He took a deep breath, willing his heart to stop beating so fast. It obeyed and slowed, while he wondered why this body even reacted to his unrealistic demands. It was just a cheap copy, after all.
"You're sure about this? You don't want anyone to go with you?" Asmodeus rubbed the side of his face, thumb stroking his jaw and eyes wide and compassionate. Harry nodded, smiling shakily and squeezing his hand. Leviathan placed a hand in the middle of his back, rubbing it in circles while the Human closed his eyes and dissolved into smoke.
"I hope he's going to be okay." He worried a strand of hair, chewing on the end.
"If he isn't, I'll be waiting to hold him." Asmodeus swept out of the room, trying to look calm but the tensely drawn 'v' of his shoulders gave him away. Levi shook his head and headed off to the bathroom to have a long soak while they could still afford cold water.
In his old room for the first time in nearly a year, Harry eyed the dust and sheets covering his old bed and desk.
"Shit…" What if they had moved? Knowing how wanderlust-prone Vladimir was, they probably had. After all, with no child to raise, what need had they of a solid home environment?
His thoughts made him wince, so he slipped through the door into the hall, bare feet sinking into the new carpet. It was soft, and pattered with vague sea-shells. He looked around and saw that the furniture was now trendy and cheaply-made, the wallpaper was gone and the walls painted a dull shade of blue instead.
He avoided the creaky steps, descending to the lower floor without running into anyone. He checked the kitchen, eyes going wide when the pink décor nearly blinded him. An unfamiliar cat rubbed up against his leg, almost prompting him to return to Hell, but he decided to check the rest of the house really quick.
Peeking into rooms, careful not to touch anything, Harry noticed a series of family portraits, none of them featuring his own family, upon the mantelpiece and resolved to ask whoever lived here now where the former residents had moved to.
Slinking out the back door and going into the woods, he found an out-of-sight log and sat down to wait.
Several hours had passed, and he was just finishing his book when he heard a car pull up the new asphalt driveway. Standing and brushing himself down, he tucked his book into a pocket of space since he hadn't brought his bag. Trekking along the outside of the property line, he waved to the middle-aged housewife and approached when she nodded to him.
"Hello, what can I do for you, young man?"
"Um, hello. I knew the people who used to live here, and I didn't know they moved. Do you have any contact information floating around so I can find them?"
"Oh, uh, yes, I think I have a telephone number in the kitchen. Did you want to come in for some tea?"
"I'm kind of in a hurry." He fidgeted, following her inside. She handed him the number with a smile, and he left after thanking her.
Once he knew she couldn't see him, he vanished and reappeared behind the gas station, heading for the pay phone.
"Hello?" The voice on the other end sounded exhausted, and Harry felt a twinge of guilt. He hadn't meant to wake them…in fact; he would have loved to have shown up in the middle of the day and face-to-face so they could know that this was real.
Bronislav choked on the other line. "Harry?!"
"Hey…yeah, it's me. Where are you?"
"In an unplottable area of Switzerland, staying with some friends of the Blacks. Where are you? I'll come get you." He could hear the rustle of clothing, and guessed that he was getting dressed.
"I'm at the petrol station in the town which you guys used to live in."
"Meet me in the back- I'll be there in a second."
Harry hung up and exited the booth, brushing past an old lady along the way and accidentally passing partially through her. She didn't seem to notice, for which he was grateful.
As soon as he turned the corner, Bronislav's strong arms had wrapped around him and kisses were rained on the sides, center, and crown of his head. "Oh my god, Harry, we were so incredibly worried. We thought you'd died and-"
Harry interrupted his tirade with a gentle hand on his arm. "I am dead."
"W-what?" Broni looked confused, and petted Harry's arm affectionately.
"My death wasn't an accident. I decided that I could be a more useful person if I was dead, so I arranged my own death and got myself some passes so I can come visit you guys here on earth, if I'm still welcome." Oh god, why had he even dared to think that they might forgive him for abandoning them, and entirely without warning too? His stomach twisted in knots, his fingers mimicking the action. He kept his eyes on the cracked concrete, not noticing the acceptance blooming in the much older man's eyes.
"Of course you're welcome. You're family, and no matter what you've done, we will always love you." He chucked Harry's chin, smiling and hugging him again. "Now, let's go see James. I've wanted to see him faint for a while."
James did indeed faint, and then had a one-sided screaming match upon his revival that Harry largely ignored in favor of being alternately crushed and smothered between Sirius and Vladimir. Maalik had quietly kissed his cheek, and remained more on the outskirts of the hug-fest, prepared to physically restrain his husband if his fit got out of hand.
Suddenly James flew at Harry, and his son cringed in anticipation for a blow. His nose connected with a firm chest, and his eyes widened when he felt James' tears wetting his neck.
"Please don't you ever, ever do something like this again without telling me." He sobbed and squeezed him tight enough that Harry's ribs creaked. He smiled, though, and patted his back.
"Good." James kissed his forehead and then somehow convinced him to spend the weekend with them, most of which was spent in varying stages of inebriation and pajamas on the sofas.
He escaped early Monday morning, and only with the promise to come again soon. With a sigh, he re-appeared in his quarters and fell into bed, sleep taking him before he could notice that Leviathan and Asmodeus were snuggled together on one side, the blonde's hair mixing nicely with his black and Asmy's black locks. He turned his head into it when he shifted in his sleep, and dreamed of narcissus blossoms swaying in a summer breeze. His heart was light and his mind as well. He hoped it would remain so, though there was little doubt of continuing peace…unless Sylvi wanted him to babysit again some time soon.
End chapter 44
Keep your eyes peeled for any little side-stories I might do in connection to this, but there will be no more official chapters. Thank you all for your support of this project, and giving me your ideas and opinions along the way.