Harry Potter, Squatter
Considering how he had gone to sleep, Harry expected to wake up in considerable agony. He was therefore quite surprised when he found himself waking up with no pain or discomfort, almost as if he had simply gone to bed the night before.
Carefully, he started to move, expecting jabs of pain, or at least twinges of discomfort. Instead, he felt nothing.
In fact, he hadn't felt this good in a long time. It was almost as if someone had crafted him a new body and then stuffed his mind into it.
"Careful, you may still have some residual drowsiness or nausea," a woman said, suddenly appearing in his sight. She had dark-blonde hair and blue eyes, and seemed nice and friendly.
And powerful. Harry had been around enough gods to know when someone was powerful and when someone was powerful with emphasis.
"Hi?" Harry said, slowly sitting upright and waiting for his body to adjust.
"Hello," the woman said with an easy-going smile. "I am glad to see you're up," she added.
He had hoped she'd tell him who she was. "Ehm… where am I?" he asked, hoping that would be a safer question. Gods usually didn't appreciate it when a demigod didn't recognize them.
The mysterious woman laughed. "You are in Asgard," she said. "Thor brought you in yesterday; he was quite frantic I have to say. Then again, you were in a deplorable state." She shook her head gently. "You should leave the giant-slaying to my son; it's what he is known for."
Harry blinked; was she talking about Thor? He swallowed when he realized he'd killed again. "Did you heal me?" he asked, instead, trying to take his mind off him being a mass murderer now, and how upset Hestia would be at that.
"I did, indeed," the strange goddess said as she slowly glided around the room. "Thankfully, I am rather gifted at healing, so repairing the damage you did to yourself was quite easy. It is the least I could do for the young man who went to rescue my son."
That confirmed it. "You're Miss Frigga!" Harry shouted, before realizing that shouting her name may not have been the best course of action.
Frigga laughed, and Harry thought she had a nice laugh. It reminded him a bit of Hestia. "I am, indeed," she said, smiling as she glided over with that strangely liquid mode of walking she had. "Well done," she commented with a small wink. "I have heard very little about you since Thor brought you in, frantically requesting healing for you. Most of what I heard sounded impressive, so I wanted to see for myself."
Harry nodded; that sounded reasonable. "Sorry I didn't recognize you," he offered.
Frigga patted his shoulder. "You are a Greek demigod, you can't be expected to know every god in every pantheon," she said.
Harry gave her a grateful smile. He definitely wanted to get along with Thor's family, and his mother – stepmother, he remembered – definitely seemed nice. He turned, to sit upright on the bed, his legs dangling off the side.
"So, now that you're up," Frigga said. "Can you tell me what happened?"
Harry nodded. "Sure, what did Thor say?" he asked. For one, he wouldn't have to repeat details that way. And for two, that way he knew what Thor had said and he wouldn't get the big god in trouble or something.
Frigga's smile widened slightly, as if she knew what he was thinking. "Just that he had gotten in over his head when searching for a necromancer, and that you came to his rescue."
That didn't tell him much, so Harry really didn't have a lot of options. "When Thor didn't show up, I felt something was wrong, you know? So I went looking for him. My mother is Tyche, the Greek Goddess of Luck and Fortune, so I kind of abused my gifts a bit and figured out where Thor was."
"Abused how, exactly?" Frigga asked, curiously.
Harry smiled shyly. "Well, I basically rolled dice to get his coordinates. Like I said, I'm lucky. Unfortunately, I'm also unlucky in equal measure, so as lucky as I was to roll the right coordinates, so unlucky I was with what I found, you know?"
Frigga nodded, and Harry continued. "So when I arrived at the cave, I found it full of giants, and I snuck in and found Thor before freeing him, and then we had to fight for our lives," he explained, trying to give as little details as possible and leaving out Artie's involvement. He definitely didn't want to get her in trouble.
"I see," Frigga answered. "That tells me very little, but I am sure that you will be telling the story many times today so I will be getting the details later," she added. "Like the detail of how you know my rather bullheaded son, and why you decided to come to his rescue before any of us even knew he was in trouble. Or how you got to Iceland so quickly."
Harry grinned shyly, not sure what he was allowed to say, so keeping quiet. Frigga watched him. Harry fidgeted under the stare. Frigga smiled, and shook her head.
"I see you're as stubborn as my son," she said, gently.
Harry's grin widened, no longer shy now that he knew that Frigga wasn't going to be angry at him. He'd made it a personal policy not to annoy people who could put him back together; there were too few of those around to annoy them. Well, other than Apollo, anyway. He liked it when Harry spoke up.
"Miss Frigga?" he asked, remembering what he'd done and wanting to get an outside perspective on it.
"I have quite passed the age to be called 'miss'," Frigga teased softly. "However, I'll allow the compliment."
Harry looked stunned for a moment, this was the first time a goddess had ever commented on being called 'miss' after all, but he turned grateful when he realized she wasn't going to make an issue out of it.
Then, he turned serious once more. "Yesterday," he said, "I killed. Giants, I mean. I didn't mind the zombies – "
"Draugr," she interrupted.
He chuckled slightly. "Thor got annoyed about that one, too," he said.
"Teasing gods and goddesses?" Frigga asked. "Now I know why you and my son get along so well."
Harry grinned, then sobered. "I didn't mind the draugr," he repeated, making sure to use the correct word this time. "I was just returning them to rest. But the giants." He stopped. "Are giants people or monsters?" he wondered.
Frigga nodded gently, and put a hand on his shoulder. "First times are never easy," she said. "And some things never should be easy. However, I would say that you did well. You did very well. Regarding giants being monsters or people – that would depend on your definition of people. And your definition of a monster."
"Oh," Harry said. While the reassurance was nice, the fact that things were open to interpretation was not.
"Giants are self-aware, have emotions, and a sense of reason," Frigga explained. "In that, they are people. However, they are utterly lacking compassion or a sense of morality. In that, they are monsters."
"Oh," Harry repeated. So they were bad people. That made it a little better, he supposed. Like that bad man who had tried to take Annabeth. He'd never forget that man, and he guessed he wouldn't forget the giants, either. He really wanted a Hestia Hug right about now. He wondered how she was doing, whether she would be mad when he returned.
"You come from a very different culture," Frigga said, knifing through his thoughts and returning him to the here and now. "Most Asgardians would simply call it a job well done and go feast, but I can practically see the turmoil roll off you."
Harry nodded softly. "I try not to kill," he said. "But sometimes, you have to, and you don't have time to think about it, but that doesn't make it any easier afterwards."
Thor's stepmother, the Queen of Asgard, nodded in understanding. "Personally, I feel that is a very wise position to take," she said, making Harry's head snap up to stare at her. "Taking a life is sometimes too easy, and done too quickly. Better to think about it, for it is an action that can not be undone."
Harry smiled softly, reassured by her words.
"Now, let's talk about something more upbeat," she decided. "I feel that you should be armed with a few embarrassing stories from my son's childhood, just in case you have need of them."
Harry grinned; that sounded like it could be a lot of fun.
When Thor knocked on the door and slowly pushed it open, he was greeted with Harry and his stepmother sitting on the bed. The demigod was laughing loudly, while Frigga had that look on her face that said she was highly amused but was refusing to laugh out loud.
"I see that Harry is well," Thor noted happily as he entered the room fully and closed the door behind him.
The demigod stopped laughing, and looked at him for a moment, before snickering softly under his breath. "Yes, he is," Frigga said, standing up. "He was badly hurt, so I would suggest a few days of rest to allow his body to settle."
Thor nodded gratefully. "Thank you," he said.
Frigga graced him with a smile that could have come straight from Hestia's repertoire. "He's a very nice and courageous young man, so it was my pleasure," she told him, touching one hand to his cheek to bring him closer and planting a small kiss on his other.
"Mother," Thor complained, but there was no bite to it.
Frigga laughed softly, and turned back to Harry. "It was very nice meeting you, Harry. And like I said, I am sure that you will be telling your story plenty of times today, so I will be hearing those details at some point."
Harry pouted at her, causing her to give another soft laugh before she turned and left the room.
When the door closed, he turned to Thor, and said, "Your mom's nice, but she kept wanting to hear details!"
The Norse God of Thunder grinned. "She's my stepmother," he replied. "And she's widely known as the wisest person on Asgard."
"Wiser than Mister Odin?" the young demigod asked. "Also, does it matter if she's your stepmother? She calls you her son, and you called her 'mother'. That means she's your mom, right?"
"Father will be the first to say so," Thor answered. "And it doesn't quite work that way, my young friend."
Harry nodded softly; he didn't want to get into any arguments. Still, he felt like he had to say something. As someone who grew up without one, it sounded like having an extra mom was a good thing. "I don't see what the problem is. You get two moms, and you can never have too many moms, I reckon. Besides, it means extra presents on birthdays and stuff, too."
Thor exploded in loud, booming laughter. As he calmed down, he put one large hand on Harry's small shoulder. "And now we get to the heart of things," he said, a snicker in his voice. "Still, my young friend, once again you've given me something to think about."
Harry grinned, happy to see that he hadn't made a mistake and that he'd been able to help his friend.
"Come, I will show you around Hotel Valhalla," Thor said, using the hand he had on Harry's shoulder to physically move him off the bed.
"Hotel Valhalla?" Harry asked.
Thor nodded. "All gods and pantheons had to adapt to the modern world," he explained. "In our case, Hotel Valhalla. When one of our people dies in battle, they are taken to the Hotel Valhalla by the Valkyries to be reborn. It has exits all over the Nine Realms; the closest exit on Midgard – Earth – to our fight was in Boston."
Harry nodded. "Hence you taking me to Boston. I recall you saying something like that. I was pretty out of it."
"You were more than 'pretty out of it'," Thor said, seriously. "You should have told me the extent of our injuries."
Harry shrugged. "It wasn't that bad and we had to catch that Necromancer."
Thor shook his head. "You will fit right in with our other guests," he said with a chuckle. "None of them know the concept of 'giving up' either."
Harry grinned, but then got a serious look on his face. "What is this 'giving up' that you mentioned? I've heard other people use that phrase as well, it confuses me."
Thor boomed another laugh. "That's the spirit!" he said, patting him on the back. Harry laughed along with the God of Thunder; it felt good to laugh together.
"Now, as I said," Thor resumed once they had finished laughing and chuckling. "Hotel Valhalla. It has 540 floors, and 540 doors leading to anywhere in the nine realms. We entered through the Boston door – it was the closest and Boston is the magical center of Yggdrasil, the World Tree."
Harry thought for a moment; Thor, seeing this, waited him out. "I wonder why that is?" the demigod finally asked.
The Norse god shrugged. "I am a warrior. I break-"
"You break things, yes, you told me," Harry teased.
Thor laughed again. "Indeed so," he said as they stepped in front of a bank of elevators. "Now, Harry, I must tell you that my father did the decorating of the Hotel when he was… shall we say… in a mood. Don't take things too seriously."
Harry blinked, and nodded. Thor pushed the button to call an elevator. "Every pastime you can imagine is available to the guests in the hotel. Many forms of battle training, white water rafting, even language courses."
Harry nodded, happy to hear that last one. "Miss Athena always tells me that a good warrior should know many things, and that a warrior ignorant of anything but battle is simply ignorant."
Thor nodded. "She is a wise goddess," he replied. "It's good to know that you are receiving a well-rounded education."
The elevator dinged as it arrived, and Harry at once realized why Thor had warned him. The elevator was of an old-fashioned cage design, and its doors were made out of spears. As they stepped into the cart, Harry saw that the walls were lined with overlapping gold shields.
The Greek demigod looked at Thor. The Norse god shrugged. "Sometimes, nobody knows what my father is thinking," he replied, before looking at the control panel.
There were so many buttons that the panel stretched from the floor to the ceiling; for the first time Harry realized just what it meant for the Hotel Valhalla to have 540 floors.
"Perhaps we should start with the lobby," Thor said, stretching down and reaching for the lowest-end button.
The elevator started moving. Harry's thoughts wandered to the two cakes he had to bake for Artie and Zoë.
"Tonight, there will be a feast," Thor said, drawing Harry's thoughts back to here and now. "And, of course, you will be expected to tell your tale!"
"Ehm… how much can I tell?" Harry asked, suddenly feeling rather timid. "I mean, I don't think our maths parties are supposed to be general knowledge."
Thor laughed. "My young friend, you are free to reveal what you like. If there is one thing my people enjoy, then it's a tale of rules broken!" He leaned closer to Harry. "As long as said rules are broken in the spirit of courage and in the pursuit of enjoyment, of course."
Harry nodded. "Gotcha," he said. "That was kind of why I didn't give your mom the details she wanted; I didn't want to get you in trouble or anything."
Thor grinned. "To be fair, it wouldn't be the first time I got 'in trouble'," he said.
"It's us against the parents," Harry said seriously, crossing his arms. "We need to stick together. Getting a friend in trouble with his parents is not-done."
Thor laughed, and patted Harry shoulder as the elevator dinged its arrival. "Just so, my young friend. Just so," he said as they stepped out.
The lobby of Hotel Valhalla looked like a huge hunting lodge; Harry took one look at it and decided that Artie would feel right at home here. The hardwood floor was covered with animal skins, all of them exotic. He saw zebra, lion, tiger, and the skin of a huge, forty-foot-long reptile that Harry didn't know. It looked prehistoric, but who knows when gods were involved.
Against one wall was a huge hearth, and Harry sighed at the look of it. Just having it near soothed something inside of him, a tangible link to Hestia to reassured him. Above the hearth, over the mantel, hung the head of a massive wolf.
In one corner stood the overturned keel of a boat, which served as the reception desk to the Hotel.
"That is Helgi," Thor said, indicating the man standing behind the desk. "He is the Hotel's manager."
Harry nodded politely to the man, who gave him a curious look in return, before seemingly coming to a realization and giving Harry a big grin.
"He's looking forward to hearing your tale tonight," Thor said, loud enough for the manager to hear. "As is everybody else we will meet."
Harry nodded softly; he'd have to step up his story-telling game if he didn't want to embarrass himself in front of Thor's people.
"And that is Hunding," Thor said, motioning to the front door of the Hotel, where a man stood. He was dressed in a doorman's uniform, complete with top hat, the white gloves, and the dark green jacket with tails. At the same time, he had an untamed beard and murderous-looking bloodshot eyes. At his side hung a double-bladed axe. "He's a Saxon king, slain by Helgi in 749. My father favored Helgi, and therefore, Helgi is the manager and Hunding the doorman and bellhop."
"That sucks," Harry said.
Hunding, despite his appearance, didn't seem all that bad, as he gave the demigod a tired sort of smile and a small nod.
"Well, it is what it is," Thor said, a bit awkwardly. "To the victor the spoils and all that."
Harry thought otherwise, but he didn't want to spark an argument so kept quiet. Hestia had told him to be respectful when meeting people of different cultures, as they could have very different norms. He did give the former Saxon King a supportive look, though.
"Perhaps one of the lounges next," Thor said as he guided them back to the elevator.
Harry thought back to the two cakes he had to make. Now that he was awake, he wanted to do that as quickly as possible; the last thing he wanted was for Artie or Zoë to think he didn't appreciate them.
"Do you have a kitchen?" the young demigod asked.
Thor looked surprised for a moment, then grinned widely. "No, our people graze outside like sheep," he replied with a teasing smile. "Of course we have kitchens here, Harry. I take it you'd like to see them?"
Harry snorted at the over-the-top sarcastic response, and nodded in answer. "I have to make two schwarzwaelder-kirschtorte," he said. "I promised Artie and Miss Zoë I'd bake them each one for their help in getting to you."
Thor had already pressed one of the many, many buttons, before looked stunned at Harry. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Although I can guess."
Harry shrugged. "There weren't any fires nearby, and asking Artie if a Hunter could walk me close was the quickest thing I could think of," he answered. "Of course, Artie wasn't happy with me asking to basically borrow a Hunter as taxi service, And Miss Zoë had that conflicted look on her face that said she was highly amused, but knew she shouldn't be and was trying to look stern instead. So, in the end, I offered a couple of schwarzwaelder-kirschtorte, and Artie took the deal so quickly it looked like she was afraid I was going to change my mind."
Thor stared for a moment. "You went into debt with a goddess and her Chosen to come to my rescue," he said softly. He nodded to himself, as if a previous decision he had made was proven correct. "I shall not forget," he told the demigod. The elevator dinged its arrival, and Thor motioned. "The kitchens are this way."
Harry nodded gratefully. "Thanks. I know this eats into the tour, but I'd rather not have Artie and Miss Zoë think they're an afterthought, you know?"
Thor nodded decisively. "Debts incurred must be paid at the soonest opportunity," he declared. "I completely agree."
"I hope they have what I need," Harry whispered, half to himself, already deep in thought as he mentally organized a list of ingredients and required equipment.
"I am Prince of Asgard. Everything you need will be there, even if I have to send the Valkyries out to get it for you," The Norse God of Thunder said, completely seriously.
Harry grinned, thinking it was a good joke as he imagined a woman on a winged horse, dressed in Viking Armor, bursting into a mortal shop and shoving a sword in some poor shopkeeper's face, demanding the ingredients on a shopping list.
Thor saw his young friend was amused at something, but decided not to pry. "We're here," he said, pushing the huge door open.
They entered into a surprisingly modern room, and for the first time Harry knew what it meant to fall in love.
Because he completely fell in love with this kitchen. Every appliance he could think of, ample counter-top space, the top-of-the-line knives, oh the wonders he could create in this kitchen. He felt his fingers itch to get started.
"Lord Thor! Welcome!" a rather rotund gentleman dressed in all white, with a large white chef's hat on his head, said as he approached the God of Thunder. "Sneaking a snack?" he added with a teasing grin.
"Not this time," Thor replied jovially. "Arvid, I am here to introduce you to someone. Harry, this is Arvid, our Head Chef. Arvid, this here is Harry Potter."
"Ah, the young hero of the hour!" Arvid said with a laugh, extending his hand. "Welcome to the kitchens!"
"Thank you, sir," Harry replied politely, shaking the man's hand. He glanced at Thor, who just grinned and looked expectant. Knowing he'd just been abandoned and thrown to the chef, he had no other recourse but to push on. "I was hoping I could borrow your kitchen for a few hours," he said to Arvid.
"Oh? Interested in cooking, are we?" Arvid asked with a smile. "So few are, these days." he put a hand on Harry's shoulder and guided him deeper into the sanctum of cuisine. "Now, what would it be that you'll be making? And can I ask what the urgency is or why you're making it yourself?"
"Schwarzwaelder-kirschtorte," Harry answered honestly. "And I'm making them myself because I promised one each to Artie and Miss Zoë for helping me get to where Thor was being held."
"Go ahead, ask who Artie and Miss Zoë are," Thor said with a teasing grin.
Arvid had been nodding at Harry's explanation, showing that he understood, but then he looked curious when Thor interjected. Harry sighed. "I don't get why everyone gets so worked up over it. Artie's Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, and Miss Zoë is her Lieutenant."
The head chef laughed. "Owing favors to Greek gods? I can completely understand the urgency. So, tell me young hero, what is you need?"
The other chefs and kitchen personnel had been listening in, of course, and most of them were grinning. It was obvious the majority of them were thinking that it was 'cute' that a goddess would request a ten-year-old to bake her a cake.
Then, Harry started listing ingredients, complete with measures and amounts, straight from memory.
Arvid's smile widened. "You heard him! Hop to it!" he shouted to his underlings, who scattered like birds taking flight. Within moments, a counter had been cleared, and everything Harry asked for was laid out.
"Thanks, everyone," Harry said. "You're a lot quicker than me having to get everything myself," he added with a grin. The kitchen staff laughed, most returning to their work – although, Harry noted – they did keep an eye on him.
"Ah, the joys of having underlings," Arvid said, before noticing that the staff was focusing more on keeping an eye on Harry than they were on their own work. "Are you slack-jawed daffodils going to gawk, or are you going to get some work done?" the chef asked. His tone was loud, but there wasn't an actual bite to it, almost as if this were a regular occurrence.
Meanwhile, Thor had retreated to one corner of the kitchen, happy in the knowledge that his young friend had been accepted so easily by the staff. He was also curious; while he had sampled Harry's creations before, he'd never had a chance to see him work.
Harry grinned, rubbed his hands, and looked at the ingredients. He ticked everything against his mental list, and then nodded decisively. He reached into a pocket, and withdrew a small chunk of raw ambrosia; he always carried it because you never knew when you might need it, either to heal up or to cook.
"Oh? What's this?" Arvid asked, studying the strange block of ever-changing color.
"Ambrosia," Harry answered. "It's the food of the Greek Gods. Mortals can't have it, but demigods can have a limited amount In order to speed up healing. It tastes like your favorite food if you eat it raw like this. When I cook for the gods, I usually grind some up and use it as a condiment; it boosts flavor like you wouldn't believe."
Arvid listened attentively. "A godly food," he said. "I see. Here in Asgard, we have Golden Apples."
"Like from the Hesperides?" Harry asked.
Arvid laughed. "They grow in the garden of Idunn, Goddess of Spring and Eternal Youth. In Asgard, the gods eat her apples to retain their youth and vigor."
The young demigod nodded in understanding. "Well, time to get started," he said, before going to a nearby washbasin to wash his hands.
With Arvid looking on, Harry started his prep work. Used to cooking with Hestia, and her asking to explain why he did what he did, he wasn't nervous with the chef looking on and instead started explaining his work.
While the chef would have done things differently, he kept his quiet. He wanted to see for himself just what this young demigod would do.
At the same time, Thor settled into his corner to watch. While he had no real interest in cooking, there was something deeply relaxing about watching a skilled mortal at work. Especially a skilled mortal who would give a running commentary on his actions, and explain details of his work.
Thor was reminded of a different mortal, one who painted. What was his name again? For a few moments, the God of Thunder let his attention wander, thinking of the name of the mortal he had in mind. Ross, that was it. Bob Ross. He could watch that man paint for hours.
Happy to have recalled the name, Thor resumed his attention on Harry, who either didn't notice, or didn't care, that half the kitchen staff were now watching and listening as he worked.
Considering he wasn't familiar with the ovens in use here, Harry decided to test them first. Preheating the oven he was planning to use to 177 degrees centigrade, he placed a small dish of granulated sugar in it. If the sugar melted rather than browned, it was running hot.
The sugar turned brown but did not melt, so he knew that, at least, the oven wasn't running hot. He then turned the heat up to 186 degrees centigrade, to make sure it wasn't running cold. The sugar melted, just as it was supposed to, letting him know that the oven had been calibrated correctly.
"We do have oven thermometers for that," the chef said jokingly when he saw Harry doing the test. "But still, good test."
Harry grinned at him. "Just making sure, considering every oven is different," he answered. "And this way I have a pretty good idea of its characteristics. It's probably just me, but I feel I have a better idea watching the sugar than just watching a thermometer, you know?"
Arvid laughed. "If it's silly but it works, it's not silly," he said, still chuckling, as Harry turned back to his work.
Making the cake wasn't easy; he had to make a cake base, a biscuit base, and make the filling; each with different ingredients, and different cooking or baking instructions.
He was careful with the Kirsch Schnapps, however, considering he was sending the cakes to Artie and Zoë and they weren't exactly Dionysus who loved the alcohol.
He ended up with two gorgeous cakes.
"Nice work," Arvid complimented when he finished.
"Thanks," Harry replied with a satisfied smile. He always felt really good after finishing a project like this. "They need to set for four hours, though. At least."
"Plenty of room in the fridge," one of the kitchen hands reported cheerfully. "Need a hand?"
"Sure," Harry said, picking up one decorated cake. They both read 'thank you' in elegant Greek lettering. "If you can take that one?"
"Sure, kid," the man said, picking up the cake and showing Harry where the fridge was and where he could let them both set.
When Harry returned, he turned to the chef. "Thanks for letting me use the kitchen, Arvid."
The man, Head Chef in the Asgardian kitchens, waved the thanks off. "It's nice to see the younger generation be interested in cooking," he said. "Do you want a job?" he offered, not entirely jokingly.
Harry laughed softly. "I still need to finish my schooling and such," he replied. "But thanks for the offer!"
Arvid waved that off again. "Quit school, I can train you to take my place in less than a decade." He pointed at one man. "You can take Peter's place for a start. He's a butterfingers when it comes to working with a knife."
"Boss!" Peter complained, before thinking it through. "Yeah, that's kinda true, though."
Harry laughed, realizing they were joking. Not only were they joking, but they were also including him in their joking – the kind of jokes that went on in kitchens. He felt really accepted.
"What would poor Peter do if I took his job, though?" Harry asked. "I think I'd better finish school first, though. I'm aiming to open my own restaurant, and you can't do that without a good education."
"Peter can wash the dishes," Arvid replied without hesitation, causing the other kitchen staff to laugh loudly, and Peter to pout. "And if this is your level when you're ten, I will definitely want to wrangle an invitation for when you actually get around to opening a place."
Harry laughed again. "If this goes on, my hypothetical restaurant will be fully booked before I have even chosen a name," he joked.
"Seems like you know lots of people with good taste," Arvid said with a wide grin. "Anyway, I think you should continue your tour; Lord Thor seems to be getting a bit anxious."
Harry looked over his shoulder, at the corner where Thor was lurking. The Norse God of Thunder had this huge 'who, me?' look on his face that didn't fool Harry for a second.
"I think you're right," he told Arvid. "Seriously, thanks for letting me use the kitchen."
"You're most welcome," Arvid said, patting Harry's shoulder. The young demigod said his thanks and goodbyes to the rest of the staff, and waved as he walked back to Thor.
"I'm really sorry about that," Harry offered when they were balking back to the elevator.
Thor just grinned and slapped him on the back. For the God of Thunder, it was just a pat – to Harry, he stumbled and took three steps to right himself. "Debts must be paid," he said once more. "Besides, it was interesting watching you work. I doubt I'll ever stand behind a stove, but I actually feel like I know something about cooking now," he added with a laugh at Harry's stumble.
The demigod just grinned. "Glad you enjoyed it," he said as the elevator dinged and they stepped in.
"Let's go to one of the lounges next," Thor offered. "And we will need to stop on floor five at one point as well."
"What's on floor five?" Harry asked.
"Gift shop and department store," Thor said. "We'll need to get you some proper attire for the feast tonight."
"Oh, yeah, the feast," he said, suddenly sounding a tad apprehensive. Telling a story at the card table was one thing, but this sounded like a different kettle of fish.
"We have a feast every night!" Thor declared enthusiastically, misunderstanding Harry's tone as an inquisitive one. "But some nights, we feast harder than others," he added with a chuckle as the elevator arrived and they stepped off.
A short walked later, they arrived in a large room. It had multiple fireplaces, which sets of sofas arranged around them; there were also a multitude of board games, pool tables, dartboards, and so forth. Harry saw people playing card games, which caused him to send a grin in Thor's direction, dice games, and arcade machines.
"This is one of the lounges," Thor stated happily, as he plonked himself into a couch in front of one of the hearths. "There are more than one of these, but they're all more or less set up in the same way." He waved to the surrounding couches. "Have a seat; you must be tired after being on your feet for that long, making those cakes."
Harry sat down in a couch facing him; this coincidentally placed his back to the room. He wasn't really that tired, probably because he was used to being on his feet for long stretches of time. Maybe Thor was tired and didn't want to admit it, or maybe he just wanted a chance to sit and talk. Whatever the case was, Harry was happy to oblige.
"Will there really be a feast?" Harry asked, remembering their conversation on the elevator. He really didn't do that well with large crowds of people.
Thor nodded happily. "Of course, my young friend!" he said, completely misunderstanding Harry's apprehension. "Everyone will want to hear your story of rescue and daring."
"Oh," Harry said, rather flatly despite him wanting to hide his emotions.
The Norse God grinned. "Mother and Father will want to know exactly how you managed what you did, of course," he went on. "Feel free to share any details you want to share; there really isn't any point in hiding anything. Father is the God of Wisdom, and Mother, as I said, is widely recognized as the wisest person on Asgard, especially by Father. If you don't tell them, they'll figure it out for themselves anyway." He looked away, apparently thinking of something. "They always do. Somehow."
Harry nodded. Hestia had that same skill, to be able to figure things out even if he didn't want her to. Then, his thoughts went to Thor's parents.
Suddenly, he felt really small. "Do… do you think Lord Odin will like me?" he asked, with a small voice.
Thor blinked, never having heard Harry speak that way of any god before. "Lord Odin?" he asked, with a teasing grin on his face. "I don't think I heard you ever speak that way of any god before."
Harry's smile was rather thin. "Well, I mean, mortals, most mortals, in the west, I mean, have heard of three people. Everyone's heard of Hercules, and of you, and of Odin. And I always remembering Odin's story, you know? Giving an eye for knowledge is one thing, but he hung himself from that tree for seven days without food and drink. And speaking from experience, going without food for seven days sucks, but going without drink for seven days is far worse! So that always stuck with me, you know?"
Thor nodded through the rambling, his grin slowly widening. "It sounds like someone has a bit of hero-worship for my Father," he teased.
Harry flushed and shrugged. "Maybe?" he said. "I mean… when I met you, I wasn't prepared, you know? Hermes just introduced us, and you're a really nice guy so I didn't have time to be nervous or anything. But now I have time to think about it, and I'm worried if Mister Odin will like me or not and stuff."
Thor glanced up from Harry, apparently at someone who had come in and was now standing behind him.
"Considering you saved my son, I would say that you have a good chance," a voice stated from behind him, causing Harry to squeak and jump out of his chair to the booming laughter of Thor.
He came face to face with an older gentleman with an eyepatch and silver-white hair. He looked both stern, yet kind; the sort of man that one would call 'Father' rather than 'Dad', but at the same time, the sort of man who would listen patiently to your problems, then give wise and helpful counsel.
"Hi," Harry squeaked again.
Odin smiled widely. "Hello," he answered amicably.
"Oh, relax, Harry," Thor said, casually half-getting out of his chair, grabbing Harry's shoulders, and physically pushing the boy back into a couch. Odin grinned and sunk into one of the other couches, so they could all sit and talk.
For some reason, the lounge was suddenly empty except for the three of them, Harry noticed. He looked back to the two gods. Right, King of Asgard and his son. He swallowed and suddenly remembered how one should never meet one's heroes.
Thor laughed again at the look on Harry's face. Odin was smiling, obviously enjoying his son's amusement.
The memory of Hestia telling him that gods were people too flashed through his mind, and Harry drew a deep breath. Shooting a 'you're not funny' look in Thor's direction only served to make the Norse God laugh harder, so Harry decided to ignore him and focus on Odin instead.
He stuck out his hand. "It's nice to meet you," he said.
Odin definitely looked amused as he shook the boy's hand. "And it is nice to meet the young warrior who so bravely came to my foolhardy son's rescue."
Thor suddenly wasn't laughing anymore, and was shooting his father a hurt look.
"It is merely the truth, my son," Odin commented, despite looking at Harry and having no way of having seen Thor's look. Harry was definitely impressed at the skill that implied.
Thor was pouting now. "Had you gathered a party rather than rush in by yourself, this brave young demigod wouldn't have had to come to your aid," Odin continued, still without looking. Thor grumbled.
"My son is many things," the King of Asgard told Harry. "He is brave, strong, and performs his duties as both Prince of Asgard and God of Thunder with admirable skill. Unfortunately, he is also headstrong, impetuous, and prone to getting himself in trouble because of it."
Harry nodded, and answered without thinking. "So he's a lot like me?" he asked, before realizing what he'd said.
Thor burst out laughing again, while Odin definitely looked highly amused. "From what my son has said, it definitely sounds like you two are a lot alike," the Norse God of Wisdom answered casually. "I suppose that means people taking care of you have hair as gray as mine."
Harry shook his head. "Hestia's hair is still brown," he said, before realizing that Odin had spoken as if he knew that Harry wasn't being raised by his parents.
"That will change if you keep things up," Odin said with amusement. For a moment, Harry tried to imagine Hestia with gray hair, and failed. "I actually tracked you down for a different reason," Odin went on.
Harry nodded politely. He didn't think there was much 'tracking' involved.
"I heard the tale my son spun for us yesterday," the King of Asgard said. "And there were a few details that made me wonder as to its veracity. Rather than interrupt the feast with details, I thought I'd settle my curiosity beforehand."
Harry nodded again. "I won't ask you to tell the whole tale this moment," Odin continued. "That will keep until the feast tonight, where you will be properly rewarded."
Harry blinked. "You know I didn't do it for a reward, right? I helped Thor because he's my friend, and he needed help. Hestia told me to always help those who need it, especially my friends."
Thor seemed to go very still. Odin eyed him studiously, as if he were a particularly interesting specimen laying under a microscope. "Oh? You would deny a reward from Asgard?" Odin asked, deceptively gently.
Harry swallowed, then quickly shook his head. "No, of course not, but I just wanted to make sure you know I wasn't helping because I wanted to get something in return. I just wanted to help Thor because he's my friend."
Odin cracked a smile. "I see," he said.
"I mean, there aren't any debts between friends, right?" Harry offered hopefully, praying desperately he hadn't made a mistake.
Odin nodded thoughtfully. "And thus you claim a bond even deeper than a blood debt," he answered, cracking a grin and placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Then, very well, Harry Potter, Friend of Asgard, just as there are no debts between friends, neither are there any rules about friends giving gifts. Tonight, you will receive a gift; just because I said so as King of Asgard."
Harry smiled widely, letting out a relieved breath. He was glad that was over – gods could be very scary when they wanted to, and Odin had mastered the skill of being scary without as much as raising an eyebrow or raising his voice. It was impressive how he'd managed that simply by shifting his body language.
"Now that we have that out of the way," Odin said, with a grin and a wink from his good eye, "there are a few details I would like to ask you about."
Harry nodded. "Sure."
"You arrived in Iceland quite quickly," Odin began. "Now, I've heard rumors of Greek Gods and you baking a rather impressive pair of Black Forest cakes that are now setting."
Harry nodded. "I have a boon from Hestia to be able to travel through fire," he explained. "Any hearth, or camp fire will do. Only, there weren't any fires, camp or otherwise, near where Thor was being held, so I went to see Artie and asked her if one of Hunters could give me a lift."
"Go ahead," Thor repeated his joke from earlier. "Ask him who-"
"You're not funny," Harry told Thor.
"I am VERY funny!" Thor protested. "But I'm sure Father is not here to examine the deplorable state of your funnybone."
Harry gave his friend a frown; Thor looked unapologetic. Harry frowned harder, then turned to Odin and decided to ignore the God of Thunder. "Thor really seems to like the fact that Artemis lets me call her Artie for some reason," he explained.
Odin looked amused as he nodded. "Well, to be fair to my son, it is a rare man mortal or otherwise – who would dare call Lady Artemis with an affectionate nickname, and even fewer who get away with it without a solid cursing."
Harry nodded. "So everyone keeps telling me," he said, softly.
"So, you asked a favor from a goddess from your pantheon. Considering the speed with which you moved to Iceland, I assume that she agreed?"
The young demigod nodded enthusiastically. "I think she just wanted cake, though, because she protested until I offered to bake one for her. Of course, I then offered to bake a second one for Miss Zoë, who would do the actual transporting."
Odin looked amused again. "Lady Artemis gets an affectionate nickname, but her Lieutenant gets an honorific?" he asked.
Harry shrugged. "Artie told me to be polite to her Hunters, and Miss Zoë never told me I could call her just by her name. So, she's 'Miss Zoë' and will stay that way until she tells me otherwise."
Odin seemed to laugh on the inside. "It is always a good idea to treat a god's chosen followers with the utmost respect, especially if said god is really protective of them," he said.
Harry grinned in answer.
"So, after your quick transportation, my son told me you brought him his hammer," the King of Asgard said. "Can you tell me about that?"
Harry nodded again. "I was sneaking into the cave where Thor was being kept, and I came across it. One giant was challenging another to pick it up, but he failed. When they were gone, I thought I'd try and pick it up so I could give it to Thor, you know? It was more of a 'let's try it anyway' kind of thing, though. If those giants couldn't pick it up, I didn't expect to be able to do it anyway."
Odin looked thoughtful, and Harry continued. "To my surprise, it wasn't heavy at all. I mean, it was even lighter than what it looked like, you know? I hung it by a strap from my belt and went deeper into the cave, and after I freed Thor I gave it to him."
"I see," Odin said, looking amused at something. "Harry, were you aware of the enchantment on the hammer?"
Harry shook his head. "I imagined there was magic involved, seeing as those giants couldn't move it, but it was really light when I tried it. I think it had something to do with the fact I wasn't Thor's enemy or something."
"A good guess with the limited information you have," Odin replied. "However, that is not what the enchantment is." He looked amused at Thor, who shifted uncomfortably. "I enchanted my son's hammer," the King of Asgard continued, "as a punishment, some time ago. He was even more reckless back then and needed a small lesson. The enchantment was part of the lesson."
"I see," Harry said.
"Whosoever holds this Hammer, if they be worthy, shall posses the Power of Thor," Odin said.
Harry blinked. He looked at Thor, who nodded. He looked back to Odin, who seemed to be studying him again. "Oh," he finally said. Then, the consequences of that statement hit him full-on. "So, when I picked that hammer up…"
"You, my young friend, could have called upon my power," Thor said.
"Oh," Harry repeated. He thought for a moment. "I'm glad I didn't know that earlier."
"Oh?" Thor asked questioningly, drawing the sound out.
Harry nodded. "I don't think I want a god's power. Power corrupts and all that, and I don't think I'd be able to handle it well. I think. Maybe."
Odin smiled widely. "And that, likely more than anything else, was probably the reason why you were deemed 'worthy'," he told the young demigod. "You wanted only to return my son's weapon to him, and cared not for the power that it represented."
"It was quite a surprise when you handed me my weapon," Thor commented with a grin. "Not often do I find someone who casually picks up my hammer and hands it to me. In fact, this would be the first time, now that I think about it."
Harry grinned. "You're welcome," he said.
Thor laughed again, and Odin had that highly-amused look on his face again.
"My third question," the God of Wisdom said, after Thor was done laughing, "relates to your own weapon."
"It was a… surprise… from Ares," Harry said. "He's been teaching me hand-to-hand fighting. Well, when I say, teaching, it's more like, he tells me to fight him."
Odin nodded thoughtfully. "Experience often is the best teacher," he said.
"After fighting Ares so often, I don't freeze in fights anymore," Harry added. "I mean, Ares is a right scary bloke, you know? So not a lot of things still scare me."
Odin looked highly amused again, and Thor laughed in the background. "A God of War tends to be a right scary bloke," Odin confirmed.
Harry chuckled. "So, anyway, one of Ares' sons had insulted Hestia. Because she's Hestia and she doesn't like fighting, I gave him two chances to retract his words. He refused. So I pounded him into the ground. Ares was impressed and gave me a… surprise. He left it in a creepy cave called the Cave of Caerbannog, and it was guarded by some strange rabbit-like thing that loved to bite people's heads off."
Thor, who had heard the story before, was grinning. Odin looked grim. "And how old were you?" he asked.
"Nine," Harry replied cheerfully. "It's called 'Godslayer'," he added.
"I see," Odin answered calmly. Too calmly. Then, he seemed to return to the here and now, and went on. "My son tells me that it had an interesting property. When he threw lightning at the Necromancer, it was deflected and you caught it on your sword. It seemed your weapon was able to absorb the property and use it for itself after that."
Harry nodded. "That's one of its properties," he confirmed.
"Interesting," Odin replied, sounding as if he were thinking about something. "May I see it? I assume that it is safely locked up somewhere?"
"Sure," Harry said, raising his hand, before remembering something. "Ehm… permission to draw my sword?" he asked.
Odin looked amused. "Of course."
The Godslayer appeared in Harry's hand. "Godslayer can turn into a ring so that I am never without it," he said. "It will teleport to my hand at my command, and…" his voice trailed off when his eyes scanned the blade, only to find a small crack in the edge. "It's cracked?" he asked, half to himself and half to the blade itself.
Ehm… I don't know how that happened, Boss. Honestly! Godslayer replied.
"May I see it?" Odin asked, already holding out his hand.
Harry nodded shyly. "It's cracked," he whispered. "Ares will kill me." He reversed the weapon and handed it handle-first to the God of Wisdom.
Odin studied the sword for a minute, a minute that Harry spent despairing. How did that happen? The weapon was fine yesterday!
"I see," the King of Asgard finally said. "A teleportation enhancement, to return to your hand on your command. A limited transmogrification based around bladed weapons to allow it to shift its shape into any item as long as it has a blade. And finally, a learning and absorbing enhancement to absorb the properties and energies of attacks used against it. An interesting combination."
Harry nodded. "And now it's broken," he mourned.
Odin looked amused, and touched the crack. It vanished. "There are some advantages to being both the God of Wisdom and the God of War," he said, handing the weapon back to Harry.
The demigod stared happily at his weapon. "That's so awesome," he finally said. "Thanks, Mister Odin!"
Odin smiled in that highly-amused fashion of his. "You are quite welcome," he answered. "However, I think I do need to issue a warning. Your sword will indeed grow stronger with every fight and every battle, and it seems to have absorbed quite a few different energies in a short amount of time. I would counsel against using all of them simultaneously, as you no doubt did yesterday; the amount of stress it puts on the blade is immense and that, no doubt, is why it cracked."
"Oh," Harry said.
Sorry, Boss, Godslayer said.
"No doubt it will become strong enough in the future," Odin continued. "But for now, I would recommend that you limit the amount of enhancements you use simultaneously. I detected two poisons, an acid, fire, and my son's lightning. I would recommend using a combination of no more than two or three of those. Using fire and lightning together is likely the limit for now, but any combination of poisons and acid should be fine."
Harry nodded gratefully. "Thank makes sense. Thanks, Mister Odin."
"You're quite welcome," the King of Asgard said, patting the boy's knee. "Now, I have a feast to prepare, and you will likely want to continue your tour of the hotel. Or rehearse your story," he added with another wink – which still looked odd on him, considering that he only had one eye.
"Thank you," Harry repeated, gratefully, putting the Godslayer away. It made sense that it would need to grow stronger first.
Odin gave him a nod, then nodded at Thor, and seemed to vanish.
"Well, it is safe to say that my father does indeed, like you," Thor teased.
Harry pouted at him, which caused the God of Thunder to laugh again. "Come, my young friend, let's continue your tour, before stopping at level five for your wardrobe for tonight."
Harry's pout just intensified. Thor's laughter did, too.