See chapter one for disclaimers/warnings/summaries.
"And the Volturi are fine with this?" Harry half-growled. He hated when people in a position of dignity and power, chose to abuse their station. His hands clenched into fists. "And the runaways?"
"James, Victoria and Laurent." Severus sighed, listing off the names. He pinched the bridge of his nose, apparently searching for a fact that was somewhat mentally out of reach. "There's no evidence to support their claims and if we don't act, then the Volturi will. If we had any idea where they're hiding out here, we could perhaps, stop a confrontation from taking place and thus complicating matters more than they already are."
"Confrontation between the animal-feeders and the naturals?" Harry clarified, ticking off the two-types of vampires on his fingers. Sometimes, he preferred magical vampires to the common place human-turned ones. A magical vampire was intelligent, capable of negotiation on a large scale and of course, very dangerous. They were also quite sane and delightful creatures if you happened to have a stash of blood pops handy. They were also deliciously sensual and agreeable to threesomes on the few occasions that Theo had been adventurous and good-natured enough to allow it.
Not that Harry minded, but his Slytherin was a downright possessive bastard. Theo had sworn those particular vampires into some sort of blood-binding secrecy and now, they were the closest things that the odd couple had to friends. Real friends in their Unspeakable line of work, anyway. Hermione and Ron had taken easy, comfortable jobs in the Ministry and in the Auror Corps—not that Harry blamed them, he would never have accepted the Unspeakables if it hadn't been for Theo and the very, very long list of perks that the Ministry had had to agree with in order to garner his acceptance.
Harry scowled, bringing himself back to the present as he considered the puzzle spread out before him. This was really more Theo's sort of thing—no, it was really a more Slytherin sort of thing—Merlin knew that their respective Slytherin counterparts were rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of all the deliciously slow ways to drag out what was sure to be a very tricky and messy situation if improperly handled.
"Precisely." Severus frowned, but he also seemed somewhat pleased at the same time. In situations like this, he could put his vast mind to work and especially when it resulted in less stress for his mismatched family overall. "Did Kingsley tell you about the Quileute reserve?" He directed a pointed eyebrow to his other half.
Kingsley's lips twitched in something that might have been amusement, but to the Wizard's credit, he did not say anything, but rather pressed his lips even more tightly together, to keep from speaking and ruining Severus's apparent fun.
"He mentioned something about an Indian thing," Theo's voice sounded from the top of the stairs. He descended, looking decidedly worse for the wear, his hair sticking up every which way and a slight furrow in his brow. "I suppose it would be that—what did you call them?"
"Quileute." Kingsley supplied, turning to wave the other young man into the room. He could see at a glance that Theo hadn't really slept, if at all and could instantly pinpoint the reason why as he caught sight of Harry's anxious face. Their fledgling pair, as he often thought of Theo and Harry, were a bit too much like him and Severus at times.
Harry immediately wished he'd stayed with him upstairs when he caught sight of his husband awkwardly shuffling down the stairs. Theo rarely slept well, unless of course, Harry was nearby—the same was true for Harry of course, but Harry had also learned when their tempers were on the verge of clashing and knew to put distance between them before it could happen. After all, Theo wasn't really the type to fight fair—years of Slytherin training had ingrained it into his psyche—and as a rule, he tended to lash out when cranky.
Of course, he was also quite aware of his own shortcomings in this particular department and so he knew when to mind his manners and good temper, a detail that Harry had learned to pick up on. Theo had been quiet and attentive during the flight and now, Harry wished that he'd been able to return the very thoughtful favor. "Theo!" His voice was half-scolding, half-worried. Theo looked positively dreadful. But Harry had seen him better and worse. He knew that a little sleep would go a long way—a little good sleep.
There was something that might have been a grunt in answer, as Theo took his time shuffling across the floor. "Don't stop on my account, Severus." He yawned. "Keep talking, as long as I am thinking, sleep will be that much further from me."
Harry scowled. If Theo had been close enough to pinch, he would have done so immediately.
"Quileute." Severus corrected, somewhat in teacher-mode. "Not some 'indian thing' they're quite particular about it and we need to take care not to rile them up, they won't be a problem, but they'll likely be quite irritating if we're on their wrong side. They've lived on these lands for generations, I imagine any latent native magic tremors belong to them in some way, shape or form."
"What are they?" Harry wanted to know. "Why are they important?" He knew, of course, that an Unspeakable never dismissed any little detail or group, no matter how small, but he wanted to know why, in particular, for this group. He also wasn't happy to think of native magic sparking off in the middle of nowhere. That would spell all kinds of trouble that he didn't want to think about.
"There's something off about them." Severus explained. He sipped his tea contemplatively. "I would think they were Werewolves, what, with the way they'd act, except for, knowing Lupin—well," he grimaced here. While he had largely managed to restrain himself from outright disgust at the shabby, soft-spoken werewolf, he held absolutely no regard for the other wizard and would've been happy to never speak his name again. He was remembering memories that had ended with a distraught Harry and unsaid apologies. If Lupin had any redeeming qualities, Severus would be hard-pressed to find them. "I can say with some assurance that they most definitely are not natural, true Weres."
Harry rolled his eyes, used to this by now and redirected the conversation to safer ground. Severus could bitch about Remus to Kingsley later, if he really wanted to, that is. He had long since managed to overcome the emotional hurdle of rejection from Sirius's closest friend. "If they're not true Weres, then what are they?" Harry frowned. "And if their not a thing, are they magical? Will we need some kind of outside permission? Theo?" He prompted. This was generally Theo's area of expertise. He waited to see if he could convince his sleepy, grumpy soulmate to sit beside him. Sometimes, when Theo was in a mood, he'd do the opposite of whatever little thing he could—just to be contrary. Harry hoped it wasn't one of those times.
"If they aren't natural, then they must be made." Theo mused. "Allow me to guess," he waited for Severus's nod. "I take it they're shapeshifters? Not actual Weres in our sense of it?" He referred to their Wizarding World standard. "I could swear that if they were, I would have felt something." His animagus form of a ginormous black wolf did allow him some slightly wolf-like instincts enhanced by his preferred branch of magic and his occasionally overprotective Slytherin tendencies. He could pick out a were creature like nobody's business, a talent that they were all grateful for. He was also, occasionally, a necessary mediator between Severus and Remus for the sake of a certain Wolfsbane potion.
"Correct." Severus nodded, stiffly. "Did you check the potions?"
"Severus, you only left them a half-hour ago." Kingsley shook his head, fondly. "I'm sure they're fine. Your stasis charms are very well done." He doctored a cup of tea with too much sugar and no cream, before gently shoving it into Severus's twisting hands. "Drink this and keep thinking."
"I did and they're fine." Theo yawned again. He didn't have to actually see them, but to push his magic into the same stasis charms that Severus had cast to test the current stage of a potion. They had all returned a positive result and so he hadn't bothered with summoning the extra energy to go and have an actual look. Now, he simply turned to Harry, almost pleadingly.
Harry set his cup and biscuits aside, reaching a hand out to him and patting the empty space on the sofa. It seemed that Theo was in better humors after all, the few minutes of alone time must have worked their usual magic and this sort of Theo Harry could deal with quite easily. "Nap well?" He asked, inwardly relieved. "You look awful." He held out his hands as Theo approached, wiggling them invitingly.
"Thanks." Theo grimaced. "Hardly, you can't even call that sleep." He tangled his fingers with Harry's for a moment, before pulling them free and curling up on the sofa, his head pillowed in Harry's lap. "My turn." His tall frame was surprisingly compact with the way he easily shrank back into the sofa and Harry's side.
Harry's smile turned fond. He waited until Theo had settled into a comfortable position and then began to play with the rich, chocolate curls. Theo never let anyone but Harry play with his hair and at times like this, Harry felt quite honored for the privilege as well as the vulnerability shown.
Then again, they were among family and Theo was his.
Severus had already taken his usual position beside Kingsley on the sofa and while he wasn't as close as Harry and Theo's cuddling, he did angle himself in such a way that Kingsley's strong hands were able to gently massage the knots and kinks out of his shoulders as he finally drank the oversweetened cup of tea.
He would never admit to liking sweets, especially sweet tea—he often reamed out his husband for the deliberate oversight, when in a particular snit—but he never refused it, always drank it down to the last drop and could be surprisingly civil after at least, three doses. In exchange, Kingsley knew never to take it personally, to keep an eye on how hard said husband was working and fixed his tea just the way that Severus needed it, understanding something between them.
They were a beautifully mismatched pair.
"Keep talking." Theo murmured, sleepily, finally giving in to the need to allow his body the rest it had been clamoring for. "You know I'll remember when I wake."
He would too, because that was simply how Slytherin he was. Or maybe it was all Theo, either way, Harry didn't care. Instead, he tweaked Theo's ear in answer, tugging on the matching earring that his husband wore on his right lobe. "Sleep," he scolded, faintly. "Have you been living on Pepper-up again?" He could feel the telletale quiver of Theo's shoulders that hinted at one too many potions coursing through his young body. He was glad he hadn't taken the stressful mission, but upset at what aftereffects he could see in Theo.
"Theo." Severus scolded, mildly. He set down his teacup with a disapproving frown.
Kingsley snorted. "Pot, kettle?" He said, wryly. He leaned away to fix a second cup of tea.
Harry fixed Severus with a look that surprisingly, made the dark man look away. The last Pepper-up Incident was quite an unmentionable topic, but it didn't mean that it couldn't be referenced. Somehow, that look said much more than Harry's mouth could have—and the emerald-eyed brunet could give quite memorable lectures, when so inclined.
"It was once!" Severus protested. "And I was—I had—there was a breakthrough!" He spluttered. Twin spots of the very faintest of pink colored his pale cheeks.
"And that wasn't all that broke." Kingsley shot back. He tightened his grip on those slender shoulders when Severus made as if to move. "Drink your tea." He murmured, softly. "Add more sugar, you look like you could use it."
"Have you introduced yourselves to anyone?" Harry changed the topic, reaching for a ginger newt to nibble on. He snatched up a napkin when Theo pretended to brush crumbs from his face. "Prat," He whispered, fondly.
Theo's lips twitched.
A/N: Yay! So Theo and Harry get some cuddle n snuggle time and Kingsley and Severus start to plot things. I'm on an update spree today. We'll see how much I get done. LOL. I keep meaning to update this fic, but for some reason never did. Hm. Anyway, the next chapter is halfway done. I'll try to finish it up soon. Welcome to the new readers (and the lurkers!) :P Thanks for reading and a very Merry Christmas!