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Harry's back stiffened. Bucky could see the tension in his the muscles of his shoulders and jaw, veins becoming taunt against the young man's slightly tanned skin.
"What has Petunia got to do with you?" he asked pointedly.
"She well..." Harry muttered, refusing to look at any of them. He looked beyond uncomfortable, fidgeting with the edge of his shirt, wrinkling the fabric with sweat damp fingers. "She and her family took me in after my parents, eh, my mother and..." he was trailed off again as he didn't know how to name James Potter anymore. "I lived with them. That's all."
Bucky frowned. It didn't seem to be all. "Why?" he asked. "Petunia didn't care for her sister. She wouldn't have been the first or even fifth choice of a guardian for you."
"Magic," Harry said with a shrug and as if that word was his salvation his face lit up. "It had to do with magic and protection but this conversation can wait. I think Steve would like an explanation."
Bucky was not about to forget the topic; however he too was reminded that Steve had only moments before been told about the existence of magic. Once glance at the Captain told him that his friend had not yet recovered from the chock. He was looking at them with glazed eyes and his mouth was open in a dumbfounded expression.
"Are you okay, Steve?" he asked.
Hearing his name was enough for the blond to get drawn out of his stupor. "I'm not sure," he said. "I- I don't feel like I deserve to be upset or surprised, not after what you two have been through today, but I would very much like an explanation. Just answer this for now: is magic real?"
"Yes," Harry said with a small smile. "I didn't believe it either at first when found out about it when I was eleven, but magic like in stories is very much real. Think old fairy tales and legends. The witch trials. All of it is founded in truth."
"How come the world doesn't know?"
"We are good at keeping hidden," Lupin said. "Harry mentioned the witch trials. Not many witches and wizards, as we call ourselves, died, but it did create a lot of fear and resentment. There was a large separatist movement and an international law called the Statue of Secrecy was created along with Ministries in different nations around the world to keep the existence of magic from being common knowledge."
Steve was frowning thoughtfully. "Was magic used during the Second World War?"
Harry shrugged. "I never paid attention in History of Magic," he admitted sheepishly, receiving a reproving look from Lupin. "And I don't think our teacher even has covered anything that has happened over the last hundred years. It's always the goblin rebellion of the 11th or 16th century and so on with him."
Lupin sighed and nodded. "Binns isn't a very good teacher; I'll admit that, he did the same while I was at Hogwarts. To answer your question, magic was used during both World Wars, not to any great extent though. What happened was that there was a magical war happening parallel to the one you fought in. Witches and wizards were battling against other witches and wizards, to busy to get involved with the struggle happening around them. Most witches and wizards are oblivious to the world around them, living in an isolated bubble."
Bucky came to think of something then. "Harry," he said, "when is your birthday?"
Harry looked bemused at the question. "July thirty-first."
"Why are you still in school then? Because that was why you were in New York was it not? This is a school trip. You turned eighteen before the school year began, you should have graduated from Hogwarts already."
"Eh," Harry shared a look with Lupin.
"You-Know-Who," the prematurely greying wizard said.
"What about him?" Bucky asked. He thought that it was more than enough that the man who was nothing more than a glorified terrorist had killed his wife. He didn't want to hear what else the man had done, but he needed to hear it. "What really happened when Lily was murdered?"
"It's a story that is well known in our world," Lupin said.
"But I do not know it," he insisted.
"Are you okay Harry?" Lupin said, as he looked away from the Soldier's piercing and accusing glare he had noticed that Harry looked tired. Bucky looked at the young man too, noticing the same and feeling the irritating drawing from him as it was overtaken by worry.
"I'm fine," he said none too convincingly.
"Tell me the truth."
"It's just... I don't think I can bear tell my entire story right now. It's too much. This day has already been too much." Harry moved his hand to smooth down his fringe and then he placed his hands in his lap, fiddling with his fingers. "I stepped in front of a gun, not knowing what the hell I was thinking, and then it turns out that the guy who was about to shoot another guy is my missing father! I just…" he made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. "I need some time to clear my head. And I think that you could use that too." As he said the last he looked up at Bucky, looking him straight in the eyes.
"Okay," was what the found himself responding. "Take all the time you need. I'm not about to pretend that this will be easy. It won't be. I only know that I want to get to know you, Harry."
"Okay," his son responded with a nod. "I… I think I would like to get to know you too. We just have to move slow, yeah?"
"We'll take as much time as we need."
Before he knew it he was on his feet, ready for battle; adrenaline pumping through his veins and muscles tensed. He didn't need a gun to kill someone; he knew several dozen ways to kill a man without needing a weapon.
When he realized what he was doing he stilled and took a series of shallow breaths through his nose. He wasn't the Soldier any more. He was Bucky Barnes and he didn't have to kill anyone, especially not late at night in Steve's quiet apartment. He was safe. They both were. And they were alive. He clenched and unclenched his metal hand, forcing himself to relax.
He had retreated to Steve's guest room after Lupin and Harry left. He had so much to think about and Harry, his son, was right about going slow. They needed it. They had the luxury of time. Or they should have and Bucky was prepared to take the risk it was of acting like everything was okay. If he was to live life he was not going to be afraid, but he would be more cautious and he would not let his guard down the way he had done. It had cost him Lily. It would not cost him Harry.
Still something had made him battle ready as he woke up and he tensed again as he heard something. Untangling from the sheet that was wrapped around his foot he moved to the door just as that something started to speak.
"I don't know how long you thought you would be able to keep it a secret Captain Rogers," a man was saying.
"I wasn't planning on keeping him a secret," Steve said calmly. "Sir," he added as an afterthought, making Bucky's lips twitch to a smile.
"But neither was you planning on informing us."
"I knew you would know. I've not forgotten that you have cameras everywhere. I would not be surprised if our confrontation was in the evening news."
"It would have been had we not interfered."
Bucky pushed the door slightly. It had not been shut so he did not need to open it; he only needed it to move enough so that he could see. He could see Steve's back and the way the light of the lamps made everything slightly yellow. Beyond his friend stood another man, an African-American in a black trench coat, his head bald and an eye patch over his left eye. The man was a soldier too. He could see it in the rigid tension of his back and the way he held his hands.
"Do you know how many people he has killed?" the man asked.
"No," Steve answered. "And I don't need to know. I know the man he is and there is a difference between him and the weapon he was forced to be."
"Can you trust that?"
"I trust him."
"Your word and your trust is not enough, Cap. Mr. Barnes, if you would join us."
Steve turned around and looked at him; there was resignation in his gaze.
Bucky knew that he had been spotted, and he needed to play nice. He wasn't the soldier. He wasn't. He pushed the door so that it slid open all the way and stepped out into the living room.
"I am Director Nick Fury with SHIELD."
"We cannot trust you."
He nodded again. He could understand it.
"For security reasons we need to keep you under surveillance and it would be much easier if you would consider coming with me. We would evaluate you; make sure that you will remain you as long as you are not in contact with the people using you again. And we can make sure that they don't get close to you."
"Easier," he said. "Yes, I could make this very difficult."
Fury took two steps forward. "We know that. But you are acting like a man with a mind again, and I'm addressing you as such. Give us time and we will give you the chance to atone."
"What makes you believe I would want that?"
"We know who you were before. We know that Captain Rogers have welcomed you back with open arms."
"I'll do as you say."
"Good," Fury did not smile, but he looked pleased all the same.
"On one condition," Bucky continued.
Fury looked at him levelly until he let up.
"I don't want you to touch Harry."
"Mr. Potter has nothing to fear from us. We do not get involved with magic."
End Chapter 7
AN 17th May 2014
Last chapter you guys proved to be a blood thirsty bunch. A lot of reviewers said that they wanted Bucky to revert back to his Winter Soldier persona and torture/kill the Dursleys. Sorry to disappoint, but for all that I dislike the Dursleys I don't hate them that much. Some of you were concerned for them too I might add, thinking that not even they deserve to be visited by the soldier. We'll see what happens later on in the story.
[Last edited October 2015]