THANKS SO MUCH TO ALL MY READERS AND REVIEWERS!
Okay, so a bit later in the day than I intended, but here's the next chapter. It's a little longer than the previous one, and the next chapter is even bigger. I wanted to tie up a few small loose ends, nothing big, just things that were on my mind, so I've done that here.
Several people mentioned that Harry has been awfully content with the weirdness going on between he and Logan, but this chapter sets the record straight. He's not okay with it, it's just that it's been too strong up until now for him to feel much about it one way or another, but now that it's starting to settle (all this will be explained at a later date), that's no longer going to be the case.
Anyways, this was a fun chapter to write. I really enjoyed it, honestly, though I can't explain what exactly was so fun for me.
Things are starting to move a bit now, there's things happening, and it'll pick up more as we go. Promise. You guys better be thankful for this story, especially because I wrote up through chapter eight for this part, and then deleted everything past chapter three and am rewriting it, because I hated the way it was turning out. That was a lot of wasted writing on my part, and not the first time I've done such a thing for this story.
This chapter is un-betaed, same as the previous, mostly because me and my beta are absolutely terrible at keeping in touch.
Harry twitched, tail flicking about constantly. He felt very strange sitting half-naked and glamourless on that cold metal table. He poked nervously at one of the little wires attached to him, warily eyeing the white circle it was connected to that was stuck to his skin for what had to be the tenth time in the last minute or so. The side connected to his skin had something gooey and blue on it, which was how it stuck (he was secretly, and somewhat childishly, fascinated by the blue goo). Tony swatted his hand away from the wire and Harry grumbled at him.
"Stop that!" The billionaire snapped at him, clearly growing irritated with his constant fidgeting. Harry grumbled, eyes flicking from the multitude of wires and sticky nodes to the wall of glass that made up one whole side of Tony's lab. That wall made him far more nervous than the wires, which occasionally stung, though not enough to hurt him. His toes curled anxiously, the tips of his claws scratching slightly against the support bar under the table, nowhere near the floor. From behind, his tail curled under and wrapped around it like a monkey. Tony insisted that no one could even get to this floor, let alone through the door at the top of the stairs leading down to that wall without his say so.
But he had said something rather similar about the floor his room was on, and yet the captain hadn't seemed to have had any trouble almost walking in on a drunken, glamourless Harry.
"So is the scar on your face and the one on your chest from the same thing? It looks like it." Harry's eyes flicked to him. The genius was clicking away at a computer, watching the screen in front of him and occasionally glancing up at him. He knew Tony was trying to distract him, and he decided to let him.
"Yea. It was a cutting curse. A nasty one. Didn't manage to dodge it in time." As a muggle, he probably didn't know what a cutting curse was, but he didn't ask about it.
"You get the guy who did it?" Woman, but he didn't correct him aloud.
"Good. What about that one on your head?"
"I got that one when I was a baby. A madman tried to kill me; I wound up with a scar to show for it." Tony raised a brow.
"Interesting life you've led."
"Tell me about it."
"I would rather you did, actually. What about those ones on your arms? That one on the left almost looks like a stab wound."
"It kind of is. I got bitten by a basilisk, fang went right through."
"A basilisk? What's that?"
"I giant snake, basically. It's venomous, and it can petrify or kill people with its' gaze, like... Think Medusa."
"Yeesh. Sounds nasty. It looks old. How long ago was that?"
"I was twelve." The clicking of the keyboard keys stopped entirely. Tony looked up at him with a shocked expression.
"You're kidding me."
"Nope." The shock morphed into something like consternation.
"Well, damn." He shook his head, a small furrow remaining between his eyebrows, and went back to typing. "You'll have to tell me that story sometime. And the other one? On your other arm?"
"Dark ritual. That madman I mentioned."
"I'm almost afraid to ask about the rest."
"Nope. Not getting off that easily. Where'd that one on your leg come from?" Harry blushed.
"I fell off a horse." Tony snickered.
"I'd never ridden one before! We were in China. They stuck me on a horse and expected me to know what to do, and the damn thing got spooked, and reared up, and I fell off onto a bunch of rocks. Almost broke my leg." Horses were much more temperamental than camels, at least when it came to him, apparently. He hadn't had any trouble with the desert beast aside from itchy thighs.
"The ones on your shoulders?"
"Those came from the same place actually. It was this... Cat-thing. Maybe a nundu." Not that Stark knew what that was. "It was big. No idea where it came from, but it scratched me here, and tried to take a bite out of me there. Hulk killed it for me."
"... I want that story too." Harry chuckled.
"Do you have any scars?" He asked the billionaire.
"A few, but they're not as interesting as yours. At least, the stories behind them aren't."
"Is'nt that for me to decide?" Tony laughed.
"Well, I guess the one on my chest would be the most interesting." He pulled at the hole in his tank top that allowed the glowing blue thing to be seen clearly. Harry had, thus far, avoided asking about the round machine, for fear of upsetting or offending the genius. Also, it was weird; so much so that he was actually a little bit afraid of knowing the answer. Nevertheless, he leaned forwards a tad to look closely at the revealed bits of skin.
All around the round metal piece the flesh was scarred, both with twisting lines of puckered skin (almost like burns), and what almost resembled surgical cuts; or at least what Harry thought surgical cuts looked like. It appeared to him as though it must have been very painful, and he felt something of a rise in respect for the man at having lived through gaining it.
"What happened?" He asked.
"I was kidnapped." Harry vaguely recalled the news report from so long ago; the first time he had ever heard the name Stark.
"I think I heard about that on the telly, when it first happened." Tony nodded.
"They blew up the jeep I was riding with. I got some shrapnel stuck in my chest, and another prisoner hooked me up to a car battery to keep them from hitting my heart." He clinked a finger against the blue chestpiece. "I built this to replace that. It keeps the shrapnel from killing me without poisoning me to death in the process." Harry stared intently at the blue light, and was reaching out a hand to touch it before he could stop himself. Tony seemed to find it amusing, so he didn't pull back or cease his actions. He touched the center of it, his brow furrowing. It felt warm, not cold, as he had expected (since it was made of metal), and he could feel some kind of energy pulsing beneath his fingers, almost like an intangible heartbeat.
Curious, he reached out a bit of his magic to get a better feel for it. He barely had the time to note that it felt... Warm, was the only word that immediately came to mind, before the blue light abruptly turned green and he snatched his hand away in the same moment that Tony stepped away from him, fear flashing over his face for just an instant. The light flickered back to blue, and they blinked at each other.
"What the hell was that?" Tony asked, poking at the thing on his chest, looking concerned and surprised. The light didn't change or flicker again.
"I- I don't know. I just... Did it hurt?"
"No." Tony looked from him to the little machine for a few seconds before coming near him once more. "Do it again."
"Are you sure that's a goo-"
"I'm curious. Go ahead." Harry was reluctant, especially as he now knew that blue light was responsible for keeping Tony alive, but he relented, curious as well. He touched it again, pushing out a bit of his magic to feel it. It turned green again, the same color as his own eyes, he thought, but he didn't pull his hand back this time; instead getting a better feel for the energy it held.
He was reminded of sleeping on a warm rock back in Africa, or sitting near a campfire with his hands out. It was warm, and nice, and relaxing. Comforting, even. He enjoyed the feeling, and his expression and body both relaxed to reflect that. It felt... Almost like magic, but without any real 'flavor' to it, much like the stone in the scepter, just warm and young instead of cold and old. A noise filled the air, a gentle sort of rumble, that he didn't immediately know the source of. Tony was staring at him.
"Are you purring?" He asked, and Harry pulled his hand back, startled, the green light taking a few moments longer to fade back to blue this time. He put it to his own chest, wide-eyed. His chest vibrated with the dying sounds of the rumble, and he gave Tony a bewildered look.
"I-" He swallowed, looking down at himself again with an incredulous expression as though something was wrong with him.
"Has that ever happened before?" Harry shook his head slowly. He couldn't recall ever purring before; at least not outside his animagus form. He had certainly purred in his larger feline form, if only once or twice. He hadn't even known he was capable of it like this. "Huh. Well that's interesting." And he looked like he thought so. His face had lit up with the same expression he had shown when he had first seen the animagus sans glamour; as though Harry was a fascinating specimen to be studied. It was a look Bruce had given him a time or two, and the young man groaned as the poking and prodding began.
Harry sighed, curling tighter into the blankets of his bed. The twins, neither one awake, curled tighter around himself in response. They had chosen to follow him to his own guest room rather than bother with the one Tony had offered them. Harry couldn't say he was all that surprised with their actions. He recalled sharing a bed with them years beforehand while staying at the Burrow. Back then, he still had nightmares; a phenomenon that had become far between and few in number since his defeat of Voldemort. Their presence then had been a balm on his soul; easing his dreams and offering comfort if something nasty squeezed through.
Now their presence was comforting in a different way; giving him a sense both of safety and of belonging. He wondered if he would have joined they and Remus in their curse in another lifetime, one where he had never become an animagus. They could have been a pack together. Maybe they still were, in their own way.
As it was, he was glad they had curled up with him; as their doing so was much the equivalent of them saying 'we're here for you'. It reminded him that he would not have to face Asgard alone. The only other person who knew this was Tony, who hadn't been too surprised at the additions to his journey.
Speaking of Tony...
Harry sighed once more, breathing in the flowery scent of the clean blankets and staring past a flop of red hair into the darkness of the room, green eyes shining like a cat's with the light they sucked up. Tony had been so fascinated by his reaction to the, as he called it, arc reactor, and the arc's response of changing its color, that he had pestered Harry into repeating the action several times. Each time had produced the same result of a calm, purring Harry, much to his own mortification; which would not have been so bad had Tony not teased him endlessly about the event afterwards.
But no matter his embarrassment at what was apparently an uncontrollable response, he couldn't deny that he too was curious as to what caused it. This was something even the genius couldn't give an explanation for, though he said the monitors stuck to the animagus at the time said the arc reactor seemed to calm and stabilize his energy, or rather, his magic. It was almost like cooling boiling water from a violent bubbling to a soft rippling.
And neither of them had any idea what it was that caused it.
But they had more important things to worry about, and so had shelved the strange reaction for the time being and gone back to what they were doing before; not that Harry was entirely sure what it was Tony had been doing, but he wasn't the scientist, so that was neither here nor there. Tony had told him the construction of, what Harry had nicknamed the 'science portkey' (because Tony's name for it was long and confusing and Harry couldn't pronounce all the words), would take about a week to finish.
That meant Harry had a week to get his affairs in order, and tell Severus and Muhammad that he would be leaving (he didn't want to tell Bruce directly, because, like the twins, he would probably want to come with, and he would be safer on Earth). It was less time than he had hoped for, so he wouldn't be able to visit everyone. if he pushed it, he would be able to make one visit before he needed to be back, and he wasn't entirely sure who he should go see.
He really wished he had more time.
"Thor? May I speak with you?" The thunderer looked up at him. Harry was on the roof again, having been pointed that way by the captain (who was very polite, but talked like an old man), when he had asked after Thor's whereabouts. The god was sitting on the building's edge, his legs dangling out over empty air, and Harry was loathe to get too much closer. He supposed that when one could fly, there was no need to fear great heights, but, without a broom, he was not one of those people. Thor smiled brightly at him from his seat, though the expression didn't quite meet his eyes.
"How may I be of service, young warrior?" Harry's lip twitched. Thor had taken to calling him that since the invasion. He still wasn't sure how he felt about that title, but he remembered Mahdi calling him something similar, so he never admonished the Asgardian for it.
"I wanted to ask you about Loki." Thor's face began to darken. "Not about anything bad, or about the invasion," He put his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "I meant about what he was like. Before all this." He waved a hand out at the recovering city. "I want you to tell me about Loki, your brother, not Loki, the criminal." The god's face softened again, his smile small; melancholy.
"You wish to know what I see in him?" He asked, a hint of disbelief in his voice. Harry nodded firmly and sat down as close to the god as he dared. "You are the first to ask such a thing..." His voice faded, his eyes looking sadly out towards the horizon as his mind drifted someplace far away. Then he shook himself, and looked carefully, almost suspiciously, at the wizard. "Why do you wish to know?"
"Because... I just have this feeling about him. Like he's not as terrible as everyone thinks. Maybe there's something of who he used to be left in him, so I want to know who that person is." That wasn't quite the truth, but not exactly a lie either. Thor frowned, expression flipping back and forth between sadness and disbelief, but then he nodded slowly with a sort of small, melancholic smile.
"Very well. My brother..." He paused, taking a long moment to gather his thoughts. "Your twins remind me of him; of how he was when we were children." They both smiled. The other occupants of the tower had, already, in the couple days they had been here, found themselves as the victims of several small, relatively harmless, pranks. Far be it from Fred or George to abstain from mischief-making. "He enjoyed playing tricks on others; using his magic and his wits to cause trouble. When we were children, his pranks were harmless. The palace was always filled with great laughter at the things he did." His face lit up. "I recall a time when he used his magic to make all our food dance upon the table during a feast. No one could catch anything to eat it, and it was a humorous sight indeed to see the guards trying to stop our supper from escaping." They both chuckled, Thor at the memory and Harry at the imagery. It sounded like something the marauders would have done, back in the day. Harry was even sure he had read of a similar prank of theirs in the ledger. "And there was another time, when he stole all the drapes in the castle and hung them in the throne room, and none of the-" And so it went, that Harry began to learn about the god of chaos.
In the end, Harry didn't choose who he thought he would.
Initially, he had thought he would visit the Weasleys. He had inevitably decided against that, because, honestly, he felt it would hurt too much to see them, knowing as he did that it would be the last time in a long time. Maybe that was cowardly, but he felt better at the thought of them getting his letters once he was already gone.
After all, if he saw them in person, he would be tempted to tell them he would be disappearing for an undetermined length of time, and they would try to convince him to stay, and fail, and he would feel even worse about leaving them behind than he already did.
He considered the Malfoys, and the Dursleys, but came to the decision that they weren't the people he wanted most to see (though he surprised himself in acknowledging that he did, in fact, want to see them).
In the end, he contacted the goblins, and they easily managed to track down the address he wanted for him, and he left, telling Tony he'd be back either the next day, or the day after, and went there. Now, here he stood, before Grimmauld place. He hadn't known they had chosen to live here, and he ached at that; not so much at his not knowing, as at the place itself. It had been a long time since he had been here, but somehow the memories were as fresh as if they had happened only yesterday.
He swallowed, and sighed, and approached the door. He knocked hesitantly, and, for several moments, he stood there, staring at the worn black door. Enough time passed that he began to raise his hand to knock again, when the click of locks hit his ears, and the door slowly opened.
Harry grinned at the man standing in the doorway, gaping at him.
Harry stared, breath caught in his throat.
Little, currently green, eyes, stared back at him.
Harry was sat on the floor in the first floor sitting room. The tiny little thing had come right up to him, and clasped a teeny tiny hand around one of his fingers without a word. Harry studied him.
He was so... Small. He was two now, as far as Harry was aware, but he had seen pictures of Rose, who was only a few months older, and she was almost twice his size. The moment the little toddler had looked at him, his eyes had turned green (having been brown before that), but his hair remained a shocking shade of blue. He apparently took after his mother. He was a bit pudgy, as with any small child, but Harry could already see the Black cheekbones creeping in. He had a tiny, round button nose, and big, wide eyes. Aside from his hair, and cheeks, everything else was from his father (or so Harry thought, given how sure he was that Tonks was a bit different every time he saw her).
He smelled like baby powder, lotion, wolf, and milk, and, though none of those scents were particularly pleasing to him, he found that the combination was his new favorite smell. Something in him purred like it had when he touched Stark's arc reactor, though thankfully the sound didn't come out aloud.
Harry swallowed nervously, uncertain of his own feelings, and of how to deal with something so small and fragile, and easily hurt (especially when he himself was much stronger than a normal human), and looked over at the couple sitting on a couch to the side of them.
"This is...?" He knew it was, but he couldn't help but to ask. Remus nodded, and Harry's eyes fell again on the child. This was Tonks' and Remus' son. This was his godson.
His heart suddenly felt too big in his chest.
"Hello." He said quietly, swallowing past the thick lump that had swiftly appeared in his throat.
" 'Lo." Teddy's voice was high, and wobbly, and Harry wanted to make him say more. It was so- He didn't really know a word for it.
"I'm your Uncle Harry." He wasn't sure why he used that, but it felt right, and a glance showed Tonks was beaming, hair a bright happy red, and Remus was smiling gently, so he supposed it was alright. "What's your name?"
" 'M Teh-ee." He melted. The boy was so adorable. He wouldn't know what he was saying if he didn't already know his name.
"Nice to meet you Teddy." The child giggled, and then suddenly climbed into his lap. Harry felt as panicked as he had when Ginny had handed him Rose that once without any warning. He pulled his arms back, almost frightened of touching the child, and looked at Remus, begging for help with his eyes, only to find his former professor trying not to laugh at him. Teddy, settling comfortably in his lap, held up a stuffed wolf he had been carrying.
"Wo'f!" He told Harry, sounding, and looking, so proud of himself. The animagus chuckled.
"Hello, wolf." Teddy grinned up at him with a mouth full of tiny, crooked baby teeth. Harry felt like he could never be happier.
He bit his lip, walking as slowly and carefully as he was able, following after Tonks as she led him to Teddy's room. He shifted his arms a little, trying very hard not to wake him; holding him as though he were made of glass.
He had, over the course of the day, grown more comfortable with the child, and had spent most of that time playing with him (it wasn't so different from when he would play with the merchildren in the Black lake, just without the water). Occasionally they had been joined by one of his parents, or the big black dog that had once been Sirius' (He had never known it, but Padfoot had named it James). Harry had done his best, much like he had with Logan, to not dwell on the strange feelings the child invoked. Teddy was his godson, his instant love of him, and the fierce sense of protectiveness that came with it was perfectly normal.
Or so he told himself.
At one point the boy had given him a book to read, and he had fallen asleep in the animagus' arms while he had been reading it. Tonks had instructed him to gather him carefully up and was leading him to the child's room so Harry could lay him down.
It was one of the smaller rooms, on the second floor, and Harry looked around at it, and then back at his godson as the toddler made a soft noise and snuggled against his chest.
Each of the walls were painted different colors in a way that reminded him of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. Red, blue, green, and purple. The ceiling, on the other hand, was black with magically twinkling stars and a crescent moon like the one currently in the sky. He wondered if it magically changed as the real moon did, or if it was a coincidence. There was a big box of toys, some of which were scattered about the floor, a little dresser, and a crib. He made his way over to it, doing his best to avoid tripping on anything, and, after a moment's hesitation, settled the toddler in with as little jostling as he could. Teddy curled into a ball around his stuffed wolf, and Harry pulled his pale yellow blanket over him and lovingly tucked him in. On a whim, he kissed his head before leaving. Tonks looked at him with an expression of warmth as they slipped out and he silently closed the door behind them.
"You were great with him Harry." He flushed, more with pride than embarrassment (though both emotions were present).
"I've never really been around children before." He muttered, following her down the hall; at least not human children. The merkids were made of tougher stuff. Their idea of a harmless game occasionally involved baiting the giant squid and getting smacked with tentacled limbs.
"You'd never know it." She said with a grin. "It was a great choice, I think, making you his godfather." Harry felt a rush of happiness.
"It was." Remus commented as they returned to the sitting room. "You're amazing with him." Harry laughed nervously, unused to this sort of praise.
"Who's the godmother?" He asked. He had never done so before.
"Minerva." Remus stated with pride.
"Actually, she's Headmistress now."
"Is she?" Remus nodded.
"They closed the school for a few months just after you left travelling; to rework the wards and what not, and make everything more secure. When they reopened, she took the lead. There's a new transfiguration professor now. Diana Flint. You went to school with her younger brother, I think?" Harry thought.
"Marcus Flint?" It was the only Flint he knew, and he only recalled him vaguely. "He was captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team if I remember right." Remus nodded.
"That's the one."
"He was a nasty piece of work." Tonks interjected. "He's better now though, I guess. He works with Hagrid. He's the... What was it?"
"Assistant groundskeeper. He's going to take over in a couple years, so Hagrid can focus on his professor duties."
"He still teaches then?" Remus smiled.
"That he does." Harry was glad to hear that. He hadn't spoken to or written Hagrid in some time, but the giant would always hold a place in his heart. He would never turn his back on his very first friend.
"What about Defence? Who teaches that this year?" They both grinned.
"Actually, when old Billy-boy came to help with the wards," Tonks started. "He found that curse on the position. Broke it too."
"Yep." She said with a chuckle. "It wasn't on the position, it was on the office desk." Harry's mouth opened and closed. That was... Actually genius. He had once contemplated how the furniture never changed. Every teacher would have used the same desk... He chuckled. For all that he had hated him, Tom Riddle had been a gifted wizard.
"So there's a permanent teacher now?"
"Well," Remus said slyly. "I don't know about permanent, but I've managed to keep it for two years now, and I'll probably have it for a decade more at least." Harry stared.
"Tha- you- That's fantastic!"" He praised. Remus laughed. "They let you back?" He nodded.
"It took some doing. McGonagall had to twist the board's arms, and I have an assistant teacher, a young man, Daniel Curtis, he's a nice lad-"
"You know him?" Harry nodded.
"We were friends at school. We took Ancient Studies and Spellcrafting together. He was a Hufflepuff."
"Ah, I didn't know you two had been friends. He takes over for me during the three days around the full moon and helps me with the lesson plans and what not the rest of the time."
"That's great." Harry told him, and he meant it. He and Daniel had lost touch after he left Hogwarts, and he had never felt the need to go looking for him, so they weren't really friends anymore, but he was happy he seemed to have made a place for himself. "I'm sure you're everyone's favorite teacher." Remus blushed.
"Well I don't know about that..." Tonks smacked his arm.
"You're too humble for your own good. They love you and you know it. Just wish those seventh year girls would learn to keep their distance." She grumbled. Harry laughed.
"What about Potions? Who took over after-" He bit his tongue as their face's darkened at the near-mention of Severus. He had nearly forgotten. They still thought the man was a cold-blooded murderer. He would need to be more careful so as to not bring him up.
"Right now Slughorn's been teaching, though how that coward survived the war I'll never know. But he took Malfoy on as an apprentice, so he'll be running the classroom next year, Slughorn will probably leave altogether after that."
"You two are on a first-name basis?" Tonks looked surprised.
"Yea. We were friends of a sort the last couple years of school." And they were cousins, if not first cousins. He and Tonks were technically cousins too. Second cousins, he thought, or something like that. He was never very good at remembering those sorts of things.
"Huh. I didn't know. Can't say I understand what you see in him, stuck up as he is." Harry laughed.
"He's not all bad." Tonks huffed.
"Not all bad. Sure. I'll have you know-"
They spent almost half the night talking and catching up, the whole affair almost making Harry forget about what was to come.
Harry hummed appreciatively into his morning tea. He was the first one up today and he was somewhat glad for it. Grimmauld place was much as he remembered it, yet still very different. He technically still owned it, but he had more or less told McGonagall the order could use it for whatever they needed. As such, he had thought they were either still using it, or it was empty. He wasn't that miffed that no one had told him the Lupins had taken up residence there, but it still would have been nice if someone had sent him a letter or something.
Not that every letter anyone sent him always reached him, given how much moving around he had done. More than a couple of owls had gotten lost here and there.
Almost all the furnishings were the same, though there was a chair or a couch here and there that looked unfamiliar. The house elf heads were gone. Someone had managed to take down his grandmother's portrait. Or rather, Remus said it, and the other portraits (there were other portraits? He only knew about the one of Phineas Nigellus), had been moved up to the attic, along with everything else they had relocated. He said, since everything was still Harry's, they didn't want to get rid of anything without his permission. He told them they could chuck the heads, but had nothing to say about the portraits. He had only met the one of Walburga (and seen the one of the former Hogwarts Heasmaster but never spoken to it) and no matter how much of a pain in the arse she was, she was still technically his grandmother, so he was a bit on the fence about what to do with her portrait.
He decided she could stay in the attic for now.
The Lupins were the only ones who lived there right now, and only during the summer and the winter hols. During the school year, all three of them lived in Remus' professor's quarters at Hogwarts. There were other people who stayed there occasionally; mostly order members. They stayed here when they needed to lie low, when they were down on their luck, or if they lived in another country and came visiting. Grimmauld place had become something of a halfway-house.
Harry thought Sirius would have liked that.
Still, no matter how many people were here at any one time, no one ever stayed in Sirius' old room, as that was now Harry's room, for if ever he wanted it. It was where he had slept last night, and it hadn't changed a bit since the last time he had been there. There wasn't even any accumulated dust.
McGonagall had assigned Dobby to caring for the place and keeping it cleaned (he got paid sixteen sickles and three knuts a month), and he did his job very well.
Harry's eyes flicked to the ceiling. He should probably take a look at the attic. The only things up there he had ever inspected clearly were the contents of Sirius' school trunk, but the room had been packed even back then. He didn't really feel up to it just then however, so instead he put it on his mental list of things to accomplish whenever he managed to come back from Asgard.
How long would he be there? A few weeks? Months? Years?
Would he even be allowed to stay? Would he be locked up in a cell somewhere for showing up uninvited? He had no idea, but it wasn't exactly something he could plan out. There really wasn't anything at all that he could do. Not that that kept him from agonizing over it.
What was it that was coming? What horror loomed on the horizon that required the work of a god and a wizard to defeat? What was going to happen?
He had forced the thoughts into the depths of his mind, but in this moment of silence they reared up, the countless possibilities and imaginings making his stomach churn and threatening to choke him.
"Something on your mind?" He jumped, eyes snapping to Remus' face as the werewolf sat down at the table. He hadn't even noticed him come into the kitchen.
"Um, well... Yea, you could say that." Remus poured himself a cup of tea and sat back, blowing on it a bit and waiting for Harry to explain. He side-tracked a little. "I... I'm leaving today." Remus nodded, looking puzzled.
"I know that. You did say you weren't staying long."
"No. I mean... I'm leaving, Remus. I'm... I'm going somewhere. Someplace very far away, where no one will be able to contact me, and... I don't know when I'll be back." He knew his face showed the pain he felt. "I don't know when I'll see any of you again." Remus looked surprised, and then concerned.
"Have you gotten yourself caught up in something dangerous, Harry?" Harry bit his lip.
"I can't tell you."
"So you have then... Is this-" He stopped. "Is there anything you can tell me?" Harry shook his head miserably. He didn't want anyone here (in the wizarding world) knowing about the events in New York if he could help it, or about his involvement at all.
"I just... I wanted to meet him. Teddy. Before I go." Remus smiled slightly.
"In case something happens to you while you're gone." Harry nodded. "I understand." He looked pained. "This... This, whatever it is, is something you've already made up your mind about, isn't it?" Harry nodded.
"It's something I have to do."
"Then there's not really anything I can say." He chuckled hollowly. "Sirius was always so stubborn. Once he made up his mind about something, there was nothing to be done about it. I think you get that from him, probably. Your mother was the same way though. So was James, actually." He chuckled humorlessly, and then he sighed. "Just... Be careful, Harry." The animagus nodded, but then...
An idea popped into his head. He wasn't sure what spawned it, he didn't even know if it would really work (James had said so but he had yet to try it, yet to find the time to at all)... But...
"You miss him a lot, don't you?"
"Sirius?" Harry nodded. Remus looked very sad and he responded in a very soft voice. "I do, yes. I miss him very much." Harry took a deep breath and stood up.
"Tonks and Teddy are still asleep right?" Remus looked a bit puzzled.
"Good, come on." Remus may have been confused, but he left his tea on the table and dutifully followed Harry upstairs to the young wizard's room. Once they were in it, Harry locked and warded the door.
"Harry?" Remus looked a bit worried. Harry didn't answer him at first, his eyes locking onto one of the two rings he wore: the one with a cracked black stone. He wasn't sure what to... But like he had always known, he pulled it off his finger and set it in center of his palm. Then he turned it against his skin, like a knob on a radio.
"Sirius Black the Third." He whispered. For a moment, he thought he had done it wrong, but then there was a flux of foreign magic, like someone pouring ice along his spine. He shivered, closing his eyes with a stifled noise, and in the next moment, there was a gasp. He looked up at Remus, who looked like he was seeing a ghost, and, indeed he was.
For there was Sirius, somewhat transparent, but colorful (though the colors were a little faded), unlike a ghost was, and grinning at them.
"Hey there Moony old chap." The werewolf's mouth worked up and down, and then he fell backwards in a dead-faint. "Oops. Maybe you should have warned him first, kitten." Harry snickered.
"Yea. Probably should have."
They waited a while before waking him up, instead talking quietly. It felt almost like Sirius was alive again, especially as they could finally talk a bit more in depth, since there wasn't a Hel-imposed time limit for how long they could speak. While Harry couldn't remain in the white world for very long without dying, Sirius could be in the living world as long as Harry kept him there.
"You could have told me about the ring sooner you know." He chastised, not really meaning it. In this moment it felt almost like the canine animagus had never died.
"Eh." Sirius waved a hand dismissively. "You needed some time to yourself, to travel and get your head straight. If you'd known, you would have either called one of us up often, and wouldn't have been able to be as free as you were, or you would have waited, and would be feeling extra guilty right now. Besides, there wasn't really the time for it." Harry hummed noncommittally.
"It would still have been nice to know..." Sirius rolled his eyes.
"Whatever." His face softened. "So how you been kiddo?"
"Don't you know?"
"Sort of. We get to see you, sometimes. But not all the time. Just snippets, you know? Sneak peeks and feelings. Like, I know you had fun travelling, and I got to see some of your little adventures, but there's a lot I don't know about. And I know something big is happening right now, but I'm not in the loop on the details."
"Well... It's like this-"
When they finally woke Remus up again, it took him several moments of sitting on the floor, back against the bed, and staring with an open mouth while Sirius teased and made fun of him for fainting like a girl before he accepted that, yes, it was Sirius, and yes, he was here (sort of). Harry left them alone for a bit, Sirius telling him to leave the ring in the room (and complaining about all his posters being gone), and it was over an hour later when Tonks came down, carrying Teddy and looking flustered as she rushed around.
"Where's Remus?" She asked while throwing a million things into a bag, and trying to eat an apple (her breakfast, it seemed) at the same time.
"Oh, he had some lesson plans for next year he wanted to hash out." He said nervously. She snorted.
"That man will work himself into the ground for his students, I swear. I'm taking Teddy to the babysitter's." Why was she doing that if Remus was meant to be home for the day, Harry wondered. But then he remembered Remus saying that Tonks' mum watched Teddy for them, and decided it was probably more a visit than anything else. "Let him know I'll be off around six today." She kissed him on the cheek. "See you 'round Harry." He grinned, and waved goodbye to Teddy (fighting back the urge to snatch him from his mother so he would never have to say goodbye), who grinned at him over his mom's shoulder and waved back, as they bustled out the door.
He felt a little empty. He didn't know when he would see them again.
But he had a damned good reason to come back now. He wanted to see Teddy grow up, if nothing else. He wanted to be there, and look after him, and keep him safe, and make him smile and laugh at every opportunity, and interrogate any girls (or boys) he brought home. He would need to visit much more often once he was able.
Why in Hel's name had he never come to visit the Lupins sooner?
Though he did feel a little guilty. He had never felt that sort of instant connection to little Rose that he did to Teddy, even though she was his godchild too, and he felt bad about it. Was he a bad person, because little Teddy meant more to him, even though Rose was born first? Was he a terrible godfather because the thought of Rose being hurt, while greatly upsetting, didn't cause the same snarling growl that thoughts of Teddy hurt, involuntarily caused?
He worried over it for a bit, until Remus finally came down, handed him the ring, and pulled him into a bear-hug, nearly lifting him up off the floor in the process. He scrambled a bit on his toes and clung to his surrogate uncle half because he wanted to and half because he was afraid he'd fall over if he didn't.
"Thank you Harry." He whispered, sounding near-tears. "I don't know how you did it, but thank you." Harry grinned into his chest and hugged him back just as tightly.
"You're welcome Moony."
When lunchtime came around, and it was time for Harry to leave, their goodbye was undeniably tearful.
Harry took in the smoggy New York air with a deep sigh, feeling strangely more at home in the city he hadn't lived long in, despite the recent events. It was time to get back to work. He snickered to himself. When had dealing with catastrophes and alien invasions and irritating gods become his job?
Probably back when he was a baby and fate decided to piss on his life.
"I was worried you flew the coup." Was the first thing Tony said to him when he arrived at the tower. He snorted.
"I told you I was coming back." The billionaire shrugged, smirking at him, and Harry didn't think his statement had been serious.
"Fury wants to speak to you. So does your old man. He went to the helicarrier last night, and he came back looking pissed." Harry groaned. Shit. He had forgotten to tell Severus about taking the spear. He had gotten too distracted when he remembered the twins coming over. Oh he was in trouble...
"I'm not sure which one I want to brave first." He muttered. A throat cleared, and he froze, looking slowly over his shoulder, to the very angry-looking potion master who had suddenly appeared behind him with his arms crossed. He winced.
"Good luck." The genius offered him before fleeing the room, and Severus grabbed him by the shoulder, bodily dragging him away to another room. Harry grunted as he found himself thrown onto a couch.
"You idiot child!" Severus snarled at him, and Harry felt like he was back in second-year detention, scrubbing cauldrons while the potion master berated him. "What in Merlin's name were you thinking? What possible stupidity could compel you to do something so reckless as take that weapon?!"
"I didn't want them to have it!" He defended. "They tried to use the tesseract to make weapons! They DID use it to make weapons!" As Fury had revealed to them. "What would they do with a mind-controlling scepter?!"
"THEY are not its' masters! They have no magic!"
"That doesn't mean they couldn't have learned how to replicate its' effects! You really expected me to let an agency that would, willingly, send a nuclear warhead to a populated city, have that kind of power?!" For several seconds, the man glared down at him, and then his anger reverted to irritation.
"You could at least have told me." He hissed. Harry's shoulders slumped.
"I know. I'm sorry. I planned to, but then I-" He sighed, gritting his teeth, knowing from experience that his forgetfulness would only anger the man further. "There's no excuse. I know that. I'm sorry." Severus sighed.
"Very well." He said. "This time, I will forgive it." Then he glowered, voice low and dark. "But if you ever again fail to tell me something so important as this, something which may well threaten your safety and mine, I will find the worst potion shop in the city and buy every dirtied cauldron I can, and force you to scrub them until they shine, and your hands bleed. And then, when you are through, I will use you to test out my experimental potions." Harry nodded rapidly. "Good." His father leaned back.
"Um... On that note, there's some other things I should probably tell you..." He'd forgotten how intimidating the man's black-eyed stare could be...
"Explain." He growled out. "Now."