40 - Scars

"Nick?" Harry called out softly, hesitant. Despite the other man's reassurance that they would be alright, despite the Grimm not changing anything significant in their interactions in the week since that conversation, Harry was still uncertain where they stood with each other.

"Hmm?" Nick looked up from what he'd been writing in one of the Grimm books - the man was making it a habit to update the books with his own experiences, providing a different viewpoint than just the bloody ones of his ancestors. He was a good artist, making clear but not unflattering drawings of the Wesen they had come across so far.

Harry swallowed when he felt the weight of the man's eyes upon him.

"Nothing." He withdrew, dodging that gaze. "Sorry."

He didn't know what it was he wanted from the man – it was Harry who was in the wrong here, who was keeping secrets and held something of divided loyalties, so why was he the one who had a problem with this?

Perhaps it was because he knew that the teenager he had once been would have been so very angry – even betrayed - about close friends keeping secrets just like the ones he was keeping now.

"Harry." Nick had put his pen down and was now demanding the wizard's attention back. "You know that when I first inherited the abilities of a Grimm, I tried to hide it from Hank. A large part of that was because I was worried about how he would take it, but that certainly wasn't all of it. The same is true for Juliette, though in a different way." After a pensive silence Nick shook his head, letting that trail of thought go. "I just want you to know that you can trust me, trust us, with whatever it is that you're holding back."

"This isn't my secret to tell, though," the younger man needlessly defended himself, "I never wanted to get caught between the two of you like this, but I still ended up there. And even though I don't want to betray his trust in me, if I thought he was going to hurt you or Monroe or anyone else, I'd give all of it over in a heartbeat." To Harry, that wasn't an easy promise – this situation was new to him, this division between different groups of people and he didn't much like where it put him.

But the Grimm just nodded in an easy acceptance of that statement, not looking surprised or relieved or anything – as if it's just a reaffirmation of what both of them already knew.

Perhaps it was. While he liked the captain well enough, Monroe and Nick were his first and closest friends in this world and that meant something to him.

"That's not the only thing, though, is it?" Nick asked thoughtfully a long moment later. "It isn't just about the Prince. Is there something you want to tell me, Harry? Because whatever it is, you can tell me. You're a good person, I know you are. So whatever it is, it can't be that bad." The man paused for a moment before adding. "Can it?"

Under those bright blue eyes, certain but expectant, Harry slowly shook his head. "No," he managed to say, "not bad exactly. Different. Strange. But I don't – I don't think it's bad." The wizard breathed out after that awkward admission, feeling oddly tired and yet relieved.

It was strange that even now, this was still a hill Harry needed to crest – not the mountain it had been when he was in the Dursley's dubious care and only ever a disappointment, but years later it still wasn't easy.

After everything he'd gone through since then, all the good and the bad, and everything that happened during the war… Life had left its scars and yet none of them were so deeply embedded as those that had been left by his relatives about being different and thus worthless – nothing more than a freak.

Nick looked at him, gaze intent but also the slightest bit soft. And a part of Harry almost wanted the man to press – to push right past all of the secrets. But while the detective was pushy and determined in many ways, that was never all he was.

Instead the other man waited patiently for anything Harry might want to say.

And it wasn't that he didn't want to, and perhaps he'd even dare – dare to trust in this man completely, dare to come clean about the biggest lie between them that was never a true lie at all, because Harry had always denied being a Grimm.

He just… needed a moment. Needed to figure out where to even start. So, wordlessly he nodded.

It was enough for his friend. It shouldn't be, but it was.

"If you want to talk, I'm here," Nick reiterated and finally turned his attention back to his book. That was all it took to disperse the atmosphere – one that hadn't been tense exactly, but charged with something.

Harry picked up the book that he'd been reading before his thoughts and doubts had stolen his focus. He held it carefully in front of him, a shield to hide the thoughts still plain on his face.

They fell silent again, the quiet only broken by the age-old sound of a pen across parchment and this time Harry let it soothe him – let it remind him of the ties of friendship, woven by fate, trolls, homework assignments and new mysteries.

As always, these thoughts were tinged with sadness, but the harsh lines of loss and guilt had slowly softened into a bittersweet nostalgia that he knew from experience could surge up and make its sharper edges known at any unexpected time.

But for now he was good. Because while that sense of loss would likely always be there, the guilty feeling towards his new friends, Nick especially, had petered out, once more just a twinge in the back of his mind.

(Word count: 1000)