it is.
"Hermione… I am fine. Really. I'm… I just needed to go, okay?"
Public attention, being the hero, everyone wanting a word with him, him idly considering leaving the magical world, that was one thing.
And Ginny. Ginny was a reason.
"I'm… I'm sorry, Harry. But you weren't there, and I needed someone… you don't even know what it was like, the Death Eaters ruling Hogwarts! …Neville was there, okay? And I think I love him."
He prefers not to think about that.
"I just need some space, okay? I just need some space is all." Harry sighs.
"Oh Harry," Hermione breathes in that I-just-understood-something-significant-and-tragic-about-Harry's-feelings tone. "I'm so sorry! I thought-"
"I met someone!" Harry blurts.
"What?!" Okay, Hermione doesn't have to sound that shocked. Harry isn't that bad, right? "That's, uh. Great?"
Harry laughs. "It is. She is."
A soft noise makes him look up. Nagi has just come in, a box of cake in her arms and a hopeful look on her face. He smiles at her, she blushes and looks away.
"Listen, 'Mione, I've got to go. Say hi to Ron for me, alright?"
"Wait, Harry! Who is she?"
"Sorry, gotta go!" He hangs up on her and feels only a slight bit guilty. "Okaeri, Nagi-chan!"
Harry is doing better than ever since Voldemort's return. It could be the traveling, the lack of duties to be fulfilled, the absence of any threat, but he knows better. It's Nagi. He's known her for only two weeks, but he thinks it's been the best weeks of his life. Weeks where everything was good.
Nagi is the sweetest person he has ever met. There isn't a mean bone inside of her. Kind and gentle, happy with whatever attention he gives her, happy to give him his privacy. She's just… sweet. The one thing that irks Harry is her lack of self-confidence, but he's working on that. Slowly and carefully, because she's worse than he ever was and he's constantly scared she'll bolt if he startles her too much.
And yeah, he's essentially kidnapped her, but nobody seems to be looking for her, Nagi herself doesn't expect anyone to come looking for her, and the entire thing just reminds him way too much of the Dursleys for him to just let it rest. So she's coming with him. Though he did the responsible thing and asked her to at least send her parents the occasional letter.
He's probably not going to give her back, though. Nagi makes a great traveling companion (unlike her cat). Until she came along, Harry had wanted to be alone, after the Horcrux hunt, he'd had enough of traveling in company. Nagi though is just so… unintrusive and unassuming that he finds her company peaceful, soothing even. It helps that she has absolutely nothing to do with Britain, wizards, and magic in general. She's nothing like the strong personalities he's used to. That isn't to say she isn't strong in her own right, there are moments like when she stared down a man twice her size and triple her weight trying to bully Harry for whatever reason when Harry had just thought, damn. He'd told her so later, and she'd blushed and giggled in that shy but pleased way of hers.
There are days when he thinks she's his sole reason for getting out of bed in the morning.
He'd fought and won a war. Sometimes he feels so old and tired. Nagi doesn't make him forget, but she makes him… feel at peace with it all, he supposes, like it was all worth it.
There comes a day everything changes. There always does.
It doesn't have anything to do with Harry this time.
Nagi, her horrible cat, and he are currently touring the Okinawa Islands, Kume Island in particular. Harry is aware that Nagi hasn't been sleeping too well lately, but on this morning she looks particularly miserable. So he asks her what's wrong, and she, well, she doesn't burst into tears but looks like she wants to.
"He's in pain," she whispers desperately, arms hugging herself. "He's in pain, he's all alone, it's so dark." A tiny sob escapes her, she turns away.
Harry doesn't really think about it, he just pulls her into his arms and hugs her. She turns into a statue.
He lets her go. "Sorry," he says. She nods mutely, eyes wide.
One of her tiny hands clutches his sleeve. "Don't go, please don't leave," she begs.
"Never," Harry vows, and he means it. Nagi's hand lets go of his sleeve and hesitantly slips into his hand instead, clutching it like a lifeline.
"He's in my dreams," she tells him tremulously.
"For the last week? You looked tired, Nagi-chan." Harry squeezes her hand, trying not to show her how worried he is.
"We, um, we have connection? Similar souls, he says."
Harry stiffens. This… it sounds too familiar for his comfort.
"He wants me to help him." Nagi trembles, she bites her lip before continuing. "His friends, they need help, and he can't go himself. He says he'd make me strong in exchange for my help."
"Okay, we can go help those friends of his," Harry agrees, because it's so easy to see that it's what Nagi wants to do. "But why can't he go himself? And who is he?"
"Prison." Nagi's fingers clench around Harry's. "He's in prison. It's horrible."
"Why is he in prison, Nagi-chan?" She doesn't answer, so Harry gently turns her head to look at him, brushes purple strands of hair out of her face so he can look her in the eyes. "I'm going to help you whatever you decide to do," he tells her. "You're important to me." She doesn't even know just how much.
She tells him everything after that. There are so many foreign words - Mafia, Estraneo, Vongola. So much darkness. Harry doesn't want Nagi, sweet and kind Nagi, anywhere near that.
But it isn't about what he wants. After what he's been through, he would never take anyone's choice away. And Nagi's choice is to help this Mukuro person, to watch out for his friends, and to learn about his illusions in exchange.
"Hari-kun is special," she says earnestly. It's the closest she's ever come to mentioning the magic she'd witnessed him do that time they first met. "I want to be special also."
"Okay," Harry sighs. "But I'm teaching you what I know about Mind Arts. No way am I letting you get possessed."
And that's that.
Kokuyo Land creeps Harry out. The abandoned amusement park near the city of Namimori is rundown, taken over by the local flora, and generally a health hazard in every way. Nagi though is confident, carefully walking along a path described to her by an incarcerated mass murderer (Merlin's soggy pants, why is Harry going along with this?!), and looking around with interest.
She likes places like this. They'd been to amusement parks, and Nagi always loves the haunted houses best. This isn't much different, except it's not a tourist attraction, it's all too real.
Harry is vastly uncomfortable but soldiers on, brightly lit wand in front of him. Nagi can conjure up images of flowers, showing her his magic doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore.
She'd taken to learning Occlumency with astounding ease (and isn't that a funny thought, a muggle learning mind magic?). Harry likes to imagine how she'd have mentally stomped Snape in the ground if the git had ever had the gall to try to read her mind. Merlin, Nagi is so strong.
They go inside the largest building. Harry conjures up lanterns and makes them float up so the whole room is illuminated.
Two kids are inside. One of them animalistic, half-feral, lashing out at them even while obviously running a fever. The other wearing glasses and just staring at them apathetically, one arm held to his side awkwardly.
"This is our place! Get your own!" the first one growls, and launches himself at them. Harry casts a wandless tripping jinx. The kid is already unsteady on his feet and falls easily. The other though pelts them with needles shot from a… yoyo? And he doesn't think, just reacts, and pushes Nagi behind him, the only thought on his mind is to protect her. The needles hit him, and instead of digging into his flesh just. Bounce off?
Green sparks travel over his skin.
The guy with glasses is meanwhile trapped in an illusion of vines strangling him.
"Well that's new," Harry remarks to no one in particular, examining the sparks coming from his fingers.
"Hari-kun, are you alright?" Nagi asks anxiously.
"I'm fine," Harry answers. She nods, then turns to the two attackers.
"Um," she says. "You two are Ken-san and Chikusa-san, right? Mukuro-san sent us."
"What?!" the animalistic one - Ken? - shouts. "Don't fuck with us, bitch!"
"Don't talk to her like that!" Harry snaps at him. Nagi places a hand on his arm. Then she closes her eyes, that strange illusion energy enveloping her.
"Kufufufu…" laughter comes from a mouth that used to be Nagi's. Harry's hackles rise. "Ken, Chikusa. Don't you recognise your master?"
"M-Mukuro-san!" Ken exclaims, his companion just stares, looking oddly vulnerable. "You escaped?! We knew you could do it!"
"Alas, this escape is only temporary," Mukuro chuckles. "Now, you will not damage these new pawns of mine, will you?"
Harry bristles. "Pawns? If I remember correctly, you are depending on Nagi's help, and she could cut the connection at any time if she so chose!"
"Kufufu," Mukuro laughs again. "You must be my dear Nagi-chan's Hari-kun. Finally we meet."
"She's not your anything." Harry glares at the smirking… apparition currently hijacking Nagi's mind and body and possibly even soul.
"But is she yours? I think not." Mukuro laughs that laugh of his again. "Ken, Chikusa, stay put here and recover. Do not come look for me. I will be in contact."
"Don't leave!" Ken shouts desperately. Chikusa looks just as desperate, but doesn't shout. "No!"
Mukuro disappears and Nagi sinks into herself. Harry hurries to catch her.
Not his, his mind whispers.
He finds he doesn't like the thought.
"Okay," Harry declares. "This place is a health hazard and I'm not having it."
"And what're you gonna do?" Ken hisses, death glare trained on where Harry's arm steadies Nagi. Or just rests around Nagi's shoulders now that they're sitting on a ratty couch.
"Why, I'm going to magic this place healthier," Harry snipes back, making the kid bristle.
Nagi's eyes light up. "Can I watch, Hari-kun?"
Like he could deny her. Merlin, he's got it so bad and he's only noticing now.
But she's too young. He's eighteen as of two weeks ago, a war veteran, a bloody mess of issues, and she's an innocent girl who's just barely started coming into herself. Fifteen-and-a-half years old, she turns sixteen on December 5th.
Dammit, Harry Potter. Can't make anything easy, no?
"Of course you can." He smiles at her, watches her eyes light up even more.
A few hours later, the room looks completely different. Clean, the walls fixed, all lamps lit with magical lights. Carpets on the ground, chairs and couches with soft cushions on them. Everything done in Gryffindor colours because why not? Nagi loves it, the other two are dumbfounded, Harry feels ten feet tall. More than that, he feels like he has a purpose again, something he'd lacked since the war ended.
It takes about a week until the house is somewhat liveable again. First priority are kitchen and bathrooms, then bedrooms. In between Harry remembers that Ken and Chikusa had been hurt and sick and orders them to rest. Which doesn't go over well with Ken but whatever. When Nagi asks with polite menace that he please drink the potions Harry gives him, the kid doesn't dare brush her off. Chikusa is more agreeable, but his mental state so much more worrying. There isn't really anything Harry can do about that though, he's barely sorting himself out, but he figures he can at least be there.
Weeks pass and Kokuyo Center turns from dilapidated to liveable to cozy and welcoming. Harry had worked with Hogwarts as a basic image in his mind, but the other three (four if one counts Mukuro) had suggestions and then they all went and bought furniture together, and now there's something of all of them that went into the place. Chikusa favours simplistic designs and monochrome colours, Ken is the opposite and likes colours and contrasts, Nagi tends toward traditional Japanese interiors, Mukuro likes flowing curtains and anything indigo. The end result is chaotic, but it fits them.
It's… homely. Not just the house, it's the people. Ken's hostility vanishes the first time Harry cooks them a decent meal. Chikusa's mien is slower to thaw, but the atmosphere seems to do him good. And Nagi seems happier than ever. She says Mukuro is content, too.
Harry finds that with every bit of the house they fix, every meal they cook and eat together, every laugh they share, he fixes a bit of himself.
Hermione, Ron, and everyone else's demands that he return to fix Britain get easier and easier to brush off. Taking care of two abused boys, making Nagi smile, rebuilding a house, it seems so much more rewarding to him.
Around four weeks after he and Nagi first arrived at Kokuyo Center, a man comes. Blond, large, intimidating, he reminds Harry of Rufus Scrimgeour in all the worst ways.
The four of them plus the cat are outside discussing what to do with the other buildings when he marches in, men in expensive suits on either side of him. His gaze hones straight in on Nagi. Harry and the boys step closer to her. If Harry is the leader of their little group, Nagi is the heart. The man lifts his arms, laughs.
He comes in peace, he says. With an offer for Nagi.
Vongola Mist Guardian. Ring battles. She can win, what with Mukuro helping her (how does he know?!), and there are benefits. Protection for her friends for one. Didn't they just escape from prison? Surely she doesn't want them to be arrested again.
Blackmail. The mafia is a dark place.
Nagi says yes. What choice does she have, really?
"You don't have to do this," Harry assures her the moment this 'External Advisor' leaves. "I can hide us. Protect us. Takes us out of the country. They'll never find us."
"Yeah!" Ken barks. "We'll kick their asses!" Chikusa nods to this. Harry is sure Mukuro tells her something too, though only she can hear.
Nagi looks at Harry, eyes full of steady resolve. "Teach me how to fight instead. I want to change the world that causes all of you so much pain."
Harry thinks he's in love.
They get updates from the CEDEF people once the battles officially start. The four of them go to watch, hidden beneath Nagi's illusions and Harry's notice-me-not charms.
The Sun battle is first. Their side or rather, the side Nagi was recruited by, consists of kids. Innocent, bright-eyed kids who've probably never seen real battle besides what Mukuro brought to them. The supposed leader Sawada Tsunayoshi, the smallest of them, worries the whole time, eyes riveted on his friend who's putting his life on the line in an obviously rigged battle against a hardened assassin. The poor kid flinches at every hit his friend takes.
"Merlin damn it!" Harry curses.
"Hari-kun?" Nagi asks worriedly, grasping his hand.
"They're kids! This isn't right!" he hisses out. "They're younger than-" Most of the DA when they'd only started to learn self-defence.
"It's the Mafia. No one cares," Chikusa says monotonously. Brokenly. Ken says nothing, eyes riveted on the fight.
It gets worse. The External Advisor brings Sasagawa's innocent little sister and her friend to watch her him get utterly demolished. Except he picks himself up and punches his opponent's leg out. Who is then shot in the back by his own allies.
"Oh god," Nagi whispers beside Harry, clutching his hand. "Oh my god."
I don't want you fighting, Harry thinks. And then is distracted.
"Tomorrow will be the battle for the Lightning Rings."
At first Harry doesn't get why the Sawada kid freaks out, because surely they couldn't mean the afro-kid? Surely not?
Merlin damn it.
"Screw it," he says.
"Hari-kun?!" Nagi exclaims. He turns to her.
"I'm not letting them send a toddler into battle."
The Lightning Battle is on the roof of Namimori Middle School. The weather is lousy.
The battlefield is a nightmare. Lightning rods jut out like fangs, gathering thunderbolts from the sky and channelling it into the floor. Harry swallows.
"Hari-kun…" Nagi whispers worriedly.
"I'll be fine." He straightens, rights his glasses. "I've done something like this before."
"Crazy," Ken mutters. "Don't die, Magician."
"It would be inconvenient," Chikusa agrees.
"I'll do my best," Harry answers.
And steps outside of Nagi's illusion, into the group of people. Sawada is still protesting, holding onto the Lambo kid like a lifeline. The Lightning Half Ring is stuck in the kid's curly hair.
"I'll be taking this," Harry says, and snatches the piece of jewellery. "Thanks for holding onto this for me, kid."
"Eh?" Sawada exclaims. "EH?!"
A baby in a raincoat levels a gun at Harry. "Who are you?" he asks dangerously.
"The new Lightning Guardian," Harry answers, levelling an equally dangerous look back at the baby before offering Sawada a smile. "I'm Harry, nice to meet you."
The kid looks like a deer in the headlights.
"What is going on here?!" the External Advisor blusters, shoving through the small crowd. "You!" He glares at Harry. "Give the ring back this instant! Who do you think you are?!"
Harry punches him in the jaw with everything he has. The guy goes to ground hard. Harry glares down at him. "I'm someone who hates seeing kids fight, asshole."
Let it be him instead.
The guy jumps up, livid. "The Lightning Guardian is Lambo Bovino! Get out of here fast and maybe I'll forget about this!"
"Dad!" the Sawada kid exclaims. Good kid, Harry thinks.
"I've heard better threats from a half-dead snake-human mutation," Harry snorts at the blond asshole. "Tell me, how do you expect a toddler to win against an assassin? I'm sure everyone here wants to know."
"The Guardians were all picked for a reason!" the External Advisor bellows. "You are not needed here and I will have you prosecuted for this!"
"Hari-kun may not be needed," a quiet voice speaks up. Nagi steps up beside Harry, almost quailing at the many glares levelled at her. But she straightens and fixes her calm gaze on the Advisor. "But I am. You came to me." She holds up the Mist Ring. Exclamations sound in the background, but Harry's attention is on Nagi. "You need me. You need him. You need us." She drops her hand. "And neither of us will fight in the Mist Battle for people who will send a toddler into certain death." Then she turns to Sawada Tsunayoshi with the sweetest smile on her face. "Hello Boss. It's nice to meet you. My name is Nagi."
Harry is in love.
The Advisor is gasping for air. "This- this!"
"I'll be going then," Harry says flatly.
"I extremely don't get what's going on!" the boxer from yesterday shouts. "But let's do the usual again!"
Harry and Nagi are dragged into a team huddle.
"What's his name?" someone hisses.
"Harry, baseball idiot!" another whisper-yells back.
"Hari, fight!" they shout. Harry… feels warm. Nice kids.
Nagi kisses his cheek. "Good luck, Hari-kun."
He jumps into the battlefield. There are sneers, disparaging remarks, demands if this is within the rules. Harry snorts. "Your robot over there interfered in the Sun Battle yesterday and it was okay. Also, are you saying you're scared? You should be, you know. What was your name again, moustache guy?"
Arrogant men. So easy to bait.
Harry utterly destroys Levi A. Than.
The lightning coming from the sky doesn't bother him, his own green lightning counters it. "Barely tickles," he smirks.
He makes the umbrella weapons explode. Harry had trained his wandless magic while on his travels.
Physical combat? Harry can apparate out of the way. Shove the guy into lightning rods from behind. Watch him fry.
He's Harry freaking Potter, Man-Who-Conquered, Saviour of the Wizarding World. He fought and won a damn war. Some stupid two-bit assassin is nothing.
When it's done and he's been declared the winner, Nagi jumps down and kisses him right in front of everyone. He forgets all previous objections. (Don't really matter in the Mafia anyway.)
"Damn," he whispers when they come up for air.
"You were taking too long," Nagi mumbles back, blushing. "Go out with me?"
"Anything you want, Nagi."
"Harry, you have to come home! We need you, the world needs you!"
"Sorry, Hermione," Harry says into the phone. "They'll have to figure it out themselves." He grins, casting a look around. They'd had an impromptu party at Kokuyo Center after all the battles were finally done with. Everyone's asleep, sprawled out over each other. Nagi's head rests on Harry's shoulder.
"I'm not going back for a while."