Part Four

It was nearly nine o'clock in the evening and Steve was already ready to call it a day.

That afternoon he had been sent on a mission to 'assess the threat-level' of a mythical creature but instead the agents who were supposed to support him in the air had been attacked by something else entirely. So he had needed to fight a droid army instead.

Then the Griffin had actually joined in and helped him.

After which he had to mediate between the far-to-intelligent animal and the high-strung agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He had somehow managed to convince the Griffin to follow their helicopter to the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility where he had left it in the care of a few agents when he was told to see to his injuries.

When Steve had finally been released from the infirmary an agent was waiting to lead him to a large, furnished containment room where the Griffin was calmly eating. He wasn't exactly sure who the room had been supposed to contain, but judging by the bed, desk, couch, television and toilet, it wasn't a mythical animal. The only thing that looked as out of place as the large beast were the tub of water and the other two containers with apples and red meat. He wondered if they had actually managed to research the eating habits of a mythical creature or if they had just made an educated guess. He supposed it didn't matter.

"Good evening." Steve greeted the creature politely and wasn't overly surprised when he received a nod in return.

With a tired sigh he sank down on the couch, rubbing his eyes and wondering how he always got stuck with the strangest of missions. When he opened his eyes again, the creature had abandoned his food and was curiously looking at him.

"What a day, huh?"

A shrug was his only answer.

Maybe it was just him, then.

The soft growl of his stomach reminded Steve that he had missed dinner, but the thought of getting up and finding the cafeteria in this facility so that he could be stared at by even more S.H.I.E.L.D. agents wasn't very attractive.

The temporally misplaced soldier started when an object dumped in his lap broke him from his thoughts.

An apple.

For a moment he could do no more than stare at it dumbly. Then his brain kicked back into gear and his manners with it. "Thank you." he told the large winged animal who was standing not to far from him with an apple of its own.

The Griffin made a soft chirping sound and gently bit into the fruit in his talons.

A surprisingly comfortable couch, an apple and the company of a helpful mythical being was, in his mind, far better than the plastic chairs - too small for his frame - and cold atmosphere of the S.H.I.E.L.D. cafeteria room full of awed, sceptical or unreadable agents.

So, with a small shrug, Steve followed its example, relaxing into the soft couch and oddly warm presence of a being as out of place as he was and who might be the only one on this base with no real expectations of him.

Harry had been vaguely amused by the no-nonsense attitude of the muggle in charge of this place and, with the promise of becoming Captain Rogers' 'problem', had allowed one of the man's agents to lead him to a room. A powerful tap with one of his talons to the glass showed the strength of his rather luxurious prison.

The wizard wasn't worried. He had his ways to get out of here, even if most of those would reveal the fact that he could use magic.

The animagus spent a few moments exploring his temporary quarters and wondered what the muggles would do if he decided to turn on the telly and plop down on the couch in an impersonation of Dudley.

The presence of a magical creature seemed to have thrown them for a loop, but they didn't really panic. None of the agents or the man in charge took to his presence as easily as the blond-haired Captain, but they didn't do anything completely barmy either. Instead they calmly led him to some sort of high-end prison room to give them the time to figure out where to go from here.

It was a rather practical attitude. Wizards weren't usually that adaptable.

With a small shrug, Harry calmly walked over to a bucket with apples, obviously placed there for him. The raw meat in the container next to it didn't really appeal to him, though he had eaten worse in his Griffin form. The instincts of his animal side were very present, sometimes, so when he was hungry and there were no alternatives easily available he hunted for food. Now, though, there was a whole bucket of apples that, though not looking very appetizing to his animal side, really appealed to the human part of Harry.

He amused himself with his dinner until the door to the room opened again. Years of being the number one target of Voldemort made the Gryffindor rather adapt at recognizing threatening presences. He felt no such thing now and was unsurprised to see the blond Captain who had fought beside him.

The muggle's polite greeting made him want to smile, but that was rather difficult to do in his Griffin form. Instead he nodded and watched as the man tiredly made his way towards the couch.

""What a day, huh?" Captain Roger's voice was as soft as a sigh and Harry felt a rush of sympathy. For the wizard today was rather odd as well, but Harry was used to strange and dangerous situations. He shrugged, green eyes firmly on the blond. Out of everything that happened, the droids and strangely efficient muggle military were not really enough to make him blink.

No, it was the man in front of him that gave him pause. The strangely accepting muggle had the heart of a Gryffindor and eyes with a hint of the same despair that haunted Harry's steps since the war.

The blond had stood firm in front of a droid army, had accepted a Griffin as a fighting partner and treated him with a respect that felt far more genuine than Harry was used to receiving. But now the colourful armour that had shielded a tired soul from the world was gone, leaving behind a far more vulnerable looking human.

And Harry could understand that dichotomy better than any other. Strong in battle, and in private just tired of everything. So when Captain Rogers ignored his softly growling stomach, Harry carefully took one of the apples and brought it to him.

Taking another apple for himself, he stepped closer to the man, chirping softly when the blond thanked him.

The two ate in silence, unlikely partners sharing a meal.

It was a peaceful moment, but when Harry was done he could feel the eyes on him and raised his head to look at his companion. Although the man's posture was tired, those blue eyes were bright and held far more than just the lost feeling Harry recognized from himself.

No, contrary to him those windows showed a soul filled with life and it was breathtaking. Those eyes seemed to chip away at the hold Death had on Harry's soul and the longer he stared the more he felt his belief in life restore.

Drawn in, his paws moved him closer to the muggle, until he was standing right beside the couch. When the Captain didn't move, Harry slowly lowered himself to sit on the floor.

Eye contact was broken, but the feeling of understanding and trust that emitted from being in the presence of a soul so similar and yet so different still encased the wizard like a warm glow.

When Steve finished eating he took a long look at the creature. His eyes took note of a few scratches and marks that he knew must have come from the fight earlier, causing a frown to form on his face.

Steve couldn't quite figure it out; the Griffin was too smart for an animal and far too tame. It had helped him in battle, had teased the agents and seemed to be far too accepting of everything that had happened.

Because what sort of creature jumps in to help a stranger fights off a droid army? Most animals would have fled at the noise and a more aggressive animal would have attacked everyone, including him. No animal-like being would follow a helicopter to a military base and let the agents lead him inside just because Steve asked it to.

It didn't make any sense.

The Griffin looked up, greeting his gaze with its bright emerald eyes. For a long moment the two just stared at each other before the creature carefully walked over until it was towering over him right next to were Steve was sitting. The Captain's eyes didn't leave the animal when it calmly lowered itself on the floor right in front of him and chirped softly.

Eventually Steve just sighed and let these thoughts quietly drift away. In that green gaze he could see more mysteries buried just beneath the surface, but he could also see a warmth there. And, as the mythical creature that had fought like a vicious warrior only hours before, gently bend its royal head, leaning it carefully on his leg he decided that these things really didn't matter.

Because there were many things he didn't understand nowadays.

Such as droid armies, electronic devices and the internet. Human behaviour had remained mostly the same and yet still seemed to puzzle him. Somehow he always said the wrong thing, somehow he still sounded old-fashioned despite trying to adapt. Half the things he heard people say made no sense to him, references eluded him and behaviour that made him cringe seemed to be the norm.

So it really didn't matter that he couldn't understand how an animal-like creature could act so human.

Very carefully, Steve ran his hand over one of the scratches on the Griffin's side. The being let out a soft huff, but made no other reaction and for a moment Steve felt strangely humbled because he understood the trust that it implied.

He was lost in this time and nearly everything seemed strange to him. Everything but the mythical creature before him that should have been the most baffling of all.

But if there was one thing Steve Rogers did understand it was what it meant to brothers in arms. The trust that it could built between two individuals.

And, at the end of the day, that was really all that mattered.

'I should really sneak out of here' Harry told himself as he glanced at the dozing blond on the couch.

He wasn't quite sure how the muggles here would deal with him, come morning. So far things had turned out alright. But Harry knew better than anyone that people could be very unpleasant when faced with something so much different than themselves. The Dursley's were the prime example of that.

When all of these rational thoughts failed to plant even the slightest hint of urgency in his mind, Harry gave up on convincing himself to leave.

At least he tried, the Griffin nodded to himself with a small shrug.

Almost automatically, his half-asleep companion responded to the movement. The large hand that had been resting on his shoulders started a gentle petting motion. It was odd and slightly humiliating. Yet for the life of him, Harry couldn't remember having felt anything more soothing in a very long time. Unbidden a soft rumble started in his throat and he drifted off to sleep to the gentle hand softly petting him and a kind, calm voice murmuring in his ears.

That night, he was untroubled by nightmares. Instead Harry dreamed of flying through the open sky to a place he could call home. The friendly warmth of the sun cleansing the lingering shadows from his soul.

A.N.: Four chapters instead of three, but it still felt like a strange ending… It was nice to work on a longer story, but after the initial writing burst, inspiration just seeped away. The first three chapters went fine, but it was a fight to write this chapter...

Still, I wanted to finish this before starting anything else, so I hope it's still an acceptable ending. Maybe I'll do a one-shot sequel one day… one of the reviewers left me with an image of Steve flying on Griffin!Harry's back into battle and making Thor or Tony jealous that might be to good to pass up.

Thanks to everyone for reviewing! It was interesting to write something longer, but I think I will sulk back to one-shot land…