1328 CE; Tenochtitlán, Mexico, Temple of Itzcóatl
Harry found that he was surprisingly pleased with his temple. It was rather large in size given that it was designed so that he could enter into every room in the complex while it should still be able to function for it's human inhabitants as well. It was also further from the city than the other temples, but Itzcóatl was pleased by that as well. It meant he didn't have to smell all of the sweaty bodies pressed into the city or the smell of blood from the sacrificial victims.
His temple was surrounded by a thick forest of trees and hills that perfumed the air. There was even a deep cave on one of the larger hills, which was really more of a stone cliff rising out of the earth, that Itzcóatl was slowly turning into a nice little hideaway. He was still trying to decide if he wanted to make a human sized secret passage from his temple to the cavern. He thought it might be handy since he had recently found out that he could take on his human form at will. It was almost like a reverse animagus where he went from animal to human instead of human to animal.
After all this time living as Itzcóatl, seeing his human form had come as a shock. He had almost forgotten what he'd looked like before. Itzcóatl, in the form of Harry Potter, had stood frozen staring, for the first time since he'd shifted form, at his reflection in a pond for over an hour.
He remembered being amazed at how fragile and vulnerable he felt in that form. Something that he still felt whenever he decided to take on the skin of his human form. As human, he didn't have the acid-proof, fire retardant scales, the large curving hind claw or the venomous fangs that he did as a dragon. He was this small, fragile being covered in delicately pale flesh with blunt teeth and nails. His eyesight had remained as sharp in human form as it had in his draconic form, thankfully, but that was hardly going to protect him the way his other form could.
Itzcóatl wasn't sure what he would have done if his eyesight had been as poor as it had been a lifetime ago. The Aztecs certainly didn't have the skill or knowledge to make prescription lenses like he would have needed. And he didn't have the knowledge to teach them how.
Still, even as a human Itzcóatl stood out. He was exotic looking next to the Aztecs. His black hair was long and wild, black as his obsidian colored scales. His eyes glittered like jewels behind long black lashes, something that was very different from the earthy brown eyes of the humans around him. His bone structure in his face was also very different, much finer, almost graceful looking next to the strong features of the faces of the Aztecs. His skin, which had not seen the sun in almost twenty-six years, was pale as milk.
When Acatl-tzin had first laid eyes on Itzcóatl in his human form, his reaction had been of stunned amazement and not a little attraction. Harry realized he'd been insensitive to his friend. He'd forgotten that, as a priest of Mictlantecuhtli, Acatl-tzin was expected to remain celibate. And here, he, Itzcoatl stood, naked in all his handsome glory. Harry had immediately apologized.
Now he realized, he was making an effort not to let Acatl-tzin see him in that form even though clothing had been ordered for him as soon as the Priests knew about this new ability. Harry had also realized that the people who saw him could tell he was not mortal even when he was dressed in the skin of his human form. They could sense the touch of his magic more sharply than any Muggle in his time could. It was almost as if all the Aztecs were at the very least, squibs. A fascinating idea, one that he would have a great deal of time to study and ponder over. Perhaps these Aztecs were the descendants of the Aztecs that had left the temple city Harry had been studying with Bill.
The Aztecs could see he wasn't mortal like themselves, but were confused. This stranger didn't look like any of the Gods they worshiped. So after days of pondering, he decided to experiment a bit. For several hours, he tried different combinations of features and coloration, attempting to find something that would be more familiar to what the Aztecs thought their Gods should look like.
In the end, he had chosen to let his feet and part of his legs shift to look more draconic, including the large raptor-like claw, which he had a tendency to tap when bored. Brightly colored feathers poked out from his black hair and his skin remained the obsidian color of his scales. His eyes were larger than what they should be for a human, the pupils also larger and matching in color to his dragon eyes. When he opened his mouth his canine teeth were the long curved fangs of a snake. If the mood struck him, he would also allow a long tail to extend from his spine, or a pair of small wings to grow from his back.
All in all, he found his newest form rather beautiful and suitably intimidating. He had found it a pleasing form to lounge across a golden throne in when the leaders of rival empires came calling. And come calling they did. Sometimes as an act of war, but more recently as an act of peace. Something unusual for the cultures of this time, in this part of the world.
Today a High Priest of the God Kukulkan, the Mayan Empire's version of Quetzalcoatl, their current closest non-Aztec neighbors, was to arrive. Harry had sent one of the "song birds," an Ocelot sized species of dragon known for it's unparalleled singing voice and ability to mimic any sound it heard, as a messenger. It would not be long, in the grand scheme of things, before the Europeans found the Americas and began to wipe out the native cultures in their greed for land and gold. As much as Harry longed for his own time, he was not willing to watch these people, his people, be whipped out by the nations that he had once been a part of. He would not allow such barbarity to be acted out upon these people, even if by European standards the Aztecs were considered the barbarians.
They may still practice human sacrifice but at least they only sacrificed their prisoners of war and those who wanted to die on the blade of their Gods. Harry had begun to think that more Europeans had been sacrificed in the name of God during the various Crusades than the Aztecs had ever sacrificed. Not that he could truly know that.
So to prevent the deaths of countless thousands, he would change history. First, he would propose an alliance with the Mayans, warning them of the imminent European threat. Secondly, he would enlarge his empire and suggest the Mayan's do the same. Third, now sufficiently prepared, the two empires would drive the European interlopers far from their lands, effectively ending the Fifth World takeover before it began.
His wandering thoughts were interrupted by Acatl-tzin, who was standing in the entryway to the throne room. "Itzcóatl-tzin! The dragon of Kukulkan and his High Priest have arrived."
Harry pulled his eyes from the ceiling and back towards his most favorite Aztec. "What of the dragon, Acatl-tzin?"
"He is obviously a child of Quetzalcoatl as you are, Itzcóatl-tzin, but his coloration is far different."
"Green, as your texts say I should have been?" Harry asked, intrigued.
"No, my lord. His body is a bright blue with a golden belly and his feathers are gold, green and red. Other than that, his body is like a serpent, similar to your own."
"Hmm," Harry mused. Could this be another time traveling human like himself? The thought made his eyes widen behind the lurid red paint that streaked over them in a thick bar going from one side of his face to the other.
He could never forget that moment in the temple, with Bill by his side, when they had found that inscription that had brought him here. Was it possible Bill had also been drawn into the past as well but appeared in a different area?
Harry stood abruptly. Originally, he'd planned on greeting the delegation from a position of strength sitting on his throne. Showing them he had no fear that their strength was greater than his own. However, if this was someone he knew from his time line, he urgently needed to see this dragon in person. The snakes, draped over his shoulders, hissed their displeasure at the sudden movement, but Harry calmed them with a soft hiss.
Pausing in his hurry to leave, he turned to Actal-tzin. "Please send a Tototlcóatl 'song bird' to advise Tenoch-tzin of the arrival of our guests. I am sure he will wish to be a part of the coming discussions." Then he left his throne room for the large open courtyard at the center of his temple complex.
"As you wish, Itzcóatl-tzin." Acatl-tzin managed to say before his God vanished out the door. Surprised by the dragon's sudden departure, he shook his head and left the temple's throne room from the side entrance near Itzcóatl-tzin's throne. It would take him out to a small courtyard garden that was a favorite resting spot for the much smaller breed of dragons.
He didn't like the idea of Itzcóatl-tzin meeting the Mayan ambassadors on his own. There was always the chance the other dragon could attack him while he was in his human shape. Still, Acatl-tzin knew to trust his God to protect himself. Itzcóatl-tzin was hardly weak, what with being a skilled warrior (in his human form) as well as having the ability to call the dead to his aid if necessary. Taking a deep breath to fortify himself, Acatl-tzin went about his task. It would not do for Tenoch-tzin to be late.
The serpents on Harry's shoulders hissed their displeasure, yet again, because of all the rushed movements and sudden stops their owner was making. He hissed a warning for them to quiet down.
Harry knew he shouldn't have simply rushed out to greet the visitors this way. His mortal friend had warned and drilled him enough on the proper behavior of a leader but too often, like now, his impulsive nature drove him to do things his own way. Besides, the only other dragons he'd met so far were all normal dragons, not reincarnated people.
However, perhaps it was unwise of him to put so much hope in thinking the great dragon of Kukulkan was someone he knew. But he couldn't shake the hope and desire of being with someone from his former life. It was an ache he hadn't even been aware of until this moment. He'd give anything to see Bill, Hermione and Ron again.
The bright sun filled main courtyard forcing him to shade his eyes. This courtyard was by far the largest in his temple complex as it was designed for multiple heavyweight dragons to be able to land and relax and to allow large numbers of worshipers to seek shelter if needed. The ground here was not dirt but carefully inlaid carved stone and ceramic forming beautiful patterns, protection spells and even images of Itzcóatl.
The method was something he'd taken a liking to when he'd seen it in some old Roman ruins he'd visited once when he was just a wizard. To replicate something similar for a home he'd once hope he'd have, he'd taken the time to learn how such masterpieces were made and placed. The fact he never got the chance due to running around with Bill and other curse-breakers from location to location, then being reborn might have had a lot to do with that. However, once he was here, he finally got to use that skill to make this truly spectacular courtyard.
His introspection ended when he saw the dragon waiting for him, lounging indulgently in the sun, his serpentine face tilted upwards to take in the max amount of warmth on his face.
Harry paused where he was to stare in shock. The visitor was beautiful and certainly older than himself. The horns that had only just begun to grown over Harry's eyes as a dragon, were already prominently displayed on this dragon. He also seemed to have long tendrils at the front of his mouth that reminded Harry of the beards he had seen on elderly monks while touring through China and other areas of Asia.
Despite the obvious sign the dragon had reached full adult status, there was something in it's pale golden eyes that seemed to speak to Harry of someone ancient and full of wisdom. They reminded him of someone from very long ago whose face had slowly begun to vanish from living memory leaving only the vaguest of feelings stirred within him as a child.
"Harry, my boy, I'm so glad to see you," the older dragon said as it turned to face him.
Harry tilted his head and watched as the older, larger, dragon shifted into his human form. That feeling of recognition became stronger. There was something familiar about him but Harry couldn't figure out what.
The dragon of Kukulkan had shifted into a form similar to the one Harry chose for himself. The dragon kept his blue skin tone, the gold on black eyes and from his scalp red hair, not the right shade to be a Weasley though, grew long down his back. Out of the red hair, he could see the horns from above the dragons eyes, peeking out. Heavy gold earrings and collar that joined with a large carved and beaded necklace of jade and topaz could be seen from beneath the red hair. Gold and jeweled bracelets circled the dragon's wrists and ankles. The design of them scarily similar to the ones Harry wore himself.
"You still have your mother's eyes, I see." The dragon turned humanoid smiled warmly at him, his gold on black eyes shifting into pale blue twinkling ones. Still he couldn't put his finger on just why he felt he knew this man. "I must admit I am glad to see you, my boy," The dragon continued. "This was not at all what I had pictured the next great adventure to be, but I find-"
Harry interrupted with a gasp as recognition flared in his mind like the birth of a star. "Professor!"
He launched himself across the courtyard with a speed only a dragon, or perhaps a cheetah, could match. The man standing next to Professor Dumbledore barely had time to shift to the left to avoid being knocked down in Harry's enthusiasm to reach his Professor, the man who had been like a Grandfather to him.
Wrapping his arms about the younger looking Dumbledore, Harry pressed his face into Dumbledore's collarbone. He could hear his serpents hissing their displeasure, but ignored them in favor of the sound of the heartbeat beneath his ear and the feel of the strong arms wrapping about him in the first hug he'd experienced in far too long.
"Professor," he whispered on a choked breath.
"Ah, my boy, it is so good to see you again."
"My Lord," interrupted the Mayan standing at their side. "You know each other?"
"My dear Teyacapan, this is my Harry. The Chosen one, the Golden Son of Gryffindor House and my favorite student."
The Mayan priest stared at Harry in shocked surprise, before bowing deeply to the younger dragon. "My Lord Ihuicatl-tzin has spoken great words about you, Lord Harry."
"Ihuicatl-tzin," Harry asked giving Professor Dumbledore a questioning look, his eyes tracing his mentor's new face and the red painted lines decorating his cheekbones and jaw.
"My new name, Harry. I'm sure you have one as well."
"I do." Harry released the professor and stepped back, reaching up to stroke the irritated snakes draped about his shoulders. "The Aztec's call me Itzcóatl-tzin, the Obsidian Serpent."
Professor Dumbledore chuckled and squeezed Harry's shoulder. "A most suitable name."
Harry grinned. "I thought so, though if I was younger I would have said it was a better name for Professor Snape."
"Perhaps so." Dumbledore glanced over at the High Priest who had accompanied him. "Well, Teyacapan, are you ready to begin?"
The High Priest of Kukulkan nodded, glancing between the two dragons. "If you are, my Lord."
Dumbledore smiled widely, his eyes twinkling like stars. "Shall we go inside, Harry - Sorry, Itzcóatl."
"Sure." Harry waved Teyacapan and Dumbledore ahead of him. "Acatl-tzin, the High Priest of Mictlantecuhtli has sent a Tototlcóatl to the current leader of the Aztec Empire, Tenoch-tzin. Once they have returned we may begin. Can I offer you some food or beverage while we wait?"
"It would be most appreciated, my dear boy."
"Itzli," Harry called out. "Our guests require food and drink."
The tall, lean form of the young priest appeared out of the shadowed doorway to the interior of the temple. He nodded at Itzcóatl-tzin and left quietly out of the room. He was, as always, one of the most efficient of the priests who occupied Itzcóatl-tzin's temple. Not that there were many of those yet.
Within minutes of Itzli leaving the room, servants appeared carrying a low table, cushions to sit upon, and enough food, wine, and warm chocolate to serve the entire royal court.
Outside a loud screech, almost like the cry of an eagle, warned anyone below to move out of the way as an Omihuictlicóatl dragon swooped down into the courtyard, back winging to a landing at the last minute. Out of all the dragons living among the Aztec's, the Omihuictlicóatl was the most startling for Harry as it looked almost identical to the Horntails of his old world. They had the same yellow eyes, the same brown skin with a paler, almost butter yellow belly, the same spiked tail, and bronze horns protruding from its head, neck and back. The main difference seemed to be the intelligence of the breed here and the fact that its wings were not part of its arms like the Horntail's were.
Harry sighed at the sight of it and the man carefully climbing down from it's back. He should have known Tenoch-tzin would have taken one of the more impressive breeds to the temple rather than to simply catch a ride on one of the smaller courier breeds. "Itzli, please have the cooks bring a roasted goat out for Tenoch-tzin's ride."
"Of course, Itzcóatl-tzin." Itzli swept back out of the room along with the majority of the remaining servants.
Tenoch-tzin was already striding into the room, even as Acatl-tzin came in from the same direction that Itzli had exited through. Tenoch-tzin was a leader in every sense of the word. He commanded one's attention. Where Acatl-tzin more easily slipped into the shadows, Tenoch-tzin was a calm force in the midst of a storm and Harry had found himself greatly appreciative of that steady nature on more than one occasion. He could only hope that would hold true for today and help him and Dumbledore to get their respective empires to join forces and begin preparing for the future both Wizards were aware would come to this part of the world in the next few hundred years.
"Ah, Itzcóatl-tzin, it appears your guest did arrive as you said they would," Tenoch-tzin stated with a wide smile that did not reach his eyes.
The younger dragon huffed and shook his head. He knew that despite Tenoch-tzin believed his words about the dangers the Spanish represented in the coming future, his ally was still hesitant to trust a foreign empire.
"They did only moments ago. May I present, the High Priest of Kukulkan, Teyacapan-tzin, and the great Tonatiucóatl dragon of Kukulkan and my former Headmaster, the Wise Old Man of the Stars, Ihuicatl-tzin."
Tenoch-tzin's eyes widened as he realized the dragon man sitting across from Itzcóatl-tzin was one of the great magical warriors the dragon had told them about.
Harry continued with the introductions, noting with amusement Tenoch-tzin's reaction. "Teyacapan-tzin, Ihuicatl-tzin, may I present to you the head of the Aztec Empire and High Priest of the Southern Hummingbird, Tenoch-tzin, and the High Priest of Mictlantecuhtli, Acatl-tzin."
"It is a great honor to meet you, Teyacapan-tzin and Ihuicatl-tzin," Acatl-tzin replied smoothly, with an incline of his head.
Dumbledore, Ihuicatl-tzin, chuckled and smiled widely at the two Aztec's, his eyes twinkling like mad. "I would like to say I have heard much of you from my student," he glanced over at Harry, "but, I fear we have been out of touch for too many years."
Harry shook his head in amusement, "Quite so, Professor. But we can change that."
"Indeed, my boy," Dumbledore said warmly.
"Well, then..." Tenoch-tzin sat down to the right of Harry, as Acatl-tzin sat to the dragons left. "Perhaps it is best if we begin with why we are all here."
Harry sat up straighter, his amused expression quickly shifting to something more serious. "I'm sure the Professor … uh, Ihuicatl-tzin, knows as well as I do that in a few hundred years strangers from across the ocean will come to conquer our lands, steal our gold, and subjugate our people."
Teyacapan-tzin and Acatl-tzin all looked startled and upset over this stunning news. "Surely this is not so?" Acatl-tzin demanded, his tone sharp, masking his growing concern.
"The Conquistadors." Ihuicatl-tzin shared a look with Itzcóatl, his usually mirthful eyes going sharp and flat. He raised his clasped hands up, resting his chin upon them, elbows pressed heavily on the table top.
Harry nodded, absently stroking one of the long constrictors laying across his shoulders.
His visitors stared at the pair in consternation.
- - HP - - - Temeraire - - - HP - - -
It was hours later before all the explanations and plans had been hashed out. Once their allies had been convinced that the danger was very real though distant, it wasn't hard to begin laying out plans for expanding their empires borders, training their warriors and healers, and drawing up and signing a peace agreement between their two people.
Feeling a sense of accomplishment, the group now relaxed with some warm chocolate and grilled lizard. The formal talks done, it was time for some reminiscing between Harry and Dumbledore with Teyacapan-tzin and Acatl-tzin listening in fascination about the people and events the two had shared in another dimension.
Harry and Dumbledore shared stories both sad and amusing; recounting the first prank the twins had pulled at Hogwarts, Harry's first Quidditch game, Severus and Lily's falling out, the notorious Whomping Willow incident that had nearly turned Severus into a werewolf, his Godfather being sent to Azkaban, Lily and James' first date, the founding of the Defense Against the Dark Arts Association, and that last battle on the grounds of Hogwarts.
Their tales grew longer as they talked the hours away until the moment when Harry reached the part about his hatching and finding himself in the past of a different world on a different Earth. He spoke of the Aztec's he had met, the plans he had put into motion and the things he still wanted to do and see. And for the first time in a long while he let himself truly accept all he had lost and all he had gained.
"Stop twinkling at me, old man," he grumbled fondly.
"Forgive me, my boy. It's simply been too long."
Harry rolled his eyes and sprawled back into Acatl-tzin's shoulder. "You see what I had to deal with as a child, Acatl." he sighed dramatically. "I was doomed from the start."
"So it would appear, Itzcóatl-tzin," replied Acatl-tzin, amused.
Dumbledore chuckled fondly and waved his hand, a scroll jerking out of the leather carry-all that he had brought with him that now sat on a table nearby. The scroll floated through the air, dropping gently into Harry's lap. Neither High Priest seemed disturbed by the blatant use of magic.
Harry lifted the scroll, rolling it over in his hands. "What is this?"
The former headmaster gave him one of his damned twinkling smiles that Harry knew meant the old wizard was up to something. "A Letter from the Dog Star, Pek'Ikan," Dumbledore said, innocently.
Eyes widening, Harry quickly opened the scroll, noting the familiar script. "Sirius," he whispered in awe. "He's here…"
"He is." Dumbledore's smile softened. "He has been here for some 30 years now. He's in the capital city at this time."
"But how did you know I would be here?"
"We didn't at first. But when I heard of the abilities the Great Itzcóatl of the Aztec Empire had, well I knew it could only be you. The missive you sent sealed the deal as they say."
Harry rubbed the heel of his palm over his eyes, wiping away the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.
"Are you well, Itzcóatl-tzin," Acatl-tzin asked worriedly.
"Yes. Yes, I am, Acatl." Harry turned his head on Acatl-tzin's shoulder, looking up at the old priest, his first friend among the Aztec's. "The Dog Star, or as Ihuicatl-tzin called him, Pek'Ikan, is my godfather Sirius Black, the Grim Lord."
"Ah." Acatl-tzin nodded. "So another of your dear ones has been reborn here. I am sure the other priests will be glad to hear it, My Lord."
Harry chuckled. "They might not after they meet him. He's a mischievous sort of man, quite fond of pulling pranks."
"Indeed. He was well known for it as a boy." Dumbledore smiled his eyes twinkling once again. "It is one reason he's known as the God of Mischief, as well as the Guiding Star."
"The Guiding Star? Sirius," Harry asked amused by the thought of the man he remembered guiding anyone.
"Well, he is named after the north star which sailors used to guide them home. As such he is worshiped by travelers who wish to always find their way back home. He is a man whose suffered much so that he might find his way home again to you and Professor Lupin."
"Did Professor Lupin get reborn as well?"
"I'm afraid not. So far it has just been Sirius and myself among the Mayan."
"Oh," Harry sighed sadly.
"I am sorry, my boy."
"It's alright, sir. I'm just glad that at least you and Sirius are here. It's nice to talk with someone from the old days."
"That it is. Perhaps one day, if the Gods smile upon us, some of our other dear ones will be reborn with us."
Harry smiled and unconsciously shifted back into his dragon form, coiling himself about Dumbledore and Acatl-tzin, resting his large head next to Acatl-tzin who began to stroke his head. Dumbledore also shifted, slowly changing forms as he coiled himself about Teyacapan-tzin, Acatl-tzin and Itzcóatl-tzin. He smiled down at the two priests and his most precious student.
A/N: If you'd like to see a good illustration of what Itzcóatl and Ihuicatl look like in dragon form, you can check out this commissioned image I asked Laurelhack23 for - : / / i28. photobucket albums/ c214/ MiyuMoon/ Itzcoatl_Ihuicatl_zpslao9ocbk . jpg
A/N2: Chapter 5 is currently in progress and I am hoping to have it ready to post sometime this month, or in Spetember at the latest. I've done a bunch of research, not as much as I would have liked to feel really comfortable, but enough that I should be able to give a decent feel for the cultures of the time as they have been changed by their interaction with Harry, Albus, and Sirius.
A/N3: I've got a poll on my LJ in regards to who readers would like to see as dragons. I'll be leaving the poll open for until January of 2017, so feel free to head over and vote. If you can't get it to log your vote there, read the options and either PM me here, or leave a comment here. The LJ poll is here: - dreamwind83 at livejournal dot com ForwardSlash 195371 dot html.