Disclaimer: As the author, I do not own any part of Harry Potter, the world he was written in or the characters therein. All these belong to J. , and I'm just using them to tell a story. The challenge that inspired this story belongs to Whitetigerwolf. Thanks, my friend. I also don't own any references to songs, characters or references involved in the Wild West genre.
Chapter 4: The Highway to Now.
"Are you skipping bits?" Fate asked. His salted popcorn was running low, and he was twitching to continue play. Of course, Destiny and the Lady had both ruled that play could not continue until the pieces had caught up to the time they were actually playing in. Fate had to admit he could see the sense in that. It was hard to keep the game going when they couldn't see the pieces interact due to the twisted tangle of time that the time-tossed heroes were more or less shielded by.
"Of course I am," the Lady answered. "We have to cover the high points of their extra century, but we don't have to sit there for the boring bits."
Destiny chuckled. "Hang on," he said, "I have to roll here for some reason... A six? That's good, and another one! Alright, you're going to like this bit when the full impact hits."
The Lady raised an eyebrow. "What have you set in motion, and how far ahead are you planning?" Her voice made a mid-winter blizzard in Antarctica seem positively tropical.
"If I tell you it'll ruin the surprise," the power that represented happy endings said. "But I can give you a Hint. Alchemy."
"Ohh, now this I have to see..." the Lady turned back to reality.
1899: The Yukon.
"Are you sure he came this way, Wolfe?" The woman known as Hawke asked her partner. After four years of working together, they'd realised that no-one else was ever going to understand them. They only had a couple more years before they stopped aging, according to their deal with the Reaper, and then they'd have to keep moving around to stop people noticing. "I mean, the little side-winder was supposed to have died back at that bridge by all the books I ever read."
Wolfe admitted to himself that this was quite a number of books indeed, but their target was a madman who had decided cannibalism was preferable to death. Unfortunately, this had tangled him up in the curse the locals called Wendigo. It allowed him to defy what most people considered common limits, while eroding his sanity further and further, turning him from a man to a monster. Now they had to find him before he reached a more populated area. "Yeah, the stench of his dietary habits is really thick over here. Almost too thick..." As he stepped forwards into a gap between two trees, the Wendigo dropped from above him, barely caught by the throat as Wolfe spun. His sharper hearing and sense of smell allowing him that much at least, but he was still borne to the ground from the impact, struggling against the cursed man-eater.
Hawke brought up the rifle the dwarves had gifted her, and whispered the spell she needed to it. "Reducto." She sighted, drew in breath, and aimed, stroking the trigger as she exhaled, just as Old Man Tanner had taught her. The 'bullet' flew across the distance to her target and struck the head as the ghoulish madman raised it to pull free of Wolfe's grip, and the Wendigo's head simply... went away. Loudly. Spraying gore and grey matter across the clearing.
Rushing over to her best friend and partner for the last eight years, Maia Hawke, formerly Hermione Granger, helped him to stand. As he did, she realised exactly how close she had come to losing him, and what it meant to her that she knew she'd have followed him into the final darkness in a heartbeat.
For his part, Harrison Wolfe, who was once Harry Potter, looked into the fearful eyes of the young woman who'd been with him through thick and thin, and knew he had to say something. Neither one of them expected what he actually said, though.
"Maia Hawke, will you marry me?"
Six weeks later...
Sirius and Diana Black stood watching as the town of Liberty Springs celebrated the marriage of the two best bounty hunters they'd ever seen. Maia Hawke was keeping her name for business purposes, she said, after all, Wolfe and Hawke sounded much more intimidating than Wolfe and Wolfe. Sirius had been overjoyed to give the bride away and stand as Best Man. His two year old twins had even been part of the ceremony with Corvus Remus as the ring-bearer while his sister Lyra Aquila served as flower-girl. The usual speeches and reception took place and everyone was having a right good time when a group of bandits rode into the yard and screamed "REACH FOR THE SKY!"
After a moment or two of absolute silence. Wolfe stood.
"You boys must be new in these parts," he said, in a quiet yet commanding voice. "This here is Liberty Springs. Home of Sheriff Sirius Black, known as the Law-dog, the Man who shot Liberty Valence, and the bounty hunters Wolfe and Hawke." As the bandits heard these names, they shivered, and Harrison Wolfe smiled as his bride brought her rifle from its sling and he himself drew his six-guns lazily. The smile was not comforting, it was glacial. "Now, guess whose wonderful wedding day you boys just rode into."
The clatter of guns hitting the dirt was nigh on deafening.
Hawke landed, shaking out her feathers as she resumed her human form. " Found it," she declared, holding back laughter.
"Really, already?" They'd been contacted by the Federation of Magical American States and Territories to locate the body of the giant called Paul Bunyan. There were tall tales and legends about the near-hundred-foot-tall lumberjack, they really didn't want the muggles to confirm his existence. "Where is he?"
"That 'fallen tree' you're sitting on? That's his thigh."
"So what'd you think, Hawke?" Wolfe asked his wife.
"That was a wonderful anniversary gift, Wolfe, but if I have to listen to Mr Clemens tell me the story about that frog one more time..." She hunched her shoulders inwards. "At least we weren't dropped in Shakespeare's time, I'm sure I'd never have survived the disappointment."
Sirius chuckled. He was getting old quickly, the will to live draining out of him when Diana had passed on the previous winter from tuberculosis. Even the twins were barely enough reason for the 'Old Law-dog' to keep getting out of bed in the mornings, and they kept looking to their unofficial siblings for guidance. Corvus was apprenticed, and showed signs of becoming a good blacksmith, and Lyra made an excellent teacher for the little ones around Liberty Springs. There wasn't much else to do, and Wolfe and Hawke had noticed comments on how young they still looked. It was time to move on.
"Look out for him, Hermione," Sirius croaked, his throat raw from grief and too much whiskey. "You know he's going to need you. And pup, you look out for her. Look on the bright side, Harry. You'll have all the time you need to grieve."
Hawke forced herself to smile. By this time next month, the First World War would hit Europe, and she and her husband intended to be out there fighting it. They couldn't do any less, and still be true to themselves. As their old friend, Harry's dog-father as he's joked several times, drifted off to sleep, Harry caught the last words Sirius would ever say. "Diana, so you did wait for me..."
"So whose bright idea was it to go hunting through Russia in the middle of Winter?" Hawke muttered, knowing full well it had been hers. This Rasputin's unnatural vitality sounded entirely too much like a certain Dark Lord she and Wolfe had known to let them leave it be. As Wolfe plunged through a snowdrift, breaking trail for her to drag the Russian sorcerer's corpse to a place they could dispose of him permanently, she wished for not the last time that she'd been the one blessed with a thick warm coat of fur...
Hawke paused before lying down. "Are you sure, Harry?" she asked. "Can we really live solely in the Shadows for the next seventy years?"
Wolfe nodded. "We have to Maia," he replied. "We have to watch, and spy, and not do anything that may change things. We can't touch the major players, and that's going to hurt the most. But we can hit the minions and cronies, and even some of the bigger ones as they become available. The details on the LeStranges' capture, for example are decidedly murky. You remember what Nicholas said when you told about the twelfth use for Dragonsblood."
Hawke smiled, recalling the day in question clearly. "While it can be used as an oven cleaner," she had pointed out when a much younger Dumbledore had suggested the possibility, "it would be analogous to using dynamite to clean your toilet."
It would be a long time before anyone would encounter Wolfe and Hawke again..