The next morning saw all four of them up early, they didn't know what the day would bring and it had made sleep hard for all of them. Fred and George took the first shower, then went into their room to finish getting ready. Harry thought it was a strange arrangement for the rooms. His and Fionn's bedroom being the only room that lead into the formal receiving room, and the bathroom and other bedroom attached to it. But not knowing what purpose these rooms were usually used for, maybe it made sense somehow?
He stepped into the shower and Fionn followed him. It was still occasionally odd, doing things like sharing a shower together. They were mated now, and obviously doing more than just sleeping in bed together. But sometimes the little things still surprised him. He soaped up his hair, and then began to lather the rest of himself as Fionn finished his own hair and moved to wash Harry's back. They traded places and washed off without the lingering they might otherwise have done. Pepper hadn't said when Laric would arrive, and truthfully, being in such a rich place made him a little nervous. What if he broke something?
Entering their room again, Fionn pulled out clothes for himself and started dressing. Harry rummaged in the bag they'd brought from Ash's before dinner last night, and pulled out a pair of dark blue jeans. Pulling them on, he grabbed a faded-looking purple shirt and tossed it on the bed. His hair was still dripping down his shoulders and back, some of the water running down his chest. He'd need to dry it better before putting the shirt on, and he hated drying charms, they made his hair wilder than it already was. Wrapping a towel around his head and scrubbing at his hair with both hands, he tried to wring out as much water as he could.
Of course that would be the moment the door opened and Laric walked in. The Warrior came to an immediate halt, and his eyes widened slightly in surprise. He evidently hadn't expected a bedroom to be attached to the receiving room either. Harry froze a moment, looking up into ice blue eyes as another drop of water escaped and ran down his neck. A faint blush appeared on Laric's face and he hurried back the way he came, speaking quickly as he did so.
"I, ah, I'll just wait out here until you are ready..." The door shut firmly and they could hear footsteps moving quickly away from it.
Harry let the towel fall to the floor and covered his face with one hand. "Merlin."
"At least you were wearing trousers."
"Yeah, just think of the look on Laric's face if he had walked in before you'd had those on!" George and Fred started snickering.
Harry just shook his head, he hadn't heard them open their door but wasn't in the least surprised that they had managed to witness that. As he picked up his shirt, Fionn walked over and kissed him. He smiled softly at the Fae before pulling his shirt on and grabbing the bag of their clothes. Entering the receiving room, he saw Laric all the way across the room with his back to them. He appeared to be studying one of the tapestries.
"Er, we're ready?"
Laric turned around slowly, a faint red hue still visible across his cheekbones. He seemed relieved to see all of them fully dressed. "Miss Cambion informed us that Miss Montgomery was called away. As she and Gideon are both very busy with Council and Festival duties, it falls to me to watch over you all. My home isn't much, but you are welcome to what I have. Gather around please, we will travel by Storm as it is across the city from here and I am sure you will wish to see some of the Festival today." A slight smile crossed his lips as he said the last, he was teasing them!
Harry moved to stand to Laric's left, Fionn moved beside him and wrapped an arm around Harry's waist. Fred moved to stand beside Fionn, with George completing the circle to Laric's right. Harry wondered how traveling by Storm would differ from Air. He hoped the trip was as smooth as it was with Ash, and not like the Wizarding forms of travel he hated.
Once they were all in position, Laric raised his wings high in the air behind his head. A heavy feeling formed in the room, the feeling you got before a bad storm. The air seemed to thicken, the smell of ozone filled the air. Lightning arced between Laric's upraised wings, and thunder crashed! Suddenly, they were no longer in the receiving room in the rooms Pepper had given to them. They were in what appeared to be a modest living room. The floor was polished wood, but it was scratched in places as though heavy things had been dragged across it. The walls were painted a soft cream, and there were a few worn pieces of furniture. A lone sofa, two cloth covered arm chairs, and a coffee table with a few books on it. Laric allowed his wings to relax and fold across his back again, he shifted slightly as though nervous, or perhaps embarrassed, as he saw them look around the room.
"You can put your things in here." He moved quickly to the left of the room and down a short hallway. There were 4 doors, Laric stopped at the first one and opened it to reveal a small bedroom. Smaller than either of the two they had at Ash's house, it had a double bed, dresser and nightstand. There were no windows. The second door had a bedroom identical to the first, and the third door was a tiny bathroom. Just big enough for a tub/shower combo, sink and toilet. "My bedroom is the door at the end. I.. rarely have overnight guests, so the rooms aren't much..."
"It's fine. I was afraid we would have to share a room with Fred and George, so this is perfect!" Harry made his voice sound cheerful and grinned at the twin cries of outrage. It was obvious that Laric was embarrassed, and expected them to compare his home to Pepper or Ash's. Just from the quick look around he'd gotten, Harry could tell that while the house was small and seemed shabby, Laric wasn't as poor as you would think at first glance. Sure, the furniture was older and well-worn, but it seemed to be solid. Heavy like they would have made a hundred or more years ago... He knew the Warriors were old, he wanted to take a closer look around, see if his idea was correct. But Laric was visibly uncomfortable, and he had no wish to make him more so. Tossing their bag on the bed in the first room, he and Fionn headed back into the hall where Fred and George waited impatiently.
"What should we see first?"
Laric led them from the house onto a surprisingly empty street. There were people around, but considering the Festival was going on, there was very little traffic, and everyone that Harry could see were Warriors. They had to hurry to keep up with the Warrior's long strides, though he quickly noticed and shortened them. Soon they had come to a wider street, and followed it along to a smaller Square. Vendors were here, as were a troupe of acrobats, and a Fae who was making illusionary creatures to the delight of her child audience. It wasn't long before they were swept up into the cheer of the Festival, so many sights and sounds.
One stall they passed was selling weapons. Swords and knives, axes and bows, strange things Harry couldn't name much less guess at how to use. He was surprised, he hadn't actually seen anyone use a weapon in the Realm. Magics of various kinds, yes, weapons no. Another vendor was selling small animated toys. Little dragons who breathed real fire, sirens who sang a song with the touch of your finger, horses that pranced and neighed, purring kittens, barking puppies. He started to continue on past when one caught his eye. It was a small figure, only about 4 inches tall. A white unicorn that sparkled in the light, but as he watched it toss it's mane and walk around, it changed. A shadow seemed to start at it's hooves, it bled up the legs, turning the snow-white coat black. Soon a black unicorn walked where once the white unicorn had been, shadows seemed to form around it, and no sun sparkled on it's dark coat. And then brilliant white appeared again, slowly taking over until the transformation was back at the starting point. Harry didn't even think, he just picked it up and approached the vendor. Ash would love this, it was perfectly her!
Tying the bag to his belt loops, he hurried to catch up to the group again, finding them only a few stalls down. Fred was already pestering Laric and George was pestering the vendor, Harry shook his head, they were going to be in trouble all the time now he just knew it. As they went to move on again, they heard yelling and saw a knot of people up ahead. He stretched up on his toes, but it was no good. He was too short to see what was going on. The crowd drifted towards them, and the yelling went up a notch.
"What's going on? Can any of you see?"
"Can't see a thing, too many people in the way. But I bet it's Rialyn." Fred looked down at Harry and grinned.
"Only Rialyn can piss someone off that much." Fred and George said together, and then they started laughing.
They laughed even harder when they were close enough to see that one of the people having the shouting match was Rialyn! He had his hands planted on his hips, and was looking down his nose at a female gargoyle who was waving her arms around and yelling in his face.
"If you didn't want that answer, you shouldn't have asked an Indigo Fae to See for you. Go to the Mortal Realm and ask a Fortune Teller, maybe they'll give you a different answer. It won't be the truth, but you obviously are an idiot whom truth is wasted on." He sniffed and tossed his hair, the beads clicking softly. "Now pay up before I take you before the guard."
The gargoyle looked pissed, but she did pull out a few coins, throwing them on the ground at Rialyn's feet before storming off. The red-haired Fae stooped and scooped up the coins, putting them in his pocket. As he straightened up again, his eyes fell on Harry and the rest, giving Harry a saucy wink, he turned and sauntered off. Harry shook his head, at least the Fae wasn't going in the direction they were headed.
The morning had turned to late afternoon, it had been a surprisingly fun day. Even with the crowds, there had been so much to see and do that none of them complained. Tonight there would be fireworks, and every night for the rest of the Festival as well. Laric, for all his formality, was fun to hang out with, and he seemed to know a lot of people. Or at least, a lot of people knew him. Harry wondered if it was because Laric was friends with Gideon, or if it was because of how long he'd lived in the Realm. But he wasn't quite willing to ask. If only Ash was with them, the day would have been perfect.
AN: Thanks as always to my beta, Nicky Noodle.
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