Chapter 1: Washed Up
So, I kind of want to write this without going through everything again, like I did with Fayth – once was enough, thanks – so I'm going to try having a bit of fun with the pilgrimage. ^.^"
Alternately, the version of Spira in this fic is a bit different from Fayth, because I spent a lot of extra time figuring it out, unlike how I sort of made it up as I went for Fayth. (Then I went to the Final Fantasy Wiki and beat my head against the wall because they had the real history there, though I don't intend to change my original conception to match it. I like my idea better. ^.~ Just want you to keep in mind that this Spira doesn't have the same history of the Spira in Fayth. Though, considering Harry and co aren't fayth in this one, that should be obvious.)
Also, if slash isn't your cup of tea, find another fic. Harry hits on practically everyone in the story, but he also has a couple of moments with Tidus, and I'm not going to mark them.
This is your only warning. If I get people complaining, I'll block them.
Harry woke from his long sleep in a bubble of water, which seemed a bit odd, as he was sure that when he'd decided to sleep in the basement of an abandoned temple, the place had still been well above sea level. 'Fucking Machina Wars,' he grumbled in his head, then made for where he hoped the surface was. Of course, being a vampire, Harry didn't really need to breath, but there was still something slightly disturbing about being trapped underwater.
Once Harry made it to dry land again – in the form of a small, enclosed beach – he bemoaned the state of his clothing. His white shirt was slightly green and slimy, and his leather pants and boots were just gross. Even his long braid had taken quite the beating, though it, at least, was still in mostly one piece, if a bit longer than he'd remembered it being. He wandlessly cast a couple of spells to fix the ruined outfit and clean and rebraid his hair, then turned to check over his four weapons.
The two magically enhanced guns were a little water-logged and would need a new magazine if he intended to use either of them. He could conjure a new magazine, of course, but there was something about the mix of gas in the magazines that went a little sour when conjured, so he would much rather wait and see if he could find some new magazines. Of course, if there weren't any that fit his guns, he'd have to conjure them anyway...
Putting his guns back in their holsters at the small of his back, he reached up over his shoulders to draw the twin katanas he'd won off the only other Japanese swords master he'd ever met who used two full-sized katanas. As the man had promised, the swords were still in perfect condition, despite one thousand years or so underwater. The sheaths needed some magical repair, but it was easy enough that Harry didn't even really have to think about it. Four thousand years was a long time for some light leather sheaths and he'd gotten rather used to repairing them.
Putting his swords away, Harry looked around the tiny beach. "Okay," he mumbled to himself, "two options, Potter. You can go back out into the water again to maybe find a more accessible beach and then have to fix your clothing again, or you can climb that hill behind you and get a little dirty."
Considering that Harry had just fixed his favourite clothing after a brush with the deep sea, he opted for climbing the sandy hill and jumped to it.
It took him a few minutes to manage the hill, but once he had he realised he had a lovely view of the beach and the mounds of sand around it. It took him a moment before he recognised the island he'd decided to sleep on. "Besaid?" he muttered. "But..." He shook his head. The island had once been a lot bigger.
Finally, he shook the surprise from his mind. "If there's people living on this island – and that dock over there says there are – they've probably settled near one of the temples. This one, clearly, is kaput," he decided, looking down into the ocean where the temple he'd fallen asleep in lay. "That leaves the Holy Order of Bevelle's temple, and that fayth temple they were just building before I left." He glanced to either side of the large mountain that rose up in the centre of the island, to where the other two temples had been. Finally, he decided to just see if there was a path and follow it.
Irritatingly enough, there were two paths. He took the one to the right, only to come up on a sharp drop into a body of water. One glance down at his poor pants made him turn around and take the other path, which was, luckily enough, much better travelled, if the bridges were anything to go by.
He ran into a few fiends on the way and seriously wished for his guns after realising he really wasn't in any shape to use his swords, but he managed well enough. It helped that there wasn't anything on the island that seemed able to kill him. (Though, considering what he was, that wasn't really much of a stretch.)
He came upon the village just as a young woman summoned a great bird, and Harry rose an eyebrow at that. Before he'd died, summoners were rarely found south of the Gagazet mountains, since Bevelle abhorred them. The people of Zanarkand had managed to talk the people of Besaid into creating a temple for a fayth on the island, but that was mostly because Bevelle didn't care about the little temples all the way to the south, especially since Zanarkand's summoners would have never made it down that far.
Harry, of course, had gleefully told the people of Zanarkand that the world was round, and they had been able to send a few ships the long way to the islands and live among their people for a few years, teaching them about the Zanarkand ways. (Harry had always disliked Bevelle; the righteous bastards were far too much like the Ministry of England that had banned him from the place of his birth for being a creature, despite his status as their saviour.)
Now, however, if the state of the village was anything to go by, the Machina Wars were not only over, but so, too, was the use of machina.
'Guess I'll have to conjure those magazines after all,' Harry decided, then walked into town, seeing the summon leaving.
It had not been the first time Harry had slept for an extended period of history, and he knew what sort of questions to ask, assuming he could find someone knowledgeable. A hut with a dual warrior and rest insignia above the door caught his eye and he grinned; he always had liked the warrior classes of Earth. Or Spira. Whatever.
"Greetings, stranger," the man behind the counter called, waving at him.
"Greetings," Harry replied easily, taking a seat at the counter. "Anything for a parched man to drink around here?"
The man chuckled and pulled out a glass, which he filled with water. "First one's on the house," he declared, eyeing Harry's twin swords with appreciation.
Harry acknowledged the kindness with a raise of his glass, then drank the water down. Not that Harry needed the drink, but it really sucked to have a dry, slightly salty mouth.
"You look a bit peaked," the barman commented, refilling Harry's glass without a word.
Harry rubbed at the back of his head sheepishly. "Yeah?" He shrugged. "Came a long way, I suppose. Got a bit turned around, too." He grimaced. "My boat got tipped and I lost my footing. Woke up on your beach." He nodded behind him, from whence he'd come.
The barman nodded in understanding. "Probably Sin, then. Couple of the boys said they might have seen a fin early this mornin'. Another lad came ashore, too. Blond, by the name of Tidus. Swears he played blitzball in Zanarkand, but we all know that city was destroyed a thousand years ago." The barman laughed while Harry offered a sad smile. So Zanarkand had lost the conflict, then. "Don't suppose you know him?"
Harry shook his head. "Probably not. I've been travelling by myself for a while, since my brother and sister died with their kids," he said, remembering all too well the pain of learning about the bombs that had decimated England when his god daughter, Rose, was only ten. The only kindness was that they'd likely all died quickly.
Pain reflected in the barman's eyes. "Aye, we've all lost someone to Sin. For what it's worth, I'm sorry for your loss."
"And I for yours," Harry replied grimly.
The barman sighed. "Well, there's a boat bound for Kilika tomorrow, and the boat from there to Luca will be the next mornin'. You can probably catch a ride to the mainland and find a way home from there. For tonight, there's to be a celebration for Lady Yuna's becoming a summoner, and a bed here is ten gil a night."
Harry poked through his small hip pouch a bit for the currency he'd picked up on the road and counted out ten coins, which he handed over to the man. "I'll see you after the party," he said with a grin, then set an extra coin on the counter for the water and wandered back outside the inn.
The party was just getting into swing as he reached the centre of the village, where they were working on building up a bonfire. When someone asked if he'd help, he readily agreed and set to it; there had been little enough to celebrate in the centuries before he'd rested, and it was good to enjoy a pleasant moment after his long nap.
It didn't take long for him to spot the blond who'd said he was from Zanarkand. The boy stood out with his machina-made clothing in this island village, just as Harry did. Moreover, the boy seemed almost uncomfortable surrounded by a party .
Harry sidled up to him. "Tidus, right?" he asked, grinning when the blond jumped.
"Y-yeah. How do you..." His question trailed off as he seemed to realise exactly why Harry had known his name. "You seem to have me at a disadvantage," he said instead.
Harry's grin widened. "Oh, I like you," he declared, dropping an arm over the boy's shoulders. "I'm Harry, by the way. You played for the Abes?"
Tidus blinked. "Yeah. Or, well..."
Harry waved him off. "Brilliant team," he said instead. "Stadium was state-of-the-art, you know? Not even Luca could compete after Bevelle finally granted money for them to upgrade their facility." He waggled his eyebrows at the boy.
Tidus stared at him for a long moment before asking, "Are you from Zanarkand too, then?"
Harry snorted. "Oh, Merlin no! I'm from.... Oh, that way, somewhere," he decided, pointing in the general direction of the sunken island of his birth. "Sunken city, by now, but still a lovely place when I was a kid. Or, well, it was if you ignored my relatives." He grinned again at the staring boy. "Never met anyone who'd time travelled before, though. Well, not forward, at least. Didn't think it was possible..." He frowned to consider the thought.
Tidus sighed. "It was Sin," he said. "At least, I think so."
"Mmmm..." was Harry's only reply. The vampire hadn't yet learned enough about Sin to truly have an answer to that. Anyway, he knew it was impossible to travel forward in time, there had been studies done on it.
"Friend of yours?" a curious voice asked, and both Harry and Tidus looked up to see a red-haired man.
"Not quite sure," Tidus replied, trying to get Harry to let him go without being too obvious.
Harry just grinned. "Yup! We've known each other for about....oh, five minutes now, I'd guess. That's enough time to become friends, yeah?"
The red-head just sort of blinked at him and Tidus sighed, giving up on getting out from under Harry's arm.
"Harry, by the way," Harry happily continued, oblivious to their confusion. "Sword for hire. Or well, swords, I'd suppose..." He glanced over his shoulders to check and make sure both blades were still attached to his back and Tidus took his chance to escape. Harry gave him a wounded look.
Tidus rubbed at his neck. "This is Wakka," he told Harry tiredly.
"Well met!" Harry declared, hopping forward to shake the startled man's hand. "Oh, nice grip! Blitzball, then? And... Mm, bit of travel on the road. Fighter?"
Wakka blinked. "Uh, yeah."
"But not a sword?" Harry asked curiously. The red-head didn't have the calluses of a swordsman, but of just a blitzball player. Yet he had the feeling of a somewhat seasoned fighter. And by 'somewhat', Harry meant the man had gone beyond the fiends of Besaid, but wasn't particularly strong, all things considered.
Wakka shook his head. "Fight with a blitzball."
Harry's eyes widened. "Crazy," he declared. "Utterly mad! Does it work? You can't use a regulation ball, they're not quite weighted enough..."
"Nah, have one from my dad," Wakka explained. "He blitzed too, but he wasn't as good at it." He smiled sheepishly. "So he took up being a guardian, like I'm gonna do after this last game. He had his own ball made since blitz was all he really knew."
"Brilliant!" Harry said. "I love looking at weapons." His eyes twinkled slightly.
Wakka nodded, his bearing cautious. "Yah. I saw you got some forbidden machina, ya?"
Harry blinked, then pulled out one of his guns from the small of his back. "Oh, these? Suppose so. But they're out of ammo," he pulled the trigger to prove his point, "so they're not really forbidden, yeah? I just think they look cool." He grinned.
Wakka nodded again. "I suppose. But the teachings say you shouldn't have them at all."
Harry shrugged and put the gun back in its holder. "I seriously doubt anyone's going to come down and smite me because I've got a bit of useless metal on my back."
"But what about Sin, yah? It'll never be gone until we all repent. So maybe you shouldn't be wearing that so much, you know?"
Harry frowned at the red-head. "Wakka, my new friend, I seriously doubt Sin's existence has anything to do with repenting for the sins of our forefathers."
"But Yevon says–"
Harry huffed. "You let some dead guy tell you how to live?" he demanded. "If Yevon said blitzball was suddenly forbidden, would you listen?"
Wakka blinked. "If it got rid of Sin," he agreed, though he didn't seem quite so sure of himself.
Harry just cocked an eyebrow at the other man and shook his head. "Tell you what, think on it and tell me when we get to Luca, okay? Maybe play a couple of games, remember why you like the sport so much. Then consider whether you'd really be willing to give blitzball up," he said firmly, then turned and walked back towards the couple of tables that had food laid out on them. What he really needed was blood, but the food would tide him over until he reached a bigger town, where he could get away with it better. It was so much easier in the old world, with people dying left and right from the war.
"That was an interesting argument," a quiet female voice said.
Harry turned, then grinned madly. "Hey! Finally, a woman with curves. I'm Harry, by the way!" he said cheerfully, holding out a hand to shake.
The woman just sort of looked at him like he was some kind of insect and said, "Lulu."
Harry sighed and smiled a little sheepishly. "Hm. Not the best thing to say for a greeting, right?"
Lulu just continued to eye him.
Harry rolled his eyes and looked her over a bit. "Guardian?" he asked, using Wakka's term from earlier. When Lulu looked slightly surprised, he grinned again and said, "Not a fighter, at least, not a physical fighter. Magic, then? And.... a small focus."
Lulu actually looked a little impressed. "Not bad. I'm a black mage."
"Brilliant!" Harry declared.
Lulu shook her head. "You're quite the curiosity."
"Mmm... Thanks, I think? Was that a compliment?"
"It wasn't meant as an insult," Lulu said.
Harry cocked an amused eyebrow at her. "Clever. I like you." He chuckled. "I seem to be making a lot of friends here."
"I don't consider us friends," Lulu informed him.
Harry just shrugged. "As far as my count is concerned, you don't have to." He winked. "I'm sure I'll see you around, lovely Lulu. Ooh! That sounds kinda cool..."
Lulu shook her head and walked off.
Harry had a great time getting to know the rest of the village, occasionally hitting on people of either sex; he wasn't picky. He managed to meet the summoner, who he'd learned was named Yuna, but they weren't able to talk long, as a few suspicious villagers and a frowning Ronso managed to separate him. Harry did wonder if he maybe shouldn't have told her she looked cute enough to eat, but ended up shrugging it off.
Eventually, the party died down and Harry walked back to the Crusader's hut – as he'd learned the fighting group was called – and to the bed he'd paid for.
Harry woke with a groan not long after he'd gone to bed. The food hadn't been enough, it seemed, and he'd have to find someone to feed from before he hit the bloodlust and ended up killing a few people. Even just a few sips should be able to tide him over until they got to Luca, assuming the trip didn't take more than a couple days. And it would have to be human; last time he had fiend blood, it had left him on his back for almost two weeks.
A soft snoring met his ears and Harry glanced around the hut. The bar man and two Crusaders were sleeping a few beds over, but across from him was the blond from Zanarkand and Harry licked his lips. Oh, the boy's blood was sure to be delicious.
Harry cast a quick sleeping spell on the occupants of the hut before creeping over to the blond's bed. The boy was laid out on his back, an untroubled expression on his face and with his mouth half open. Harry chuckled and climbed up onto the bed to straddle the boy. "Mmmm..." he murmured against Tidus' neck. "You should be perfect." Then he slid his fangs into the boy's neck and started drinking the blood with a moan.
While Harry was drinking, he ground his hips against Tidus. Like all vampires, drinking blood was almost like having sex for him – it was, in fact, usually accompanied by having sex – and he couldn't quite hold himself back. Much to his amusement, the sleeping body beneath him started grinding back.
Harry carefully stopped drinking before taking any more would endanger the boy and cast a spell to heal the wound. Then he happily continued grinding against the boy until they'd both come, grinning madly.
"You, darling, are wonderful," he decided, kissing the boy's slightly open mouth. Then he cast a cleaning spell on both of them and returned to his own bed so he could get some more sleep.
Harry woke to the sounds of the others in the hut rising. He glanced across at Tidus and grinned at the faint flush on the boy's face as he sat up and realised he had a hard-on. Harry had taken care of the boy last night, of course, but that didn't mean he hadn't left dreams lingering about sex.
Stretching, Harry got out of bed, feeling much better than he had the day before. He leaned down to his pile of things and grabbed his shirt, which he'd slept without, and tossed it on, gleefully arranging the ties on the front so it hung largely open, showing a toned, though pale, chest. His belt with a pouch of coins and little potions he'd found from his fights the day before went on next, and he attached his gun holsters to the back of it, securing it closed with a well-practised flick of a mechanism, which Wakka would probably call machina, but Harry considered to be dead useful. Last were his swords, attached to small white belts which were almost invisible against his shirt.
When Harry finished getting everything ready, he turned and cocked an eyebrow at Tidus, who was watching him. As soon as the boy realised he'd been caught, he scrambled to his feet and made for the loo.
Harry chuckled and walked over to the bar. "Good morning, Chester," he greeted the man who's name he'd learned the night before from one of the Crusaders.
"Good mornin', Harry," Chester replied. "You'll be wanting a bite to eat before the boat out, I suppose?"
Harry nodded and settled into one of the stools. "I should think so, yes. And you might want to bring something together for the young blitzer, since he's also up."
Chester saluted him with a grin, then set about getting some rolls and eggs ready for his two guests. The Crusaders had both just left, more intent on getting to the boat to Kilika than sitting around and having a quick meal. But Chester knew Crusaders and had gotten a few rolls ready for the trip to the docks, not expecting them to stay.
Chester finished getting the meal ready just as Tidus walked out from the sleeping area, sword strapped to his back, and took the seat next to Harry. Chester slid forward the two plates, saying, "Three gil each, gentlemen."
Both men slid back the requested amount and set to eating. Harry glanced over at Tidus and asked, "Sleep well, my young friend?"
Harry chuckled. "Ah. Not a morning person, then."
"Not a 'this early in the morning' person," Tidus replied grumpily. "Anyway, don't want to miss the boat."
"I seriously doubt they'll be leaving you behind," Harry replied easily. "Not with them all so sure you'll be bringing the blitzball trophy home for them. Am I right, Chester?"
Chester chuckled. "Boat doesn't leave until everyone who's expected to get on board is on board, even if it means waiting an extra hour. Only travels between islands once a day, and they don't really have a set time to leave. Skip doesn't like schedules."
"Small islanders," Harry agreed, "like to take their time."
"That we do," Chester agreed.
Once Harry and Tidus had finished their breakfasts, they walked out to the centre of the village, where Wakka and Lulu were waiting. Wakka greeted the two men cheerfully, but Lulu just glanced at them and looked away.
Harry walked over to Lulu, while Wakka presented Tidus with a sword. "You really don't like me, do you?"
Lulu glanced at him. "It's not that I don't like you," she said after admonishing Wakka about the sword, "it's that I don't care either way about you."
"Hm. Ouch." Harry rubbed at the back of his head. "If I act like a gentleman, will you give me another chance?" he asked.
Lulu frowned at him. "We're only travelling to Luca together."
"But you don't want me bothering you the whole way to like me, do you? You might end up having to fry me to make me leave you alone, and that wouldn't be any fun." He smiled winningly, an expression he'd picked up from his godfather in memory of the man.
Lulu almost smiled. "Perhaps, if you act like a gentleman, I will be willing to speak with you," she allowed. "But if you come on to Yuna again–!"
Harry held up his hands in surrender. "Right! Got it! Summoner's off limits!"
Lulu watched him for a few minutes, then said, "See that you remember that," then turned away to greet said summoner.
Harry let out a breath of relief.
"What did you do?" Tidus whispered.
"I hit on Yuna," Harry whispered back.
Tidus blinked a few times. "Do you hit on everyone?" he demanded, recalling how Harry had first treated him.
Harry smiled mischievously. "Only the cute ones," he promised, then turned with Yuna and her two guardians to join them on the road.
"How are you with those swords?" Wakka asked him, eyeing the two blades strapped to Harry's back.
Harry shrugged. "I got here from the beach in one piece," he replied.
Harry quickly saw the bonuses of Wakka's blitzball, as the red-head used it to hit the flying enemies that Harry had ended up using spells on or jumping to hit. (Since he could jump higher, he could manage the latter, but a human wouldn't have been able to do it.) Tidus managed to kick some serious arse with his new sword, and Lulu was a master of the black magic she knew, which was good enough for this road, though Harry did wonder how she'd managed to make it as far into Spira as she had with such weak spells.
Yuna proved herself to be a mostly-capable healer, and her summoning, when she called it, did almost as much damage as Harry could do, as out-of-shape as the vampire was.
Harry recognised the Ronso who jumped down at them near the bridges, but Tidus evidently didn't, as he rushed forward to attack him. The two had a short and somewhat bloody fight, which Tidus almost lost, before Wakka called quits. The Ronso looked angrily at Harry while Yuna and Lulu were treating Tidus and the Ronso attacked the vampire before anyone really realised what was happening.
Thousands of years of fighting for his life kicked in and Harry met the lance with his swords without even having to think about it. Neither fighter listened to the others calling for them to stop, instead circling to try and find the opponent's weakness. Both ended up moving at the same time and froze, blades against the other's throat.
"I really don't want to kill you, Ronso," Harry said angrily, "but if that stick comes anywhere near me again, I will break it, then your neck, are we clear?"
The Ronso narrowed his eyes. "You will leave Yuna. Kimahri will protect her."
"I have no intention of hurting your summoner," Harry snapped, then jerked backwards, away from the spear, and sheathed his swords. "And if you'd been here sooner, instead of leaping around like a fiend, you'd already know that I promised Lulu to leave her alone."
Kimahri grunted and backed out of the stance he'd been in, putting his own weapon away.
"That was uncalled for," Wakka told the two combatants, stepping forward once he was sure they weren't going to attack each other again.
Kimahri simply glared at Wakka for a moment, then walked over to check on Yuna.
Harry snorted and started back down the path. Shortly, running feet caught up with him and he turned to see Tidus. "That was amazing!" the boy gushed. "I mean, the way you wielded those swords! You didn't even let him get a single hit in."
Harry chuckled at the boy, letting his anger at the Ronso go. "Yes, well, once you've been fighting as long as I have, you learn a few tricks."
"Will you teach me?" Tidus asked.
Harry considered the hopeful plea and looked over the boy's sword. He still had the one he'd brought with him, though he'd been using the one Wakka gave him on the road. "Sure. Let me see one of your swords."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You fight with a heavier sword than I do, and since you've got two with you, it makes sense to teach you with one of them, instead of trying to show you with one of mine. They handle differently."
"Oh!" Tidus pulled his older sword off his back and handed it over.
Harry stopped for a moment to get a feel for the sword, then nodded. "Okay, show me your grip," he ordered, motioning for them to continue on the path. When Tidus did so, Harry sighed and quickly corrected him, showing him how to better hold the sword to get a little more strength behind his swings.
Behind them, Wakka said, "He's not so bad, ya?"
"When he's behaving himself he is," Lulu replied drily.
Kimahri grunted angrily and Yuna laughed nervously at how most of her guardians didn't really seem to like the dark-haired man.
On the boat, Harry gave Tidus a break and chuckled as the boy jumped around on the crew, stealing binoculars. After a bit, Kimahri seemed to decide Yuna would be okay on her own and walked up to the upper deck where Harry was watching everyone. "Kimahri still doesn't like Harry," the Ronso said.
Harry glanced at the blue being. "Yeah? Don't worry, the feeling's pretty much mutual." He leaned against the railing and looked up at Kimahri. "Come up here to warn me off some more?"
"Wakka likes Harry," the Ronso said. "As does the boy from Zanarkand and Yuna."
"Ah..." Harry looked back at the deck. "You're trying to figure out what's so great about me, right? Trying to figure out why I'm being so nice to everyone."
Kimahri glanced at him. "Harry not stupid," he admitted.
Harry chuckled without humour. "Kimahri, let me be honest with you, okay?" The Ronso nodded, so Harry continued with, "My family is dead, has been for a long time, and I've been pretty much on my own since. I don't have any friends really, and those people accepted me despite not knowing me before this. I like having friends. So it's not that I’m plotting something nefarious against the Lady Summoner or anything, I'm just trying to get along with the first people I've seen in a long, long time."
Kimahri grunted. "Not easy to not see people."
Harry shrugged. "You might be surprised."
Kimahri glanced at him again. "Kimahri still does not trust."
Harry chuckled, eyes sparkling. "Okay." He glanced back down at the deck to where Tidus and Yuna were talking at the bow. "Mmmm... Suppose it's time I went back to whipping that boy into shape."
"Tidus needs it," Kimahri agreed.
Harry turned to grab the sword he'd left on the deck next to him when the boat rolled angrily. Harry jerked around to look over the boat again as Kimahri jumped down to run to Yuna.
"SIN!" someone on the deck shouted.
Harry grabbed the sword next to his feet as the people on the deck shot some harpoons at it, then jumped off the upper deck straight into a fight with some fiends. He fought between Tidus and Kimahri on the deck while Wakka and Lulu hit the giant thing ahead of them. Eventually, the cable broke free and they watched as Kilika was decimated.
Harry finally understood the fear he'd detected in the people's voices when they spoke of Sin.
When they arrived at the dock, Yuna offered to do the sending and they all stood to watch silently. Tidus was, of course, awed, but for Harry it was too much like living in Zanarkand during the wars, and he turned away before Yuna was done to go find something to help with.
He found some people who were working on repairing some destroyed bridges and easily set about helping them. By the time Tidus and Wakka found him after setting up rooms in the small inn, Harry had taken his shirt and swords off to help, refusing to take a break.
"Hey, we got rooms, ya," Wakka said. "You can probably bunk with Tidus and Kimahri and I, okay?"
Harry glanced up from placing another board. "Yeah, okay."
"Are you going to stop for dinner?" Tidus asked.
Harry blinked, then glanced over at where the sun had mostly set. "Huh. Guess it's about that time."
"Go get something to eat," one of the men he'd been working with told him. "You need a break or you'll collapse."
Harry sighed. He'd forgotten what it was like to work with humans who didn't know about his own endurance, but he still got up without complaint and grabbed his shirt and swords, following Tidus and Wakka back to the inn.
There, he joined Yuna's party with Tidus for a quiet meal and got shown to the room the guys were using. He put his swords and shirt there, then went back out to help with the bridge some more.
Kimahri ended up being the one who came to get him later that night, after the other workers had gone to bed. "You will strain yourself," he commented.
Harry glanced up at the Ronso. "Tidus and Wakka sent you drag me back in?" he inquired drily.
Kimahri nodded. "Harry needs sleep. Tomorrow, come with Yuna to temple."
Harry rubbed at his neck. "Yeah? Who decided that one?"
"Yuna," Kimahri admitted.
Harry sighed and shook his head. "I suppose. But I really don't need the sleep."
"Harry needs sleep," Kimahri repeated firmly.
Harry eyed the Ronso. "Are you going to drag me back to the inn if I don't come quietly?"
Kimahri almost seemed to smile. "No. Kimahri gets Lulu. Lulu zaps Harry until he sleeps."
Harry grimaced. "Damn, you're brutal, aren't you? Okay, I'll come back to the inn."
Harry managed about two hours of sleep before he couldn't sleep any more. Seeing that his roommates were all dead to the world, he grabbed his things and went back out to work on the dock. If he didn't do something, he'd scream.
Lulu was the one who found him. "Did you sleep at all last night?" she demanded. The men who'd rejoined him in the morning had said much the same, but Harry had shrugged them off. When he tried the same thing with Lulu, she hit him with a Fire spell.
"Fuck, woman!" Harry snapped, sending a healing spell at his back, where the magic had hit him. "Yes, I slept, okay? And don't shoot Fire spells at me! I'm flammable!"
Lulu just smirked at him. "We're leaving for the temple shortly."
Harry muttered some words under his breath in long dead languages, then got up from the bridge and grabbed his things, which he tossed on before following the black mage back to where the rest of the group was waiting for them.
"What?" the vampire asked his two human roommates once they started off into the forest. The two had been watching him like hawks.
"How much sleep did you get, brudda?" Wakka asked.
"Enough," Harry replied sharply. "Now would you lot let me alone about it already?"
"We're just worried about you," Tidus said softly. "You had to be dragged in for food and to sleep, and you're not being chipper this morning."
Harry sighed and ran a hand down his face. "It bothers me, okay? What happened to Kilika. Something a lot like it happened to my home, but I wasn't there at the time and everyone died. I couldn't do anything. I can do something here, even if it's just helping them rebuild."
"Oh," Wakka said, understanding in his eyes. "Sorry, man. But, still, that's no reason to not sleep or eat, ya?"
Harry huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. When they came across another fiend, he took it down grumpily, then pulled out Tidus' extra sword and showed him a few more things.
On the steps to the temple, they came across a present that Sin left, and all set about bringing it down. Tidus was the one that delivered the finishing blow, and Harry commented, "Much better."
In the temple, they ran into another summoner, who calmly mocked Yuna, then left. Harry didn't much care about going into the temple, so he stayed downstairs while everyone else went up.
"You're not going to protect your summoner?" the summoner from before asked.
Harry rose an eyebrow at her. "I'm not a guardian, I'm just travelling with them until Luca."
"How interesting," the woman said, then swept past him back up to the entrance to the Cloister.
Frowning, Harry followed her and her guardian.
There, the woman had her guardian drop Tidus onto the platform down to the Trials. When they turned, laughing, they found Harry watching them with sharp eyes and his swords drawn, but held loosely. "Well now," the vampire said, "that wasn't very nice, was it?"
The woman sneered. "Summoners like Yuna who ride the tails of others' fame don't deserve to be summoners."
"Ah, but bullies who think themselves better do?" Harry replied.
"Ah, ah, ah," Harry warned as the lug next to the summoner stepped forward. Harry raised his swords warningly at the man, then looked at the summoner. "I dare little, Lady Summoner, but I don't like bullies, and I think I've seen enough of them to recognise one. I will warn you now, if I see you bullying Yuna or her guardians again, Sin will be the least of your worries." Then he sheathed his swords and stepped to the side.
"Pound him, Barthello," the woman ordered.
Harry caught the hand that swung at his face with no apparent effort, making the guardian's eyes widen. Then he squeezed the fist until he heard something snap, and the guardian cried out in pain, pulling his hand back to cradle it against his chest.
"That would be your cue to leave," Harry said drily to the woman who was watching him with wide eyes.
The two hurried away and Harry leaned back against the wall of the passage, content to wait until the party came back up.
"You seem to have made an enemy, Lady Yuna," Harry said as the lift finally arrived with the party.
"I– what?" Yuna replied.
"The summoner from earlier," Harry replied, pushing away from the wall, "Dona, I think her name was? She seems rather determined to see you fail."
"So she really did push Tidus down?" Wakka asked.
Harry rose an eyebrow at them. "She had her man do it, yes."
"Oh, please tell me you got them back," Tidus said tiredly. He'd gotten yelled at for going into the chamber again.
Harry smiled nastily. "I broke his hand," he said, then turned and led the way out of the temple.
"That wasn't really necessary, was it?" Yuna pleaded, running to catch up with Harry.
Harry glanced at her. "Considering it was his hand or my nose, I rather thought it was."
"You stopped a punch from him?!" Tidus exclaimed, bouncing next to him.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm stronger than I look, Tidus."
Tidus looked at Harry's skinny form and nodded slowly. "If you say so."
Harry chuckled and pulled out the sword he was teaching Tidus with. "Okay, smartarse, show me what you've learned."
The trip to Luca was much calmer than their trip to Kilika, and it didn't take long for Harry to become cheerful again. He and Tidus had a mock duel on the deck before supper and Harry soundly defeated the boy, but Tidus did learn a couple of things from fighting against someone else, and when they had a second duel after supper, he didn't get beat quite as badly.
"Where did you learn how to fight with a sword?" Tidus asked as the two took a break at the bow.
"Here and there," Harry replied with a shrug. "I learned with one sword first then, after getting my arse handed to me by a gent who used two swords, I trained myself in that art." Harry grinned. "Fought the bastard again after a few years and beat him. He gave me his swords as a gift." He nodded at the two swords on his back.
"Cool," Tidus decided. "You're a really good teacher, you know? When Auron gave me my sword he just told me to follow my instincts." He grimaced.
Harry chuckled. "Instincts can help in a tight spot, but if you want to truly improve, you usually have to have someone around who can teach you," he said, then shrugged. "And thanks. Never taught the sword to anyone before."
"No?" Tidus cocked his head to one side. "But, you've taught before?"
Harry grinned. "Well, I taught a couple of idiots how to use a gun at one point," he admitted. "But I also taught a bunch of friends magic at one point."
"Eh?" Tidus jerked up. "You can use magic? Like Lulu?"
Harry snorted. "Some," he agreed. "I know a few black spells, and a few white spells. Magic's really useful when you're in a tight spot. Or if you're alone and your opponent is a flyer. Wakka wouldn't have any trouble with a flyer, and Kimahri can jump high enough to hit it, but you and I would have to use magic on it, or hit it as it's hitting us."
"So you learned some magic?" Tidus asked.
Harry nodded. "Pretty much. And I learned the healing spells because I tend to travel on my own a lot and don't always have a potion handy."
"Could you teach me a couple of spells?"
Harry considered the boy. "Planning to go off on your own?"
Tidus shrugged. "When we get to Luca, who knows. But, even if I do stay with Yuna and them, there's nothing wrong with having a back-up mage, right?"
Harry laughed. "How right you are! Well, I can teach you a few spells, sure. If you want to learn anything fire-based, however, you'll have to ask Lulu."
Tidus grinned. "You really don't like fire."
Harry shuddered. "Yeah, you laugh now. If you'd been almost burned at the stake, you wouldn't like it either!"
Harry shrugged. "Ah. It was years ago," he said, then pushed away from the railing. "How about we get you started on lightning, hm?"
Tidus blinked. "Why lightning?"
Harry grinned madly. "I love lightning."
Lulu found him on the railing of the bow after Tidus had gone down to bed. "Do you never sleep?"
Harry glanced over at her. "Not as much as you lot do, no."
Lulu hummed and leaned against the railing. Harry rather studiously avoided looking at her after he realised how her position pushed her breasts up even more. Lulu chuckled at him then said, "You really are trying to behave yourself, aren't you?"
Harry grunted and kicked his legs against the railing.
Lulu chuckled again and stopped leaning against the railing. "I'm sorry," she said after a moment.
Harry glanced over at her. "For teasing me?" he asked lightly.
Lulu raised an eyebrow at him, making him grin. "For setting fire on you."
"Ah..." Harry looked back out over the sea. "Tidus told you?"
"I heard, actually," she replied. "From the upper deck."
Harry glanced behind them and nodded. "I always forget how well sound travels on these boats," he commented, then shrugged. "You didn't know."
"All the same," she said.
Harry inclined his head in acceptance.
They stayed silent for almost half an hour before Harry said, "You should go in. Get some sleep."
Lulu glanced over at him. "And you?"
Harry shrugged. "Oh, I'll sleep eventually. Maybe."
"Hmmm... Good night, then."
"Good night, lovely Lulu!" Harry called back cheerfully.
Lulu just shook her head and left.
Harry got woken the next morning by a grinning Tidus. "Lulu said to come get you up," he said to Harry's disgruntled look.
Harry sighed. It figured. "Yeah, yeah. How much longer until we reach Luca?"
"Mmm... An hour, I think," Tidus replied, stepping back to let Harry get up. "Hey, that's a nasty scar."
Harry glanced over his shoulder at the web-like scar on his back. "Remember when I told you I almost got burned at the stake?" Tidus nodded, understanding dawning. "Yeah, that's the scar."
"Sorry," the boy said softly.
Harry shrugged and pulled his shirt on. "Eh. Old history, like I said."
"...did it hurt?"
Harry chuckled. "Are you kidding?" he said. "Hurt like hell. Wouldn't suggest trying it, personally. In fact, I'd suggest staying away from fire all together." He waggled his eyebrows with a grin.
Tidus couldn't help but smile back. "I'll keep that in mind," he promised, then walked with Harry up to the deck, where they met up with Yuna, Lulu and Kimahri.
"Where's Wakka?" Harry inquired, taking the roll Yuna handed him with a grateful smile.
"Coaching," Lulu offered, then glanced at Tidus. "Shouldn't you be down there?"
Tidus groaned. "I already know how to play blitzball," he complained. "And Wakka has held three of these meetings already. Each time, he says the same thing."
"You know, I seem to recall someone once saying there is no 'I' in 'team'," Harry said, then glanced over at Tidus. "I know you hate the meetings, Tidus, but they're as much for team unity as they are for going over the game. It's doubly important that you go, because none of them have ever played with you before. Even if they've never played with you, the least you can do is assure them that you'll be there when it counts."
Tidus sighed. "Yes, sir," he said, then turned and walked down to the cabin where the meeting was being held.
"Impressive," Lulu commented, making Harry roll his eyes and Yuna laugh.
Yuna bumped shoulders with him and said, "We might have to warn Wakka that Harry makes a better captain."
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "Me? Play blitzball? Oh, Merlin no."
"Don't tell me you're afraid of water, too," Lulu said drily.
Harry chuckled. "No, not water," he said. "But that doesn't mean I really want to half drown to play a game under water."
"But... They don't," Yuna said, then looked at her two guardians. "Do they?"
"Not with the spells," Lulu agreed.
"That's true," Harry agreed. "But that doesn't make me any more willing."
"Hum. Well, I can't say I disagree with you," Yuna decided, then seemed to realise something. "Wait, if you're not afraid of water, what are you afraid of?"
Harry grinned at her. "Wood."
Harry nodded emphatically. "Have you ever gotten a splinter in you bum? It hurts!"
Yuna blinked at him, then started giggling.
Harry waggled his eyebrows at her. "Think it's funny, eh?"
"How did you get a splinter in your butt?" Yuna demanded.
Harry coughed and glanced at where Lulu and Kimahri were still watching them. "I don't think I'm allowed to say," he said mock seriously. "The lovely Lulu might set fire to me again."
"Lulu wouldn't do that!" Yuna declared, glancing back at her guardian to make sure.
Harry chuckled. "Well, not set fire to me, then. But I don't think she or Kimahri would be pleased with me. It would ruin your innocence."
"How would it–"
"Yuna," Kimahri said.
"Yup, sorry, Yuna," Harry said. "I promise I'll tell you when you're older."
"But– That's not fair!" Yuna complained.
Harry leaned over and kissed her cheek, then ducked the spear that almost hit his neck. "That's my cue," he said, and hurried off to the other end of the ship, chuckling. Behind him, Kimahri decided it wasn't worth trying to stick the dark-hair swordsman and stopped chasing him.
Harry shook his head in amusement and looked up at the approaching city. He smiled at the place fondly. "Ah, Luca," he murmured. "Even after one thousand years, you haven't changed a bit."
Actually, Luca had changed a fair bit. While the city had never used as much machina as Zanarkand or Bevelle had, they had still used some, and, other than the blitzball stadium, it was all gone. No more vehicles zipping through the streets or machina on the street corners that could tell you where to go for such-and-such shop.
There also, Harry was amused to note, was not an armed escort. Because Harry had lived in Zanarkand during the Machina Wars, he was one of the enemy, as far as the people of Bevelle were concerned, even when he travelled as a diplomat to blitzball games – as he had been wont to do when the war got to be too much – in Luca. Because of that, every time he'd ever been to Luca, they had sent a guard to follow him around everywhere.
Now, however, he was free to see the city at his leisure. So he checked the times for the games, got a promise from Yuna to save him a seat in the stands, and hurried off to do just that, with the chance of a snack on the way, of course.
He was running late for the game and running for the stadium when he saw a strange party escorting Yuna. The summoner didn't look distressed, but Harry didn't see Lulu or Kimahri anywhere, either, and that bothered him. So he skipped over. "Yuna! You're supposed to be saving me a seat!"
Yuna and the men with her all looked over. "Harr–" the summoner tried, but one of the men covered her mouth with his hand and started moving off quicker, leaving his friend to point a gun at him.
Harry cocked an eyebrow at the gun, then pulled out his own, which he'd conjured bullets for during the last night on the ship, just in case. The man paused when he saw that Harry had his own guns, and Harry took the chance to run at him.
As soon as the man started firing, Harry jumped into the air and hoped the people around him were smart enough to get down. Mid-air, he started firing his own guns, smiling grimly as the man went down.
Landing hard, he ran after Yuna and her last captor, noticing they were headed for the docks. On his way, he put his guns away, not wanting to chance hitting Yuna, and loosened his twin swords so he could draw them faster.
He reached them just as they were shoving Yuna on a boat at dock. He heard them shouting in a language he didn't recognise and sped up, pulling out his swords.
He jumped on board before the men could get Yuna into the underside of the boat. He hit one of the men with his sword and used his other sword to cast Thunder on the man holding Yuna.
As Harry put his swords away, Yuna walked over, looking relieved. "Thanks," she said.
Harry nodded and kicked the man he'd gotten with his sword over so he could see his face. It only took a moment to recognise the swirled eyes, though he hadn't seen many during the wars. "Al Bhed?" he murmured. "What could they want with you?"
"Yuna!" Tidus shouted from behind them, and Harry turned to see the boy standing on the dock with Lulu and Kimahri, all three out of breath.
Harry cocked an eyebrow at them as Lulu helped Yuna back onto the dock. "Where were you three?" he asked.
Tidus laughed nervously, while Kimahri looked like someone had kicked his favourite dog, or something. Lulu just shook her head at them.
"So," Harry said, hopping back onto the dock, "would someone like to tell me why the Al Bhed ran off with Yuna?"
"Oh! Lulu, the game!" Tidus said, eyes wide.
Lulu nodded and sent a spell up into the air. When Harry started tapping his foot, she said, "The only motive we know of is that the Al Bhed asked the Aurochs to throw the game if they wanted Yuna returned safely."
Harry glanced back at the boat he'd been on. "Hm. Why not shove her in the locker room, then? No, don't answer that," he added when he saw Tidus start to open his mouth. The boy smiled sheepishly.
"Yuna safe. Kimahri grateful," Kimahri said roughly.
Harry shrugged and nodded.
"How did you know I was in trouble?" Yuna asked. "They were trying to act natural."
"What's to say I wasn't too?" Harry replied easily.
Yuna rolled her eyes. "You were tense, like you were expecting them to run."
Harry grinned. "Ooh, good eye! Actually, it was Kimahri's lack that tipped me off. He follows you everywhere. And if he's not the one following you around, lovely Lulu is." He shrugged.
Lulu's eyes widened with realization. "You're the one that brought down that Al Bhed on the walkway?" Harry nodded. "That didn't look like any sword or magic wound I've ever seen."
Harry pulled out a gun from behind his back. "I found ammo," he explained, then put it back. "Swords are good for fighting up close, and magic's good from a distance, but magic takes extra time." He shrugged. "Anyway, I like my guns."
"I thought they were just for show?" Yuna said with a worried frown.
Harry snorted. "No, I just told Wakka that so he'd shut up."
Harry sighed. "Lady Yuna, don't tell me you're about to preach to me about the words of a dead guy, too."
Yuna blinked. "...guy?" she asked.
"Eh?" Harry rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah. Yu Yevon, leader of Zanarkand during the Machina Wars. That's who you lot get your rules from, right? He was against machina."
"But, Zanarkand was a machina city!" Yuna said.
Harry's lips twisted with a bitter smile. "Zanarkand was a summoner's city," he said. "Yes, the city had a lot of machina in it, but they didn't believe in waging war with machina. Bevelle waged war with machina. S'why it's called the Machina Wars, because that's what Bevelle used and they were the stronger power in the war."
"That's an interesting bit of history, assuming it's actually true," Lulu said drily.
Harry shrugged. "Hey, that's just how I learned it."
"We should go make sure Wakka's okay," Tidus cut in. To Harry's curious look, he said, "He got pretty beat up while holding off to make sure Yuna was okay."
"Ah." Harry nodded in understanding. "Well then, let's go check on him. And show him that Yuna's just fine."
Wakka had yelled a bit, but was clearly relieved to see that Yuna was okay. They left Lulu to watch over the headstrong blitzer and Kimahri and Harry walked with Yuna up to the stands, where they got to watch Tidus lead the way in demolishing the Goers.
At the end of the game, while the Aurochs' stands were still cheering, fiends appeared all over the stadium. Harry and Kimahri were both on their feet in seconds, cutting down the monsters that had attacked their section of the stands, with Lulu staying back by Yuna and using spells to deal with any fiend that got too close.
In the pool, Tidus and Wakka battled with water fiends until they made their way out onto the stands. There, they cut their way to a figure in a red coat, who fought with the same apparent level of skill that Harry did.
Maester Seymour Guado eventually called an aeon to finish off the fiends in the stadium, giving the small groups of fighters in the stands a moment to rest.
Once all the fiends were gone, Yuna's party met up with Wakka, who was scratching the back of his head and looking bemused. "Tidus and I ran into Sir Auron," he said. "Said to meet him at the exit to the Mi'ihen Highroad tomorrow morning, ya?"
"Really? Sir Auron?" Yuna asked, looking excited.
Lulu sort of sighed. "Well, if we're to meet them tomorrow, we might as well find a bed for the night. I suppose there's time for some sightseeing, as well."
"Really?!" Yuna squeaked.
Harry chuckled. "You're such a small-town girl," he said.
Yuna looked over at him, biting her lip. "Are you going to leave us now, Harry?"
Harry blinked, surprised. "I'm not sure. The question really is, do you lot still want me around?" He directed his question mostly at Lulu and Kimahri, who were the two most likely to tell him to sod off.
Yuna turned to Lulu and Kimahri. "Please can't he come?"
Lulu sighed. "Do you intend to make him your guardian?"
Yuna blinked, then looked back at Harry. "Would you like to be my guardian? Please?"
Harry smiled, recalling his first real thought about the summoner, which was how adorable she was. "Sure."
Yuna's eyes lit up and she hugged him. "Thank you, Harry!"
He laughed a little nervously. "But, uh, is it okay if I meet up with you lot up at the Highroad? It's been a while since I was last in these parts, and I want to check something."
"We could go tomorrow," Yuna said.
Harry shook his head. "No point on you lot coming with me on what might very well be a wild chocobo chase. Anyway, I move faster by myself." He smiled to take the bite out of his words.
"What are you looking for?" Wakka asked.
Harry just smiled and clapped Wakka on the back. "See you all tomorrow!" he called, then hurried off.
At the entrance to what had once been simply known as the Highroad, Harry set off towards a string of islands that had once been home to a prosperous small town, Junon, which the people from Zanarkand that had moved to Besaid helped rebuild after one of Bevelle's missiles they had been testing missed. As thanks for their help, the people of that small town had a temple built for Zanarkand's summoners, which housed a fayth of protection, as it were. She granted Carbuncle to those she found worthy.
Harry wanted to see if the temple was still standing. From what he'd heard about a summoner's journey, that city was completely passed by. Harry wasn't sure if that was because the temple was in ruins, or if Carbuncle was considered useless. The Zanarkand summoners Harry had known had loved Carbuncle, because she could cast Protect and Shell on an entire party, without taking away the magic of the summoner, leaving said summoner free to cast their own spells from behind the protective barriers.
Harry reached the string of islands shortly after the sun had set and stared out over the ruined buildings. "Junon..." he whispered to the ruins, feeling pain anew. He'd lived in Junon for almost twenty years after it had been rebuilt, just as he'd lived in Zanarkand and a few other small villages along the coast, where Bevelle didn't look too closely at who was visiting. He'd also spent some time on Besaid, but it had only been a few months, and the town had been in about the same area as the current village.
Harry eventually shook the shock from his mind and started out into the ruins, climbing around crumbling buildings and over shattered roads. He made it to the second island, where the temple had been, without more than one or two mishaps. There, he found a way to get into the temple and hurried through the ruined Trials, which the Zanarkand summoners seemed so fond of. The room outside the Fayth's Chamber was riddled with cracks and he had to step carefully to keep from falling through the hole. He didn't have much hope for the fayth's crystal.
Harry was quite surprised to find that Carbuncle's fayth was still active, however. As soon as he entered the room, the small girl he'd only seen once before appeared above the crystal. She blinked at him for a moment, taking in the distinctive weapons only one man had ever carried, and then said, "Lord Harry?"
Harry grimaced at his old title – only Lords could be given diplomat status, so Yu Yevon had made their resident vampire just that, figuring that having a diplomat that didn't die very easily would be a boon in their troubled world. "Hey, Cary," he replied, finding the name the people of Zanarkand had used for the fayth somewhere in the back of his head. He certainly didn't remember what she'd been called before becoming a fayth.
She smiled. "You're still alive! We'd wondered, after the war, when you didn't show back up again."
Harry nodded and sat cross-legged on the floor in front of her. "I did send Yu a transmission that I was planning to sleep for a while."
"Oh, yes, I suppose you did..." When he cocked an amused eyebrow, the young fayth blushed and said, "Alexander was standing guard when he got it."
"Ah..." Harry nodded. The aeons had been a wonderful thing on the battlefield, even against their stronger opponents, as they were able to communicate with each other instantly. Harry, having never cared to try and train to be a summoner, hadn't had that same ability, so when he'd gone underground, he'd had to send a note to the nearest summoner to let Yevon know. At that point in the war, Harry was mostly staying to the south of the fighting, since he wasn't really useful on the battlefield as it had been made, so it hadn't mattered.
"So, wait, you've been asleep for one thousand years?!"
Harry chuckled. "Yes."
"But, why?! We needed you!"
Harry looked away. "I was tired, Cary. Merlin, I'd been awake and running around for more than one thousand years, at that point." He ran a hand through his hair and looked back at the girl. "I was killed more times that I cared to keep track of, usually because of one of those fucking 'diplomatic missions' Yu was always sending me on! I got so tired of seeing the kids I'd helped raise at the orphanage go out and get killed. I just wanted to sleep." He ran a hand down his face, irritated to find it was shaking. "Dammit!"
Cary hunkered down over her crystal, watching him with wide eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispered when it seemed Harry had finished yelling.
Harry closed his eyes and knocked his head against the wall behind him. "What happened?" he asked.
"Lord Yu used the final solution."
Harry jerked forward. "Before, or after Bevelle's? I heard Zanarkand was destroyed..."
"Before," Cary whispered. "But... something went wrong. Lord Yu made the shell to protect him for the summoning, because everyone else was gone, even you." Harry looked away. "He programmed it somehow, set it to destroy anything attacking him. But, he lost control. The shell destroyed Zanarkand after Bevelle. And he couldn't stop it. Lady Yunalesca tried, but..." The girl started crying, and Harry wished, more than ever, that they'd never made children into fayth. It had been one of the cruellest practises of the people of Zanarkand when they started losing and decided they needed more aeons.
Harry rubbed tiredly at his face. "Yu, what did you do?" he whispered to his old friend. They'd had their arguments, just as Harry had once had with another best friend, but they'd always been friends, no matter how many times Yu sent Harry into certain death.
"Lord Yu is Sin," Cary told him, gathering herself again.
Harry jerked back and slammed his head into the wall behind him, barely recognising the pain. "Yu is that... That monster?!"
"What about my little lily?" he asked desperately of Yunalesca, who he'd helped raise while Yu had been too busy with the war, since her mother had died in childbirth.
Cary looked away. "She faced Sin, with Zaon, and he tore them apart. She..."
"She died," Harry said hollowly.
Cary nodded. "Odin and Alexander say her ghost haunts the stadium, where summoners go to get the Final Aeon in hopes of finishing Sin."
"I'm sorry," the girl whispered.
Harry shook his head. "It's not your fault, kiddo."
Cary giggled and Harry blinked at her in surprise. "You haven't called any of us that since before we became fayth."
Harry grimaced. "Yeah? I still hold out that you should have waited until you were older."
Cary just giggled some more.
Harry sighed. "So, was Yu the one to destroy Junon, then?"
Cary nodded. "Yeah. About... Oh, probably about six hundred years ago. No one ever bothered to come in here afterwards. You're the first person I've seen since."
Harry grunted. "Do you care if I try and bring a summoner by? Tomorrow afternoon, I should think."
Cary's eyes lit up. "I can be useful again?"
Harry smiled at her sadly. "Oh, Cary, you've always been useful. But, yes, I'll make sure Yuna uses you."
Cary smiled. "Thank you, Lord Harry."
Harry sighed. "And, please, for the love of Zanarkand, don't tell her what I am."
Cary's eyes lit with mischief. "Or who you are?"
"Yes, that too."
Harry eyed the fayth grumpily. "Cary, I mean it."
Cary pouted. "Aw, but Lord Harry!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "As far as they know, I'm just another human. Though," his eyes lit up, "that delicious little blond boy knows I'm something more. I sort of talked about Zanarkand with him. Oh! Hey, did Yu magically find a way around the time paradox? Because Tidus is from Zanarkand."
"Tidus?" Cary repeated.
Harry nodded. "Yeah."
Cary coughed uncomfortably. "Lord Harry, do you remember that final resort?"
Harry nodded again. "The dream Zanarkand."
Cary shuffled her feet a bit, then said, "Tidus is from there."
Harry blinked a couple of times, then jumped to his feet. "I drank from a dream?! Bloody hell! Why didn't I go into bloodlust?!"
"You..." Cary giggled. "You drank blood from him?"
Harry glared at the girl. "Of course I did. He's cute. And he was the nearest person."
Cary giggled some more.
Harry huffed. "All right, brat, how come I didn't kill half the population of Besaid in bloodlust? Surely you bloody fayth have an answer?"
Cary covered her mouth, eyes bright, and shrugged. "Uhm... Well, Bahamut says that when they decided to summon him to this world, they had Sin bring him, and something about Sin changed him a bit. So he's kind of half-dream, half-real. It's...complicated."
"Bahamut?" Harry asked, deciding he'd figure out the Tidus problem later. "I don't remember a Bahamut."
Cary shook her head. "Nuh-uh. You'll kill me if I tell you."
"Cary, I can't kill you," Harry replied.
But Cary shook her head again. "You'll start yelling again and–"
The girl shrunk down in a ball against her crystal. "Bahamut is James," she finally said.
Harry felt his blood run cold and closed his eyes. "Why did my son become a fayth?" he asked quietly.
Cary flinched. "It's not..." She shrank back when Harry looked up at her. "It's your grandson," she whispered. "His dad stopped him from becoming part of the wall, but he died in the last fight, and James was just sort of left to make his own way. They wanted to put a fayth in Bevelle and he volunteered. He says... he did it so he could see you..." she finished, tears in her eyes.
Harry turned and walked out of the room, kicking at rubble. If he'd known sleeping would make his grandson become a fayth, he would have never done it. He'd always respected the men and women who became fayth, though he'd hated that they felt the need to do it, but he couldn't wrap his mind around letting kids do it. It was one of the things he and Yu had always fought about.
"Dammit, James," Harry whispered, not sure if he was cursing his son, or the grandson he'd never known. His son had returned to Zanarkand when he was seventeen, while Harry remained down south, where he liked it better. He'd gotten word shortly before he'd decided to sleep that his son's wife was expecting, but the fighting had gotten so bad at that point that Yu had stopped the ships going between the two halves of the world, so Harry couldn't get up north to see his family, and James couldn't come down to visit. Not without someone dying seven or eight times in the process, and Harry had never passed his curse on to the few kids he'd had during his long life.
Without even realising it, Harry's feet had led him to the stone building he'd lived in during his time in Junon. Walking in through the crumbling door, he looked around. Everything was just as he'd left it, albeit rather crumbly. He stepped over to a sphere on a side table and activated it. The picture was fuzzy, but there was his son, smiling at him with his wife, Anna. There were also pictures of Yunalesca and her boyfriend, Zaon, who had been from Bevelle. (Yu had about killed the boy when he finally found out about the relationship, but Harry had been there to drag the furious man away and talk him down.)
Harry put the sphere back on the table, throat tight. The sphere had been on the last boat to the south before Yu decided to change them all into war boats against Bevelle. Harry remembered advising his friend against cutting off the communication between their two halves of the world, but Yu had added, only to Harry, that he was also recalling the ships so Bevelle would hopefully never discover the secret of the world being round, or that they had people from Zanarkand living on the islands of southern Spira.
"We sacrificed so much," Harry whispered to the sphere. Almost half of Zanarkand's population had become fayth to keep their home alive, while others were completely cut off from friends and family to keep them safe. "But it's never enough."
Harry stretched out on his couch, deciding it wasn't worth braving the stairs, and stared at the pictures of his family standing atop the sphere, waving at him like they hadn't a care in the world.
I know that, if Harry's scar of his back is really that impressive, Lulu or someone should have mentioned it while he was running around without a shirt on in Kilika, but I couldn't find a way to fix that part of the chapter, so let's just pretend Harry had a spell on it or something that keeps people from noticing it, usually. ^.^"
Chapter 3: The Broken Town
Harry managed a quick trip back to Cary's temple to tell her he wasn't mad at her, just... distressed by the news. She'd accepted his apology and cheerfully sent him on his way, excited by having a summoner again soon.
Harry had to put on quite a bit of speed to get back to Luca by the time they'd planned to meet, and still ended up running a little later than he'd intended. "Sorry!" he called, hopping down the last staircase and grinning at where Kimahri was scowling at him. "Bit further than I'd remembered it being."
"You're back!" Yuna said happily from where she was leaning against the railing over the city with Tidus. The boy grinned at him, though something in his eyes said he'd had a hard night of it.
Harry looked over at Lulu and Wakka, only to see a rather impressive man in red. He slid over, smiling winningly, and extended his hand. "I'm Harry. You are?"
"Auron," the man replied shortly. "You're the missing guardian."
Harry just smiled a bit more, then paused and looked carefully at Lulu, who rose an eyebrow at him. "Hey, lovely Lulu, is it okay if I hit on him?"
Lulu closed her eyes, looking like she was asking for patience, while Tidus and Yuna let out similar squeaks and Wakka moaned.
Harry grinned back at Auron, who looked rather wary. "I can already tell we're going to get along great," he decided.
"Harry," Tidus complained, coming over with a red-faced Yuna, "please don't do that. I think you broke my brain."
Harry blinked at him. "Yeah? How'd I manage that?"
"He's like, thirty!"
Harry blinked again, then snickered and kissed Tidus on the forehead, much to the boy's utter horror. "You're so cute!"
Lulu sighed and grabbed Harry's ear. "Behave," she ordered.
Harry tried his best innocent look. "Yes'm."
"Now, what were you up to last night?" she asked.
"Oh!" Harry perked up again, grinning madly. "So, there's a temple that's a bit off the beaten path, as it were. It was in a town called Junon which was destroyed shortly after the Machina Wars by Sin. Some Zanarkand survivors lived there after helping rebuild the original Junon when one of Bevelle's test missile's brew it up. KABOOM!"
"Forbidden machina," Wakka said wisely.
"So, if Sin destroyed the city, how is the temple still standing?" Tidus asked, clearly remembering the destruction of Kilika.
Harry shrugged. "I didn't say it was still standing," he pointed out, "I just said it was there." He looked at Yuna. "The fayth is still active and seemed rather desperate for a summoner to come and request her help. I do believe that the last summoner to ever use her was Lady Yunalesca."
"How difficult is it to get into this temple?" Lulu asked while Yuna exclaimed over the idea of having something in common with her namesake.
Harry sighed. "Very. The Cloister is so damaged, you wouldn't be able to run it, however, all the doors are locked open, so we can still get through that way. The room outside the Fayth's Chamber is... Well, I'd suggest no more than three people go in there, or the floor may very well collapse. But the Fayth's Chamber survived the attack very well. It's probably the most intact part of the entire city."
"How far is it?" Auron asked.
Harry pulled out a map he'd bought during his time in Luca before the game and pointed to his old home. "This is Junon. It's probably a day's trip out of the way, but I very much suggest making the stop, and not just because the fayth is going mad." He grinned. "Carbuncle is probably one of the most useful aeons, because she can cast protect and shell over the whole party without using the summoner's magic. Excellent for going into a dangerous situation, and even better for us because no one in this party knows those spells yet."
"Not even you?" Tidus asked him.
Harry shrugged. "I was more concerned with learning to heal myself and fry my enemies to worry about covering myself with a protection spell. Anyway, if you can move fast enough, the spell is practically useless, but neither the lovely Lulu nor Yuna are particularly fast, and while you and Wakka are faster than the girls, you're still not quite fast enough against the fiends we're coming up on. Kimahri's going to handle much better, I think, and Sexy Red behind me looks like he'll be good too." He grinned over his shoulder at Auron, receiving a frown in return. "Aw, you're no fun."
"No, really. Harry, please stop talking about him like that," Tidus requested. "He practically brought me up after my old man disappeared."
"Ah. So it's like thinking about your parents in bed. Got it." He ducked a big blue fist aimed at his head and turned to stare at Kimahri. "What did I do this time?!"
"Harry shouldn't speak so crudely."
Harry huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "Big blue meanie," he complained, then turned to Yuna with a grin. "So, wanna go get Carbuncle?"
Yuna glanced questioningly at Auron, then at Lulu and Kimahri. When they nodded, she smiled at Harry and said, "Yeah."
Harry rolled his eyes, but still took the lead up the stairs and turned again towards his old home.
"How much farther?" Yuna complained.
Harry blinked back at the party. Yuna looked exhausted, with Tidus, Wakka and Lulu not looking much better. Auron and Kimahri were both more used to forging your own path through overgrown grass and weeds, so they were holding up better. "Ah..." He looked back ahead and grinned, then pointed. "See that hill?"
Yuna nodded. "Yeah."
"Just on the other side. Enough of the residences near the hill are far enough from the water that Sin only did minor damage to them, so we can probably camp out there. Think you'll make it that far?" He looked worriedly back over the party. He often forgot how quickly humans could tire.
Yuna blinked at the hill and nodded. "I think so. But could we take a break first?"
Harry glanced up at the other older guardians. Auron looked resigned and Kimahri nodded at Yuna's plea. "Okay. We'll take an hour's rest here, then plough on, okay? I want to get safely into the ruins before nightfall, though."
Yuna fell to the ground happily and nodded to Harry's order. The other three joined her on the ground, all looking pleased to be resting.
Harry sighed and shook his head. He was restless, especially with the enforced break.
Auron came up next to him. "How are you with those swords?" he asked, nodding at the twin katanas Harry had strapped to his back under the sword he'd been again using to show Tidus a few new tricks. Auron had looked rather impressed with the tutoring, especially once he'd seen how far the teen had advanced in only a few days.
Harry blinked. "Okay, I suppose," he allowed.
"Show me," Auron ordered, taking out his own giant sword.
Harry eyed the sword for a long moment, considering its weaknesses and how best to use his two swords against it, then nodded and handed his extra sword to their watching audience before pulling the two swords out.
Auron was good. Harry had already figured that out on the road there, but the man still wasn't quite in Harry's league. (Then again, Harry hadn't been able to find someone in his league for a couple thousand years.) Harry, however, was impressed by Auron's ability to handle the two swords, as most swordsmen weren't able to stand against it.
Eventually, Harry managed to get one of his blades against Auron's throat and grinned at him. Feeling daring, he leaned forward and kissed the other man on the lips, then skipped back out of the way of the sword swipe that followed, cackling madly.
From the cheering coming from the younger guardians, Harry had a feeling that none of them had seen the kiss, which worked out all the better, since it meant Lulu wouldn't grab his ear again or, Merlin forbid, set his back on fire.
"We should continue," Auron decided, putting his sword away.
Harry nodded and put his own swords away. "Agreed. If we wait much longer, we'll be picking through rubble in the dark." He took the extra sword from Tidus and they started off again without any real complaint from the younger journeyers.
When they reached the top of the hill, everyone paused to take in the sight. "Sin did all this?" Tidus whispered.
"Almost four thousand people lived here," Harry said tightly. "And now they're all gone." He started down the hill, frowning. The others followed him without a word and they managed to find a building in okay condition at the foot of the hill. They all hurried in and found rooms they could sleep in, then sat together around the fire Harry built in the fireplace and ate an easy meal.
"How do you know about this city?" Yuna asked curiously. "If no one's been to the temple since Lady Yunalesca, how would you know it was here?"
Harry sighed. "One of my ancestors lived in this city before Sin. He loved it." He smiled sadly. "We managed to save some of his writings and spheres through the ages, so I knew there was a temple, just not what had become of the city."
"Oh," Yuna said. "I'm surprised no one's tried to come back into the ruins, though."
"I would assume they didn't think there was anything useful." He debated a moment, then pulled his old sphere out of a pocket. "I found this in what was supposed to be my ancestor's house." He hit the play button and it crackled to life, showing his family.
"That's Lady Yunalesca!" Yuna gasped.
Harry nodded. "Her father and my ancestor were friends, according to his writings. He was originally from Zanarkand, but came down here with some of the people who wanted freedom from the wars. He settled here in Junon after he helped rebuild it." He snapped the sphere off and put it back in a pocket.
"Wow..." Yuna smiled. "I wonder what it was like, back then."
"I imagine it was pretty bloody," Harry said drily.
Lulu coughed. "Perhaps it's time we all turned in?" she suggested.
"That's a good idea," Wakka agreed, getting quickly to his feet.
Harry nodded absently and continued gazing into the fire. Lulu got between him and the fire, making him look up at her curiously. "You too, Harry."
He smiled at her. "I'll go to bed later. I'm not tired yet."
Lulu sighed and nodded, then left the main room.
Harry leaned back in his chair and snapped his sphere back on, watching his family as he thought. He hadn't had time to truly look over what was left in his old house the night before, and he sort of wanted to see what else was left.
Harry snapped off the sphere after it had started replaying for the third time and put it back in his pocket as he stood. He wandered back out into the city and carefully made his way through the ruins to his old home. He slipped inside and smiled fondly at the couch, then set about looting the place.
He managed to make it upstairs without too much trouble and found a few more spheres as well as some half-rotted pictures of his son that he'd taken while the boy was growing up. Harry smiled fondly at them before gathering them to throw in the fireplace downstairs.
He also found some of his old clothing which was so far gone, he wasn't sure even magic could save them. There was also some old baby clothing from when his son was small enough to wear it, and he laughed fondly at the little booties. James had always blushed a few shades when Harry had teased him about how small he'd once been, especially since James had been almost a head taller than Harry when he left, and had supposedly grown some more while he was in Zanarkand, if Yu was to be believed.
Harry eventually started a fire with the older stuff that he had no chance of saving, then went into the closet in the kitchen that'd he'd resized and put protection spells over. Inside were the few things he'd managed to save from his old world, including the bottomless bag Hermione had brought with them during their Horcrux hunt and a well-loved picture of the whole Weasley family, Hermione holding a baby Rose in her lap.
There were also some of his old school books and the Deathly Hallows, all of which he'd kept. In retrospect, that had probably helped keep him alive, above and beyond his vampirism.
Harry was just about to start moving the old items as well as the spheres he'd found upstairs into the bag when he heard a creaking sound in the front room.
Harry pulled out one of his guns and crept back to where the living room and the kitchen met. There, he closed his eyes and mentally pictured the room, as well as where the intruder would be. Having figured it out, he turned out into the living room, gun pointed at Auron's head.
The two froze for a long moment, both staring at each other, before Harry growled and put his gun away. "Fucking hell, Auron. Don't scare me like that!"
Auron just shrugged. "I'd wondered where you'd gotten to. Saw the smoke from the chimney and decided to come see."
Harry huffed. "You're lucky you didn't break your neck out there," he snapped, waving past the other man to the streets outside.
"You haven't seemed to," Auron commented. When Harry snorted and turned away, Auron added, "I find it interesting that you were even able to find this house, considering all the street markers seem to be gone, and some of the buildings have fallen over the streets."
Harry cocked an eyebrow at him. "What, you think I'm lying?"
"Yes," Auron agreed simply.
Harry shrugged. "Feel free to tell me the truth, then," he suggested, then moved back into the kitchen to finish packing his old things.
Auron followed him. "I have no explanation," he replied.
"Well, I won't be telling you anything," Harry commented. "All you need to know is that I intend to protect Yuna, and that should be enough for you." He shoved the spheres in the little bag, followed by the Hallows and his picture. He was just debating about whether or not to bring his old school books when Auron reached over and grabbed the bag. "Hey!"
"This is unusual," Auron commented, looking the bag over. "How much stuff can you fit in here?"
"I wouldn't know, I never bothered trying to figure it out," Harry replied. "Now if you'll kindly give it back..."
Auron pulled out Harry's picture and his words trailed off. "Who's this?"
"My family," Harry said tightly. "Put it back."
Auron shrugged and looked it over. "You don't look related."
Harry closed his eyes. "Auron, if you don't put that back, I won't be held accountable for what I do to you."
"Who are you?" Auron requested, putting the picture back. "And what is all that stuff? I've never seen anything quite like those..." He trailed off, frowning at the books in the closet.
Harry slammed the closet door closed. "They're called books. School books, to be more specific. They're from before World War Three, before half the land masses of this world sunk and the polar icecaps melted."
Auron blinked. "Right. And you are?"
"You already know who I am," Harry snapped. "Give me my bag, Auron!"
Auron eyed him, then tossed him the bag. "Alright then, what are you?"
Harry tied the bag to his belt, considering the man. "I'm a vampire," he finally admitted. "Immortal."
Auron's eyes widened. "Immortal?"
Harry shrugged. "Nothing's killed me yet," he commented, "and I've been around for a few thousand years." He smiled bitterly. "I've been shot, stabbed, lost my arms, burned at the stake, thrown from a couple thousand feet in the air..." He shrugged. "Legend says my kind can be killed by fire or a stake through the heart. I've managed to avoid the latter, but the former clearly didn't work."
"Are there others? Vampires?" Auron asked.
Harry snorted. "No. The others are dead. Killed in World War Three. Are you done questioning me?"
"Not..." Auron frowned. "What's the catch? Immortality always has a catch."
Harry blinked at him in surprise, then smiled. "Clever, yes, I really do like you."
Auron narrowed his eyes.
Harry chuckled. "I have to drink blood every few days." He eyed the man. "Would you care to be my donor?" he practically purred, stepping closer to the other man.
Auron frowned and shook his head. "I doubt you'd get much from me."
Harry blinked. "No? You think you'll cut me up, first?"
"No, I'm dead."
Harry blinked again. "Ooh... Never tried drinking from a dead guy before!" he said with a mad smile, then remembered drinking from the fiend and paused. "Oh, wait, no. You'll probably give me cramps, assuming there is, as you said, any blood in you." He huffed. "Dammit. You ruined all my fun."
Auron rose an eyebrow at him. "Will you stop trying to have sex with me now?" he asked.
"Are you kidding?! You're the most fun I've have in hundreds of years! In Zanarkand, Yu would have murdered me if he found out I came on to anyone."
"I'm surprised that stopped you," Auron replied.
Harry huffed. "Yu knew what to threaten me with, you don't." He waved it off. "And, in answer to your question, no, I don't intend to stop hitting on you. Like I said, you're fun, and it's entertaining watching Tidus freak out. On the other hand, sex with a dead guy sounds a bit off, so you're safe there."
Auron frowned. "Wonderful."
Harry grinned madly. "Oh, yes, isn't it?" Then he looked around his house and sighed. "I suppose we should go back before one of the others decides to come looking for me, too."
Auron nodded and they walked back out into the streets, Harry waving the fire out. "That sphere," Auron said. "That was your family?"
Harry sighed and lightly touched the bag at his side where the sphere was. "My son and his wife, and my adopted niece, Yunalesca, and her boyfriend, Zaon. The sphere came on the last boat down here before Yu called them all back to keep Bevelle from realising some of our people had escaped the slaughter."
"Yunalesca eventually married Zaon," Auron said.
Harry's eyes lit up. "She did? Oh, wonderful! Yu would have killed them, if he'd ever known." Harry felt his heart fall, recalling how Yunalesca had died. "On second thought, perhaps he did." He sighed. "My poor little lily..."
Auron looked over curiously. "You didn't know?"
Harry shook his head. "I fell asleep just before the end of the Wars, from the sound of things. Only woke up a few days ago."
"You slept for a thousand years," Auron said, deadpan.
Harry grinned at him. "Creepy, isn't it?"
"I would think it would be disorienting."
"Mmmm... That too." Harry stopped just outside the building they were staying in. "Right. You don't tell the living I'm a vampire and I won't tell them you're dead. Understood?"
Auron raised an eyebrow at him. "Yes."
"Hm." Harry walked into the house and went up to bed, quite content to sleep the rest of the mad night away.
The next morning, Harry hit on Auron twice, ducked Lulu's attempts to grab his ear, and generally made a nuisance of himself, just because he could.
When they reached the temple, Harry stopped them with a serious look. "The fewer of us that go in, the better," he told them. "Like I said, this place is not in the best of shape."
Auron looked seriously over the party. "Tidus, go with Yuna and Harry." When Kimahri looked like he might disagree, Auron said, "The less weight we put on the floor the better. Tidus and Harry are the lightest, and they're capable of protecting Yuna if they have to."
Harry saluted, then hopped up to the entrance and held a hand down to help Yuna up.
"Harry!" Lulu called. When Harry glanced at her curiously, she gave him a warning look.
Harry saluted her and called, "Yes, ma'am!" then continued helping the two younger members of the party into the temple.
"What was that about?" Yuna asked as they started carefully through the ruined Cloister of Trials. Harry was leading the way, watching for any danger spots, while Tidus watched their backs, in case Harry missed something.
"The lovely Lulu was just reminding me that if I hit on you again she'll flambé me," Harry muttered distractedly.
Harry sighed and paused to look back at the girl. "Set me afire."
"She wouldn't really, though, right?" Tidus asked. "She knows you hate fire."
Harry nodded. "All the more effective as a threat," he commented, then held up his hands for a stop. "This is the Chamber. Stay here a moment and let me check to make sure the floor is still stable enough to take all three of us," he ordered, then moved into the room gingerly.
Yuna looked back at Tidus. "He hates fire?" she asked.
"He almost got burned alive once," the boy explained. "He doesn't use it."
Yuna grimaced and looked back towards the entrance.
"Hey, Yuna, does it bother you when he comes on to you?" Tidus asked.
Yuna smiled back at him. "He's only done it once. Well, he kissed my cheek on the Winno, but... no. Not really. Why?"
Tidus sighed. "Shouldn't it bother us, though?"
"Yuna!" Harry called from the other room.
"I don't think so," the girl said to Tidus, then moved into the doorway and looked at where Harry stood on the other side of the floor, which was shot through with cracks. She paused in the doorway. "You're sure this is safe?" she asked, eyes wide.
"That's what I'm trying to find out, but I need Tidus in the doorway behind you to catch you. You'll have to try walking across." Harry sent her an apologetic smile. "I made it, didn't I?"
"I'll be right behind you," Tidus assured her.
"Okay," Yuna said then, taking a deep breath, started across.
The floor held almost the entire way across, but about seven feet from Harry, the floor jerked warningly under Yuna and she gasped just before it caved in.
Harry jumped forward and managed to catch her arm, only just balancing on the edge of the unbroken floor by holding on to a vine that had started creeping down from the ceiling. There were a few such vines, and Harry counted himself extremely lucky this one was here. He didn't much fancy trying to break Yuna's fall without her getting hurt, especially since it would most likely mean dying. Again.
"Okay?" Tidus called from his doorway. He'd started to try and run out to grab Yuna, but the floor was too unstable and a small hole had started forming on his side.
Harry nodded, then looked down at Yuna, who was looking up at him with wide, terrified eyes. "I need you to reach up with your free hand and pull yourself up," he told her.
"But I don't think I–"
"Yuna!" Harry snapped, wincing as his shoulders screamed at the strain. "Sweetheart, I can't do anything but stand here, and Tidus is stuck. You need to try and pull yourself up. I know it's hard, but I'm sure you can do it," he soothed, tightening his grip on her wrist, and feeling her hand against his own wrist tighten in reply.
Yuna closed her eyes and reached her free hand up, trying to grab Harry's arm. She could only reach as far up as her own elbow and let out an angry sound, trying again.
Harry looked over at Tidus, who looked helpless. "Go outside," he told the boy softly. "See if the others can find a rope that hasn't rotted."
"But what about–"
"If we can't get ourselves out of this," Harry said calmly, "we'll need a rope through this hole so you can pull Yuna out. If you can find a rope, I need you to climb onto the roof, which will probably be falling apart as much as this floor, I warn you, and I need you to lower that rope down here so you can use it to lift Yuna out. Can you do that, Tidus?"
Tidus stared at the struggling girl hanging from Harry's arm for a long moment, then nodded and turned to run back outside.
Harry let out a breath of relief.
Yuna looked up at him, terrified. "You don't think this will work," she accused.
Harry grimaced. "I think we need to get you to train up your strength a bit more," he said instead. "How's your shoulder?"
Yuna hissed, suddenly noticing of the sharp pain in the shoulder. "Oh, Yevon..."
Harry nodded. "You pulled it. We'll get you out of here and heal it in no time." He smiled down at her.
"What about you?" she asked. "Are your shoulders okay?"
Harry chuckled drily. "Not in the least, but I can hold you here for a while yet, I should think. I would love to think that I can lift you out of here, but I'm afraid I don't have that kind of strength."
"Lord Harry?" a voice whispered from behind him.
"The fayth," Yuna whispered.
Harry closed his eyes. "I'm a little busy, Cary."
Cary ghosted over to them, eyes wide. "I'm sorry," she said.
Harry shook his head. "No, it's fine," he said. "Can you go up and see if Tidus is coming? Preferably with a rope?"
Cary nodded and floated up through the ceiling.
"They can leave their crystal?" Yuna asked.
"There's only a certain distance from it they can go," Harry replied, "and most don't bother, since people always come to see them anyway, but Cary's been alone here for almost one thousand years. I have a feeling she pokes her head out fairly often."
"That poor girl," Yuna whispered.
Cary floated back down next to them. "Tidus is coming," she said, looking worried. "But, Lord Harry, the vine you're holding on to..."
Harry sighed. "It's about to break, isn't it?" he inquired.
Harry smiled bitterly. "Brilliant."
Yuna looked up at him in horror, then down into the dark depths beneath them.
"Cary, grant her Carbuncle," Harry told the fayth.
"But I haven't prayed!" Yuna complained.
"You pilgrimage to get rid of Sin," Cary said. "That beast that destroyed my home. And you'll take me from here, show me Spira again. You don't need to pray to get my help, Lady Yuna." Then she disappeared into the summoner, just as a rope started slipping through the hole.
"You two okay?" Tidus called.
"Fabulous!" Harry called back, watching the rope slide down toward Yuna, who was staring up at him with tears on her face. "You sure took your time!" Harry added to Tidus.
The boy let out a strained laugh. "Yeah, sorry about that! Kimahri had to run back inland to find a good rope!"
"Ah, got to love the Ronso," Harry chuckled, then looked down at Yuna. "Take the rope," he told her.
"But what if you–"
"Yuna, take the rope," Harry said firmly. "I'll be fine. The weight of two of us isn't going to keep this vine from breaking any slower, but it'll take less time if I'm holding on alone. And I'm still braced against the floor." He glanced back to where his feet were only just on the floor.
Yuna took a deep breath and wrapped her free hand around the rope then, slowly let go of Harry and transferred her other hand to it. "Okay."
Once Harry was certain she had a good grip, he let go of her wrist. "Pull her up, Tidus!" Harry called.
The rope started moving up ever so slowly. Just as Yuna reached the top of the roof and was able to start pulling herself up, Harry felt the vine give again and sighed. "Good luck," he murmured just as the vine finished pulling free.
Chapter 4: The Abyss
Because a few people asked: James was Harry's biological son. I never really made any choices about his mum, but he was definitely Harry's kid. And, so far as I remember, he's the only one Harry ever had. (But Harry liked kids, so he did watch over the Zanarkand orphanage for a while.)
Harry groaned as he woke up and looked up towards where a sliver of light peaked through. So it was day, but he didn't know if it was the same day – it was really hard to tell when you were dead.
Harry checked himself over. The back of his head was sore, which meant he'd probably smashed it open against the rocks he'd landed on. He felt like he might have broken at least one of his legs, as well as the arm he was laying on. He pulled said arm out an set it with a wince, then left his magic to mend it. His shoulders felt a lot better, though that was probably healed as soon as he'd stopped putting stress on them.
Harry sighed and stood, muttering, "Lumos." He smiled fondly at the little ball of light that appeared next to him, then looked his clothing and weapons over.
His clothing took a couple of cleaning and mending spells, but they'd survived the fall better than they had his nap in the ocean, so he didn't give it much thought. His hair was a complete mess and caked with blood, so he undid it, cast a cleaning spell, then did it back up again. In spite of landing on his back, both his swords and his guns were still in working order, though the sword he'd been using to train Tidus was completely wrecked. "Next time," he grumbled, "give the heavy sword to someone staying outside." He rubbed at his face. "Potter, stop talking to yourself. It's creepy."
He shook his head, then looked around the hole he'd fallen into. It was impressively open, for a random hole under the temple, but then Harry had a vague recollection of their having supposedly been a strange hole under the square where the temple had been built, anyway. There were a lot of legends about the hole – everything from being a pathway to hell, to being a place when the original inhabitants of Spira had hidden things. Personally, Harry had always thought it was probably just a place where two halves of the island had crushed together and, somehow, a cavern had formed.
Harry silently fed power into his light and looked around. "Hmm... No demons popping out at me, so I suppose that leaves out hell. That could have been writing, at one point, but I think it's more likely to have been a natural fault," he decided, fingering a few scores in the stone.
He looked around again and groaned. No clear way to scale the place, which meant he'd need to magically find a way up.
"Lord Harry?" Cary called. "Are you alive again?"
"Cary? Yeah! Hey, what day is it?"
"You've been dead for a day," she called back down. "Can you get out on your own?"
Harry sighed. One day wasn't too bad, though it would be a bitch to catch back up with the party. Explaining his still being alive would suck even more, but he could figure that out later.
"My Lord? Can you get out?"
"Oh! Erm, yeah, but it'll take me a bit."
"Hold on!" Cary called back down.
Harry blinked. What did the fayth think she could accomplish on her own, anyway?
"Harry!" Tidus' voice called down.
"Tidus?! I thought you lot would have left by now!"
Tidus chuckled. "The fayth wouldn't let us," he said loudly. "Told us to find longer rope and wait for her signal!"
Harry sighed. "Fayths," he complained to himself.
"I'm going to send the rope down! Let me know when you've got it!"
"Understood!" Harry shouted, then rubbed at his face. This had to be the most ridiculous rescue yet, he decided. It even topped the time Yu had ended up sending five boats out to the middle of the ocean, where one of Bevelle's airships had dropped him with a heavy, magic-proof chain around his legs.
Harry wondered, sometimes, why he wasn't as phobic of water as he was of fire. Perhaps the fear of fire was just ingrained into the vampire in him, since it was one of the few things that could supposedly kill him.
Harry glanced up as something sent a shadow against the wall and saw the rope, which was just within reach. Another few feet and he called, "Got it!"
Tidus waited a moment, then shouted, "Ready to come up?"
"Go for it!"
Harry felt a jerk and his feet left the ground. He tried as hard as he could to keep from moving on the rope so it wouldn't be as hard for Tidus and whoever was helping him, but the rope still swung a bit.
When he got close enough to the crystal that Cary could meet him, she did, saying, "I'm sorry, Lord Harry, but I couldn't just let them leave you down there. Not without a way out."
Harry sighed. "Cary, there's always a way out. It might have taken more time, but I would have managed it."
Cary shook her head. "This was better," she insisted.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Making children fayth," he grumbled. "What were you thinking, Yu?"
Harry reached the edge of the roof and reached up to help pull himself up, lessening the stress on those pulling him. As soon as he was fully on the roof, Tidus pulled him away from the hole and hugged him. "We thought you were dead," he whispered.
Harry let out a pained breath. "I was," he replied, then pulled away gently. "Come on, let's get down from here."
Tidus nodded and the two picked their way over to where Lulu was holding Yuna back from running out to meet them. Kimahri, Auron and Wakka were all taking a break, clearly having been the ones to help pull him out.
As soon as they were on solid ground again, Yuna broke free of Lulu and rushed to give Harry a hug, then leaned back to pound her fist on his chest. "Stupid! You could have died!"
Harry cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Actually, I sort of did."
"You're unsent?" Lulu asked, stepping forward.
Harry shook his head. "I'm immortal," he corrected. "I can't die."
"How is that...?" Yuna asked, still gripping his upper arms painfully.
Harry sighed and closed his eyes. "How about we talk about this over food? Please?"
"I agree," Auron declared, standing from the place he'd sat to rest. "Some food will do us all good."
Yuna nodded and, taking Harry's hand, turned to walk back to the same building they'd stayed in the first night.
Harry smiled faintly in amusement and let her have her way. Admittedly, her reaction was almost exactly like the reaction of a good friend of his in America who had been there one of the first times he'd died and come back to life. She, however, had known what a vampire was. Spira didn't have vampires, so Harry couldn't just say what he was and let them figure it out from there.
Once they'd reached the building they'd been staying in, Tidus got Harry some soup which had been left over the fire to heat. Harry amused himself with trying to eat one-handed while everyone else got some as well. When they were all seated and watching him, he sighed and sat his bowl down in his lap.
"First off, you have to understand that, when I was born, this world was a lot larger, and we had different stories. That was... Oh, I guess about five thousand years ago, give or take a few centuries. I got turned into what my people called a vampire – a creature that is stuck somewhere between life and death. According to legend, vampires can't walk out in the sunlight, can only be killed by being either staked in the heart or burned in a large fire, and they drink blood to survive.
"Clearly, I can walk out in the sunlight, although I will get a sunburn faster than your average human. I'm willing to believe the whole only being killed by a stake or fire, but the last time I got burned at the stake, it just took me a week to recuperate. My best guess is that something happened to me at one point in my life which just made me impossible to kill. And, no, I've never been staked through the heart. I don't much care to try it, either.
"I do drink blood," he continued, shrugging when they all winced. "I only need a little bit every few days, though, and I can hunt on my own," he said, waving off their concerns. "Questions?"
"Does dying hurt?" Yuna asked in a quiet voice.
Harry considered the question. "I have been told," he said, "that dying from old age in your sleep is painless, but I wouldn't know." He grimaced. "I have a bad habit of dying in gruesome ways, I'm afraid, and, yes, that hurts."
"Have you ever drunk any of our blood?" Wakka asked suspiciously.
Harry grinned at him. "What are you afraid of?"
"That's a yes, isn't it?" Wakka replied, still suspicious.
Harry's eyes flickered to Tidus. "Once, but it wasn't you, Wakka, so calm down." He rolled his eyes.
But Tidus had seen the look. "Me?" he squeaked.
Harry winced. "Erm, yeah. Sorry."
"When?" Tidus demanded.
"In the inn on Besaid."
Tidus just gaped at him for a long moment, then said, "That was your fault?!"
Harry coughed. "Yes."
Tidus groaned and hid his face in his hands, face a bright red. When everyone looked at Harry for an answer, he just smiled knowingly and drank some more of his soup.
"So, wait." Yuna leaned forward, hand still clutching Harry's, much to his surprise. "Do you need real food, then?"
Harry blinked, then chuckled. "It's not vital, but it does keep me from craving blood quite as often. I also don't sleep as much as you lot do. Hence why I'm always off doing things all night."
"How much sleep do you need?" Lulu asked, eyes narrowed, and Harry could tell she would still hound him about his sleep.
"Generally, about two hours or so. If I need blood, I usually can't sleep at all. If I don't, I can sleep up to five hours. But I really only need two." Harry raised an eyebrow at the woman. "And I'm old enough to take care of myself, lovely Lulu. You don't have to hound me to sleep every night."
Yuna giggled. "Yeah, you're ancient compared to us."
Harry's lips curled with a bitter smile. "Never mind ancient, I'm probably the reason you're all here. When the major countries bombed the hell out of each other during World War Three, I was the one who secreted families into an underground tunnel that someone had built and reinforced, since I could survive without breathing and the air outside didn't hurt me. It took about a thousand years, but the air eventually cleared and those people are the ones who gave birth to Spira." He shrugged at their awed looks. "Well, except the Ronso, the Guado and the Hypello, their lot evolved on the surface from other creatures that had managed to survive out there."
"That must have been horrible," Yuna whispered.
Harry shrugged again. "It had its moments, but at least there were still people around to keep me amused, even if they did tend to keep their distance." He grinned a bit madly at that.
They all fell silent to consider everything he'd told them and he happily sipped at his soup.
"Wait," Yuna said, looking up. "That sphere you showed us, a couple of days ago. You said it belonged to an ancestor, but it didn't, did it?"
Harry eyed her curiously. "No. That was my family when I lived during the Machina Wars. My son, James, and his wife, Miyu. Then Yunalesca, who was my adopted niece, and her boyfriend, Zaon. Who, just to set the record straight, came from Bevelle, and Yu almost killed him when he found out." He grinned. "That was an entertaining conversation, actually."
"Yu?" Tidus asked.
"Ah, yes. Yu Yevon. Leader of Zanarkand for the last...oh, sixty years of the Machina Wars, and father of the legendary Lady Yunalesca." He waggled his eyebrows at the startled looks. "One of the few things Yu and I fought over was the subject of machina. I like it – everyone's seen my guns – but, yes, Wakka, Yu abhorred it. At least, he hated it in war. He was perfectly okay with using machina to keep Zanarkand running, but he couldn't abide by using it in war. And that, my friends, is the entire reason Bevelle won."
"But, if Bevelle won, why is machina forbidden?" Lulu asked.
Harry sighed and frowned. "Okay, most of what I'm about to tell you is speculation from what I knew of before I decided to sleep near Besaid for one thousand years, and what I've since learned." When everyone nodded, Harry said, "Yu had a back-up plan in the works that he intended to use if Bevelle was moments from taking over. This plan was to use the left over people in a mass summoning, which he would control. This summoning was to create a dream world, where Zanarkand could live on forever.
"From what Cary told me, it worked. But Yu also had another back-up plan, where-in he would attack Bevelle – completely obliterate it, if he could – and leave his people there to help rebuild it, preaching about the evils of machina. That's where your Holy Yevon Order comes from," he commented, nodding to Wakka. "Because he'd attacked Bevelle, the fighting force stationed there was supposed to go to Zanarkand, where Yu would destroy them before completing the summoning."
"But something went wrong," Auron murmured.
Harry closed his eyes tiredly. "It did. I don't know how, or where or why, but I do know that Sin, the creature of your nightmares, is my best friend." He looked around the horrified circle. "Yu Yevon is Sin."
"But, that can't be..." Yuna whispered.
Harry shook his head. "Did no one ever wonder why Yunalesca went after Sin? I mean, yeah, he was destroying the world because he was out of control, but the real reason – at least, the one I figure, knowing Yunalesca like I do – was to save Yu. Because they fought over Zaon a lot, but Yunalesca adored Yu. She became a summoner so she could be just like him." Harry smiled bitterly.
Yuna leaned over and hugged Harry, and he gently hugged her back.
Harry finished his soup in the silence and gently untangled himself from Yuna. "Well, unless there's anything else?"
"Where are you going?" Wakka demanded.
He rose an eyebrow at the red-head. "I have to feed," he said drily. "And if I plan to do so and meet you all back here before you leave for the road again, I'm going to have to go now."
"You can feed from me!" Yuna called.
"Yuna, I really don't think..." Tidus mumbled, trailing off when he caught Harry's amused look.
Harry glanced at Yuna. "Thank you for the offer, sweetheart, but I have a feeling the lovely Lulu and Big Blue would murder me. Again. And I don't fancy dying again so soon."
"Why would we–" Lulu stopped mid-sentence to glare at the unrepentant vampire as she realised the implications. "If you go anywhere near her..."
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Lulu, I already said no. Calm down. Yeesh." He chuckled. "I'll go find something. I've been doing this for thousands of years, now."
Tidus cleared his throat nervously and said, "You can drink from me, again."
Harry's eyebrows just about vanished into his hairline. He briefly recalled Cary telling him what Tidus was, but since the boy's blood had sustained him well enough the first time, it probably wouldn't be a problem. And if it was, he'd last until they got back to the Highroad and could find someone there. But there was also the chance that the boy was just doing it so Harry didn't have to run all over Spira. "Tidus, really, I can go–"
But Tidus stood, grabbed Harry's arm and dragged the amused vampire from the room.
Everyone sort of blinked after them for a long moment before Auron started chuckling. Lulu just sighed, while Yuna looked slightly left out.
On his chair, Wakka muttered, "This trip is turning into a nightmare, ya?"
"It's certainly something," Auron agreed, still chuckling a little.
Tidus stopped after the door had closed behind them. The boy had brought them to one of the rooms that the party wasn't using, but that was in fine shape, with a large bed and a few decorative touches.
Harry gently twisted his wrist from Tidus' grip and set his hands on the boy's shoulders, feeling him tense. "I meant it," he murmured, "when I said I'd be fine on my own."
"But I can't let you go off on your own," Tidus complained tiredly. "Yuna would spend all night distraught again, and I..." He shook his head.
Harry sighed. Perhaps he should have told the younger two that he couldn't die before he fell, although he didn't know if their reaction would have differed much in the long run. "Tidus, I don't want to force you–"
"You're not forcing me!" Tidus snapped, spinning around so he could face Harry.
Harry eyed the determined set of the boy's jaw and the glimmer of uncertainty and fear in his eyes. "No," he agreed, "but you are forcing yourself."
Tidus swallowed, then poked Harry in the chest. "And what about that first night, huh? Wasn't that forcing me?"
Harry winced. "Yes," he admitted. "And I'm sorry. If I could do it all again–"
"I would rather you still have done it to me," Tidus said, grabbing handfuls of Harry's shirt. "Because at least I found out what happened. No one else would have, they would have just wondered." He met Harry's eyes. "You wouldn't have told them, you would have just done it in their sleep."
Harry closed his eyes. "I have found," he said quietly, "that small island villages don't react well to my presence. So I tend to either wait until I can get to the nearest big city, or find someone sleeping. Yes."
"You're afraid they would have killed you if they'd found out?" Tidus demanded, surprised.
Harry smiled. "It's happened before."
Tidus shook his head. "But you'd just come back, right?"
Harry sighed. "Tidus, if I'm killed when I need blood like that, I'll hit bloodlust as soon as I'm alive again."
Harry frowned at the boy. "How to... Ah. Remember when Big Blue went into berserk on the road here?" Tidus nodded. "Bloodlust is sort of like that, but I won't be able to tell my friends from my enemies. I just need blood so bad that I kill everyone in sight until I'm sated. In the case of Besaid, I would have killed about half the population."
Tidus swallowed, eyes hardening with determination. "All the more reason to let you drink from me now."
Harry sighed again. "Are you–"
Tidus shut him up by pressing their lips together. Harry was a bit surprised that Tidus had experience with kissing but, then again, he was eighteen, and a famous blitzball player back in his Zanarkand. Harry wouldn't be surprised if Tidus had lovers in the past.
Harry kissed down the side of Tidus' face down to his neck, where he nipped at him once or twice, being careful not to break the skin. "Bed?" he whispered.
Tidus gasped and nodded.
The two deposited their swords and belts in the ground, then climbed in together. Tidus again surprised Harry by firmly getting on top of the vampire. At Harry's cocked eyebrow, Tidus sniffed and said, "You were on top last time."
Harry chuckled and tugged the boy's mouth down to his. "Acceptable," he said after he'd finished kissing the teen. Then he moved back to Tidus' neck and grazed it a few times with his elongated fangs, closing his eyes in pleasure at the taste of the blood that dribbled down his neck.
Tidus gasped when Harry finally sunk his teeth into his neck. It had hurt, briefly, but then there was just an odd pulling sensation and that same lust he dimly recalled from the night in the Besaid inn. He'd thought it was odd at the time, since he'd never felt that strongly about sex before, but considering it had something to do with the vampire beneath him, he supposed it made sense.
Tidus didn't even notice when he started grinding his hips against Harry's, nor did he notice when Harry started grinding back. All he knew was that there was a lovely friction against his cock and a pulling feeling at his neck that felt perfect.
Harry whispered a healing spell against Tidus' neck, then pulled the boy's mouth to his for a long kiss, grinding his hips even more insistently up against him. Tidus responded in kind and Harry soon felt himself coming, groaning into Tidus' mouth. The boy let out a gasp and came too, fisting his hands in Harry's hair.
Tidus fell heavily to the bed next to Harry, only just having the thought to roll off him. Harry silently bemoaned the state of his braid again while Tidus regained his breath.
"Don't tell me... you don't breathe... either?" Tidus gasped, somewhat irritated that Harry wasn't having the same trouble he was.
Harry smiled at him. "Only when I talk, since you need air in your lungs to sound words." When Tidus groaned, Harry chuckled and said, "Sorry, I guess."
Tidus sighed and closed his eyes. "Shut up," he mumbled, draping an arm over Harry's waist.
Harry chuckled again and murmured a cleaning spell at their pants before closing his own eyes to sleep.
Tidus woke wondering where the warm pillow at his side had gone. When he opened his eyes, he saw Harry standing in front of a mirror and braiding his hair, and the night before came back. He groaned and threw a hand over his face.
"Okay?" Harry asked, turning to look at the teen.
"It wasn't just a dream, was it?" he asked.
"Mmm... Nope," Harry replied, finishing off his braid and tying it off with a bit of controlled lightning before tossing it back over his shoulder. He'd already put his belt back on so he would have his guns if he needed them, but his swords were still on the ground next to Tidus'. Harry remembered the other sword he'd been borrowing and grimaced. "Hey, Tidus?"
"I'm sorry. About your dad's sword."
Tidus shrugged. "Don't worry about it. I didn't like him, anyway."
Harry chuckled. "No, I don't suppose you did," he said, remembering the few times he'd heard Tidus speak of his father.
"Do you think we'll get back to the journey today?" Tidus asked.
"I certainly hope so. I'd like to get out of these ruins," Harry said.
Tidus blinked, then let out a hiss. "This was your home," he said, as if just realising it.
Harry nodded. "I lived in this town for twenty years," he agreed. "Although, if you think this place must have memories, imagine what Zanarkand will feel like. For both of us." He glanced over at Tidus, who was staring at him with painful understanding. Harry smiled. "You grew up there, and I lived there for almost seven hundred years." He chuckled. "Should be fun."
"How can you laugh about–"
"If I don't laugh," Harry said softly, "I might very well cry. And I've faced too much loss to cry now." He picked up his swords. "Shall we go see if the others are up yet?"
Tidus blinked at him and shook his head. "Yeah, sure. What time is it?"
Harry glanced out the half-ruined window next to him and considered the rising sun. "Mmmm... Seven or eight, I think."
Tidus groaned. "It is way too early to be up."
Harry snickered. "Maybe you'll be lucky and Auron will still be asleep. Then you can wake him."
Tidus grumbled under his breath, but got up anyway and put his sword and belt on before following the vampire down to the main room.
Auron, Lulu and Kimahri were all up and talking around the fire. Yuna was laying on one of the couches, a Sleep spell glittering over her skin. When Harry cocked an eyebrow at Lulu, the woman smiled and said, "She was having trouble sleeping."
Harry nodded and fell into a chair. "Wakka still asleep?"
"He is," Auron agreed. "We were just debating going to wake him."
"But not us?" Harry asked with bright eyes. "Oh, come on, Sexy Red."
Auron just shook his head.
"Are you going to... hit on Auron the whole trip?" Tidus asked around a yawn.
Harry chuckled. "It makes the trip more fun. Anyway, I want to see if he can hit me with that big sword of his."
Auron frowned at Harry over his glasses and seemed to be considering doing just that.
Tidus rolled his eyes. "I'll go wake Wakka," he decided, then walked out of the room.
"So, continue on the Highroad?" Harry asked with an amused smile.
Auron nodded. "There's a rest stop about halfway on the road. We should be able to make it there before nightfall without straining the less travelled members too much, especially if one of us goes ahead to clear a path."
Harry chuckled in memory of the stop they'd had to take on the way to the ruins. "Sounds good to me."
"ARGH!" came from down the hall.
Tidus came running back into the room, looking smug. Before anyone could ask him what he'd done, a sopping wet Wakka followed him, looking like he might just throw his ball at Tidus' head. Clearly, Tidus had decided to try a Water spell on his fellow blitzer
"Oh, good, you're up!" Harry declared, standing. "Well then, if someone wants to wake Yuna, we should probably head out again."
Wakka blinked. "But what about breakfast?"
Harry blinked. "You slept through it," he said evenly.
"But–" Tidus started.
"We eat on the road," Auron cut in firmly, while Lulu leaned over and woke Yuna.
Yuna sleepily looked around, then smiled when she saw Harry. "Morning," she said.
"Good morning," Harry replied fondly. "We're ready to head out, if you're feeling up to it."
Yuna nodded and let Lulu help her to her feet, then brushed off her skirt. "Okay!"
They finished packing a few last minute things, then headed back out. Atop the hill that overlooked the ruined city, Harry turned to look back down, touching the pouch at his side with the last of his old world in it. Then he followed the party back to the Highroad, and the world he lived in now.
Chapter 5: Depth
Wakka might have resisted more, but it had gotten dark and the younger travellers were all tired by the time they reached the Al Bhed shop. Wakka had taken a moment to stare up at the sign above the shop and managed to say, "But this is an Al Bh–" before Harry reached over and shoved Wakka just enough to make him fall over, which wasn't very hard.
"You only get rights to complain about our chosen rest stop if you can keep walking to a new one," Harry said drily, then reached down and pulled Wakka to his feet, where he swayed a bit. "Go inside. Come on..." Harry sighed and led the man into the shop, Lulu trailing behind. Auron had gone ahead of them with Tidus, Yuna and Kimahri, and they'd already gotten rooms together.
Harry handed Wakka off to Kimahri, who led the four younger travellers back to the two rooms they'd gotten. Auron turned to Harry and motioned him outside, where they came to a stop in a small hill overlooking the ocean. "Yes?" the red-clad warrior asked, having guessed that Harry wanted to ask something when he didn't take Wakka back himself.
Harry flopped down on the hill. "You know this road better than I do," he admitted, "so I'm wondering if you know the next best place to rest." He glanced up at Auron. "And keep in mind that those kids probably can't manage another day like these past few have been."
Auron nodded. "I'm almost considering letting them rest for a day," he said. "Even Kimahri could use the rest at this point. The next good stopping point on this road is Djose, and I know we can't make it there in a day. Certainly not with Yuna, Wakka, Lulu and Tidus."
Harry nodded. "So we'll have to camp out at least one night anyway. Might as well give them a day of rest before roughing it." He rubbed at his forehead. "In which case, I might go disappear for a day."
Auron frowned. "Why?"
"There's a cave series that you can, technically, only get to from the ocean, and even then it's perilous. Some people who got out of Zanarkand before I went to sleep decided to hide out there, including a couple friends of mine. I want to go see if that colony survived Sin."
"How do you intend to get to them without a boat?" Auron asked.
Harry grinned. "I can climb the cliffs, though a normal human wouldn't be able to manage it, and not just because a misstep could mean their death."
Auron nodded. "I will tell the others tomorrow that you're on another side trip, then."
"Excellent!" Harry hopped to his feet and pulled out his map of Spira. "Now, maybe you can tell me what is right here?"
Auron looked over the map. "Mushroom Rock Road. I was under the assumption that it existed in your time."
Harry cocked his head at the map. "Probably did," he agreed, "but Bevelle's guard watched the roads around here, because of Luca, and I never made it up much farther than this before I would get shot and tossed into the ocean." He snorted. "Paranoid bastards."
Auron blinked. "How were they able to recognise you?"
Harry shrugged. "Yu made me a diplomat practically as soon as he was voted in as our leader. I would assume, after the first time Bevelle had me killed for suggesting they stop hostilities and I came back, they made sure every one of their people knew my face. Presumably to shoot me a couple times and toss me back in the river." He chuckled.
Auron shook his head. "Mushroom Rock Road meets Mi'ihen about here," he said, pointing down at Harry's map. "There's a small gate there, but they don't make a policy of stopping travellers, and it's not like you're a wanted man now..."
Harry nodded and folded his map back up. "Brilliant. Okay, then I'll see everyone tomorrow-ish. And if Tidus and Yuna start freaking out again," he rolled his eyes while Auron chuckled, "shoot them with a sleeping spell and they'll get over it."
Auron nodded. "Go on. Before you're late."
Harry snickered, then dashed off into the night, leaving Auron shaking his head behind him.
At the gate, one of the sleepy Crusaders told him that one of the roads were out, but there was another way across, so Harry decided to not worry about it until he came by with the party. He did thank the man, though, before hurrying down the path.
It didn't take him long to find an unoccupied section of wall, especially so late at night, and quickly started scaling it, occasionally having to shoot a fiend that thought he looked like easy prey.
At the top of the rocks, he took a moment to figure out where he really was, then made for the section of wall against the ocean he knew the colony had been placed in.
The cliff seemed much thinner than he'd remembered thinking it was when he first saw the caves from the ocean, but that didn't mean it actually was, and with the sun coming up at his back, he couldn't hope to see through the shadows. So Harry shrugged and started down the cliff.
About halfway down the cliff, he transferred his weight to a rock he couldn't see, but had thought was steady, and the rock promptly fell out from under him. Harry just sort of groaned as he plummeted to his death.
Out of nowhere, a hand wrapped around his wrist, stopping his decent. Harry used his free hand to pull himself up on to the ledge, where he was met with curious green eyes with a swirl inside.
"Al Bhed?" he murmured, blinking. He wished he'd taken the time to learn more Al Bhed than he had when he lived in Zanarkand, but he honestly hadn't considered it to be important at the time.
"Yna oui risyh, un veaht?" the man asked.
Harry blinked and rubbed at his forehead. He knew 'oui' meant you, and he was pretty sure 'risyh' meant human, but beyond that, he was lost. So he just decided to go with the one word he knew without a doubt, friend: "Vneaht." He pointed at himself, then sighed and said, "I don't suppose you have anyone who speaks Common?"
The man blinked at him, then turned around and yelled, "Maki!"
An older woman with long white hair toddled forward and blinked slowly at Harry. "You speak only Common?"
Harry sighed in relief and nodded. "I learned about, oh, six words of Al Bhed a few years ago, but that's it."
Maki nodded, then turned to the man who had grabbed Harry. "Ra'c risyh, yht caasc cyva. Caa ev oui lyh kad res cusa vuut."
"Oac!" the man replied easily, then hurried back into the shadows of the cave.
Harry cocked an eyebrow at the woman. "Please tell me you told him to get me some food, not make me into food?"
Maki laughed and waved him forward. "He was concerned you were a fiend," she explained. "I told him you were human and then, yes, asked him to get you some food."
Harry chuckled. "Brilliant."
"Come," Maki requested. "Tell me what brings you falling into our arms."
Harry followed her to a stone table and took a seat with her. "Some survivors of Zanarkand came here before Sin destroyed it," he explained, "and I came to see if they were still alive."
Maki nodded. "I am descended from them," she replied, then continued, expecting Harry's next question, "An Al Bhed boat crashed against the reef below almost three centuries ago and the people here brought them in. So most of us are half-human, half-Al Bhed."
Harry smiled. "Ah. I had wondered how else you all were going to survive a thousand years of inbreeding." He grimaced. "How many are you, now? I believe the starting colony consisted of thirty people."
Maki blinked in surprise. "We're about sixty strong now," she said. "But, how did you know how many were here when the colony started off? Our records have no numbers, and we know that all record of this colony was supposed to be destroyed, so Bevelle never found out."
"Ah... And so it was," Harry agreed, then turned to the man who brought him a bowl of stew and thanked him in Al Bhed before turning back to the old woman. "Please, forgive me my manners. I'm Lord Harry Potter, diplomat of Zanarkand to Bevelle."
Maki stared for a long moment, then shook her head in disbelief. "Our records said there was a Lord of Zanarkand who was supposedly immortal, but we'd thought he was a myth..."
Harry chuckled. "I'm afraid not. I would have come by sooner to check on the colony, but I've been sleeping by Besaid for the past thousand years." He shrugged. "I promised one of the original colonists, Reis, that I would come check on the colony after the war was over, but neither of us thought it would take me so long." He rubbed at his face. "For that, I'm sorry."
Maki shook her head, more awed than disbelieving. "Reis was my ancestor," she whispered. "She often spoke of a 'Harry' in her journals. My family and I had long wondered if it was the same as the immortal Lord Harry, but we weren't sure." She smiled. "She spoke so fondly of you."
"And I of her," Harry admitted. "Reis was one of my two closest friends in Zanarkand, Yu Yevon being the other." He shook his head. "Was she happy here? In the end?"
Maki nodded. "She was, my Lord."
Harry shook his head. "No, no, please! The only people who use my title now are the fayth, and that's only because I haven't been able to talk them out of it." He smiled grimly. "The Zanarkand I was a Lord of is long gone now, and I don't much wish to be a Lord of ruins."
Maki sighed. "So the Al Bhed spoke true? Zanarkand was destroyed?"
Harry nodded. "That's what the fayth tell me, at least. I'm journeying there now, with a summoner on her pilgrimage. I intend to see it for myself."
Maki sighed sadly. "Would that I could see it myself," she whispered. "But I'm afraid I will die here, in these stones." She smiled at him. "Not all of us can scale walls without the fear of death, Lord Harry."
Harry rolled his eyes at the title, but let it go, as he had with Cary. "I'll try and find a way to get you out of here," he promised. "It's the least I can do, for leaving you here for so long."
Maki inclined her head. "For myself, I am content," she said, "but if you can find a way to get the children and the younger adults from here, I would be very grateful."
Harry nodded. "I'll do my best. Now, why don't you show me around? And perhaps teach me some more Al Bhed! I seem to be meeting them a lot more now than I did a thousand years ago."
Maki laughed and slowly climbed to her feet. "I think I can do that," she agreed.
Harry had ended up spending the night with the Al Bhed and human colony, as the introductions and the learning of the Al Bhed language had taken long enough for the sun to start setting, and Harry was talked out of climbing back up the cliff by the Al Bhed man who had caught him, Rivhen.
However, once everyone in the camp had fallen asleep, Harry left a note next to Maki's pad and left, scaling the cliffs with much more ease than he'd had while going down them.
While he'd been on top of the rocks the day before, he'd seen what had appeared to be a much shorter drop, so Harry made his way over and dropped to a ledge with a pile of bones next to it. "Lovely," he muttered, then walked over to where a magical elevator waiting to take him back down to the main level of the road sat.
Curious, he went the extra distance to see the reason for the other road being out and stared in horror at the mess. There were a few dead bodies still – clearly there hadn't been a summoner around when the devastation occurred – as well as the mess of a command tent under some rocks and a large lightning cannon at his feet, probably salvaged from somewhere in Bevelle.
"Here," an old man said from next to Harry, "the Crusaders and the Al Bhed joined forces to destroy Sin, but it was too much for them, leaving behind this..."
Harry glanced over at the old story-teller, Maechen. He vaguely remembered the man from Zanarkand, and he had a feeling he was dead, like Auron. "Did they expect it to work?" he asked.
"They hoped it would. But the Maesters of Yevon, despite appearing to back the program up, laughed over the dead afterwards, saying it was worth it to be rid of a few unbelievers."
Harry hissed angrily. "There must be something about Bevelle," he growled, "that attracts the bastards of society."
"Yes," Maechen agreed. "This is not the first time Bevelle has hosted a party bent on destroying a people."
Harry jerked his head back away from the beach again to look at the story-teller. "Bevelle is attempting to destroy another people?"
"Yevon's maesters intend to obliterate the Al Bhed Home within the week. They are tired of the machina, and the Al Bhed's refusal to bow to them." Maechen smiled sadly. "They are also the most likely suspects for the kidnapping of summoners, and the people of Spira clamour for something to be done."
Harry closed his eyes. "Another people, another way of life, gone..." he whispered. "And there's nothing I can do about it!" He kicked a rock angrily onto the beach.
Maechen rocked forward onto the balls of his feet. "Are not your companions staying even now at an Al Bhed travel agency?"
Harry turned to stare at the man, wide-eyed, then leaned forward and kissed him on his nose. "Maechen, you're brilliant!" he declared, then turned and ran back towards the little travel agency.
Harry made it back just as the sun was rising, and dashed into the building. He stopped at the counter, waving a hello back to the members of his party who were already up, then demanded of the woman standing there, "Is the shop's owner here?"
The woman blinked at him in shock, then nodded. "Yes, but he's probably sleeping."
"This is urgent," Harry insisted. "It may very well mean the future of his people."
The woman gasped, then turned and hurried away from the counter.
"Harry?" Yuna asked, coming to stand at his elbow. Behind her, he could see Auron, Kimahri and Lulu. "What's going on?"
"Bevelle is trying to start another war," he said grimly, then turned back to where the woman was leading out a tired man with blond hair. "You are the owner?" he asked.
The man nodded. "I am Rin."
"Do you have a way to get in contact with Home?" Harry asked, smiling grimly when the man's eyes widened. "I heard a rumour that Yevon is planning an attack on it, for various reasons that sound like their sort."
"Is rumour sufficient cause for waking Master Rin from bed?" the woman demanded.
Harry met Rin's gaze firmly, then said, "I heard it from a reliable source. Please. I can't see another people destroyed," in Al Bhed. He stumbled a bit over his pronunciation, but felt it was pretty good, considering he'd only spent a day with people who spoke it. Admittedly, Al Bhed wasn't that hard to learn, just pronounce.
Rin stiffened, then nodded. "I will send word," he agreed.
Harry nodded, then turned to Yuna and gently led her back to where they'd been sitting when he came in. Once everyone had taken seats, he said, "Yuna, do you remember when those Al Bhed kidnapped you during the game?" Yuna nodded while the other three guardians narrowed their eyes. "It's not the first time a summoner has been kidnapped, and while Yevon has no proof, who would most people assume were kidnapping summoners?"
"The Al Bhed," Lulu answered when Yuna just shook her head. "They use the forbidden machina, and turned from Yevon."
Harry nodded grimly. "Exactly. There was recently a battle with Sin on Mushroom Rock Road – we'll be passing it, I'm afraid – and the Crusaders and Al Bhed used machina." He closed his eyes. "They were destroyed."
"Surely the maesters wouldn't have allowed–"
"According to Maechen, there were maesters there," Harry said softly, cutting the summoner off. "They laughed over the loss of lives, only because they died using machina." He looked up at Lulu. "Forbidden machina."
"Proof that Yevon is right," Auron commented. "To use machina means you'll be killed. The faithful will survive."
Harry laughed bitterly. "Bevelle, back in the Machina Wars, had been known to 'accidentally' bomb one of the towns on their side because they weren't supportive enough. It was a bit of a joke in Junon about whether that was the real cause behind the misaimed missile that destroyed most of the original city."
"That's horrible," Yuna whispered.
Harry offered her a crooked smile. "Very little wasn't, then. It was war, and war is always horrible to behold. My people had a saying, 'All's fair in love and war'."
They all sat in silence for a long while before Tidus finally came out and hurried over, saying, "Harry! You're back!"
Harry grinned at the teen. "Did you miss me while I was gone?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, completely ignoring the exasperated look on Lulu's face.
Tidus just rolled his eyes and took a seat. "So, did you find what you were looking for? Auron wouldn't say why you left."
Harry chuckled and nodded. "Yes. A colony descended from some of the people who managed to get out of Zanarkand before the end. Some Al Bhed washed up near their caves at one point, so now they're all part Al Bhed, as well. It's quite the interesting community."
"Wait, so is that where you learned Al Bhed?" Yuna asked.
Harry nodded. "Only one or two of the colonists know Common, so it was kind of important for me to learn a bit more. I knew, oh, five or six words from Zanarkand, but the Al Bhed mostly stayed out of the war, helping neither side, so it wasn't vital." He chuckled. "Probably the wisest of all of us."
"You said you can't get to the colony except from the water?" Auron asked.
Harry sobered and nodded. "Those Al Bhed are the only people they've seen since Yu decided to leave them there. I promised to find a way to get them out."
"We could rent a boat from Luca," Yuna suggested.
Harry shook his head. "The boats of today won't be able to reach them. Not without tearing out the keel. There's a reef beneath the entrances. No, we'd probably either need a set of grappling hooks set up over the cliff edge. If there were still airships, I'd suggest that, but there aren't any, so we'll have to find another way."
"Did you get them in there by airship?" Tidus asked.
Harry snorted. "Are you kidding? If we came into their airspace, Bevelle would have shot us down." He shook his head. "No. The ocean was higher then, by just enough, and we made boats differently, too. They managed it one night when the tide was in, but it was a close thing."
"So we need an airship," Tidus said, nodding. "I'll keep an eye out."
Harry chuckled and leaned over to hug the boy, making him squawk. "You are just too cute!"
The fun was interrupted by Wakka, who chose then to come out and ask about breakfast. Since Harry and Tidus hadn't had anything yet, either, they all got a couple pastries to go and started back on their way towards Mushroom Rock Road.
They made camp at the gate between the two roads and Harry passed on his warning about the state of the beach to Tidus and Wakka. After everyone but Auron was asleep, Harry wandered off to find a nameless stranger to feed from, then came back to sleep himself, ignoring Auron's amused look.
The next morning, they set out again, passing the Crusaders with a nod to their warnings. They kept a brisk pace, because Auron said there wasn't a good place to camp along the road until they got to Djose, and Yuna wanted to get the the temple at a reasonable time, so she could pray for the next aeon without having to wake the monks. Harry told her she was too nice, but she just ignored him.
When they came upon the beach, Harry was relieved to see that the few leftover bodies had finally passed on – or succumbed to becoming fiends – so that was one less horror for his party to see yet again.
"This is horrible," Yuna whispered from where they were standing atop the fallen lightning cannon and looking over the beach.
"I'm sure the immediate aftermath was worse," Auron decided quietly, then started down the cannon to where someone had stacked some crates they could climb down to the beach.
The party quietly followed the red-clad man, but they quickly realised that neither Lulu nor Yuna could comfortably climb down the boxes with their skirts, so Kimahri hopped down and helped the girls over the side. Once everyone was on the beach, Auron took the lead back to the other half of the road and they kept going.
Djose temple looked like they'd spent the days after the battle caring for the wounded, but they happily opened their arms to the summoner's party and promised to have rooms ready when they got back from the fayth.
The Cloister of Trials, Harry decided, was the most amazing thing ever. He cheerfully let himself get shocked seven or eight times, much to the horror and amusement of the party. Once Yuna had gotten Ixion, Harry bemoaned the lost chance at playing with his favourite power source.
"We still have to cross the Thunder Plains," Auron drily pointed out as they walked towards the rooms the monks led them to. "There's always a storm there."
Harry's eyes lit up. "Lightning?" he half-pleaded.
"Constantly," Auron assured him.
Harry did a little happy dance in the hallway, making the monk look at him oddly, while the males of the party shook their heads and walked into their room. The girls had already left them at that point, shown to their own room by another monk.
Once they were all situated and ready to sleep, Tidus walked over to Harry and asked, "How are you? For blood?"
Harry blinked at the teen, then grinned. "You are just too cute!" he decided, and kissed Tidus on the cheek.
Tidus bore the indignity with the air of someone who was starting to get used to it. Across the room, however, Wakka called, "Take your displays outside!"
Harry snickered. "If it bothers you, Wakka, you can ignore us. Unless you're jealous?" He had to duck the red-head's blitzball at that. Chuckling, he looked back at Tidus. "I'm fine, thank you."
Tidus frowned at him. "Did you feed from someone else?" he demanded quietly.
Harry's eyes sparkled. "Are you jealous?"
Tidus opened and closed his mouth a few times before spinning around and starting towards his own bed.
Harry hurried around the boy and stopped him, raising his chin to meet the murky blue eyes, then sighed. "You are," he murmured. "Oh, Tidus..." He shook his head, not sure how to explain his need to do more than just grind against his partner sometimes, or the fact that humans didn't regenerate blood fast enough for Tidus to be his only donor.
Tidus tugged his head away. "It's doesn't matter," he groused.
Harry huffed. "It does," he insisted, then used the boy's chin again to lift his head up to a place where he could reach his mouth and kissed him.
Tidus almost considered pulling away, but ended up kissing back instead, wrapping his arms around Harry's waist, feeling his long braid brush against his fingers.
After a moment, Harry pulled away and waved a hand at the light switch to turn it off, to chuckles from Auron and a relieved sigh from Wakka. Harry just rolled his eyes at their travelling companions before unerringly leading Tidus to the boy's bed and laying down with him. "Just sleep with me?" he asked.
Tidus buried his face against the vampire's bare chest and nodded, so Harry wrapped his arms around the younger guardian and closed his eyes, easily drifting off.
Harry was up before Tidus again, but his absence meant Auron couldn't tease them, so Tidus decided not to be bothered by it. Anyway, he reasoned, Harry didn't need as much sleep, so he was always going to get up sooner or go to sleep later.
They started out for the Moonflow shortly before noon and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon. When it started getting dark, they made camp and sat around the fire, chattering happily about their childhoods. Harry shared fond memories of his school years, while Tidus and Wakka talked blitzball and Yuna exclaimed over her memories of growing up in Besaid. If anyone noticed Auron, Kimahri and Lulu's silence, they didn't mention it.
The next morning, they reached the Moonflow. Tidus exclaimed over it, while Harry looked the river over with a frown.
Eventually, Yuna noticed her oldest guardian's frown and said, "Harry? What's wrong?"
Harry motioned to the river. "There used to be a beautiful city here," he said. "Aquaria."
"That's because they built it over a river, ya?" Wakka offered. "It broke. Just goes to show you, there's no reason to build a city across water, other than proving you could."
Harry rose and eyebrow at the red-head. "Are you done?" he asked, once Wakka was finished with his rant.
"Were you ever in Aquaria?" Tidus asked.
Harry smiled. "I was. It was neutral ground in the war, because they were able to grow superior fruits and vegetables here – something to do with the river," he adding, eyeing Wakka. "The bridges which the city was built on, you might be interested to know, where originally meant to help people cross the Moonflow, because it's too narrow for a boat in parts. Eventually, the people of Spira came through here so often, a city grew up, and there wasn't room on the banks without cutting down the trees, so they built it on the river."
"That's kind of cool," Yuna admitted. "Do you really think the bridges broke, though?"
Harry nodded. "I've no doubt. The bridges weren't meant to hold a city – as I said, they were built for foot traffic – and while the people of Aquaria did shore them up a lot, we all knew it wouldn't last." He shrugged. "If Bevelle and Zanarkand hadn't been so busy trying to kill each other, they might have found an actual solution."
Wakka huffed. "Well, who cares their reason. It was still stupid."
Harry shook his head in amusement and cast a few spells on himself to keep his things from getting destroyed, then said, "I'll meet you lot on the other side, yeah?"
"Another fayth?" Kimahri guessed.
Harry grinned madly. "Yup!" Then he ran through the group and dove into the water.
Auron shook his head. "Let's keep moving," he decided.
Laughing or rolling their eyes, the rest of the party followed.
Harry had to slash a few fiends in the water, but it was otherwise pretty calm. He did have some trouble figuring out where things were, however, as the city was now underwater and he'd only visited it once. When he finally did figure out where things were again, he swam towards the other bank, where the temple had been located.
Partway there, Harry came across a functional submersill, which had been used in places like Aquaria to fix the supports underwater or put in sewage pipes. But finding one down here, after the city had fallen, meant someone was using one, and Harry only knew of one people who used machina.
Harry swam over to the back door of the machina and used a bit of magic to open it, then swam in. He waited for the water to drain then, pulling out a gun, opened the door and stepped into the control room.
There was no one there, so Harry put his gun away and moved quickly to the control panel. The writing was in a shorthand used only in Bevelle, but Harry had studied it enough that he was easily able to figure the machine out. He opened the viewer for the front and back of the vehicle, then set about locking the controls to only answer to a passphrase, which he made his son's name, since no Al Bhed would know it.
He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up to see a woman in a red water suit swimming towards him with a passed out Yuna. Eyes narrowed, Harry turned in the chair and cocked both of his guns at the door where the two females would have to come through.
When the door opened, Harry commented, "You might want to let the summoner go, before I shoot you."
The Al Bhed gently set Yuna to one side and held her hands up. "I don't mean her any harm. And how did you get down here so fast?!"
Harry chuckled and waved a spell at Yuna to wake her, keeping his guns aimed at the Al Bhed. When he heard a groan, he asked, "Okay there, sweetheart?"
"Harry! Thank goodness!" Yuna replied, sitting up and looking around. "Where are we?"
"This would be an old Bevelle submersill," Harry replied easily.
"You mean they actually have a name?" the Al Bhed exclaimed.
Harry and Yuna both blinked in surprise. "You speak Common?" the summoner demanded.
The Al Bhed nodded, then pointed nervously behind Harry. "We've got company."
Harry half turned, keeping one gun on the woman. When he saw Wakka and Tidus, he sat one of his guns in his lap and rapidly typed out a few orders, then said, "Tidus, Wakka? If you can hear me, give this damned machina a thumbs up."
Tidus and Wakka both stopped, looking surprised, then glanced at each other, shrugged, and gave him a thumbs up.
Harry chuckled. "Brilliant. Wasn't sure this sound system would work. I've got Yuna, she's fine, but I'm not fond of sending her back up through the water. Will you two go back up to the... oh, hell, what are they called?" He glanced over at Yuna.
"Shoopuf," she supplied.
"Right, the shoopuf. Let everyone else know we're fine and we'll meet them on the other bank."
In the water, Tidus and Wakka looked at each other again. After a moment, Tidus looked back at the machina and motioned to himself, then to where Harry and party was.
Harry considered the request: Tidus coming with would make the place rather cramped, but it would be nice to have someone keeping an eye on the Al Bhed so Harry could use both hands. "Yeah, come on in. There's a door in the back that should be unlocked. Wakka, good luck."
Wakka saluted, then made again for the surface, while Tidus swam around to the back door.
Once the water had drained, Harry opened the door to the cabin and said, "Sorry for the cramped space."
"Nah, don't worry about it," Tidus replied, slipping around the Al Bhed.
Harry grinned at him, then handed the boy his gun. "Keep this pointed at her head," he ordered. "If she starts acting up, pull the trigger."
Tidus grimaced, but took the gun anyway. "Don't act up," he suggested to the girl.
The Al Bhed girl sighed. "Can I take off my suit, at least?" she requested.
Harry spun in his chair and considered her for a long moment before nodding.
The girl was about half undressed when Tidus squeaked, "Rikku?!"
"You know her?" Harry asked, frowning.
"Yeah. When I first got to Spira, she rescued me from some ruins."
"Hmm..." Harry leaned back in the chair. "Okay, Rikku, what were you doing, trying to kidnap Yuna?"
Rikku finished pulling off her suit and looked around at the three watching her. "We're trying to protect the summoners," she said.
"How is kidnapping them protecting them?" Tidus demanded.
Rikku swallowed nervously. "When the summoner fights Sin with the Final Aeon, they die, you know? We don't want–"
"What?" Tidus asked while Harry sighed and closed his eyes.
Yuna cleared her throat. "It's true," she admitted. "I didn't... I'm sorry, Tidus."
"So you kidnap them to keep them from getting killed," Harry said softly. "You know, that almost makes sense."
"Harry!" Tidus snapped. "How can you take this so calmly?"
"I'd wondered," Harry admitted, "when Cary told me how Yunalesca had died, but I didn't know for sure."
"Tidus, please don't be mad?" Yuna requested. "I... You were so happy! I couldn't ruin that for you."
"So you lied to me!" Tidus spat.
"Tidus!" Harry grabbed the gun from the boy's hand before he could accidentally set it off. "Calm down!"
"How can you be so fucking calm?!" Tidus shouted in Harry's face.
Harry frowned at him. "Because I understand what it means to sacrifice yourself for the happiness of others," he replied softly, and Tidus jerked back, looking like he'd been hit.
Harry turned back to the controls and input his passphrase, then started the machina up.
"You're really good at driving this," Rikku offered into the silence.
"I've driven one before," Harry replied, then sighed. "Yuna, I didn't get to see if the temple was still in one piece. Do you still want to check, or would you prefer to skip it?"
Yuna leaned over Harry's shoulder, looking down at the commands on the control panel. "You know this aeon, what do you suggest?"
Harry considered the question. "Leviathan is strong in the water element," he said. "He's a powerful aeon, considering, but if you're not near water he has a lot of trouble."
Yuna nodded. "Do you think he's lonely?"
Harry chuckled. "I've no doubt, assuming his crystal didn't break."
Yuna nodded again. "I would like to stop, then."
"Consider it done," Harry agreed, quickly changing their course just slightly. "We're probably going to have to go down there, of course, but there's a bubble attached to the top of this that can be detached. Is it okay if we put you in there and bring the bubble down to the crystal?"
Yuna smiled. "I think that would be best. I never bothered with the magic that the blitzball players have to hold their breath longer."
"Right." Harry hit a few controls on the panel and a hatch opened above them. "That's the pod. There's a radio in there that we can use to communicate with each other, so you can let me know if there are any problems." He glanced back at where Yuna was eyeing the opening nervously. "Will you be okay alone?"
Yuna nodded. "I'll be fine," she said firmly.
Harry eyed her for a moment, then turned to where Tidus was sitting, looking grumpy. "Tidus, will you go with her?"
Tidus glared at him for a long moment, then nodded tightly and stood to get up in the hatch. Harry grabbed the boy's shirt and tugged him around to face him. Tidus glared at him for a long moment before finally looking away from Harry's calm stare. "I'll behave," he grumbled.
Harry sighed and stood, then pulled the boy into a kiss. When Tidus finally relaxed a bit, Harry pulled away and said, "We'll talk later, okay?"
Tidus nodded, then jumped up into the hole and pulled himself through to the bubble. His hand reached down to Yuna, who was smiling at Harry. "Yuna, come on," the boy said, sounding calmer.
"Do I get a kiss?" the girl asked of Harry.
Harry pretended to look around for Lulu and Kimahri, then nodded and kissed the girl's cheek. "Now go, you little brat."
Yuna gave him a mock hurt look. "That's all I get?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "I don't know why the lovely Lulu and Big Blue seem so determined to think I'll corrupt you," he commented, then smacked her bum, making her squeak. "Up."
Yuna stuck her tongue out at him, but took Tidus' hand and, with some help from Rikku, managed to get into the pod.
Harry closed the door and turned on the comm. "If you can hear me, press the blue button next to the door to respond," he told them.
There was a moment of silence, then, "We're here," Yuna said.
Harry grinned. "Brilliant. Okay, we're just above where I think the temple should be, assuming it didn't drift when everything fell. I'm going to try clearing away the rubble a bit, see if I can't find the crystal."
"Let us know when you do," Tidus replied.
"Oiy! You two behave up there! I know how teenagers are in enclosed spaces."
"Rather like you, I would assume," Tidus said drily.
"You mean I can't kiss him?" Yuna added cheekily.
Harry sighed. "Merlin, lovely Lulu's going to kill me," he said to himself, then brought the mechanical arms online and pulled out a visor to help his focus better. "If any of the bars on the right start going into the red, tell me," he ordered Rikku, who he could feel just over his left shoulder.
Harry pulled out the joysticks and set about cleaning off the top of what he recognised as the temple. It took him a little extra time, because he'd started digging too far to the east, but he eventually uncovered a giant crystal which was, miraculously, unbroken. When a ghostly form appeared over it of a hardy man in a fishing outfit, Harry made one of the arms wave, then reached up to the pod and said, "Got it. I'm taking you two down, okay?"
"Finally," Tidus gasped. "She won't stop trying to kiss me!"
Harry rolled his eyes behind the visor. "Yuna, act like a summoner, not a randy teenager."
"I'm not– Eek!" Yuna said back, crying out when the bubble moved.
Harry chuckled. "Sorry about that. It tends to be a little rough."
"Jerk!" Yuna snapped.
Harry just chuckled again and tried to gently bring them down to where the fayth was waiting for them. He slipped into the bubble and talked with the two teens for a long moment before nodding and disappearing into Yuna.
"We're good!" Tidus called.
Harry nodded and brought the bubble back to its resting point. "Give me a moment to shut down the arms and open the hatch," he told the teens, then set about doing just that.
Once everyone was back in the compartment, Harry made his way towards the bank where, hopefully, their party was waiting for them.
"What are you going to do with me?" Rikku asked as they got closer to their meeting spot.
Harry sighed and glanced over at her. "I can't let you take Yuna," he told her, "even if it might save her life. You have to understand that."
Rikku nodded. "I know," she said.
"She can come with us!" Yuna decided, eyes bright.
"Come with..." Rikku trailed off, looking the summoner over.
"Yeah! That way, you can keep an eye on me and try and talk me out of sacrificing myself, right?" Yuna smiled. "I don't think it'll work, but you can try, right?"
Rikku blinked. "Oh. Yeah! Sure!"
Harry chuckled. "Wakka's going to have an aneurysm."
"A what?" Rikku said.
Harry groaned. "Right, shit medical knowledge," he muttered to himself, then said, "He's going to yell a lot."
"Uh-oh..." Yuna said.
"Can't we pretend she's not Al Bhed?" Tidus suggested.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Then what happened to the Al Bhed who kidnapped Yuna?"
"Uhm.... You shot him?"
Harry cocked an eyebrow at the boy.
"What?! You've done it before, right?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Where's the body?"
"I sent it," Yuna quickly supplied. "Better that then letting it become a fiend, right?"
"And where did Rikku come from, then?" Harry inquired, amused by their story.
"I was already on-board," Rikku decided. "That Al Bhed had kidnapped me on the bank because I saw his submersill, and he didn't want me blabbing to anyone what I'd seen."
Harry chuckled. "Oh, all right. If you can get Wakka to believe that, Rikku can come with us."
"Thank you, Harry!" Yuna exclaimed, leaning over to kiss Harry's cheek.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Ah, we're here," he added as the bottom of the submersill bumped the bottom of the sloping ground up to the surface. "Hold on," he warned them, then hit a few controls to bring out the wheels and roll them up the slope and onto solid ground. They saw the party not far from them, but also of concern were the ten or so men who immediately turned their guns on the machina. "Oh, bugger."
"Not good?" Tidus suggested.
Harry shook his head. "Stay in here, the submersill will be safer," he ordered, then turned the chair and walked towards the door.
"You'll be killed!" Rikku shouted.
Harry grinned at her. "Won't be the first time," he commented, then walked into the water lock and let the door slide shut behind him.
The three teens turned towards the cameras of the surrounding area which were still up, Rikku clutching Yuna's arm. "What did he mean by that? He's been killed before?"
"Harry's immortal," Tidus whispered, clenching his fists helplessly.
Harry walked around the back of the machina with his hands up in peace. "Please don't shoot?"
"Harry!" Wakka shouted.
"That's one of our fellow guardians," Auron said firmly. "Which means the other one and our summoner is inside the machina."
"How do we know he's not the Al Bhed?" one of the men demanded, still pointing his gun at Harry's chest.
Harry huffed. "Jeeze, you people must be fun at home. Look, what colour's my hair?"
"Black," one of the other men helpfully replied.
"Al Bhed always have blond hair," Harry said.
"Oh no!" Rikku whispered back on board.
"Harry'll pass muster, but Rikku won't," Tidus realised.
Yuna looked quickly around the room, but didn't see anything but their weapons, themselves and the controls she couldn't begin to understand. "Can we find something to disguise her?" she asked.
"Your goggles," Tidus said, pointing at the goggles around Rikku's neck.
"Only Al Bhed wear goggles," Yuna replied, shaking her head.
Rikku quickly took her goggles from around her neck and shoved them in a pouch at her side. She drew some paint out of another pocket and handed it to Yuna. "Here, use this in my hair," she said, sitting in the chair so the other girl could reach it.
Yuna and Tidus traded wide-eyed looks, then both set about changing the colour of Rikku's hair from blonde to a light red. "Done!" Yuna declared, and not a moment too soon, as one of the guards was just saying, "Yeah, fine, go get them, then," once Harry had finished explaining their trip under the water.
"My eyes," Rikku whispered. "If they look..."
Tidus bit his lip and said, "Forgive me," then took Yuna's staff and smashed it into the back of Rikku's head, making her faint just as the door to the water lock opened.
"Tidus!" Yuna hissed.
Harry blinked in surprise at the scene of the two teens he'd been travelling with holding up a girl with red hair who resembled Rikku. "Hm, good thinking," he said about the hair. Then he blinked, realising the girl was out. "You hit her to knock her out?" he asked Tidus.
Tidus nodded. "Couldn't think of another way to hide her eyes."
Harry chuckled and reached forward to pick the girl up. "I can accept that," he replied, then led the way out.
The guards looked them all over and, once sufficiently assured none of the group were Al Bhed, let them by, then set about destroying the submersill.
Harry rolled his eyes at the guards as they joined the party, Lulu, Kimahri and Wakka all checking over Yuna in concern.
Auron sidled up next to Harry, who was still holding Rikku. "Is she the Al Bhed?" he asked quietly.
Harry nodded. "She's promised to not try and run off with Yuna again, but she does want to try and talk her out of summoning the Final Aeon." He chuckled. "Yuna and Tidus seem to have hit it off with her."
Auron nodded. "Very well," he agreed.
"I would very much like to put some distance between ourselves and those armed men," Harry added. "Preferably before Rikku wakes up."
Auron nodded again, then went to round up the party. They set off again, Kimahri wordlessly taking Rikku from Harry, much to the vampire's relief.
They ended up making camp in the forest a little ways from the shoopuf crossing. Yuna got Lulu and Auron to distract Wakka while she sat with the rest of the party and woke Rikku.
The Al Bhed jerked up and turned to glare at Tidus. "That hurt, you big meanie!"
Tidus shrugged. "They didn't see your eyes," he replied.
Rikku huffed angrily, then turned to the new member of the circle. "Oh, hi!"
Kimahri nodded wordlessly.
"Let's introduce you around," Yuna decided, standing and holding out a hand to help the Al Bhed girl to her feet.
"All right!" Rikku replied, jumping up and following Yuna towards the other party members, Kimahri following.
When Tidus also made to follow, Harry set a hand on his arm to stop him. "Walk with me," he requested.
Tidus nodded and the two turned away from the camp, into the trees some. When they were far enough away that there was no chance of them being heard by their companions, Tidus said, "This is about what happened on the submersill, isn't it?"
Harry nodded and sat on the mossy ground, patting a spot next to him. Once Tidus had taken the offered seat, Harry said, "You've seen what Sin can do."
Tidus nodded, remembering Kilika. "Yeah."
Harry smiled bitterly. "Imagine, if you can, having lived with the knowledge that your home could be attacked and destroyed at any moment, and you had the power to stop the thing that's destroying it. Wouldn't you be willing to give your life to do that? Let your friends, your family, have peace?"
"I would, but... Lulu said the Calm only lasts seven to ten years. That's not a lot of time!"
Harry nodded. "No, it's not," he agreed sadly. "And if I knew another way, I would suggest that. But this is the only way these people have to bring peace, and even a few years of peace is better than none, wouldn't you say?"
Tidus looked away. "It doesn't seem right," he whispered. "Dying for seven years of peace that you'll never enjoy."
"No," Harry agreed, "it doesn't."
Tidus leaned his head against Harry's shoulder and felt the vampire's arms slide around him. "I want to find another way," he whispered. "I don't want Yuna to die."
Harry rested his cheek against Tidus' head. "Then we'll just have to keep thinking of a way, won't we?"
Tidus nodded. "Yeah."
Yes, yes, I know. The Calm supposedly only lasts a couple of months. (Or, well, it did for Yunalesca, etc.) but I'll always think of it as lasting then years, because that's how much time passed between the start of the last Calm and Yuna's pilgrimage. So, XP.
Chapter 6: Ghosts
Rikku decided to go find the two missing members of the party while everyone else was getting ready to eat. A part of her was hoping to see some more kissing, like on the submersill, since it had been kinda hot, but what she found shocked her.
Harry had Tidus pressed up against a tree, a hand between them doing things Rikku could only imagine. But, really, the most shocking part was that Harry had his mouth against Tidus' neck, and when he pulled away Rikku could see two puncture wounds before they healed up.
Rikku still hadn't quite decided what to do when the two men finished and relaxed against each other. After moment, Harry whispered something to Tidus and he blinked up at the trees where Rikku was standing. "Rikku," he said.
Harry hummed, then cast some spells that cleaned them and helped Tidus wake up some. Once he was sure the boy could hold himself up okay, he pulled away and cocked an eyebrow at the still staring girl. "I never took you to be a voyeur," he said.
"What... What were you just..." Rikku stamped her foot angrily when she couldn't articulate her question.
Harry glanced back at Tidus and the boy seemed to understand the question, for he said, "We had to tell her you're immortal, but there wasn't time to do much else?"
Harry shrugged and looked back at Rikku. "Hi," he said cheerfully, "My name's Harry and I'm five thousand years old. I'm what my people call a vampire, which means I'm immortal and drink blood." He waggled his eyebrows. "Care to donate?"
Tidus smacked him.
Rikku blinked a few times, then said, "Do the others...?"
"Yeah, told everyone after I got killed at one point." Harry shrugged. "So you're the only person that didn't know."
"So that's how you knew that machina!" Rikku realised.
Harry nodded. "Submersill were used during the Machina Wars to repair anything underwater. That particular one was from Bevelle."
"You can tell the difference?" Rikku said.
Harry nodded again, chuckling. "Both Zanarkand and Bevelle used shorthand in their machina, but they made it very different, in hopes, I would suppose, that if the other got their hands on a piece of equipment, they wouldn't be able to use it."
"Wait, then, how did you learn Bevelle's shorthand?" Tidus asked. "You lived in Zanarkand."
Harry rolled his eyes and pointed at himself. "I was the diplomat between Bevelle and Zanarkand near the end of the war," he explained, "and I got killed a lot for generally irritating the ruling class of Bevelle. When you wake up in their river a lot, and have to wait until it gets dark so you can sneak out, one of the few things to do includes learning their shorthand. Not the most useful skill when you live with people who have no intention of using any machina they get their hands on to fight back, but it was good for when we needed to turn something off."
Tidus snorted, and when Harry frowned at him, he said, "I'm having a hard time seeing you as being an effective diplomat. How many times did they shoot you for hitting on someone?"
Harry snickered. "See, that's what I told Yu when he told me his intentions. And...oh... probably about twenty times. I think." He waggled his eyebrows.
Rikku sighed. "How long were you a diplomat?" she asked.
Harry shrugged. "Forty years? Give or take a few. Eventually I moved into a city near Luca, Junon, and just irritated the people who came to Luca for the blitzball games." He scratched the back of his neck. "Now that I think about it, that may have been the real reason they posted guards on the Highroad who knew my face..."
"You just didn't like the people of Bevelle," Tidus accused.
Harry shrugged. "Nope. Still don't, in fact."
Rikku shook her head. "Alright you madmen, food's almost ready, if you want to come and eat."
"Excellent!" Tidus said, then hurried through the trees.
Harry chuckled and fell in step with Rikku, who was frowning. "A gil for your thoughts?" he said, holding out one gil.
Rikku snatched the gil before he could take it back, then said, "If we found a piece of machina, could you use it? Anything?"
Harry nodded. "Technically, yes. Some of the old weapons from Bevelle I would certainly suggest destroying, and may do it myself if your people have any, but, yes, I should be able to operate anything you've found."
Rikku grinned. "We've got a lot of things! Like, like, a few more of those submersills and some other things we can't begin to figure out! Oh, and we found an airship!"
Harry stopped walking. "An airship?" he asked.
Rikku turned to him and nodded, stopping herself. "Yeah. My dad's got the basic controls down, so he's pretty sure he can fly it, but he doesn't know much else."
Harry rubbed at his chin. "I know some people – half Al Bhed, most of them – who could use a lift, if your dad can ever get that airship running enough."
"Really? Where are they?" Rikku asked, bouncing a little on her feet.
Harry pulled his map out and pointed to the caves. "Right about here. A colony from Zanarkand set up base there shortly before the end of the wars, so our way of life wouldn't be lost, with any luck, and I was supposed to find a way to get them back out again once things had calmed down, but I wasn't able to. Some Al Bhed apparently washed up there a couple centuries ago and the colonists took them in, made them part of the community."
"We can't get a boat to them?" Rikku asked, looking over the area with a sharp eye.
Harry shook his head. "The water level has gone down too much in the past thousand years; any boat trying to get to the caves would have its keel torn out. I can scale the cliffs, but that's because I have faster reflexes and won't die anyway." He grinned at her and she giggled. "I was considering putting together some sort of system to bring them up on top of the rocks, but if you lot have an airship I won't have to." He put the map away. "Think your dad would be willing to lend it out?"
Rikku nodded emphatically. "If you can show him how to use the thing, he'd probably do anything you wanted with it, even bomb Bevelle."
Harry chuckled and started walking again towards the camp, Rikku falling into step next to him. "Let's make that a last resort, hm? There are innocent sheep in Bevelle, after all."
Harry sighed. "Bloody hell," he complained, mostly to himself. "You'd think, after a thousand years in Zanarkand I'd remember to stop using Old Earth terms..." He shook his head while Rikku giggled. "Oh, how to explain this. Uhm... People who just sort of follow the nearest person in power around, without questioning them. Like Wakka, but with less of a brain, if you can conceive of it."
Rikku giggled a bit more and had to use Harry's shoulder to keep herself upright. "Does he know you think so poorly of him?"
Harry shrugged. "I should think so. I've made no secret of my distaste for Yevon's edicts, and Wakka knows I, myself, use some of that forbidden machina." He pulled out one of his guns. "Oh! I don't suppose your people have found any of these?" he asked, unlatching the magazine of his gun and pulling it out to show her.
Rikku took the magazine and looked it over curiously, then handed it back to him with a shrug. "I haven't seen any, but that doesn't mean we don't have them. We've been digging up machina for centuries, and I certainly haven't seen all of our stock."
Harry nodded and put his gun back together, then replaced it in its holster. "If you've got any, I'd love to have some. I've been conjuring these ones and they just don't have the same kick as the ones that are handmade."
"I didn't know it was possible to conjure stuff," Rikku commented.
Harry chuckled. "A lot of things are possible with magic, but the people of Spira have lost most of it in their evolution."
"Sucks," Rikku decided.
"That it does," Harry agreed as they came upon the fire. They joined the rest of the party to eat and generally had a good time.
When Harry laid down in his bedroll to sleep, an uncertain arm draped over his waist. Harry chuckled and turned around to pull Tidus against him, chuckling again when the boy relaxed in his hold and nuzzled his chest.
From where she was taking the first watch, Lulu rolled her eyes.
They made it to Guadosalam around three. Harry hadn't really wanted to stop there – "The Thunder Plain is on the other side, guys!" – but the three from Besaid wanted to see the families in the Farplane, so Auron and Harry eventually agreed to take a short break there before making for the Thunder Plains. Rikku, surprisingly, seemed quite pleased by the turn of events.
When they walked into the underground caverns, however, they were met by an older Guado who smiled as he tottered over to them. "We have been expecting you, Lady Yuna. Welcome to Guadosalam. This way, my lady. This way."
Before he could reach Yuna, Harry and Wakka blocked his way, while Tidus and Rikku nervously drew the summoner away from the brewing conflict. "You'd better start talking," Harry suggested warningly, a hand back on one of his sword hilts, ready to draw it.
"Yeah," Wakka agreed, holding his blitzball warningly, "what do you want with Yuna?"
The Guado inclined his head and took a few half-nervous, half-respecting steps backwards. "Forgive me, guardians. I am Tromell Guado, in the direct service of our great leader, Seymour Guado. Lord Seymour has very important business with Lady Yuna."
"Important how?" Harry demanded over Yuna's quiet question of what the business might be.
Tromell blinked at them. "That is for Lord Seymour to explain," he replied. "You are all welcome to come along, of course. The manor is this way." He motioned to a large building which had been built into the glowing cave walls.
Harry traded wary looks with Auron, who watched the back of the party with Lulu and Kimahri.
"I would like to see what Maester Seymour wants," Yuna said softly.
Harry jerked in surprise at the man's title, having not known it previously, and grimly wondered if he was one of the maesters who laughed over the slaughter on Mushroom Rock Road. Under Yuna's pleading look, however, he decided to let it go and nodded. "Very well, but I would like you to stay with one of us the whole time."
"You don't trust a maester?" Wakka complained.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Preferably not Wakka. He might actually let his holy maester get away with something."
Wakka growled, but Yuna laughed lightly and nodded. She took Harry's arm in hers and led the way after Tromell, who blinked in surprise at the girl's familiarity with her male guardian. Briefly, Tromell wondered if his Lord's plan to wed the girl would actually work, but put his concerns to the side as he led them into the dining room.
Shortly after Tromell left, Harry recognised a piece of machina from Zanarkand. "A sphere projector!" he exclaimed, stopping directly beneath where it was attached to the ceiling. "Well, bugger me sideways. I would have thought these all destroyed a thousand years ago."
"What is it?" Yuna asked, still holding on to his arm.
Harry grinned at her. "You've seen the memory spheres, yeah?" The girl nodded. "A sphere projector brings up the image in 3D, filling the space with the picture. They were created by a group of scientists near the beginning of the Machina Wars who had lost their families in the first attacks on Zanarkand, so they could spend some time with those people. Brilliant inventions, they were."
"Did Bevelle have them?" Rikku asked, bouncing around to see the machina better.
Harry snorted. "Are you kidding? No, Zanarkand guarded the sphere projector jealously. They figured, since Bevelle started the war, they could deal with only having holograms of their loved ones. Zanarkand had no choice but to join the war, so they deserved some kindness."
"You know quite a lot of history, for a simple guardian," a quiet voice said from the head of the room, and everyone turned to see the maester, with Tromell at his side.
Harry smiled easily. "History is my passion," he admitted. "However, unlike Maechen, I didn't live it."
"One of his ancestors survived the destruction of Zanarkand," Yuna helpfully added. "Harry has some of his old spheres and records, so he knows a lot."
Seymour smiled at them. "A rare inheritance," he allowed, and Harry inclined his head in silent agreement. Seymour looked at Yuna, who had straightened and was now just holding Harry's hand, rather than hanging off his arm. "Welcome, Lady Yuna. I had meant to see you sooner, but it seems you were delayed?"
Yuna nodded. "Harry knew of an aeon off the Mi'ihen Highroad, so we made a stop to get it. It took a bit longer than we'd expected."
Seymour inclined his head. "I understand," he said, though he seemed rather more like he was irritated with the turn of events to Harry. "Please, Lady Yuna, won't you come here? I would like to show you what we gathered from those on the Farplane."
Yuna looked up at Harry, silently asking if it was okay for her to step away from the party, so Harry leaned down and said, "If he tries anything, scream really loud and hit the deck, okay?"
Yuna giggled nervously and nodded. "Got it," she said, then walked over to the maester.
Harry glanced back at Auron and shrugged, then pulled out one of his guns as discretely as he could. Auron nodded his understanding.
Then, suddenly, the projector turned on and they were standing in space. Harry, who had been in one of these before, wasn't nearly as awed as his companions, but had to admit that it was a lovely view.
Zanarkand appeared, then, and Harry tightened his grip on his gun unconsciously. He was painfully aware that his Zanarkand was gone, and that this wasn't real.
When people started walking around them, Harry was given another bad start at the sight of himself hurrying past him, long braid whipping along his his wake. That Harry, however, was wearing the long robes he'd worn for diplomatic missions, and his favoured weapons were out of sight, though never out of reach. The most startling part, however, was when Harry turned to watch himself and the memory turned as well. For a long moment, they stared at each other in mirrored shock.
But then they were zipping through the train tunnels and that image of himself was gone. Harry turned back to where Seymour stood with Yuna, feeling shaken. He needed to know why that memory had reacted to his presence. When Harry had been late for a diplomatic meeting, he had always been too focused on getting to the meeting place to have stopped to look behind him – his friends had complained more times than not about his tendency to ignore their greetings that way.
When they entered Yunalesca's bed chamber, Harry smiled sadly. His niece was sitting impatiently on the bed, as she had often done when Zaon was coming for a visit, before Yu had been told about the boy's origin. She had always feared that he would be killed on the way to see her. Harry had helped, when he could, often sneaking Zaon out of Bevelle when his meetings were done, even if they ended in his death.
Zaon walked into the room and the two kids Harry had once cared so much for hugged before disappearing.
Harry turned back to Seymour and Yuna in time to see him whispering something to her and a shocked look coming over her face. "Yuna?" he asked, stepping forward.
Yuna hurried over to him and he only just had enough time to put his gun away before he had an armful of the girl. Hugging her, he glared up at the maester, who simply smiled.
"Yunie?" Rikku asked as the other guardians came over. "Yunie, are you okay?"
"What did he say to you?" Tidus hissed, glaring at the half-Guado himself.
Yuna pulled herself together and pulled back. "He... He asked me to marry him," she explained, hugging herself.
"You know what Yuna must do," Auron said coldly to Seymour, while Rikku grabbed Yuna in a hug.
"Of course. Lady Yuna – no, all summoners – are charged with bringing peace to Spira. But this means more than just defeating Sin. She must ease the suffering of all Spira. She must be a leader for the people. I proposed to Lady Yuna as a maester of Yevon," Seymour replied with an easy smile.
"Spira is no playhouse. A moment's diversion may amuse an audience, but it changes nothing," Auron snapped.
"Even so, the actors must play their parts. There's no need to answer right away. Please, think it over," Seymour replied graciously.
"We will," Harry said firmly, before Auron could come up with an angry response to that simple statement.
Seymour just kept smiling, but it looked slightly challenging to Harry, as if the maester was challenging Harry, to see who would have Yuna in the end. "Lady Yuna," he said, "I await your favourable reply."
Harry chuckled, then, and motioned for Rikku to help Yuna out. "This should be interesting to watch play out," he commented to Auron as they turned to follow the rest of the party.
"Why are you still here, sir?" Seymour asked suddenly, his question directed at Auron. When the man in question turned to glare at him, Seymour said, "I beg your pardon. We Guado are keen to the scent of the Farplane."
"Hm, must let Yuna know the man who proposed to her has the ability to smell the dead," Harry commented. "I think I saw something like that on the telly once..."
Both Auron and Seymour, the only two left in the room, blinked at Harry in confusion.
Seymour recovered first. "And what abilities might you claim, Sir Harry?" the man asked. "A remarkable knowledge of the history of Spira doesn't count for much, does it?"
Harry chuckled. "Wouldn't you like to know," he replied, then turned and walked from the manor with Auron.
They found Yuna and the rest of the party on a bench not far from the manor. Rikku was sitting next to her, an arm around Yuna's shoulders comfortingly. When the eldest two guardians joined them, Rikku said, "What do we do?"
Harry sighed and knelt in front of the summoner. "Sweetheart, will you look at me?" he asked when Yuna refused to meet his eyes.
Yuna looked at him, biting her lip. "He also said," she whispered, "that a guardian wasn't worth my time, and that Spira would be horrified to hear that I was sleeping with an unknown."
"Why that–!" Wakka shouted, and looked about ready to run back into the manor and give the maester a piece of his mind, leader of Wakka's religion or not.
Lulu reached over and grabbed the red-head's ear, just as she once had Harry's, and said, "Wakka, calm down."
Harry shook his head at the crazy guardian and reached up to take Yuna's hands. "We know that's not true," he said to her quietly, "and who you sleep with is your business, not Spira's, no matter what the population might think otherwise." He smiled at her. "What's really bothering you?"
Yuna squeezed his hands. "I don't know if I want to marry someone who thinks so poorly of my friends," she replied softly. "But, I don't want to let a chance to give Spira something to celebrate, even a small one, go."
Harry sighed. "I can't tell you what to do about Seymour, none of us can, because it's your choice. But I do request that you keep this in mind: Unless we find another way, you will die at the end of this journey." Most of the party hissed at his cold way of putting it, but Harry ignored them and continued. "Spira will have a few years of happiness, then, but this journey will be the last days of happiness for you, don't throw them away, not for anyone."
Yuna nodded. "Okay."
Harry leaned up and hugged her. "This is your life, Yuna, and it's too short to live it for everyone else."
When Harry pulled back again, Yuna was smiling. "Can we..." She paused and looked around at the party. "Can we go to the Farplane?"
Harry and Auron traded looks. "Yes," the unsent said. "And then we might consider resting here, for tonight, before starting across the Thunder Plains."
Harry sighed sadly while Rikku perked up, drawing weak chuckles from the party.
They made their way to the Farplane, Auron leaving them to procure rooms for the night in the inn by the entrance. At the entrance to the Farplane, Rikku and Harry both made to sit outside, but Yuna managed to cajole them into coming in with her, saying it would be fun.
Inside, everyone was awed by the full shape of the Farplane. Yuna led Harry, Rikku and Tidus over to an open space along the platform and called two people. "My mother and father," she said.
"Hey!" Rikku jumped forward, pointing at Yuna's mom. "That's my aunt!"
The two girls looked at each other for a long minute before both laughing and hugging.
"They're cousins?" Tidus asked.
"Apparently," Harry replied drily.
Rikku called up an image of her mother and introduced her to Yuna, then promised Yuna that she would introduce her father to the summoner at the soonest opportunity.
"I would like that, I think," Yuna replied, then turned to Harry. "What about your parents? Harry? Tidus? Oh! Try calling Sir Jecht!"
Tidus sighed and obediently thought of his father. Jecht didn't come, but his mother did. "Mom?"
Harry blinked in surprise, while the girls commented on how pretty she was. When Tidus turned to Harry, he smiled and said. "You have her eyes."
Tidus smiled and looked back at his mom.
"Harry?" Yuna asked.
Harry sighed. "Please keep in mind that my parents died when I was one, so I don't have any actual memories of them," he said, then called Lily and James up, both smiling and with their arms around each other's shoulders.
"You have your mom's eyes too," Tidus realised, looking between Harry and Lily.
Harry nodded. "And my dad's hair, but I've grown it out since then."
"I dunno," Rikku commented, looking Harry over. "Your hair's still trying to defy gravity in the front."
Harry chuckled and brushed a hand over the strands of hair that he'd never been able to grow out or tame.
"So, who raised you, then?" Yuna asked.
Harry looked away. "My aunt and uncle," he replied lowly, refusing to look as they appeared in front of them. "They didn't like me." He felt Tidus take his hand and smiled sadly, glancing up at the fading images. Another image started taking their place, and Harry hissed as he recognised the short red hair and green eyes so much like his own. "James."
"Your son?" Tidus said in reply, and the others looked at him in surprise, then at the ghostly form.
James met Harry's eyes, actually moving in the Farplane, then mouthed, 'I'm sorry, Dad,' before fading away.
"Harry!" Tidus cried, looking back at the vampire, who had tears slowly trailing down his cheeks.
"Harry? What did he...?" Yuna whispered, gently taking Harry's free hand.
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "James had a son, after I went to sleep, who he also named James." He laughed a little bitterly. "I never knew. But, I'd always hated the practise of making children into fayth, and James knew it. My grandson wanted to become part of the mass summoning, but James stopped him. He died, and my grandson ended up becoming a fayth in Bevelle. Bahamut, I think." He shook his head. "James wanted to apologise. And..." He hissed angrily and looked up at a memory version of his son and his wife. "I'm not mad at you, kiddo," he said softly.
Tidus wrapped his arms around Harry's chest and hugged him, wanting to make the older man's pain disappear.
"I'm sorry," Yuna whispered.
Harry just shook his head and used the hand Tidus had freed to wipe away his tears. "Let's head to the inn, okay?"
"Yeah," Yuna agreed.
The four walked over to where Wakka and Lulu were waiting, looking concerned. "Are you okay?" Lulu asked of Harry.
Harry chuckled humourlessly. "Do I really look so bad?" he inquired.
"A bit, yah," Wakka allowed.
Harry shook his head. "I'll be fine," he assured them.
They were just starting down the steps when a commotion started up behind them, and the guardians went on alert as they turned to see. There, an older Guado was trying to leave the Farplane. "Lord Jyscal!" a Guado near them said, sounding horrified.
"Send him," Lulu ordered.
"But why is he–"
"Send him, Yuna," Lulu said again.
Yuna nodded and walked back up the steps to send the figure. Once he was gone, she stopped to pick something up, then followed them back to the room, clutching Harry's hand like she had when they were hanging from the vine in the temple.
Harry looked down at her in concern. "Are you okay, sweetheart?"
Yuna nodded, though she didn't let go of Harry's hand. "Yeah."
Harry sighed and squeezed the hand in his gently.
Harry was sitting on the bench outside of Seymour's manor, watching the sphere in his hand with a fond smile. In it, his son wasn't quite one and was, adorably, trying to speak. His first word, much to Harry's unending entertainment, had been his approximation of 'vampire,' and Harry had never let him forget it. (Of course, at the time, Harry had panicked a bit and run every magical scan he could to make sure James was one hundred percent human, since Harry had sworn shortly after being kicked out of England that he would never turn another person if he could help it.)
Harry was chuckling over James' attempt at 'dada' when he felt someone sit down next to him. He glanced up and smiled at Yuna, who smiled back. "Your son?" she asked.
He nodded. "He was just learning to speak. In fact, his first word was 'wampiw'," he said in a baby voice.
Yuna laughed weakly and rested her head on Harry's shoulder. When Harry turned off the sphere and put it away before wrapping an arm around her, she moved a little closer to him and closed her eyes.
After a while, Harry said, "You should be asleep, you know."
Yuna nodded. "I know."
Harry sighed. "Will you tell me what's troubling you?"
Yuna chewed on her bottom lip for a long moment before pulling a sphere out from behind her bow and setting it in his lap. "Lord Jyscal dropped it," she said.
Harry eyed the sphere for a long moment before picking it up and turning it on to watch it. In the recording, Jyscal claimed that he was soon to be killed by Seymour, who was using him as well as Yevon for something. He pleaded to the viewer to stop Seymour, as Jyscal himself had been unable to do.
Once the sphere was done playing, Harry tapped his cheek with it. "I have a vague recollection of saying Bevelle was no good," he commented softly. "It attracts bad eggs like light does flies." He sighed and tightened his arm around the summoner. "There's not a lot we can do about this, Yuna."
"But, we can have him turn himself in to Yevon, right?" Yuna pleaded, leaning forward to see Harry's face.
Harry sighed again and set the sphere down so he could rub at the bridge of his nose. "Perhaps this is my own hatred of Bevelle speaking, but I honestly don't think they'll do anything."
"So there's nothing we can do," Yuna said dully.
Harry shook his head. "There's little one can do when the government of the world is corrupt." He leaned his head back and looked up at the ceiling. "We could kill him ourselves, of course, but there's no saying we'd get away with it, not with him being both a maester and the beloved leader of his own people."
Yuna leaned forward and hid her face against Harry's chest, wrapping an arm around his waist. Harry turned to better accommodate her, uncaring as Jyscal's sphere fell from his lap and shattered on the ground. Yuna just squeezed her eyes closed tighter at the sound.
Harry kissed the top of her head. "Let's get you to bed," he whispered.
"Will you stay with me?" Yuna begged, letting herself be pulled to her feet.
A smile touched Harry's lips. "And face the lovely Lulu's wrath in the morning?"
Yuna giggled weakly.
"Of course I will," Harry agreed, then led the way back to the inn, where he tucked her in and pulled up a chair to sit next to her the rest of the night, her hand clenching his as if he was the last steady thing on a rocking boat.
Harry eventually fell asleep in the chair next to Yuna's bed and was shaken gently awake by Lulu, who looked at him with concern in her reddish eyes. "Is she okay?" she whispered.
Harry carefully disentangled his fingers and stood with a grimace. Lulu nodded in understanding and they both left the room to talk out in the hallway. "Jyscal's ghost left behind a sphere, and the contents shook her up a bit."
Lulu sighed. "What did it say?"
Harry glanced out of the corner of his eye at the black mage. "Seymour killed his father," he replied blandly, smiling grimly when Lulu looked horrified. "I think she was most upset by the fact that there's really nothing we can do about it, however."
Lulu sighed and nodded. "There isn't, is there?"
"Not unless we want to spend the rest of this journey being hunted by Guado and Bevelle both." He chuckled humourlessly. "And, having been hunted by Bevelle before, I very much suggest against it."
Lulu offered him a thin smile. "I don't intend to try it, personally."
"Excellent." Harry rubbed at his chin. "Yuna could probably use a little more sleep."
Lulu nodded. "She should be okay for now. Come and eat something."
"Mmm... Was that an offer?" Harry inquired teasingly, then dodged the lick of fire she shot at him. "That almost hit me!" he complained.
Lulu sniffed as they entered the small room set aside for guests to eat in. Kimahri, Auron and Tidus were seated around the table already, and all three looked up in surprise when they entered.
Harry frowned at Tidus. "You look like you haven't slept," he admonished, walking over to the boy.
Tidus shrugged. "Where were you all night?"
Harry sighed and sat in the open chair next to the boy. "Yuna had a bad time of it last night, so I stayed up with her."
"He was asleep in a chair next to her bed," Lulu commented drily, and no one at the table was certain if she was reassuring Kimahri or Tidus that nothing had happened between the resident playboy and their supposedly innocent summoner.
"Has she decided what to do about Seymour's proposal?" Auron asked.
Harry shrugged. "She didn't say," he said neutrally.
Harry and Lulu had almost finished their breakfast when a slightly panicked Rikku came through the door. "Yuna's freaking out!" she said.
Harry was out of the room before the others could do more than get halfway out of their chairs.
"I keep forgetting how fast he is," Lulu muttered as she finished getting up and made for the door at a much more sedate pace than she normally would have. Tidus and Rikku both fell in beside her, with Kimahri bringing up the rear.
Back at the table, Auron chuckled and finished his coffee before getting up and following them.
When Harry got the the girls' room, he found Yuna curled into a ball on her bed, sobbing. "Yuna?" he said.
Yuna glared up at him, making him blink in surprise. "You lied to me!" she shouted at him.
Harry frowned. "I never lied to you, sweetheart."
"You said you'd stay! You said you'd be here!" Yuna accused.
Harry sighed and walked over to the bed, which he sat on. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "Lulu and I thought you'd be fine long enough for me to eat."
Yuna stared at him for a long moment, almost disbelieving. But Harry just kept looking at her with that same heart-wrenchingly sorry expression he'd worn when he spoke to his son's memory on the Farplane, and she eventually leaned over and hugged him, feeling his arms wrap around her as well.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," Harry whispered again.
Yuna nodded. "Thanks."
Harry smiled faintly and turned his head to kiss her cheek.
Someone cleared their throat from the doorway and Harry sighed. "Who looks the most likely to kill me?" he asked the girl in his arms.
Yuna giggled weakly. "Kimahri."
"Ah, Big Blue," Harry said, nodding sagely. "Kimahri, if you stick me with your lance, the blood will get all over Yuna."
"Lulu can burn you," Kimahri grunted in reply.
Harry considered that. "Mm. Yeah, I suppose she could," he agreed, then whispered, "Does she look likely to do that?"
Yuna giggled again, sounding more like herself. "She might."
Tidus huffed. "So, Yuna, what's up with you hogging Harry lately?" he asked with just the smallest hint of teasing in his voice. "We come to Guadosalam and you hang on to him, and then you talk him into sleeping next to your bed?"
Yuna grinned. "I'm allowed to hog him sometimes," she declared. "You get him to yourself all night."
"Please tell me I don't have teenagers fighting over me?" Harry moaned.
Yuna pulled away from him, life in her eyes again at the semi-familiar banter she and Tidus had occasionally shared on the road since Junon. "I'm afraid so," she told Harry, then leaned forward and kissed him on the lips.
"Oiy!" Tidus called.
Yuna stuck her tongue out at the blond boy and climbed out of the bed, leaving Harry behind with his face in his hands.
The others in the doorway laughed at the drama, while Yuna and Tidus met each other in the middle of the room and mock glared at each other.
"What's going on?" a sleepy Wakka asked from the back of the group in the doorway, and they all laughed again.
Harry shook his head and stood up. "Okay, kids, break it up," he told Tidus and Yuna, draping an arm over both their shoulders.
In sync, Tidus and Yuna kissed Harry's cheeks, then gave each other high fives and scampered out from under his arms, laughing.
Harry chuckled. "Oiy! I'm the only person who's supposed to be kissing people in this party!"
Laughing, they all made their way back to the dining room.
"What do you plan to do about Seymour's proposal?" Auron asked once those who hadn't eaten were finished.
Yuna sighed. "I'm going to tell him no," she said. "Harry's right. This time that's left, what little there is, is for me. It's time for me to spend with my friends and family." She smiled around the table. "I don't want to ruin our time left by bringing another person in, especially one who not everyone is sure of."
"But he's a maester!" Wakka complained.
Harry rose an eyebrow at the woman, who rose one back at him, then he looked at Yuna, who was sitting next to him, and said, "If that's your choice, we will support you."
"We'll make a stop to let Seymour know on our way out," Auron decided, though Rikku looked nervous.
Having a plan, the party got up and finished getting any last minute things together before heading to the manor. There, however, they were told that Seymour had gone on to Macalania Temple.
"Well, that puts a wrench in things," Harry commented, ignoring the odd looks he got at the mention of the old Earth tool, which didn't exist any more. "Oh well. We're headed that way anyway, right?" He looked at Auron, who nodded. "Brilliant! Let's go!" he declared, then dashed for the exit madly.
"Lightning?" Yuna asked Tidus.
"Lightning," Tidus agreed.
"What about lightning?" Rikku asked nervously.
"He loves it," Tidus said. "Even ties off his braid with it."
"He does?" Yuna asked, looking amused.
Tidus nodded. "It's a wonder none of us have gotten shocked."
Yuna shook her head. "He's crazy."
"But we love him?" Tidus suggested.
Out on the Thunder Plains, they found Harry dancing in an open space, laughing madly every time he got hit. "Brilliant!" he called to the party when he saw them.
Rikku laughed nervously. "I think... I might have left something in... Guadosalam..."
"Nice knowing you," Auron said, then started across the plains with the older guardians, leaving only Yuna and Tidus with Rikku.
"Are you okay, Rikku?" Yuna asked, taking one of the girl's hands in hers.
Rikku nodded, then cowered when a bolt of lightning came a little too close to her for comfort. "I don't like lightning and thunder," she whispered.
"Keep her away from Harry," Tidus suggested.
Yuna smacked his arm lightly, then looked back at her cousin. "We have to cross it," she said. "There's no other way."
Rikku looked past Tidus with wide eyes and the other two teens turned to see Harry approaching with a worried frown. When he reached them, he asked, "What's wrong?"
"She's your exact opposite out here," Tidus commented, waving at the plains.
Harry nodded in understanding. "You're not the first person I've met with a fear of lightning. Here." He murmured some foreign words under his breath and Rikku glowed yellow briefly. "The lightning won't hit you now," he promised, "but it's only got a four-hour keep on it and I can't cast it on you again for eight, so move quickly."
"Really? It won't hit me?" Rikku asked hopefully.
Harry grinned at her. "Try it." When she looked uncertain, he held a hand to his heart and said, "I swear it'll work."
Rikku nodded nervously and let Harry lead her out onto the plain, the other two teens following at a distance.
A bolt of lightning came rushing down at Rikku and she gave a cry and threw her hands over her head, but the lightning simply disappeared about a foot from her and she looked up in awe.
Harry grinned as a lightning bolt struck his head, making his hair stand on end. "Okay?" he asked.
Rikku nodded, then asked, "How can you let them hit you?"
Harry chuckled and cast the spell on Yuna and Tidus so they could walk with him safely, as he had no intention of walking near the towers. "For one, they can't kill me," he explained. "For another, I have a strange immunity to lightning. Shortly before World War Three, the war that destroyed my world," he added for Rikku's benefit, "I was working on a machine out in a thunder storm because we had to get it done, and the spell I used on you lot was just wearing off. Something about the spell failing and the machine and my general inability to get killed acted up with the lightning, and now they don't hurt me. Actually, they tend to energise me, instead." He grinned at Tidus. "I won't need a feeding for a couple of days."
"So lightning is blood for you?" Yuna asked, blinking.
Harry nodded. "Pretty much."
"So you don't actually need blood, you just need someone to hit you with a Thunder spell."
Harry blinked. "Why haven't I ever thought of that?"
"Because you've been a vampire too long?" Tidus suggested.
Harry chuckled. "Must be. I'll have to try that, then."
Tidus pouted. "What? My blood not good enough for you?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Tidus..."
"Answer me!" Tidus demanded.
Harry sighed. "Look, I need blood too often to have one donor. Your blood doesn't replenish fast enough for it to be safe for me to drink from you every two or three days. Every five or so is fine, but any more than that you won't be able to pick up that sword."
Tidus looked down at his sword and grumbled wordlessly.
Yuna cleared her throat. "So, you feed from Tidus, and then, the next time you need blood, he hits you with a Thunder spell. Sound good?"
"Kinky," Harry decided.
Rikku hit him. "There's nothing 'kinky' about lightning!"
"You're kinda cute when you're distressed," Harry commented.
Yuna hit him that time. "Harry! No hitting on my cousin!"
"Afraid of the competition?" Harry inquired teasingly.
"The last thing you need is another teenager fighting over you," Tidus pointed out drily. "Auron and Lulu know better than to take you seriously."
Harry snickered. "Sexy Red's too busy trying to hit me to worry about hitting on me," he replied brightly. "And the lovely Lulu's heart clearly belongs to a certain red-head."
"Whaaa! Lulu and Wakka?!" Tidus exclaimed.
"You mean you haven't noticed?" Harry asked. When all three teens shook their heads, he sighed and said, "I'm surrounded by kids."
All three of them hit him.
On the other side of the travel agency, which they didn't stop at, Harry pulled out his map and stepped closer to Yuna. "There's another temple I know of on a little spit of land over here," he said, pointing directly north of the Thunder Plains and a little east of the entrance to Macalania Woods. "It'll be about a day out of the way, I think, and I wasn't sure if you'd want to try and make a stop or not."
Yuna considered the question, then glanced ahead of them, to where the other half of the party was darting between the towers. "I don't know that I'm ready to face Seymour yet," she admitted. "So I think, yes. Can we?"
Harry smiled and put the map away in a pocket. "Okay. We should probably go catch up with the others, then. There should be a path just a little ahead and to the right, if I remember my directions from Yu right, which will take us out of the plains."
"Sounds good!" Rikku declared. Even with the strange shield Harry had cast on the three teens, Rikku was still a little twitchy, especially since she kept seeing Harry get hit.
"Let's go, then," Tidus suggested, then took off towards the rest of the party.
It didn't take them long to talk the other four into taking a detour, and with eight eyes watching, they were easily able to find the path.
Once off the Thunder Plains, Lulu asked if Harry would teach her the shield he'd used on the teens and Tidus and Yuna, both of whom practised some magic, agreed that they'd also like to learn. So Harry taught them all the spell, warning them ahead of time that it was Old Earth magic and he had never tried teaching someone from Spira his world's magic.
As it turned out, all three were able to learn the spell – they tested it on the four who had stayed under the towers – though it seemed to tire them out sooner than it had Harry. As a result, Harry called for them to make camp at a reasonable-looking site to their left and the three spellcasters gratefully ate a quick meal and rolled into their bed rolls.
"Your fanclub's asleep," Auron pointed out evenly, "now what will you do?"
Harry appeared to consider that for a moment, then grinned and said, "Why, hit on you, of course, Sexy Red."
Auron made a lame attempt to hit Harry with his sword in retaliation for the name, but Harry just ducked it.
"You're not even trying any more," the vampire complained.
Auron shrugged. "I've gotten used to you."
Harry huffed and pouted while Wakka and Rikku laughed.
"Oh, you laugh now," Harry said, shaking his finger, "but without Sexy Red to tease, I'll just have to find someone new to torture, and I think that'll have to be you, my dear Wakka."
Wakka paled and shook his head vehemently.
Harry snickered with Rikku and Auron.
The others went to bed after a while, with Harry taking the first watch and promising to wake Auron about halfway through the night to pass off. Harry enjoyed the quiet night and spent a few hours recalling the constellations above him, smiling at the Dog Star fondly in memory of his godfather.
After waking Auron, he curled up next to Tidus and fell asleep with a smile.
The next morning, they finished their journey to the little spit of land that Harry had known the temple to be on. They found the temple, but the stone inside looked like someone had hit it with a hammer a few times, and Harry sighed, wondering if Bevelle had found and destroyed the crystal during the war, or if the fayth itself had found someone willing to destroy the stone that kept him prisoner.
Empty-handed, the party made their way back to the last few feet of the Thunder Plains and the entrance to Macalania Woods.
Once under the safety of the trees, Yuna said, "Does anyone mind if we stop at Bevelle before going to Macalania Temple?"
"You really don't want to face, Seymour, do you?" Rikku asked.
Yuna grimaced and shook her head. "Not really."
"I don't mind holding off on facing him," Harry commented easily, leaning against a tree with a faint smile on his face.
Yuna smiled at him, then looked at Auron, since it often seemed to be Auron and Harry who made the choices about any changes to their journey plans. With Harry already agreeing, Auron just inclined his head, so they made for Bevelle, Harry grimacing in distaste.
Bevelle was as irritating as Harry had expected it to be, but they made it to the temple and through the Trials without any trouble.
Once Yuna was done with the fayth, she came out and said, "Harry, he wants to talk to you."
Everyone looked at Harry in surprise, though Tidus and Rikku both looked somewhat understanding, recalling that Harry's grandson was supposed to be the fayth there.
Harry just nodded and walked into the chamber. He leaned against a wall nonchalantly and waited for the boy to appear.
James did eventually rise from his crystal, watching his feet nervously. "Grandfather," he said.
Harry sighed. "Surely your father explained why he hadn't let you join the wall."
James nodded. "He explained, but..." James looked up, bright green eyes pained. "Grandfather, there wasn't anything left! You'd disappeared and Mum and Dad were both dead! Uncle Yu..." He choked briefly. "Uncle Yu was Sin, and Yunalesca was determined to bring him down. So everyone was gone! And I thought, I thought, 'Maybe if I become a fayth, I can meet Grandpa,' because Dad always spoke so fondly of you! I wanted..." James started crying.
Harry closed his eyes and knelt in front of the ghostly figure of the boy who had been his own flesh and blood once. "I'm so sorry, James."
"I didn't want to be alone," James whispered.
Harry rested his hands on the crystal. "If I'd known your mother was pregnant, I would have come home. I would have found a way to get you out of Zanarkand. I never would have gone to sleep."
"And maybe you could have stopped Uncle Yu," James said. "Maybe you could have stopped Sin before he'd been around for one thousand years. Maybe the new Spira could have been built in your image, instead."
"But maybes are nevers," Harry murmured, repeating back something Yu had often said after Bevelle managed to get a missile through to hit a part of the city or took down an entire group of twelve summoners.
James sat in front of his grandfather and reached out a ghostly hand to almost touch his face. "You didn't know. Dad used to say he wished he'd told you when he first found out, but he wanted it to be a surprise, and by the time the news made it back to Besaid, you were already asleep."
Harry sighed. "Of course. Your father got that same flair for surprising people that my father had." He smiled bitterly. "And you got your insistence to sacrifice yourself from me."
James smiled. "Dad used to joke that he'd considered naming me after you, but realised that then there'd be two Harrys running around, and one was already too many."
Harry laughed and shook his head. "That does sound like him," he admitted.
James chewed on his lower lip for a moment, then said, "Dad told me, once, that you'd always refused to become a summoner, but... would you let me join with you?"
Harry closed his eyes. Was he, the man who had always spoken against sacrificing someone so they could be used by others, especially children, willing to take an aeon at long last? "Yes," he agreed.
James smiled and held out his arms like he was going to hug Harry, then faded into him.
Somewhere, in the back of his head, he could feel his grandson, curling up comfortably. 'Thank you, Grandpa,' the boy said. 'I know...'
"You know I wouldn't have done it for anyone else," Harry murmured, then turned and left the chamber.
The three teens met him at the door. "What did he say?" Rikku asked, bouncing on the balls of her feet.
"Did you forgive him?" Yuna asked.
"Are you okay?" Tidus asked.
Harry looked at the three of them and chuckled. "We spoke of why he'd done it. Yes, I forgave him. And I'll be fine." He glanced past the teenagers to the four amused adults near the other door. "Let's find somewhere in this horrible city to stay the night."
"We can go back to Macalania Woods, if you'd prefer," Lulu commented.
Harry smiled grimly. "I don't know. Something in me finds glee in the idea of finally being able to spend a night in Bevelle without waking up in the canal the next afternoon."
The party either laughed, or grimaced, then they headed back out into the city and found an inn to stay the night in.
Harry spent a large portion of the night up, talking to James in his head, but eventually even the fayth was sleepy, so the two called it a night and Harry climbed into bed with Tidus.
The next morning, they finally made their way through the forest to Macalania Temple. Just before they got to the edge of the snowy grounds, however, Auron stopped them to get a sphere for Tidus that his father had taken. Tidus watched it all the way through, but didn't seem to know what to think, so he just pocketed it and suggested they keep going.
They met Tromell on the path. "Lady Yuna, we've been expecting you. Lord Seymour sends his apologies for having left without notice."
Yuna nodded. "That's okay. It gave me time to think. Is Maester Seymour at the temple?"
Tromell inclined his head. "Of course. But... We must follow Guado tradition," he said, then turned to the tensing guardians, "I'll have to ask you to wait here–"
"I'm afraid," Harry said sharply, "that we won't be letting Yuna go off alone, tradition or no. Either we all go, or Maester Seymour comes to us."
Tromell frowned at him, but Yuna nodded and said, "I would prefer for my guardians to come with me. It's what they're here for."
Tromell nodded. "Very well. If you would, then?"
The party followed him down the slope and onto the ice, which Rikku cheerfully slid across. Yuna and Tidus tried to follow her example, but mostly just falling against each other and laughing. Tromell looked horrified.
They all turned in surprise at a mechanical noise from behind them.
"Al Bhed!" Wakka shouted.
"Oh no," Rikku moaned, having not wanted her family to find out she'd decided to become a guardian, rather than kidnap the summoner.
"Rikku!" a voice shouted down from the ridge behind which the mechanical noise was coming from, "Don't interfere or you get this! Your precious magic and aeons are sealed!"
"Oh no!" Rikku cried again.
"What?" Tidus demanded as the mechanical creature they'd been hearing came over the ledge. The party all pulled out their weapons, even Yuna, to Tromell's continued horror.
"He's going to use an anti-magic field on us!"
As the anti-magic creature hit the air, Harry pulled out his guns and sent two shots into just the right spots, bringing it down. "Thunder!" he ordered Tidus and Lulu while the others all jumped forward to hit the metal beast with their weapons and Yuna cast Pray.
The machina went down in a spark of electricity and the Al Bhed on the ridge stared at them in shock. "Go back to Home!" Harry called. "And feel free to tell your leader that Lady Yuna is protected! We won't let you take her!" When the man didn't move fast enough, Harry cocked two guns at him.
The man jumped down and out of sight.
"Was that really necessary?" Rikku asked as Harry put his guns away.
Harry grinned. "It avoided any further violence," he pointed out, "especially from Wakka."
Rikku glanced over at where Wakka was gripping his ball angrily. "Hm. You might be right."
"Of course I'm right," Harry replied, then called, "Shall we keep going? I believe we'll all be safer in the temple."
Tromell gave him a dirty look, though Harry couldn't tell if it was because of his ability to speak Al Bhed or that Harry used machina himself, then turned and led them back along the path.
Seymour was waiting for them in the temple. He looked surprised to see the guardians, but still smiled and said, "Lady Yuna and guardians, welcome to Macalania Temple. I'm pleased to see you well."
Yuna nodded. "I have my answer, Maester Seymour."
Seymour glanced at his aid and they seemed to communicate silently for a moment. When Seymour looked back at the party he said, "Why don't you all go and get Shiva and I'll speak to you afterwards?"
Yuna looked back at Harry and Auron, who were both frowning at Seymour. "I think we will," Yuna decided.
They managed the Trials without too much trouble, and Yuna got Shiva with equal ease.
When they walked back out into the main part of the temple, Seymour was smiling at them. As soon as they'd stopped, Harry tensed, feeling far too many eyes on him, as well as the tension in the air.
"I have decided," Yuna said, "to not marry you, Maester Seymour."
Seymour looked shocked for only a brief moment before he made an angry motion with his hand. "I wasn't going to do this, Lady Yuna, but you leave me no choice," he said.
"Harry!" Tidus shouted, making the rest of the party spin to look at where a few warrior monks held the vampire, a sword at his throat.
"What are you doing?" Yuna cried, turning back to Seymour.
Seymour smiled. "Those who use the forbidden machina must be punished."
"Harry!" Yuna said, making as if to run forward and somehow stop Harry's death, but Lulu grabbed the girl's shoulders to stop her.
Harry smiled at his friends, accepting, and closed his eyes.
The last things he heard before his throat was slit was James' quiet whisper of, 'Grandpa...' and Yuna's bitter sob.
I seem to end these chapters with Harry dying far too often, don't I?
Chapter 8: Extremes
Harry woke to the sounds of fighting. When he cautiously opened his eyes, he saw that his friends were badly outnumbered and fighting against Seymour and the warrior monks, as well as a few Guado. Yuna was hard-pressed to heal the party, while the party themselves had fallen back into a circle around her, weapons facing out towards their numerous enemies.
Harry felt that his neck was still bleeding sluggishly and trying to heal back together, and he'd need blood very soon, but he was otherwise in perfect working order.
So, grinning madly, Harry cast an overpowered Thundaga on those fighting his friends before climbing to his feet and shooting two men next to him who hadn't fallen from the spell with the guns he'd drawn.
"What is this?!" Seymour shouted.
Harry winked at Yuna and Tidus, both of whom looked quite relieved to see him on his feet again, then he looked at Seymour. "Oh, didn't you get the memo?" he asked, casually shooting a Guado who was coming at him. "I can't die." Then he shot off another Thundaga, causing a few more opponents to fall dead.
Harry walked through the cleared path to his friends, while Seymour roared, "Impossible!" and shot a bolt of Thunder at Harry.
Harry blinked. "Excellent. I needed that," he commented, falling into line around Yuna. "So, you lot are going to tell me everything that happened later, right?"
"If we can ever get out of here," Wakka agreed grimly, throwing his ball out to hit an approaching Guado.
"I didn't know Thundaga could do that," Lulu commented from the other side of Yuna.
"You're just not as awesome as me," Harry replied, shooting another warrior monk. "Dear Merlin, where are they all coming from?"
"Those doors," Auron replied, using his sword to point at the doors on either side of the stairs to the Trials, then slice a warrior monk in half.
"Also from the doors outside," Yuna offered. "And, Harry?"
"There's still blood on your neck."
"Happens when your throat gets slit," Harry replied drily, making Yuna giggle nervously.
"Kill them!" Seymour shouted, then sent a Fire spell at the group.
Harry hissed when the spell hit him. "Okay, he's on my shit list," he groused, then turned and, leaning around Yuna and Lulu, emptied his guns into the man's chest.
Seymour let out an angry roar, but didn't fall.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say he's immortal too," Tidus complained.
"Nah, you just haven't hit him enough," Harry replied cheerfully as he got hit with Thunder again for shooting the maester. "Oh! I know a spell!" He put his guns away and dug around in the bag at his belt until he pulled out the Elder Wand, which he kissed and said, "Don't fail me now, Death Stick."
"What's that?" Tidus asked.
"Focus," Harry grunted, ducking another Fire spell. Then he spun away from the group so he could get an unimpeded view of Seymour, who smirked at Harry's little stick. "Avada Kedavra," Harry intoned.
Seymour dropped like a rock and everyone in the room turned to Harry, who shrugged and put the wand away. "Old Death spell," he explained, then pulled out his sword to cut the nearest Guado in half. "Get out of the temple!" he shouted at the party.
With the way clear, everyone made for the doors, Harry bringing up the rear. He briefly wished he hadn't emptied his only two magazines into Seymour's chest, since guns would have been really nice when running from their enemies, but figured, at least the people chasing them didn't have guns either, so they were even.
Only metres from the travel agency, they ran across two more Guado who called up a giant ape.
Harry and Auron both dashed forward to take off the two Guado, leaving the ape to everyone else in the party.
As the ape died, however, it smashed its fists against the ice beneath their feet, which grew cracks and, before any of them could think about running for it, cracked open under them, sending them plummeting down.
It didn't take long for everyone to find everyone else. Wakka was freaking out about everything that had happened, and Harry left him to Lulu, shaking his head. Tidus and Rikku were both joking with Kimahri, standing around Yuna. Wakka complained about their laughter, but the teens just ignored him.
When Yuna woke, they all crowded around. "Now what?" Yuna asked.
"Yevon's almost sure to want us dead now, considering we've killed a maester. Even if it was self-defence," Auron pointed out.
"Bevelle, home of my eternal friends," Harry said drily, earning him a dirty look from Wakka.
"Now, we climb out of here and head for the Calm Lands," Lulu said.
"We've already been to Bevelle," Auron agreed, "So we don't have to go there and see if news of this madness got that far."
"This is all your fault!" Wakka exclaimed, pointing at Harry. "If you hadn't used that machina of yours–"
"Wakka!" Harry roared, shocking the man into shutting up. "First off, if I hadn't used my 'machina', you would have been the only person capable of hitting the magic suppressor, and that battle would have taken a lot longer. Secondly, Seymour hasn't liked me from day one, ever since he came to the conclusion that Yuna and I are attached. Even if I hadn't used my guns, we probably still would have had to fight our way out of there, because he doesn't like me, I don't stay dead, and Yuna didn't want a prick for a husband!"
Rikku coughed. "Isn't it hard not to have a prick for a husband?"
"You have been spending far too much time around me," Harry decided.
"None of this matters," Auron said firmly. "We'll wait until night falls, then climb out of here and make our way to the Calm Lands. You can point fingers when we are safe from Yevon."
"Good plan," Kimahri declared.
Harry nodded and turned to the three teens while Wakka walked off in a huff. "So, what happened after I died?"
"Seymour suggested that Yuna rethink her choice to not marry him, especially since her options seemed to have halved there, you know?" Rikku said quietly while Yuna coloured. "Yuna told him where he could stuff it and Seymour got really ticked. So he had everyone attack us."
Harry sighed. "Why didn't you just run? Why stay there?" he asked.
"Because we didn't know when you'd be back," Yuna said softly.
"We didn't want to leave you behind," Tidus agreed. "Not on enemy territory."
Harry smiled and shook his head. "Oh, you lot..." he murmured, then drew all three of them into a big hug.
It wasn't much longer after that explanation that they all stopped talking in surprise. "The fayth stopped singing," Yuna commented softly.
Everyone looked around for the cause. Tidus spotted Sin first. "Look."
"Yu," Harry whispered. He hadn't seen Sin since he'd found out about what it was.
"Watch out!" Lulu shouted as Sin stirred.
Harry realised he was floating and felt his old friend's presence. "Yu?" he asked.
A spectre appeared before him of his friend. "Hello, Harry," he said. "It's been a long time."
Harry nodded. "I'm sorry."
Yu shook his head. "No. I should have known better than to create a creature of pyreflies and program it to attack as a defence."
Harry sighed. "Yu? Why am I here? And, erm, where am I?"
"You're in Sin," Yu explained. "And you are here because both the aeon which powers this armour and I want your party out of harm's way."
Harry chuckled, part of him wondering about that aeon statement. "Your cult is as much trouble as the last idiots who ran Bevelle."
Yu sighed. "I know. I almost wish I hadn't sent my people there to help rebuild."
"It's in human nature to want power," Harry commented. "If our people hadn't been the ones to claim that power, others would have been."
Harry eyed his friend curiously. "Yu?"
"Is Yuna's chosen path the only way?"
"The aeons are the key," Yu said, "but the Final Aeon won't defeat me. It will only make me stronger. And... aeons alone aren't enough."
Harry nodded. "So there is another way?"
Yu smiled. "There's always another way," he whispered, starting to fade, "especially when you're a man who can never die."
Harry woke with a mouthful of sand. "You did that on purpose," he accused his best friend, spitting the sand out.
Harry climbed to his feet and looked around curiously. Leagues of sand stretched in all directions and he cocked an eyebrow. "Out of harm's way, huh?" he asked the desert. "Where is there a desert in Spira? Uhm... Oh! Bikanel Island! Wait, isn't that where the Al Bhed... Yu! You bastard! Who said this place was safe from Bevelle?!" he shouted.
"Uhm, who are you shouting at?" a curious voice asked.
Harry looked up to where Rikku stood on the top of a dune and sighed. "Hi. Don't mind me, just yelling at a dead man."
Rikku shrugged. "Well, Bikanel is safe from Bevelle, you know."
Harry grunted and made his way towards her. "Not for much longer. Last I heard, the maesters have plans to attack Home for your lot's tendency to kidnap summoners."
Rikku stared at him in horror for a long moment before turning and starting back down the dune with far more speed than even Harry would have felt comfortable with. "I have to tell them!"
"Rikku! I already told Rin to pass it on!" Harry snapped, making his way down the dune much more slowly.
Rikku stopped then, and waited for Harry to catch up. "If they've moved," she said softly, "then I don't know where they are." She looked up at him sadly. "If they've abandoned Home, I don't know where they would have gone. Home was all we had left."
"I'm sorry," Harry said, knowing very well what it meant to be lost in a familiar place because your home was gone.
Rikku shook her head. "There aren't a lot of options for places to stay," she reasoned, "and only Bikanel is really big enough for all the Al Bhed. Chances are they just moved and are in the process of making somewhere new to live. If they're still on Bikanel, they'll have scouts, so we can probably meet up with someone who can direct us there." She beamed and bounced a bit. "It'll work!"
Harry smiled back. "Good. But, first, we need to find the rest of the party. I'm not comfortable leaving them out here alone, especially when you're the one with the desert know-how."
Rikku laughed and nodded. The two of them made their way back up to the top of the dune they'd been on before and looked around.
"Looks pretty empty," Rikku said after about ten minutes of looking.
Harry sighed. "Dammi– Wait! What's that?" He pointed to where he could see a lot of sand being kicked up.
Rikku blinked. "Not enough wind to be a sandstorm," she decided, "and my people tend to be far better on the sand."
"Think it's the others?" Harry asked with a knowing grin.
"Only one way to find out!" Rikku said, then whooped and slid down the dune.
Harry groaned, then hurried down after her.
They came across Kimahri along the way and, after talking him out of his useless climbing, they headed back out towards where they'd seen the sand cloud. About halfway there, they finally ran into the rest of the party, sans one member.
"Where's Yuna?" Rikku asked.
The others traded looks. "We'd hoped she was with you," Lulu finally said.
"Al Bhed?" Harry suggested.
Rikku sighed and nodded while Wakka opened his mouth to curse them. "Shut up, Wakka," the Al Bhed of the party snapped. "She's probably better off with them, anyway. And this is their land."
"It is?" Tidus asked as Wakka's mouth snapped shut.
"Bikanel Island has been the home of the Al Bhed since before the Machina Wars," Harry said. "They claimed it as well as a chain of smaller islands south of us shortly after people began populating Spira again once the air cleared. At that time, no one was willing to argue with them about it, since we'd all just come out of isolation to live through the poison in the air. In the two and a half thousand years since that initial claim, no one has ever argued it, especially since the Al Bhed tend to stay to themselves."
"And then Sin came," Rikku whispered.
Harry nodded glumly. "Sin, the common enemy of all the people of Spira. Except perhaps the Ronso," he amended, nodding to Kimahri, "since your kind live in the mountains."
"Ronso share pain," Kimahri declared solemnly.
Harry inclined his head. "The Ronso too, then. But, Sin doesn't care who or what you are, it still attacks. The Al Bhed don't believe in the summoners – they never have – they believe in machina, but not in the same way that Bevelle did. It led to some tension back during the Machina Wars, because the Al Bhed disliked summoners, unlike Zanarkand, but they didn't believe in using machina to wage war, unlike Bevelle. In the end, they just stayed out of it, cutting all ties between the main continent.
"But now Sin has come," Harry continued, "and the Al Bhed can't ignore it. So they've found their own way to fight: with machina. Moreover, they find machina that were lost after the Machina Wars and try to repair them. It's actually quite clever of them."
"But it's forbidden!" Wakka complained.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I had a little talk with Yu on the way over here, and would you like to know what he said?" When no one responded, Harry continued, "He said that the aeons were the key, but the Final Aeon would never defeat him, and just using the aeons won't be quite enough. Doesn't that tell you that, somewhere, somehow, there's something else we need to destroy Sin?"
"Machina," Rikku whispered. "The airship!"
"You have an airship?!" Tidus replied.
"How do you know what the Al Bhed have?" Wakka asked.
Harry sighed. "The airship might tip the balance, yes," he said to Rikku, then turned to Tidus. "They have it, but I'll need to show them how to use some of the systems. Rikku thinks, if I can do that, her dad will let us use it long enough to get the colonists out of the caves." Then he turned to Wakka, who was gaping. "Rikku's an Al Bhed. And if you start talking like a Yevonite, I'll take you over my knee and beat you like the child you are. Any more questions?"
Harry rolled his eyes at the dead man, then turned to Rikku. "What's the best way to call the scouts' attention?"
Rikku's eyes lit up. "Think you can find a way to make some bullets which explode with blue and green lights?"
Harry grinned and pulled out one of his guns. "I think I can manage something," he agreed.
The party watched on is surprise as Harry worked a little Old Earth magic and conjured a new magazine. He muttered a couple of spells over the bullets, then shoved the magazine into place. "Cover your ears," he suggested drily, and waited until they'd done as he said before firing three rounds into the sky directly above them.
"I think I heard that anyway," Rikku complained, rubbing at her ears.
"Your bullets don't usually make that much noise," Tidus commented.
Harry grinned and put his gun away. "Couldn't get the colours to stick without a third spell to tie it together – conjured bullets are difficult like that. Wasn't sure what another colour would do and, anyway, I figured the sound would help get their attention."
"What do those specific colours mean, anyway?" Auron asked their resident Al Bhed.
Rikku smiled. "Green light means an Al Bhed is calling for travelling assistance. The blue meant I had friends with me. Uhm, red means I've got enemies and need backup, purple means wounded that need attention, black means dead that need transportation to the burial ground."
"Useful," Auron said.
"Especially in the wide open expanses of the desert," Harry agreed. "Those colours will stand out against the sand, and shooting it up in the air with a gun will let it be seen over the dunes."
Rikku nodded. "It's a problem, though, when you don't have a gun. The sand mobiles each have one with various coloured bullets, but if you somehow get stranded out here on your own..." She shrugged.
"I never realised desert life could be so difficult," Lulu commented.
"It's only difficult when you're not prepared," Harry replied, then turned his head, hearing something. "Kimahri?" he asked the only other member of the party that had senses as good as or better than his.
"Kimahri hears," Kimahri replied. "Machina."
Harry nodded slowly. "Not one I'm familiar with," he admitted. "So probably those sand mobiles."
"You've never been around them before?" Rikku asked, surprised.
Harry chuckled. "Contrary to popular belief, there are some things I don't know. Last time I was on Bikanel, the Al Bhed hadn't created them yet."
The party was laughing still when the motorbike-like machina came over the dunes.
"Someone called for help?" one of the men on the bikes said.
Rikku bounced forward. "That was me! Sin dropped us off here for some reason, and I was hoping to get a ride to Home, or wherever we've moved to. Harry says he got word through Rin that Yevon was plotting something?"
"One of these is the man who gave us the warning?" the Al Bhed asked in surprise.
Rikku glanced back at Harry, who shrugged. "That was me," he admitted. "I don't care for Yevon and I like their policies concerning your people even less."
"He is welcome," the Al Bhed said, looking back at Rikku. "But these others could pose a risk."
Rikku bit her lower lip and looked at Harry. "We can't just leave them..."
Harry sighed. "Can all of you swear to never reveal the Al Bhed's secrets? They'll leave you here if you don't." Up with her people, Rikku was translating what was going on, since most Al Bhed didn't bother learning Common.
"I swear," Tidus said.
"As do I," Lulu agreed.
"Kimahri will not betray Al Bhed," the Ronso offered.
"I have no intention of giving them up to the same group that's hunting us," Auron said drily, making the party laugh nervously.
Everyone turned to Wakka who glared. Harry cocked an eyebrow at him. "Are you really so set on dying of dehydration?" he asked.
Wakka sighed. "I swear I won't tell anyone about the Al Bhed," he finally agreed.
"Brilliant!" Harry turned back to where Rikku was finishing translating. "Do they pass muster?"
"They may come," the Al Bhed said grudgingly. "But if they ever betray us, even just one of them, you all die."
Harry chuckled. "I'll keep that in mind." He turned back to the party. "We're good to go. Oh! And if anyone tells Yevon, everyone dies. That would be a horrible way to end the pilgrimage, wouldn't it?" He waggled his eyebrows.
Tidus grabbed Harry's arm and walked him towards a bike. "Stop taunting Wakka."
Harry just chuckled again.
The building they came across was mostly underground, with only a few above ground aspects, and those had been painted the same colour as the sand. The building also looked like it was still in the process of being built, which made Wakka wonder why.
"Because Yevon was making plans to come out here and kill them all off," Harry told him drily, "but I warned the Al Bhed."
"So, wait, does that mean they owe you something?" Wakka demanded.
Harry snorted. "Sure, and I plan to take their entire stock of magazines, because I'm really tired of conjuring sub-par ones."
"Where are you going to put them all?" Rikku asked.
Harry held up the bottomless bag. "In here. Why?"
"Sometimes, I really wonder about your sanity," the girl said.
"I just ignore it," Tidus commented with a grin. "We all know he's mad, why wonder?"
"I'm not talking to you two any more," Harry complained.
There was a party of Al Bhed waiting for them outside the complex, and as soon as Rikku saw them, she grinned and hopped off the sand mobile before it came to a halt, took a moment to regain her balance, then ran forward to a tall bald man, calling, "Father!"
When the party looked at Harry for translation, he chuckled and said, "Her dad," then got down from the bike as it stopped. "Thank you," he told his driver, who nodded, then joined the party in walking over to their welcoming committee.
Rikku had been speaking to her father in rapid-fire Al Bhed, explaining everything that had happened, but when the party came over, she finished up, then turned and smiled at them. "Guys, this is my dad, Cid. Dad, this is the party I've been travelling with. Well, except Yunie."
"Do they have her?" Tidus asked.
"We do," Cid supplied. "But you can't have her back, not if you're planning to let her get herself killed."
"I have no intention of letting her call the Final Aeon," Harry replied coolly. "It won't work."
"Finally, a human with brains," Cid muttered, making Harry and Rikku grin.
"According to Rikku, this is the same man who warned Rin about Yevon," one of their drivers commented.
Cid turned to Harry in surprise. "You're the one who sent the warning?"
Harry inclined his head. "I was."
"You have our thanks!" Cid decided, grinning. "Just yesterday some Guado attacked with fiends, but we'd gotten everything out by then and set it to blow." He laughed loudly. "Sure gave those bastards a shock!"
"I'm glad," Harry replied honestly, then glanced back at the antsy party. "Is it okay if the others get taken down to see Yuna? I've got a couple questions, but I think they'd like to know she's okay."
Cid nodded and called out some orders to a few men behind him. "They'll take you down," he told the party as a few men came forward. Everyone but Rikku, Tidus and Harry followed them, waving.
"Oh! Dad, do we have any gun magazines?" Rikku requested once the others had gone. "Harry's out."
Cid looked surprised. "Eh?"
Harry snickered and pulled out one of his guns, popping out the empty magazine and holding it out to the leader of the Al Bhed. "I like my guns, no matter what Yevon thinks," he explained to Cid's dumbfounded look.
"You save us and use machina, yet follow a summoner on her pilgrimage, declaring that you won't let her call the Final Aeon?" Cid replied taking the magazine and looking it over. "I think we have some like these," he agreed, handing it back to Harry. "Didn't have a use for them."
Harry laughed nervously. "Yeah. That would be because these are the only two guns like it in all Spira."
Cid blinked. "The magazines were in Zanarkand."
Harry coughed. "Uhm, yeah. I lived there."
"No one lives there, kid," Cid replied.
Rikku giggled. "Can I tell him?" she begged the vampire.
Harry groaned and nodded while Tidus laughed.
Rikku grinned at her father, who was looking them over with a frown. "Dad, Harry's almost five thousand years old. He's immortal."
Cid blinked at Harry in disbelief, then started laughing. "Right."
Harry shrugged. "Rikku says you have an airship in dock?"
Cid nodded, still chuckling. "Yeah. The Fahrenheit.
Harry's eyes widened. "Dude, for real?"
"Yes," Cid replied, starting to look a little suspicious.
"What's so great about that specific ship?" Tidus asked.
"It was Yu's flagship," Harry explained. "It was the one I rode on for diplomatic missions. Well..." He grimaced. "It was until Bevelle threatened to shoot it out of the sky if they saw it in their airspace again. After that, I went on a boat, which had no weapons. For some reason, Bevelle seemed to think that was the better option." He snickered. "Didn't keep me from coming back, though, which I think was their intent."
"Didn't they ever try shooting the ship out of the water?" Rikku asked, glancing at Cid, who was staring at the vampire unblinkingly.
Harry shrugged. "Sure. But, for some reason, they always missed."
"Old magic?" Tidus inquired.
Harry chuckled. "You bet. Confused the hell out of them. But they couldn't very well demand we undo whatever we'd done to the ship to keep it from getting hit, since no such magic exists that can do that."
"No wonder Bevelle hated you," Rikku commented with a grin, earning her one in response.
"Oh, they had lots of reasons for hating me," Harry said, "and practically none for liking me."
"You said 'practically none'?" Tidus asked.
Harry grimaced and rubbed the back of his head. "They owed me a favour, of sorts, from before the war. Uhm, one of their submersills found an Old Earth bomb that had a faulty detonation. Since I was the only person with any knowledge of Old Earth, they called me down from Zanarkand to look at it. Only problem was, something they'd done right before I got there fixed it, and I was the only one that realised that the damn thing was counting down to explode. We were close enough to the water that I grabbed it and got it the hell away from Bevelle in the ocean. When it exploded, I was the only person killed." He shrugged. "Hurt like a bitch."
"So you saved their city?" Rikku asked. Both she and Tidus were staring at him, having never heard anything about the event. Behind his daughter, Cid was blinking in confusion.
Harry coughed. "Their most prominent citizens were in that room. Some of the people in the lower parts of the city might have survived, but not anyone in that room. I ended up saving their whole city. Their whole way of living."
"And they kept trying to kill you during the war?" Tidus asked, incredulous.
Harry chuckled. "I brought that up once. The City Master replied, 'We didn't kill you for the first ten years of your being a diplomat, our debt has been repaid'."
"No way! Did they really?" Rikku pleaded. When Harry nodded, she shook her head. "Stuck up pricks."
"I'm pretty sure my response was something along those lines," Harry replied.
Cid coughed. "Okay! Enough story time! Let's get you those magazines and see what you can do with that airship, capiche?"
Harry blinked in surprise a couple of times while Tidus asked, "Ka– what? Was that Al Bhed?"
Harry snickered. "Old Earth term. It means, 'do you understand'. How did the Al Bhed pick it up?"
Cid frowned at him, then shrugged. "Don't know. Just something my old man used to say. Come on! To the weapons lockers!"
Harry shook his head and fell in behind Cid with the two teens. "Well, I'll be damned," he said. "I always did wonder where the Al Bhed came from."
Harry was helping the Al Bhed translate the controls when the rest of the party finally showed up, Al Bhed escort included. Harry and Tidus had been able to get away with just Rikku around, since Harry had already proved his trustworthiness, and Tidus held no apparent ill will towards the people.
"Harry?" Yuna asked.
"Please, a moment?" Harry requested of his working partner, Rikku's brother. When the man nodded, Harry grinned and turned to the party. "Hey! You okay, sweetheart?" he asked, coming over to hug her.
Yuna smiled at him weakly. "Yes," she agreed. "But... Harry, Auron said Yu told you that the Final Aeon wasn't the key. That we should use machina?"
Harry sighed and glanced at the red-clad man. "Mm. Yes. Yu said the aeons were important, but the Final Aeon would never defeat him. He said something else was needed, but he didn't specify. I concluded machina."
"Use the thing which he most hated against him?" Yuna requested. "Wouldn't he have specifically guarded against that?"
Harry nodded. "Indeed. But just aeons won't get through that shell. You'll need something with a bit more punch, which the Bevelle machina of old can do. The machina can punch a hole through, but the bombardment won't fully kill him, because that he would have expected, see? Bevelle would have just attacked, especially in their anger over their destroyed city. But you have aeons, Yuna. You have access to the one thing – probably the only thing – that Yu held stock in. He loved the aeons. Especially..." Harry trailed off and swallowed. "Especially Alexander, the aeon of white magic."
"Why that particular aeon?" Lulu asked.
Harry looked away. "Alex was Yu's brother. He was expected to lead Zanarkand, but he was severely wounded in battle only days before the election. He knew he wouldn't make it, so he requested the ceremony be preformed to make him a fayth. Yu and Yunalesca were the only two summoners who were ever able to wield him."
"Then there is no hope," Yuna murmured, her head drooping.
Harry shook his head. "No, Yuna, wait! Wait..." He settled his hands on her shoulders gently. "To free Yu from pain, I honestly believe Alex would let you wield him. And if he will not..." He trailed off, disgust in his eyes.
"Harry?" Yuna whispered, lightly touching his face.
Harry's eyes hardened. "If Alex won't allow you to wield him, I will."
"You're a summoner?" Rikku demanded, jerking around from where she was working with Tidus at another console.
"Just having the ability to be a summoner, does not mean one will be," Auron said.
"What Sexy Red said," Harry agreed, turning to look at the dead man, who rolled his eyes. Harry grinned weakly. "I...have never agreed with sacrificing people to be fayth. More so, I have never been able to stomach making children fayth, which was common during the end of the war." He turned away from the party and looked back at the console he'd been working on with Brother. "I swore, when the war first started, that I would never become a summoner, never use the dead in battle. But if it's the only way to save my best friend..." He clenched his hands into fists.
Delicate arms encircled his waist and Harry glanced over his shoulder to where Yuna stood, leaning her head against his back, between his swords. "Only if there is no other option," she promised.
Harry closed his eyes and placed his hands over hers. "Thank you."
Yuna nodded into his back.
"What's to say this aeon is even still around?" Wakka asked.
"Cary implied he was," Harry replied, gently disentangling himself from Yuna and turning to face her. "He and another aeon, Odin, will both be somewhere in the ruins of Zanarkand."
"So we're still going there?" Rikku asked. "Even though the Final Aeon won't work?"
Harry smiled grimly. "Yes. I need to speak with my niece, and Cary said she was there. And Yuna should probably send her."
"Who?" Wakka asked.
Yuna's eyes widened with recognition. "Lady Yunalesca?" she breathed.
Harry nodded. "Yunalesca Yevon. Guardian of the Final Aeon."
"She's unsent?" Wakka demanded.
"She never completed her duty," Harry replied grimly. "And, at the end, there was no one to send her."
"We'll do it, then," Yuna said firmly. "We'll continue to Zanarkand and get Alexander and Odin and then we'll send Lady Yunalesca."
"And then?" Auron asked.
Yuna turned to him, fire in her eyes. "Then? Then we defeat Sin."
Tidus and Rikku both cheered, while the older members of the party smiled.
Chapter 9: Regret
After a bit of debate between the Al Bhed and Yuna's party, it was agreed that the technological people would drop the party off at a Calm Lands' Al Bhed rest stop with provisions and – when Harry showed everyone how to use them – a couple of communication radios that had a reasonable range. Harry was confident that they could use the radios to call the airship once they were done in Zanarkand, even though the airship planned to collect the colonists, then return to Bikanel Island.
The only real debate had been about where to set the party down. The guardians had all agreed that being as far away from Bevelle was the wisest course, but Yuna was determined to complete her entire pilgrimage, no matter the danger. Which meant she wanted let down in the Calm Lands if she couldn't have Macalania Woods. It had taken the party three days to agree on a spot, and another two days selling Cid on the idea – the Al Bhed leader was very much against letting his niece and daughter that close to the city that wanted them all dead. In the end, Cid promised to spend a full day in the area around the Calm Lands, in case they needed a quick lift out of trouble.
When they were finally set down in the early morning, the group of eight travellers were quite ready to get on their way again, and set out almost as soon as the airship had taken off.
"I love airships," Harry had commented, "but sometimes you just need to get out and stretch your legs."
"And murder some fiends," Tidus had gleefully added, swinging his sword at a Malboro and chopping off a vine.
"Don't get too cocky," Auron had replied, finishing off the Malboro, only for another one to take its place.
"I'm not getting cocky!" Tidus complained.
Harry rolled his eyes at the two, took out his guns, and set off two shots, immediately killing the plants. When everyone turned to stare at him in surprise, he shrugged and put his guns away. "That's the difference between man-made and magic-made bullets." He grinned rather cockily, much to Auron's irritation and Tidus' amusement, then said, "Shall we keep going?"
"Do they have more of a kick?" Rikku asked, as both she and Tidus had gotten lessons from the vampire with his guns while on the Thunder Plains. Yuna had watched the sessions but, when offered the guns, had shaken her head and suggested that she might try them another time. During the lessons, however, both Tidus and Rikku had been surprised at the recoil of the guns, which Harry never even showed he felt.
Harry shrugged. "Bit more, yeah."
"Like, knock Rikku on her behind again, kick?" Tidus asked.
Harry snickered. "Like, knock you on your bum, kick. These magazines have almost twice the power of the ones I was making."
"Could you make them yourself like that?" Yuna asked, falling back a bit to walk with the other two teens and Harry. "Like, by hand?"
Harry considered the question for a moment, then sighed. "I know the formula, but it's delicate work, and I'm not sure I have the patience for it. Nor do I currently have the facilities to make the magazine. But, assuming I had everything required to make the magazines, and managed to find the patience, then, yes, I could make them myself."
"You mean, you lack patience?" Rikku demanded, having apparently come to the conclusion that Harry had more patience than anyone in the group.
Harry cocked an eyebrow at her. "In case you haven't noticed, my dear, I have about as much patience as you lot," he said, waving a hand at the three teens.
"Sometimes, though, you're just so serious," Rikku explained. "Like Lulu is."
Harry chuckled. "Rikku, really, I'm just like another teenager." He grinned madly. "With the added bonuses of immortality and an endless sex drive."
"Harry!" Lulu called back warningly.
Harry waggled his eyebrows at the three teens, who all laughed, then had to duck a lick of fire. Really, he considered, it was probably a good thing he expected the attacks from Lulu and took them in a playful manner, because, otherwise, they would have issues.
The party made a pit-stop at a cavern Lulu knew of where a fayth had been secreted away. It wasn't a fayth Harry was familiar with, so he'd had no comment for their summoner about the aeon.
After receiving Yojimbo – and making a sizeable hole in their pocketbook – the party continued on to the other side of the gorge at the foot of the mountains. There, they agreed to camp for the night. After letting Cid know they were fine, they set up a watch and set up for bed.
There were no problems during the night, and the party changed into warm clothing they'd gotten from the Al Bhed before starting up the mountain in good spirits, which dwindled when they reached the Ronso camp.
"Summoner Yuna and guardians, leave here at once!" a commanding voice called as they walked into the clear space. Ronso surrounded the party threateningly, and the guardians all pulled out their weapons. "Gagazet is Ronso land, sacred mountain of Yevon. The mountain will not bear footsteps of infidels!" The speaking Ronso was older and looked like he had power.
"Maester Kelk Ronso," Yuna said softly, stepping forward and making the prayer. "My guardians and I come in peace to continue our journey to Zanarkand, so we might defeat Sin."
"You almost kill a maester and claim peace?" Kelk demanded.
"Almost?" Harry hissed, but Lulu shot him a warning look before he could cause a scene.
"We only attacked Maester Seymour because he attempted to murder one of my guardians, and then attacked the rest of us when I refused his hand in marriage," the young summoner said, standing firm against the Ronso tribe. "One of my guardians is a Ronso, Kimahri, and I intend no harm to your people so long as they don't intend harm to us."
"The guardian who was almost killed is traitor to Yevon!" Kelk roared. "He uses forbidden machina!"
Yuna baulked at that accusation and looked back at Harry, unsure how to refute a claim Harry himself would never deny.
Harry shrugged and came to stand next to the girl. "I use forbidden machina," he agreed blandly, rolling his eyes when the tribe roared out their fury at the perceived sin. "I also protect my summoner," he continued, voice somehow carrying over the noise. "Is it not in the Guardian's Code that a guardian should protect his or her summoner with any means necessary?"
"You carry swords," another Ronso pointed out. "What need have you for machina?"
Harry shrugged. "I like them." He waited until the shouting died down again before commenting, "I'm not the first guardian to use machina in the practise of guarding my summoner."
"Lies!" the Ronso from before roared.
But Kelk was frowning and motioned for silence. "And which guardian might that have been?"
Harry smiled. "Zaon Bevelle, guardian of Yunalesca Yevon."
There was silence for a long moment as those in the clearing allowed that statement to sink in. Then, as they realised what it meant, the Ronso screamed, "Blasphemy!"
"We can't take you anywhere," Lulu complained.
Harry chuckled and pulled a sphere out of his bag, which he then flicked on.
"You dare to think you can protect a summoner with a piece of metal?" Yu Yevon demanded of Zaon, while Yunalesca stood behind her lover, looking torn.
"Isn't that what your own foot soldiers do?" Zaon asked. "With their swords and their spears?"
"That's different!" Yu roared.
"Isn't it? My metal simply has a longer range." The boy held out his gun, showing the older summoner, while Yunalesca gripped his shoulder, half afraid he'd shoot her father. "I can kill more enemies coming at Yunalesca then one of your foot soldiers can."
"You would kill your own people?" Yu laughed. "Boy, don't joke with me!"
"I would kill anyone to protect your daughter, Lord Yevon. Even my own father."
Harry quickly switched the sphere off before the Ronso could see his own addition to the argument. While it might help for the Ronso to know that their beloved Yevon himself had a guardian – if one could have called Harry that – that used machina, Harry wasn't quite ready for another people to know what he was. "There is your proof," he said simply, putting the sphere back in his bag.
Kelk blinked at the man in the following silence. "Where did you get that?"
Harry shrugged. "One of my ancestors fought in the Machina Wars for Zanarkand," he said, using the old story. "My family kept many of his things, including a number of spheres. He was a friend of Lady Yunalesca's father. The guns – the machina – I carry once belonged to him. They are as much a part of who I am, as this mountain is for your people."
Kelk sighed and struck his staff against the rock beneath him, though it was not necessary as everyone was silent and waiting for his decision. "This guardian cites the truths of legends, calling on ancestors for his right to use the forbidden. As Maester of Yevon, I declare him in the right, as he does only his duty as stated in Guardian's Code." He eyed Harry for a moment, and the vampire met his stare calmly. "Sacred Gagazet welcomes you, guardian. And you, Lady Summoner. Your party may pass."
"You have our thanks, Maester Kelk," Yuna replied, complete with prayer.
Kelk nodded and he and the other Ronso moved from their way to let the party by. "Luck, Lady Yuna."
Just before they got out of the Ronso camp, two Ronso challenged Kimahri's right to continue through the mountain. The guardian disposed of the two Ronso warriors without trouble and the party finally continued up the mountain, followed by a rendition of the Hymn of the Fayth and a promise of a statue for Yuna with a horn.
Their travel to the peak took almost three days, with them sleeping together in a large group to keep from freezing during the cold nights. Lulu would gleefully cast a Thunder spell at Harry any time the vampire started coming on to someone in the party, keeping everyone entertained during the cold trip and keeping Harry from needing blood. Harry was actually grateful to the woman, much to Tidus' surprise, because the vampire had once had sex in the freezing cold, and hadn't looked forward to even just jerking off. Anyway, the blond guardian needed all the warmth his blood gave him.
Just before the peak, however, they ran into an old, slightly dead, enemy.
"Ah, the undying sinner and the son of Jecht," Seymour said, having caught Harry and Tidus behind the rest of the party.
Harry quickly shot off a streaking sliver form up the path, turning to face the half-Guado with a smile. "One might say the same of you," he commented. "I was quite surprised to hear that you'd only almost died. See, there's only been one person to have ever survived that particular spell, and you're looking at him. But, don't worry, I'm sure it works on unsent, just as well as it does on the living."
"I don't think I'll be giving you the chance to try it out," Seymour replied, then shot out with a special attack, which hit Harry hard.
The vampire hit back with his guns, which did a lot more damage than Seymour had done, and Tidus jumped in with a Thundara spell.
Then, the rest of the party was with them, adding their own spells and physical attacks to the fight. Although Harry had been pretty sure he and Tidus could have handled the unsent without the extra help, it was nice to have Yuna there to cast a healing spell on him and give both himself and Tidus a moment to step back.
All things considered, with Harry adding a couple of overpowered shots to the dead man, Seymour wasn't that hard to kill. When he fell down the side of the mountain, the party all traded healing spells and potions.
"What was that spell you used to call us?" Lulu asked Harry. "It looked like no animal I've ever seen before, and when it reached us, it spoke in your voice."
Harry laughed weakly. "It's called a Patronus. Old Earth magic. They were originally created to ward off a horrible creature that would suck all your happiness out of you, but my old professor found a way to use it to send messages."
"There were creatures that could take away your happiness?" Yuna whispered.
Harry nodded grimly. "Machina and Sin may have done some horrible things to this world, but the people of Old Earth created some horrors that I doubt Spira will ever top." He sighed. "They were called dementors, and my people – magical people – used them to guard their prisons. It was, perhaps, the worst punishment I have ever heard of, and I've heard of some pretty bad punishments."
Already feeling down at the thought of dementors, the party walked around the edge of the ridge to find a sight that had them all stopping to stare.
Harry closed his eyes at the walls of bodies that met him. "The dream," he whispered.
"This... These are the fayth Yu is summoning for the dream of Zanarkand?" Yuna asked.
Harry nodded, feeling sick. "All those people..." He stepped up to the nearest wall and picked out a few people he'd known. "Why, my friends? Why?"
"Harry?" Tidus asked, resting a hand on the vampire's shoulder. The vampire, as luck would have it, chose that exact same moment to touch the wall, and the two crumpled to the ground, leaving their friends terrified.
"Eh?" Tidus said, opening his eyes and seeing Zanarkand.
Next to him, Harry stared at the city, feeling homesick. "Oh," he whispered, "Zanarkand..."
"Where are we?" Tidus asked, looking around. Before Harry could form an actual answer, Tidus' eyes lit up and he ran forwards saying, "This is my house!"
Harry trailed behind the teen, trying to take in everything about his lost home.
Inside the house, a small figure awaited them. "Hey! We've met before, haven't we?" Tidus asked the boy.
"James," Harry murmured.
"Hello, Grandpa," the fayth replied.
"How...?" Tidus looked between the two family members, then realization dawned. "Are we inside the dream?"
"Yes," James agreed, looking back at Tidus.
Tidus frowned. "So, wait. If this is the dream, why does my house look just like it did back home?"
Harry let out a sigh and wrapped his arms around himself. "Tidus, what do you remember of the war between Zanarkand and Bevelle?"
Tidus blinked and considered the question, looking between the two other males. "I...don't..." He trailed off, the truth finally clicking in to place in his mind.
"You're a part of the dream," James offered simply.
"You knew!" Tidus snapped, turning to glare at Harry. "You knew!"
Harry looked away.
"You bastard!" Tidus shouted, running over to beat his fists against Harry's chest. He wanted to punish this man that he'd come to depend on, that he'd trusted. Harry, who had kept things from him. Harry, who he'd lo–
"Grandpa didn't want to!" James cried, running forward and grabbing one of Tidus' arms. "He didn't want to keep it from you! But..." James looked away as Tidus turned to the child. "But it would hurt you. And we – the fayth – wanted to tell you ourselves. I asked him to keep it from you."
Tidus looked between the two, not sure how he felt, really. "You lied for him?" he finally asked Harry.
The vampire grunted without comment, but James snapped, "He lied for you! To protect you!"
"I don't feel protected!"
"James," Harry said firmly as the boy opened his mouth to speak again. Harry looked up at Tidus, eyes empty of all emotion. "Yes, I kept the truth from you. I will not lie to you about that. I did it for a number of reasons, some selfish, others not so much."
Tidus swallowed. "I can't trust you any more," he whispered.
Harry flinched, then inclined his head. "No, I don't suppose you can."
Tidus looked at James. "Why tell me now?"
"The fayth's dream is connected to Sin," the boy said quietly. "Once Sin is gone, the dream will end."
"I'll be gone," Tidus realised.
Harry spun and stalked out of the house.
"What's his problem?!" Tidus snapped. "It's not like he knows what it's like to die!"
James shrugged. "But he knows what it's like to lose the people he cares for."
Tidus blinked in shock and looked towards the door, where Harry had gone. "How can he care about a dream?" he whispered.
James sighed. "I cannot explain Grandpa, he is far too complicated to understand."
Suddenly, the door to the house burst open and Harry looked between the two younger males in the dream. "James! Cary said that when Tidus came in contact with Sin, he became something more than a dream, right? It's why I can feed from him."
Tidus felt his mouth fall open as the fayth nodded. "Yes. But we don't know what changed."
"I might not fade?" Tidus asked.
James shook his head. "You'll fade."
Harry waved his hands around, catching their attention again. "Tidus is sustained by the combined forces of Sin and the fayth, right?" James nodded. "What if there was a third force? A third factor?"
"What sort of third factor?" Tidus demanded.
"Please, Grandpa, I cannot follow your thoughts," James requested.
Harry groaned and tugged at his hair, messing up his braid. "A vampire," he said, and both Tidus and James' eyes widened, "is somewhere between life and death. Neither here nor there. Unsent, almost, I suppose. But a vampire is magic – the very blood is magic. Would it be possible, do you think, for Tidus to remain as a vampire?"
James blinked and considered the question. After a while, he shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "You know the most about vampires, and even then, you're not your average vampire. You might be able to keep him from fading when we sleep. I don't know."
"But it's worth trying, right?" Tidus asked.
James frowned at Harry, realising something. "Grandpa, you swore you'd never turn anyone. Not even if it would save their life."
Harry closed his eyes. "Yes," he agreed tightly.
Tidus realised, rather painfully, that Harry was giving up a lot of his promises to himself to help save Spira. He'd agreed to become a summoner if that one fayth wouldn't accept Yuna, and now he was suggesting breaking another promise to himself to maybe keep Tidus alive. "Harry..." Tidus tried, but he couldn't bring himself to tell the vampire that he didn't need to turn Tidus. That Tidus was okay with fading. Because Tidus didn't want to die.
Harry smiled at him, eyes filled with the knowledge of Tidus' plight. "It might not work," he warned.
"You don't–" Tidus managed, but it felt like he was pulling teeth.
"But I will," the vampire whispered. "Because I'm selfish, and you're selfish. And because, despite my own personal hatred of this curse, it'll give you a chance. And even if you hate me, once you've lived this half-life, at least I'll know you were able to. And, in the long run, that's all that matters."
Then Harry faded away, and Tidus jerked forward, trying to grab the vampire before he was gone.
"I'm sorry," James whispered, head lowered.
Tidus looked down at the small, lost little boy. The boy who had died for the chance to see his grandfather again. And Tidus smiled. "Thanks."
James looked up at him, and Tidus was struck by how much the boy looked like his grandfather with those same haunted green eyes. "Don't hurt him!"
Tidus blinked and nodded. "I'll try," he promised.
James nodded, and the boathouse faded away.
When Tidus woke, he felt a fur-clad body behind him, and saw the faces of the party above him. "Hi?" he said, then turned to look at the vampire who was holding him and was avoiding his eyes.
"What happened?" Yuna demanded.
Tidus blinked at her. "We sort of dreamed."
"Why?" Rikku asked.
"The fayth wanted to talk to me," Harry said, drawing away from Tidus to stand. "Tidus just had the unfortunate luck to touch my shoulder as they called me into their world."
Tidus let Rikku help him stand, trying and failing again to meet Harry's eyes.
"We should continue," Harry said almost cheerfully. "Zanarkand is on the other side of these caves!"
"I'd almost thought you didn't know these mountains," Lulu commented. They'd let Harry pick the path once or twice and he'd invariably gone the wrong way.
Harry huffed. "I haven't been in these mountains for one thousand years, lovely Lulu. The paths I remember have been eroded away."
"Except this cave?" Yuna asked as they started out again.
"If this cave has changed, I'll shoot my foot."
Harry grinned at the summoner.
Tidus fell back with Auron and, when the rest of the party was far enough ahead, said, "You knew."
Auron glanced over at the teen. "About your Zanarkand?"
Tidus nodded. "And how did you get there? Did you lay up here for ten years?"
Auron looked back at the front of the party, where Harry was talking animatedly with Yuna and Rikku. "Sin brought me. Jecht wanted me to watch out for you."
Tidus sighed angrily. "Sin couldn't take your real body into the dream." He paused. "Could he?"
Auron shook his head. "I am unsent."
Tidus blinked, then closed his eyes. "How many more secrets are you people keeping from me? First my old man's Sin, then Yuna's gotta die to defeat Sin. Harry's a vampire and you're dead. And now I'm a dream?"
"I have no more secrets," Auron replied quietly. "And I cannot speak for the others, but I do believe that's the last one you will find out."
Tidus snorted. "Sure. And maybe Harry will talk to me again."
Auron watched the teen for a long second, then looked up at where Harry was instructing them through the trials. The vampire glanced back at the two men standing so apart from the rest of the party, pain flickering briefly in his eyes. "I believe he would like to. Perhaps he doesn't have the words. Perhaps he thinks you need time. Or, perhaps, he is simply afraid of what you might say."
Tidus glanced up at where Harry was leading Wakka and Rikku into the water for the first trial. Harry glanced back just before jumping into the water and their eyes met for a second. "I think it's a bit of all three," Tidus replied.
After fighting the Sanctuary Keeper, they walked around the mountain, to where Zanarkand spread out beneath them in ruins.
"Oh, Merlin..." Harry whispered, staring down at his home.
"I'm sorry," Yuna whispered, taking his left hand in hers and looking up at him with eyes brimming with tears.
Harry glanced over as another hand grabbed his right, and Tidus looked at him silently before turning back to the ruined city. Harry squeezed the boy's hand before looking back down himself and taking a deep breath. "We should keep going," he said.
"You're sure?" Yuna asked, looking at Harry, then Tidus.
"There's a spot at the bottom of this path we can camp at," Auron offered.
Harry nodded. "We could all use the rest. And there we can figure out where the temples of Alexander and Odin are. I mean, I remember where, but I don't know the ruins like I knew the city."
"It'll be an adventure, eh?" Rikku said in as cheerful a voice as possible.
"Just, this time, no crumbling floors, okay?" Yuna pleaded.
Harry chuckled humourlessly. "There aren't any sink holes quite that impressive in Zanarkand, I'm afraid."
"No trailing vines, either," Tidus commented mutely, looking out over the city with no green.
"Mmm... No, 'fraid not."
"Come on," Auron ordered, then started down the path.
Lulu and Wakka fell in behind the dead guardian. Rikku, gently took Yuna's arm and led her down behind them, Kimahri following.
"I'm sorry," Tidus murmured, still looking out over the city.
"For what?" Harry asked in a whisper.
"The way I reacted. I–"
"You had every right to react that way," Harry said, turning to look at the teen. "Look. When I was a little younger than you, my mentor told me I was destined to save the world, shortly after my guardian died. And, well, I sort of reacted just like that. Except, the way magic was back then, well... My magic sort of destroyed his office. So... I don't–"
"Shut up," Tidus said firmly, then pulled Harry forward and kissed him, trying to put his entire apology and how much he cared for this vampire who had taught him so much in such a short time into it.
Harry closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around the teen, kissing back.
When they pulled apart, they took a moment for Tidus to catch his breath, then started down the path after the party, holding hands.
"So, what does becoming a vampire entail?" Tidus asked.
Harry glanced at him. "I basically drink you dry, then feed you some blood. Sometimes there's sex involved."
"Sometimes?" Tidus repeated.
Harry shrugged. "The fucker who turned me wasn't interested in the pleasure, only the pain it would cause. Other vampires usually like to add sex in to make it better for the person being turned."
Tidus forced Harry to stop and looked up at him. "You were turned against your will?"
Harry shrugged. "I told you I was destined to save the world?" Tidus nodded, frowning. "I did it. I killed the bastard who killed my parents. And I was famous. I was all set to marry the sister of my best friend after I helped to clean up the leftover mess. But, not everyone was happy with the outcome."
"Vampires, werewolves..." Harry shrugged again. "My people considered them half-humans, and they were shunned. One of those vampires decided to see how my people liked it if their saviour was a half-human too. So he and a bunch of his friends jumped me, held me down, and turned me." Harry sighed and looked away. "I was thrown out of England in shame for what I'd allowed to happen. Some of my friends said they'd come with me, but I told them no. Ran away." Harry shook his head. "Thirty years later, before I'd ever gotten the balls to go back, World War Three started, and England was one of the first places hit. I never saw my friends again."
"Harry, I'm..." Tidus breathed, unable to find the words.
Harry smiled bitterly. "It was almost better that way," he said. "I didn't have to watch them die of old age, which is sometimes worse. And couldn't turn them. I couldn't make them live like this." He met Tidus' eyes desperately. "I don't want to make you live like this. But I don't..." He closed his eyes.
Tidus hugged the vampire, beginning to understand the pain that had kept Harry from offering to turn people, even if it meant saving their life. "I don't want to fade away," Tidus whispered. "And..." Tidus swallowed and looked up into pained green eyes. "Eternity doesn't sound so bad. Not if it means spending it with you."
Harry choked and pulled Tidus against him, half mad with desperation, half mad with something he thought might resemble love. "Dammit. You stupid, bloody..."
Tidus smiled at him. "Too corny?"
Harry laughed then, and shook his head. "Teenager!"
Tidus chuckled and took Harry's hand again, lightly tugging him to continue down the path. "We should join back up with the others."
Harry shook his head, but let the boy lead him down.
Just before they reached the party, Harry said, "Think on it, before you decide. I won't... I can't force this on you."
Tidus sighed. "You're not forcing me, Harry."
"It's..." Harry grunted and gestured wildly with his free hand, as the other was trapped in Tidus' grip. "When your only other choice is to cease to exist, it feels like it."
Tidus rolled his eyes. "If anyone's forcing me, it's the fayth, and from what I can see, they're outside your control. So you're not forcing me, you stupid vampire. You're giving me a choice. If you weren't here, I wouldn't have that choice. See?" Tidus glanced up at him.
Harry rubbed the back of his head. "Oh, fine."
"Are you two okay?" Yuna asked, running over to them. "You took so long, but Sir Auron said to give you time."
"We had some things to talk about," Harry said softly. "Something the fayth on the mountain said. It... upset me. Tidus..."
Tidus shrugged and grinned. "I told him he was being stupid."
Harry snorted. "Something like that."
Yuna looked between them, sadness in her eyes. "Okay," she said, turning to walk back to the rest of the party.
"Yuna?" Harry asked. When the girl looked back at him, he disentangled his hand from Tidus and rested both hands on her shoulders. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
Yuna smiled painfully. "I wasn't joking..." She shook her head.
"Yuna really liked you," Tidus translated. He and the girl had spoken about it one night while they stayed with the Al Bhed. "Like I do."
Understanding dawned and Harry closed his eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Yuna just nodded. "I never had a chance, anyway. Not after Lulu and Kimahri warned you off. I... sort of knew that."
Harry nodded and swallowed. "It's not that I don't care for you, but you just..." He shook his head angrily. "Dammit!" Then he pulled the girl into and hug, tightening his arms around her and wishing he hadn't hurt her, wishing he could take it all away.
"It's okay," Yuna said, gently pulling away and still smiling. "I'm happy, though. Because you are. Right?" She looked over at Tidus, including him in her question. The other teen nodded, and she looked back at Harry, who wore such a broken look on his face she laughed and lightly smacked his cheek. "Stop that."
"I do love you," Harry said, and both teen's breaths caught. "But..." Harry shook his head and grimaced. "Five thousand years and I still can't find the right words!"
Yuna laughed weakly while Tidus chuckled. "It's okay," the girl said.
Harry shook his head. "You became family," he said, waving his hands around a bit. "Everyone became family. And that's important, because I like having a family. And you... Yuna, sweetheart, you became like a daughter to me. Or a niece. Like Yunalesca was. And after finding out she was dead..." He sighed. "You're important, okay. And I love you, but not... not romantically."
Yuna nodded, tears in her eyes. "Okay."
Rikku poked her head over Yuna's shoulder and demanded, "Yeah? If Yunie's your daughter, what am I?"
"The thorn in my side," Harry deadpanned, and all four of them laughed, the moment broken.
"Hey, I wonder what Bevelle would say if you tried adopting Yuna," Tidus said, waggling his eyebrows in the same way Harry always did.
"That's really creepy," Harry replied.
"The eyebrows, or Bevelle's reaction?" Rikku asked.
"Yes," Harry said, cocking an eyebrow at the girl. Rikku snickered.
Yuna took Harry's hand as they all started back towards where the rest of the party was watching them, concerned, but content to let them handle it themselves. "I think," the girl decided quietly, "that I'm okay. With that." She glanced up at Harry and the vampire smiled sadly. "I'm okay with being family."
Harry nodded and leaned over to kiss her cheek. "I'm sorry."
Yuna poked him in the side. "Stop that."
"Apologising!" Yuna poked him again. "You always apologise!"
"Bad habit from my childhood," Harry admitted. "Drove my best friends bonkers."
"Yu?" Tidus asked.
Harry shrugged. "Yu. Ron and Hermione, my friends from school. Debbie and Lee, friends from Old Earth..."
"So, really, it's just something that's always driven everyone crazy," Rikku suggested.
Harry chuckled. "Yes, I'm afraid so."
Chapter 10: Fred
There's such an odd mix of attempted humour – you'll have to tell me if any of it succeeded – and angst in this chapter.
Also, a lemon. SEX!!
Yeah, okay. Done. XD
"The upper-class residences were here, on the east side of town," Harry said, pointing at his map of Spira. "Yu's home was, oh, probably about here. Alex's crystal was kept there, since we all knew he wouldn't be letting anyone else use him."
"And Odin?" Lulu asked.
Harry pointed to an island on the south-east edge of the city. "Odin was known as the Keeper of Death. Although we had summoners to send the dead, the people of Zanarkand took up my people's habit of creating a memorial to the dead; a graveyard. It was on that island."
"And where did you live, Harry?" Yuna asked.
Harry considered the map and, after a moment, pointed his finger at a spit of land all the way to the north. "Originally," he said, "I lived up there, in the Old North Quarter. After Yu made me a diplomat, I moved to his apartment." He chuckled and leaned back. "Yu was of the belief that someone as old as I should have lived in the Lords' apartments the entire time, but I'd never cared to be there. I still hadn't cared to when he made me a Lord, but he talked me in to moving in with him, to help care for Yunalesca when she was still a small girl."
"What about you, Tidus?" Yuna asked, looking to the blond boy.
Tidus blinked in surprise, then looked down at the map. "Uhm, I don't know that I've ever seen a map of Zanarkand before," he said quietly. "I'm... not sure..."
Yuna bit her bottom lip, but before she could say anything more, Auron leaned over and pointed to a spot near the upper-class quarter. "The houseboat was about here. From what Jecht told me once, you originally lived on the west side of the city, but after he got signed by the Abes, he moved."
Tidus nodded, still looking at the map. "Thanks, Auron," he said, tracing a path along a road that no longer existed. He stopped at a small dip in the northern spit Harry said he'd lived in, then turned up to stare at the vampire. "You lived next to the blitzball stadium!"
Harry chuckled. "Yup. Never bought seats, though, because I could see the game from the top of my apartment building. I and my neighbours would always sit on top of the building when there was a game. Everyone would bring something for a picnic and we'd enjoy a night watching the game. Couldn't always see the action, but at least we didn't have to empty our pockets to watch."
"Then you might have seen Tidus playing!" Yuna exclaimed.
But Harry shook his head. "I stopped going to games after I moved in with Yu. I'm pretty sure Tidus was after that move."
"Yu Yevon never went to the games?" Wakka asked, eyes wide with horror at the thought.
Harry laughed. "Are you kidding? Yu hated blitzball. Thought it was a waste of time. But he understood that the people needed something to keep their minds off the war, so he never made his opinion public. He also, however, always had something else to do when there was a game."
"How can you not like blitzball?" Wakka asked.
Harry shrugged. "Don't ask me."
"So you like it?" Tidus asked.
"I am... amused by it," Harry allowed carefully. "But my heart still belongs to a sport my people played, I'm afraid. Blitzball just never quite caught my attention like quidditch did."
"Quidditch?" Tidus asked, trying the word out on his tongue.
"Played in the air, on broomsticks," Harry said, nodding.
"You never tried introducing it to Spira?" Yuna asked.
Harry shrugged. "I never learned how to enchant a broom, and that magic is lost, now. Never learned to enchant the balls, either."
Auron cleared his throat. "Perhaps it's time for everyone to sleep? We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow, between getting those aeons and going to Yunalesca."
Harry nodded and stood. "Good point, although I seriously suggest breaking things up into two days."
"Are you going to scout out a safe path tonight?" Lulu asked, correctly guessing the vampire's reason for not putting out his sleeping bag for the night.
Harry nodded again. "I'll leave markers of some sort to show a safe path to Odin. If I'm not back by the time everyone's up in the morning, shoot a spell into the sky and follow my markers. I'll meet you before you get to the island. Okay?" He looked around and received nods from everyone, though the three teens all looked worried. Harry chuckled and walked over to them. "I'll be fine," he said, leaning down to kiss Yuna and Rikku's foreheads. Then he stole a brief kiss from Tidus and, waving, disappeared into the dark ruins.
"Harry's a big boy," Lulu told the teens, rising to go to her bedroll. "He's more than capable of taking care of himself."
The teens traded worried looks, then rose to follow the others to bed, leaving Auron to take the first watch.
Harry had managed to get to the graveyard without too much trouble, though he was left wondering about how they were going to get Yuna to the island, since the bridge was completely destroyed. He eventually decided to figure it out later and swam over to the island. He made his way to the small shrine where Odin's crystal sat – one of the few without a Trial, as Odin had been visited by anyone who had lost a loved one – and bowed to it. "Odin."
The knight's ghost appeared above the crystal and eyed Harry grimly. "Lord Harry. We've been expecting you."
Harry blinked. "Alex as well?"
Odin inclined his head. "The summoner is not with you."
Harry shook his head. "No. They're resting at the edge of the Gagazet Path. I'll bring them tomorrow."
Odin inclined his head again. "I will be here," he promised.
Harry chuckled. "I should think so." He turned and left the shrine as the fayth's ghost faded, turning his sights to the building he'd once lived in.
Finding a path to the East Block was no mean feat, Harry realised after three hours of picking his way through ruins. He, himself, probably could have made it to his ruined home in under an hour, but when he was trying to find a safe path for his human companions, the journey was much harder. He would often find what appeared to be a safe path, only to come across a block after ten minutes of walking and then having to back-track.
Eventually, Harry made it safely. Above him rose the Lords' homes, looking less like ruins than the rest of the city. Harry managed to find his way through the twisting streets which were clear of rubble without getting lost, as he'd often done when he'd first moved in with Yu. At the door to the building Yu had owned, Harry realised he had a problem.
"Please present identification."
Harry kicked the wall under the security box next to the door. "Bloody hell, you damn piece of machina! Zanarkand is in ruins, it's been one thousand years since someone lived in this house, and you want my identification!"
"Please present identification."
Harry knocked his head lightly against the door, then shouted and jerked back when it shocked him. Rubbing at his forehead, Harry considered the machina. "Id, id... What was it Yu said I could use if I forgot my card again?"
"Please present identification."
Harry briefly considered blasting the device with Old Earth magic, but a memory of the last time he'd tried that stopped him. He didn't much feel like flying over the surrounding houses again and breaking his neck. It hadn't been fun the first time, when he knew someone would find him. It would be even less fun when he wasn't sure the others would even think to check and see where he'd gotten to.
"Please present identification."
Harry took six paces backwards, out of the machina's range, then set to thinking again. "Not blood," he murmured. "It changes too often. And voiceprints are too easy to fake. Uhm... Retinal scan?" Harry scratched the back of his head. "Mmm... Nope. Don't have the technology."
He heard a distant burst and looked over his shoulder to see a streak of lightning light up the sky where the party had been. "Well, bugger." He glanced back at the door, disgusted, then turned and made his way to the path he'd created for his companions to follow from the graveyard.
"I don't suppose you remember how to open the door locks?" Harry asked Tidus when he fell in beside the boy.
"Fuck! Harry, don't just–"
"Appear like that?" Harry suggested drily when the teen couldn't find the words he wanted.
Harry chuckled and waved at where the rest of the party ahead of the three teens and Harry had stopped to look back at them. "Hi! You're going the right way!"
"Have you slept yet?" Yuna asked, leaning around Tidus.
Harry shrugged. "Nope!" Then he looked at Tidus again. "Door locks?"
Tidus blinked. "Identification card," he replied.
Harry sighed. "I don't have one any more. There was another way, but I forgot what it was."
Tidus blinked again and frowned thoughtfully.
"You can't get into your own house?" Rikku asked, looking far too pleased as far as the resident vampire was concerned.
"No," he said grumpily. "I can't."
"We always had an emergency password. Typed it in on the keypad," Tidus said at last.
Harry sighed. "You had one of the older models." He rubbed at his eyes. "I know you could use blood, but mine changed depending on who I last drank from, so there was no point in putting me on the record. It wasn't a voiceprint, and it wasn't a retinal scan."
"A what?" Rikku asked.
"Scan of your eyeball," Harry replied, waving his hand and frowning. "Fuck. What am I missing?"
"Fingerprint?" Yuna suggested.
Harry blinked at the girl in surprise. "Brilliant! How'd you know?"
Yuna pointed at a house they were passing, which had an open fingerpad reader.
Harry sighed. "Bloody hell. I've just been outsmarted by a technologically inferior being."
Yuna leaned around Tidus and smacked the vampire.
Harry winked at her. "I mean that in the best way possible, of course."
"I don't think I'm talking to you again today," Yuna replied, sticking her nose up in the air.
Harry chuckled and shook his head. "Yeah, yeah."
They got Odin with no trouble, then started out on the path Harry had marked to lead them to Alexander. Everyone was a bit awed when Harry led them through the winding streets around the Lords' homes, especially Tidus, who admitted to having gotten lost in them once as a child. Harry then admitted that it had taken him three years to know his way around the streets without fault, which made everyone laugh.
"Please present identification," the door security asked when they reached Yu's house.
"Forbidden machina!" Wakka declared.
"Not forbidden, just irritating," Harry replied drily, then looked down at the machina. "Fingerprint."
The front panel opened and a pad appeared, which Harry pressed his right index finger to. "Scanning," the machine said, "Scanning." After a moment, it let out a tinkle and said, "Lord Harry James Potter, High Diplomat of Zanarkand under the rule of Lord Yu Yevon the Just, welcome home."
The door clicked open while the party chuckled about Harry's imitation of the machina's ramble. When the party moved forward, Harry held up his hand and said, "Lord Harry requests the admittance of seven guests."
"Lord Harry's seven guests are admitted," the machina said.
Harry waved them forward and into the house. "Sorry. Entering without permission would get you fried."
"See!" Wakka said. "That's why it's forbidden!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "No, Wakka, it was made to keep assassins or would be robbers from coming in the Lords' homes and causing trouble."
Wakka just frowned at him.
"This place is magnificent!" Yuna declared, looking around the house in awe.
Harry looked over the house with a sad smile. "Yes," he agreed, "I suppose it is. Despite the dust."
"Where's this fayth?" Auron asked.
"Alex is downstairs," Harry said, motioning for them to follow him through the house. "I would very much suggest everyone else wait outside his room while Yuna and I go in. I don't want to crowd him, especially since he might be difficult."
"Understood," Kimahri answered for the group.
"Could we... rest here for tonight?" Rikku asked. "Is there room for all of us?"
Harry nodded. "This house has room for a party twice our size." He glanced at Auron. "I very much approve of spending the night here. We're not really in a rush right now, anyway."
Auron nodded, looking over the members of the party, most of whom looked tired from climbing through the ruins all day. "Agreed."
Harry nodded again. "We'll get rooms sorted out later, then. For now..." He stopped in from of a dark door. "This is Alex's room," he announced, then, waving for Yuna to follow him, opened the door and walked in.
Alex was already waiting for them when they looked at his crystal. "You are the Lady Summoner my fellows have spoken of," the ghost said quietly.
Yuna inclined her head. "I am."
Alex glanced behind the girl, to where Harry leaned against the door out into the hall. "Harry. It's good to see you again."
Harry swallowed. "Hello, Alex."
Alex smiled faintly, then looked back at Yuna, who had moved closer and knelt in front of his crystal. "Tell me, summoner who shares my niece's name, what will you do with the fayth? Why do you collect us?"
Yuna nibbled her bottom lip briefly, then said, "I want to destroy Sin. I want to free my people from its wrath, and your brother from his suffering. I want to have a world free of fear and death."
"It is humanity's way to cause the suffering of others," Alex said. "Knowing that, do you still think you will be freeing Spira?"
Yuna nodded, determined. "It may not last, but I will do anything to give my people peace. To free them from the daily fear of attack. That is why I became a summoner."
"Summoners, like fayth, are some of the most selfless people I have ever known," Alex commented, looking over at Harry. "Don't you think so, Harry?"
Harry just shrugged in response.
Alex glanced back at Yuna. "Very well, Summoner Yuna, I will grant you my strength."
"Thank you," Yuna whispered.
Alex nodded and soared into Yuna.
Harry stepped forward to help the summoner to her feet. "Let's find beds," he said.
Yuna glanced up at him. "You too," she ordered.
Harry shook his head. "I need to find a safe way to the stadium, where Auron says Yunalesca is."
"Harry, you need sleep!" Yuna replied as they walked out into the hallway.
"I second that," Lulu added.
Harry frowned at the two women. "If I don't find us a path–"
"Then we will simply find it ourselves and maybe camp out another day," Lulu interrupted. "As you yourself said, we are not in a rush right now. We can take an extra day."
"Harry..." Yuna whispered, looking up at him pleadingly.
Harry looked at the teen at his arm, then at Lulu and, finally, at where Tidus and Rikku stood, both looking worried. He sighed and rubbed at his eyes. "Fine," he grumbled. "Rooms are upstairs. Come on..."
Harry led them up to a hallway of cream doors. He pointed out Yu's, Yunalesca's and his rooms, then let them all pick out where they wanted to sleep. Harry was unsurprised when Yuna decided to stay in Yunalesca's room, and almost amused when Tidus picked Harry's old room. After shooting cleaning charms into each room, he let Tidus drag him into his old room, which was done in soft shades of red.
"Why red?" Tidus asked, closing and locking the door.
Harry shrugged. "I like the colour red."
Tidus rose an eyebrow at him. "You never wear it."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I said I like it, not that it looks good on me."
Tidus grinned. "Okay."
Harry sighed and fell back onto the king size bed. "Mmm... Little musty, but otherwise, it's very much like I'm home." He closed his eyes. "What's left of it."
"At least you have something left," Tidus remarked bitterly, sitting on the bed next to Harry.
"Zanarkand was your home too," Harry replied drily. "Dream or no, that city was built almost entirely off of this one, just without the war that this city suffered. Perhaps, in a perfect world, you would have lived in this city, if it had never been destroyed. Who's to say?"
"But, I have nothing but memories of my home! You've got some ruins and some spheres, but I have nothing."
Harry jerked up into a sitting position, eyes dark. "Memories are the most important parts of our home," he hissed. "All I have of my home, my original home, are memories. At least your memories are happy. Mine are overshadowed by a war and a public that couldn't decide if they liked me or hated me. My home may not have been a dream, Tidus, but as far as the people of this world are considered, it may well have been!"
Tidus looked away and they were both silent until he said, "I'm sorry."
Harry fell back on the bed again. "Me too."
"We're both tired," Tidus said, falling back onto the bed next to the vampire. "We should sleep."
"You haven't had any dinner," Harry commented.
Tidus shrugged. "I'm not that hungry."
"Well I am," Harry said, pushing himself up and off the bed. They'd stopped for a lunch break after Yuna got Odin, but that had been a long time ago, and Harry hadn't had any breakfast. He was also running low on blood and leery of asking Tidus for a feeding. Especially since the teen was willing to become a vampire.
Tidus sighed and got off the bed himself. "Oh, fine. Think there's any food in this house?"
Harry cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at the teen. "No one's been here for one thousand years, remember? I don't know that I can even promise a working stove." He made his way out of the room, Tidus following, and down to the main floor, where they could hear Auron, Lulu and Yuna talking.
"Hey!" Tidus said, poking his head in. "Anything to eat?"
"We were just wondering if anyone else was going to come down," Auron commented.
Harry walked in behind the blond and sniffed the air, then glanced at Auron. "You got the stove working?"
Auron shrugged. "It's old, not broken."
Harry nodded and took a seat at the table, waving a plate of food over. "Mm..."
"Cheater," Tidus muttered, sitting down with his own plate.
Harry winked at him. "When you're as old as I am, you're allowed to cheat."
"So, anything in the fridge?" Tidus asked the others at the table, ignoring the vampire.
"Well, there's something in there, but I wouldn't consider it edible," Lulu commented.
"The fridge grew a friend?" Harry asked. At the others' blank looks, he sighed. "It grew fungus. Jeeze."
"Yes," Auron said.
Yuna giggled. "A friend?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "That's what my people would call it."
"I don't think I'd call that a 'friend'," Lulu offered. "It tried to attack Auron."
Harry blinked, then stood. "Okay, this I have to see," he decided and went to open the fridge, completely ignoring the shouts of, "No!"
A giant green thing blinked up at him with about seven beady eyes, then growled menacingly.
"It's cute!" Harry decided.
The thing blinked at him again, apparently confused.
"Harry..." Yuna said, while Auron and Lulu groaned and Tidus snickered.
"What? It is." Harry grinned at the creature. "I'm Harry. Can you understand me?"
The blob blinked again and then, slowly, nodded.
"Brilliant!" Harry crouched down in the open door. "Can you talk?"
"Oh, it talks," a new voice said.
"Hey, Alex," Harry said, not taking his eyes off the blob. "What are you?"
"It's a fiend," Alex supplied. "It got into the house during one of Sin's attacks on the ruins nearby and hid in the fridge."
"Fiends don't talk," Lulu commented.
"How old is it?" Harry asked, ignoring the black mage.
"Oh..." Alex appeared to lean against the door, waving at the fiend, who waved back. "Maybe two hundred? It was tiny when it got in here. No bigger than your hand." He nodded down at Harry, who chuckled. "I was the only thing around, and I communicated with words. So it learned."
"What did you name it?" Harry asked.
"They're both mad," Yuna decided, shaking her head.
"They're both over a thousand years old," Tidus replied, amused.
"They can both hear you," Alex supplied, glancing over his see-through shoulder at the embarrassed teens. "And his name's Fred."
"Fred?" Tidus asked.
"Mm... Fred the Fungus Fiend?" Harry asked, making Alex laugh and the four humans at the table choke. "Brilliant. Hello, Fred. You know, I knew a guy named Fred, once. Funny fellow. Brilliant, even." Harry smiled sadly and touched Fred gently. "He was a bit more ginger, though."
The Fred in the fridge made an odd popping noise and turned red. "Ginger?" it asked quietly.
Harry blinked, then chuckled, nodding. "Oh, Merlin, you're cute! Brilliant, even. Hell, an intelligent fiend. Never thought I'd see the day!" He looked up at Alex, who shrugged. "Well done, Alex. Well done."
Alex nodded. "Will you take him with you? When you leave?"
"Fred no leave!" the blob insisted, sliding out of the fridge and, incidentally, onto Harry's boots. "Fred stay with Alex!"
Alex shook his head. "I won't be here for much longer, Fred. I want you to go with Harry." The fayth looked at the vampire. "Will you take him?"
Harry searched Alex's eyes for a moment while Fred let out a sad shuffling sound. "I'll protect him," Harry promised.
"Fred stay with Alex!"
"Why can't Fred stay here?" Yuna asked, walking over to the three, Tidus not far behind. Auron and Lulu both looked ready to jump to Yuna's protection, back at the table, in case the fiend decided to try something.
"When we defeat Sin," Harry said, still looking up at Alex, "all the fayth will disappear. Right?"
Alex nodded. "In using us to defeat Sin, Lady Yuna, we will die."
Yuna stared at the fayth, horrified. "Then... Then I won't use you!"
"You must," the ghostly man said. "Because if you don't, Sin will never be truly gone. My brother will never be free. He will be damned for eternity because he wished to save our people." He looked at Tidus and the boy looked away, understanding. "I have lived for one thousand forty years, Lady Yuna. I am tired. We all are. Please."
Yuna bit her lower lip and looked down at Harry, eyes filled with tears. Behind the vampire, Fred looked rather like she felt, and that just made her start crying.
Harry stood up and pulled the summoner into a hug. "Oh, sweetheart..."
"Did you know?" Tidus asked quietly.
Harry shook his head.
"We did not tell him," Alex said, "because he would have stopped Lady Yuna and tried to find his own way. He would have become the next Sin, and then the cycle would never end."
"I would not–"
"Yes, Harry, you would have," Alex cut in firmly. "You have always hated the fayths' sacrifice, but you would have hated it even more if we were all gone, especially James, once Cary told you about him. You would have faced Sin on your own and tried to destroy him, but without our power, you would have simply become him. The fayth can destroy Yu; we cannot destroy you."
Harry looked away, furious, but knowing the fayth was right. He would have found a way to stop Yuna and the party to go and face Sin himself. Perhaps, after Yu had told him the aeons were the key, he would have been willing to let Yuna continue, but still... Harry swallowed and pulled back so he could look at Yuna. "Yuna? Are you okay?"
Yuna nodded and wiped at her eyes. "Yes."
Harry nodded and looked at Alex. "I'll take Fred," he said quietly.
Alex inclined his head. "Thank you." Then he faded away, back to his crystal.
Harry looked back down at the blob and knelt next to him. "Hey. You're coming with us, okay? You'll make all sorts of friends."
"No Alex," Fred said.
Harry shook his head and gently brushed a hand over what he figured was Fred's head. "No," he agreed. "No Alex."
In the end, Yuna managed to talk Fred into staying with her, much to everyone's surprise. When Lulu had started to complain, Yuna had puffed up her cheeks and said, "Fred's not going to hurt me, Lulu. He's my friend." The statement had seemed to cheer Fred up, because the blob almost seemed to whistle as it followed Yuna to Yunalesca's room.
When Tidus and Harry finally got back into Harry's old room, the vampire quickly undressed, making Tidus blush, then climbed into bed and under the covers.
"Are you going to sleep like that?" Tidus asked nervously, not sure if it was wise to follow Harry's example.
Harry glanced back at the teen. "Nothing can get into this house that isn't already in it, and I intend to be comfortable in my own bed, if I must sleep. So, yes, I'm sleeping like this." He turned back towards the wall. "And I'm not going to stop you if you do the same."
Tidus blinked and glanced at the door, which was locked, then back at Harry's scarred back. After a moment, Tidus finally took his own clothing off and slid into the bed next to the vampire, only to have Harry turn around and cuddle against him. Tidus swallowed as his cock jumped to attention at being naked and pressed against the equally naked vampire.
Harry looked up at him, green eyes bright with mischief. "I'd ask it that was a gun in your pants, but you're not wearing pants, so you must be happy to see me."
"That made no sense," Tidus complained, trying to shift away from the vampire, but quickly hit the edge of the mattress, Harry scooting ever closer.
Harry chuckled. "Old Earth cliché," he explained, pulling Tidus against him and away from the edge. "Is there a reason you're trying to escape me?" he asked when Tidus tried slipping out of Harry's arms.
Tidus froze and considered his options. He recalled how hard it had been to escape Harry when they first met on Besaid, and Wakka wouldn't be there to rescue him this time. So he couldn't slip away from Harry, and he was enjoying being close to the vampire, but it was... kind of embarrassing. "Uhm..."
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "It's just like grinding with your clothing on, Tidus. Except there's no grinding."
"It's..." Tidus dropped his head against the nearest pillow. "It's not. It's embarrassing."
"What's embarrassing?" Harry asked, looking confused.
"Have you never...?" Tidus shook his head. "I... We're naked!"
Harry blinked, then shrugged. "I shared a dorm with four guys for six years and then a small tent with my two best friends for another one. That's not counting all my bed partners."
Tidus groaned. "So you've never been embarrassed?"
Harry grinned. "Not because I was naked," he said, then leaned forward and kissed the teen. "Should I make you forget about being embarrassed?" he asked before kissing Tidus again.
Tidus closed his eyes and kissed the vampire back, wrapping his arms around him. He had a feeling Harry's process for making Tidus forget why he was embarrassed would involve a lot of the aforementioned grinding, but the part of him that had been lusting after Harry since he found out what Harry was wanted something more. That same part also remembered Harry mentioning that being turned would probably involve sex and he spoke up before he could lose his nerve – or his focus. "Will you turn me?"
Harry froze, his lips barely touching Tidus'. The vampire stared at the teen for a long moment, so many emotions flickering through his eyes that Tidus didn't even bother trying to decipher them. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Harry whispered, "You really want that?"
Tidus nodded, swallowing.
"Now?" Harry asked, almost seeming like he was pleading for Tidus to say no.
"When will we get another chance?" Tidus asked back. "We're going to send Yunalesca tomorrow, and then we'll face Sin. I'll be gone soon, Harry."
Harry closed his eyes and let go of Tidus, falling back onto the bed behind him.
Tidus moved forward so he could look down on the troubled features. "I don't want to die," he whispered, feeling sick for admitting it. "I don't want to disappear and leave you and Yuna and Rikku with just memories. I know you said that, sometimes, memories are all we can have, but..." He swallowed. "My life has been nothing more than a dream, and I don't want that to be all that's left of me." When Harry didn't move, Tidus added, "I feel like a stupid girl."
Harry let out a quiet laugh and looked up into blue eyes, searching. He saw fear, there, but he also saw hope and determination and something that looked just like what he'd seen in Ron and Hermione's eyes when they'd been married thousands of years ago. Mrs Weasley had called it love, when a young Harry had asked, and he still couldn't understand it.
Tidus reached out and took one of Harry's hands. "A really, really stupid girl," he whispered.
Harry jerked his head up and crushed their mouths together, not wanting to see those emotions again, yet knowing that, if making Tidus a vampire worked, he would.
Tidus hissed when Harry turned them over, the vampire sitting on top of Tidus' abdomen, just above his cock. Between the kissing, his body's usual reaction to being around Harry when the vampire intended to feed from him, and his own knowledge of what was about to happen, Tidus' cock was throbbing, and the teen really, kinda wanted Harry to just get on with it. "Harry," he whispered.
Harry grinned and pulled back from Tidus' lips, his incisors unnaturally long in preparation for biting Tidus. The teen had seen them before, and it always sent chills down his spine. "Yes, Tidus?" the vampire purred, leaning down to kiss at Tidus' neck.
Tidus leaned his head back. "Please," he asked, not sure what he was asking for, but trusting his bed mate to understand.
Harry did know, of course, and gently grabbed Tidus' cock with a hand damp with spit. Knowing the lack of lube wouldn't hurt so much that it couldn't heal before Tidus came, Harry sat himself on the teen's cock, groaning at both the minor pain and the wonderful feeling of having something inside him. Really, becoming a vampire had made him such a whore.
Tidus gasped at the feeling of something squeezing him, then moaned as the squeezing thing moved. Then, to add to it, Harry's fangs pierced his neck and he felt, again, the sucking sensation he'd become so familiar with over the past weeks.
Harry enjoyed the blood, but when he got to the point that he would normally stop, he fought with himself to continue. It went against four and a half millennia of self-control, but Tidus moaned his name, begging Harry to keep moving, because his moment's pause had also stopped him from moving his bum. So Harry obeyed, moving his lower half and continuing to suck Tidus dry.
Tidus was beginning to get light-headed when he finally came, and he gasped out his orgasm, feeling tired and spent. And oddly hungry, considering he'd just eaten. "Harry?" he whispered.
The vampire gently pulled away from the wound and murmured a healing spell, then bit his own wrist and held it against Tidus' lips. "Drink," he ordered, kissing the teen's earlobe.
Tidus sleepily did as he was told, not really knowing why he was being told to do so. But the first taste of the magically charged blood revitalised him and he sucked harder, wanting it all. Needing the wonderful taste.
As he drank, images flashed past Tidus' eyes. He saw Harry as the vampire must have looked when he was Tidus' age, with tired eyes and blood on his cheek, standing over a pale body. He saw a fat man beating a small child and a larger boy cheering him on. He saw Harry banished from his home, and being burned at the stake when he refused to leave. He saw Harry as he knew him now, with shorter hair, screaming and thrashing as laughing men held him down so he could be turned. He saw people and places beyond his wildest imaging. He was there as Harry heard about the destruction of his home. He watched a wedding where a red-headed man and a brown-haired woman were married, and saw Harry sitting among a crowd of red-heads, holding hands with a girl who looked to be his age. He saw Zanarkand and Bevelle as Harry had known them, one a home, the other a death trap.
And Tidus saw himself, laughing with Yuna and Rikku on the Thunder Plains. He saw Harry's smile and felt his knowledge that the vampire wanted life to always be like that; always full of laughter.
Then Harry's wrist was gone and Tidus found himself staring up into concerned green eyes. "Okay?" Harry whispered.
"So much pain," Tidus whispered back, wrapping his arms around Harry's back. "How can you bear it all?"
Harry smiled and kissed Tidus. "I think of the good things in life, instead," he said. "Like my friends, and my family. Like you, and Yuna and Rikku."
Tidus kissed him back, hard, and thrust his hips, moving his cock, which Harry had never pulled off of. "You need more good things in your life," he growled.
"No arguments there," Harry replied, moving his hips to try and wring another, much stronger orgasm out of the teen.
And when Tidus cried out in pleasure, Harry considered himself victorious.
Chapter 11: Vampyre
This chapter's title is what I was originally going to call this fic, but I eventually decided against it for various reasons, one of them being that I was going with the more modern spelling of the word for the actual fic, another being that I thought people might not read it, especially those who abhor Twilight like I do. XD
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
For the first time since he'd started sharing a bedroll with Harry, Tidus woke up with the vampire still next to him. He took a moment to enjoy the unprecedented event, then opened his eyes to smile at Harry.
The smile died on his lips when Tidus realised that Harry was unnaturally pale, even for the vampire. Before Tidus could figure out a reason, green eyes opened and Harry smiled painfully at him. "Morning."
"Wha–" Tidus swallowed. "What's wrong?"
Harry closed his eyes and shrugged. "I'm low on blood."
"Well, then, drink from me!" Tidus said, baring his neck.
But Harry shook his head. "Vampires can't drink from each other." He looked up into horrified blue eyes. "Hit me with Thunder a few times. I'll be okay."
Tidus swallowed again and pulled away so he could do as he'd been told. Once Harry had regained some colour, Tidus asked, "If we can't drink from each other, does that mean we have to find another person who would be willing to donate?"
Harry nodded and pulled himself from the bed. "Yes. I mean, I can probably survive on lightning, but you'll need real blood." He shrugged. "You've got a couple of days, though."
Tidus groaned and fell back against the bed. "Dammit. I had no idea being a vampire was so complicated."
Harry chuckled. "Welcome to the life of the undead." At Tidus' confused frown, Harry said, "Between life and death, but not really either. The people of Old Earth called us the undead."
"Rather," Harry agreed, pulling on his pants. "Oh, and a word to the wise: Don't drink blood from a fiend."
Tidus blinked. "Don't?"
Harry nodded. "Did that once. Was sick to my stomach for a week. Just... don't do it."
Tidus nodded. "Right. Don't drink from fiends. I'll keep that in mind. Anything else I shouldn't drink from?"
"Auron," Harry replied. "I haven't tried it, myself, but..."
"Mmm... Yeah, he's kinda dead."
Harry cocked his head at the teen. "He told you, then?"
Tidus blinked and nodded. "Yeah. After the fayth on the mountain. How'd you find out?"
"He told me back in Junon. I think he was hoping I'd stop hitting on him if I knew I couldn't make a meal of him." Harry grinned madly.
Tidus snorted. "You took it as a challenge, didn't you?"
Harry nodded. "But of course. Now! Are you going to get dressed? Or do you plan to lay in bed all day? Because, if so, I think I'll just take these clothes back off, and..."
Tidus jumped out of the bed and went for his boxers. "I'm up!"
Harry chuckled and walked over the the window to look out at the sun that was just starting to peek over the horizon. "Going to be a beautiful day," he murmured, resting his back against the window sill.
Tidus blinked up at him. "What time is it?"
Harry shrugged. "Five? Pretty early, at any rate." He turned his head and seemed to be looking through Tidus for a moment, then focused on the teen. "Auron's up. And... Fred, I think."
Tidus blinked in surprise and tried to hear that, but got nothing. "How did you...?"
Harry grinned and stepped forward to finish snapping Tidus' last suspender in place, making the young vampire blush. "It'll take a few days for your body to finish acclimating to all the changes. Over the next week or so you become a bit more agile and faster on your feet. You'll be able to hear and see things you couldn't have as a human. Your endurance will also be better. By tomorrow, you should be able to keep up with Auron, and the next day you'll probably be able to keep pace with me."
Tidus grinned. "Really?"
Harry nodded. "Really. But, until then, you're still mostly human, just a lot tougher to kill and with the added bonus of needing to drink blood." He poked Tidus in the chest. "Don't do anything heroically stupid, understand?"
Tidus nodded, then, curious, asked, "Only tougher to kill?"
Harry sighed and tugged on one of his sleeves nervously. "Remember how I said a stake through the heart or fire could kill vampires?"
Tidus nodded. "Yeah, but the fire just irritates you."
Harry nodded. "I don't know if that part of the curse will transfer over to you, because I think that has to do with my ownership of a few objects which were said to have the ability to defeat death if all together. They're from Old Earth, and though they haven't always been on my person, they still belong to me." He shrugged. "I'd rather you be careful than test it, personally."
"Okay. I'd rather not try dying, myself," Tidus admitted, then grinned. "Breakfast?"
Harry chuckled and led the way downstairs to the kitchen, when Auron was sharpening his sword. "Expecting trouble?"
"I always expect trouble," Auron replied, then glanced over at Tidus. "You're up early."
Tidus pointed at Harry, who was making them some food. "He threatened me with horrible things if I didn't get up."
Auron looked disbelievingly at Harry. "He's lying."
"Not completely," Harry replied easily. "I did threaten him if he didn't get out of bed, but he was already up."
Auron looked back at Tidus, who was sticking his tongue out at Harry's back. "As I said, you're up early."
"You'll have to tell them eventually," Harry commented.
Tidus huffed and leaned back in his chair. "I'm a vampire."
Auron rose one eyebrow at the boy, then shrugged and went back to sharpening his blade.
"That was anticlimactic," Harry said cheerfully, putting a plate in front of Tidus and sitting next to him with his own food.
Across the table, Auron chuckled.
Tidus just rolled his eyes at the two older guardians and ate.
Finding the way to the blitzball stadium turned out to be a lot less trouble then Harry had originally feared. It helped that both Tidus and Auron also knew their way from the East Block to the stadium, and with three pairs of eyes looking, they were able to find the shortest path without the trouble Harry had encountered the night before. As a result, the party reached the stadium just before noon, having only been out in the ruins for about two hours – Wakka had been difficult to wake up.
An older man awaited them when they reached the broken doors of the stadium. He seemed to have eyes only for Yuna, asking her to name herself, but as the summoner was doing so, the old eyes travelled over the group, freezing when he saw Harry. "Lord Harry!" he gasped.
Harry smiled thinly. "Mamoru," he replied.
"You know him?" Yuna asked, looking back at the oldest member of her party.
"Mamoru and his brother, Maechen, were the sons of one of the Masters of History," Harry said softly. "Maechen, we have seen, travels Spira, relating history to curious travellers. Mamoru, however, had never been interested in history, but had, rather, wanted to be a guard of the summoners. Specifically my niece. How curious, Mamoru, that you now spend your afterlife guarding her, as she would never have allowed in life."
Mamoru smiled. "Indeed, my Lord. After the death of Lord Zaon, Lady Yunalesca returned to Zanarkand to help future summoners in their quest to destroy Sin. There were a few of us, then, living among the ruins, and she asked us to help watch over summoners once they reached Zanarkand."
"But... no summoners reached Zanarkand for another four hundred years," Lulu murmured.
Mamoru inclined his head. "The others died or left, including Maechen. I alone stayed, and have been guarding my Lady since."
"But, what of the summoners?" Tidus asked. "Your original orders, right?"
Mamoru shrugged. "If a summoner reaches Zanarkand, they don't need what little protection I can offer."
Harry sighed. "We're ending the practise of the Final Aeon," he said, meeting the unsent man's eyes. "And Yuna is going to send Yunalesca."
Mamoru shook his head. "But Lady Yunalesca says the Final Aeon is the only way to defeat Sin!"
"Yu tells me differently," Harry replied calmly.
Mamoru just kept shaking his head, disbelieving. "My Lady is wrong."
"Yunalesca is only human," Harry said softly, stepping forward to rest his hand on the unsent's shoulder. "She makes mistakes; we all do."
"Not you, Lord Harry," Mamoru insisted.
Harry chuckled. "Oh, but I do. And my mistakes always seem to have the greatest consequences, as is the way of those with great power. But we are sending my lily, and we are going to defeat Sin for the last time. There will be nothing left here for you to guard."
Mamoru nodded his understanding and looked at Yuna, who stood with sad eyes between the other two teens, Fred peeking his head around her legs. "Please, Lady Summoner, will you send me?"
Yuna nodded and stepped forward to perform her dance. Behind her, Auron stepped back a few paces, frowning.
Once Mamoru had been sent, they took a lunch break just inside the stadium, then made their ways through the broken building to the Cloister of Trials, watching ghosts of the past precede them. Auron sat back and let the rest of the party play with the light-up blocks, commenting that he'd already done this puzzle once, and didn't care to do it again. The younger members of the party and Harry had all laughed at him, then gleefully hopped around with Fred, leaving Kimahri, Lulu and Wakka to stand with the unsent near the door, shaking their heads.
The fiend guarding the elevator wasn't too hard, though it did scare Fred, to which Harry inquired, "Aren't you older than that? It should be scared of you."
"Big," Fred said of the Spectral Keeper. "Angry."
Harry just rolled his eyes and helped the fiend onto the elevator, which started down once everyone was on it.
They stepped into a room with a cracked crystal and everyone stared at it in horror. "What–?" Wakka said.
"Zaon," Harry whispered, kneeling next to the crystal and touching it.
"This is... Lord Zaon?" Yuna asked.
"But Zaon fought Yunalesca with Sin, right?" Tidus asked.
Harry felt his heart twist and he looked up at Auron. "What is the Final Aeon?" he asked the silent unsent.
"Why–?" Yuna started.
"The Final Aeon is a guardian," Auron said, glancing at Tidus, whose eyes widened in understanding. "Jecht, became Braska's aeon."
"But, Jecht is Sin," Tidus whispered.
Harry swallowed. "Yunalesca was killed when Sin ripped Zaon from her," he whispered, the pieces of the terrible truth finally coming together. "Zaon was a fayth, sacrificed by Yunalesca at the chance that, with him, she could defeat Sin. Yu said the Final Aeon would only ever make him stronger..."
"Are you saying... Yu makes the Final Aeon part of him?" Rikku asked.
"The armour was made of pyreflies," Harry said, staring down at the broken crystal. "Sin is made of death, to protect the dead in a summoning to remember the dead. The Final Aeon is what is created after a summoner sacrifices a guardian, the dead spirit of that guardian. But Sin is made of death. When the armour is destroyed, something dead must take its place. Of course."
"The Spiral of Death," Auron intoned.
Harry chuckled then, humourlessly, and looked up at the horrified party. "Let it have an aeon, then destroy it before it can create a new armour, while it's still fighting to control the aeon. Go through all the aeons and there will soon be none left. If there are no aeons – no dead spirits – for Sin to use in creating armour, it will become only what it began as: Yu. And Yu can be destroyed."
"But we have to use the machina to get to that part, because there's no Final Aeon?" Rikku said weakly.
Harry nodded. "Use the airship to blast the armour enough to somehow get inside. Fight the current aeon, Jecht. Let Sin or Yu or whatever possess the aeons, then kill whatever's left. The fayth will die, but so will Sin."
"We'll never get the airship close enough before Sin attacks!" Wakka snapped, clearly shaken. "Sin will destroy the machina before it can do enough damage, and us with it."
"Actually," Auron said, "I don't know about that."
"Think of who is in this party," Lulu murmured, looking at where Yuna and Tidus stood next to Harry. "Harry is Yu Yevon's best friend, and Tidus is Sir Jecht's son."
"And Auron was my old man's friend, right?" Tidus said, looking at the unsent man. "And Yuna is Braska's daughter, his other friend."
Harry stood slowly, looking over the group. "Let's see to Yunalesca," he murmured. "This, can wait." Then he turned and waved his hand at a section of wall. It shimmered and turned into a doorway, which he then walked through.
"Come on," Tidus said, taking Yuna's hand. The two teens followed on Harry's heels, with Kimahri and Fred not far behind.
Slowly, the others followed, leaving the ruined crystal and the horrible truth behind.
Once the party had gathered in an extravagant hall with high ceilings, the door at the top of a staircase slowly opened and a beautiful woman with long, pale hair stepped through, bracelets jingling.
"Yunalesca Yuriko Yevon!" Harry shouted in an approximation of the voice he'd once used to chastise her with. "Where are your clothes?!"
Yunalesca blinked at the top of the stairs a few times, looking unbalanced. Then she saw the smiling vampire in the middle of the room and dashed down the stairs and into waiting arms. "Uncle Harry!"
Harry hugged the girl tightly, biting back tears. He pulled back gently. "Hello, little lily."
Yunalesca smiled. "I'm not so little any more, Uncle."
"No, I dare say you've outgrown me," Harry replied, chuckling. "Goodness. And here I remember twirling you around last time you ran down the stairs at me."
Harry laughed and gently touched the side of her face. "You're as lovely as your mother was, lily. I wish she could have seen you."
Yunalesca gently touched the hand, then stepped back and looked over the group behind him. "Braska's daughter, Jecht's son, and the head-strong young guardian, Auron." She looked back at Harry. "You travel well, Uncle."
Harry inclined his head. "We came to send you, lily."
Yunalesca jerked back, as if struck, then shook her head angrily. "Uncle, no! I have to be here! I have to show the summoners how to call the Final Aeon! I have to..."
"Yu says the Final Aeon isn't the way," Harry replied softly, eyes sad. "It only builds new armour and he is Sin again. Something else is needed."
Yunalesca stared at him, then asked, "Are you saying that everything I've done... It was for nothing? Zaon died for nothing? All those summoners... All those guardians..."
"It wasn't for nothing, Yunalesca," Harry replied. "If none of that had happened, we never would have found another way. Spira needed time."
"It was for nothing!" Yunalesca shouted, furious. "They all died for nothing!"
"And where were you?!" the woman asked furiously. "Where were you while people were dying? You, who could have stopped Father right away? You, who could have destroyed Sin before he could have done any harm?"
"I'm not all powerful," Harry snapped. "You're old enough to know better than to assume I could solve the world's problems!"
"You've done it before!"
"Have I?" the vampire asked coldly. "When was that? Perhaps when I hid with a group of refugees for a thousand years so the human race would continue? Or was it when America got so pissed off at Britain that they bombed the place to hell? Or, perhaps, the time Bevelle sank Baaj Island and four thousand people died because they didn't want to fight in the Wars?"
Yunalesca swallowed and looked away.
Harry sighed. "Lily, I'm immortal, not a god."
"You have... You have that magic–"
"Magic has limits, even Old Earth magic. You know this, Yunalesca."
The woman looked at him, tears in her eyes. "But you still left," she whispered.
Harry inclined his head. "I regret leaving you and James," he admitted. "And I will regret it for all eternity, just as I regret all the other people I left to die. But there was only so much I could have done. You know I tried to talk Yu out of the summoning, but," Harry smiled sadly, "stubbornness was his best – and his worst – trait, as you yourself know. It was right up there with his love for you, and for Zanarkand. He needed to see Zanarkand's survival, and nothing you or I could have said would have changed that."
Yunalesca nodded and sat on the steps behind her. "Maybe if you were here, instead of in Junon?"
"No, lily, he wouldn't have listened to me any better in person," Harry replied knowingly. "He never did."
Yunalesca nodded again with a pained look on her face. "He truly said the Final Aeon wouldn't work?"
Harry sighed. "He said that the aeons were the key, but the Final Aeon only made him stronger. That to defeat him, something else was needed."
Yunalesca blinked. "Machina?"
Harry nodded. "That's what I think."
"But all the machina has been lost."
Harry shook his head, a smile on his face. "The Al Bhed found the Fahrenheit."
"We intend to use it to blast a hole through the armour, then let him possess the aeons Yuna has collected until there's nothing left. And then, at the end, we will destroy Yu," Harry said.
Yunalesca nodded and stood. "I want to come with you," she said.
The party gasped, and the two from Zanarkand looked back at them, having forgotten about them completely. Yuna swallowed and stepped forward. "Truly?" she asked.
"You're her namesake and her idol," Harry muttered to his niece.
Yunalesca covered her mouth with one hand. "And what have you done to her, Uncle?"
"Been the perfect gentleman," Harry hissed. When Yunalesca looked at him disbelievingly, he grinned and added, "Except for once, but a couple of her guardians warned me off."
Yunalesca snorted in a rather unladylike fashion. "The black mage set fire to you, didn't she?"
"Eventually," Harry agreed, "but for not sleeping enough, rather than hitting on Yuna."
"What are you two whispering about?" Rikku asked suspiciously.
"Just gossiping like the two old women we are," Yunalesca replied with a sweet smile.
Harry raised an eyebrow at the woman while the party broke out in snickers. "Do I look like a woman to you?"
"A flat one," Yunalesca replied primly, gesturing at Harry's chest.
"That's right. You raised her, didn't you?" Tidus asked.
Harry glared at the younger vampire for a moment, then looked back at the unsent next to him. "Don't make me take out the embarrassing spheres I have in my bag, young lady."
Yunalesca blinked and looked at the bottomless bag on Harry's belt. "Ah... What sort of spheres?"
Harry smiled and reached for the bag. "Shall I show you?"
Yunalesca reached out and grabbed Harry's hands, smiling nervously. "No need. I'll be good, Uncle Harry."
Harry snorted. "No you won't," he replied, but moved his hands away from the bag. "If the rest of the party doesn't mind, you may come with us, I suppose."
Yunalesca looked over the party hopefully. "Please?"
"Why?" Auron asked.
Yunalesca blinked. "I want to see the end of everything I fought for," she said firmly. "I want to see what I sacrificed my life for, and the life of my husband. I want to see my father receive his peace."
"You want to know it was all worth it," Auron accused.
"Is that really such a bad thing?" the woman asked. "Isn't that half the reason you've remained?"
Auron blinked, then sighed. "Very well."
Slowly, with both Harry and Auron agreeing to their tenth companion, the rest of the party gave their agreement, even Fred, who Yunalesca looked confused by until she learned his name. Then, she said, "You visited Uncle Alex."
"We did," Yuna agreed. "And he granted me Alexander."
Yunalesca glanced at Harry, who shrugged, then turned back to Yuna and smiled. "Good."
With everyone in agreement, the party made their way back out into the city, Rikku calling her father to come pick them up.
Outside the Dome, Sin sat, waiting for them.
"Father..." Yunalesca whispered.
Harry nodded and stepped forward. "Yu? We're going to try that other way you told me about."
Harry took a deep breath. "Will you meet us, in two days, at Bevelle?"
"Why Bevelle?" Wakka asked.
Harry grinned nastily, still watching Sin. "Because if we're going to make a mess, I want it to be there."
"Hey! What about those sheep-people you told me about?" Rikku asked.
"We can always tell them to evacuate," Yunalesca commented easily.
"Two days," Harry said to his best friend.
Sin let out a cry, then turned and started moving back into the ocean.
"Do you think he'll come?" Yuna asked.
Harry smiled grimly. "Oh, I know he'll come."
Oh! And Yunalesca's middle name is not meant as some sort of nod to femslash, as some of you might assume – though I admit to being fond of it, myself. Yuri is a Japanese girl's name meaning 'lily'. The suffix '-ko' means child, or, in this case, 'little'. I figure, if Harry helped raise Yunalesca, he would have known the meaning of her name – or perhaps even been the one to name her – and may have given her a nickname meaning something like that.
And, no, canon Yunalesca didn't have a middle name, so far as we know. I just wanted her to have one. XD
Chapter 12: Blood
Last chapter!! XD (Hey, it was longer than Fayth by two whole chapters.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So, let me get this straight," Cid said. "You plan to meet with Sin, tomorrow, by Bevelle, right?"
Harry nodded, rolling his eyes. They'd already explained everything to the Al Bhed leader when they'd gotten on board the evening before.
"Okay. And then, you want me to use my airship to blow a hole in its side?"
Harry glanced at Yunalesca when she let out a quiet growl. Yuna was already shushing her namesake for the perceived slight in regards to the ownership of the airship.
"Then, we take you...ten...in there and just... leave you?" Cid continued, looking dubiously at Fred. He'd been able to accept Yunalesca's presence, but was still having trouble with the fiend. Truth be told, Fred wasn't sure how he felt about being around so many people, and had taken to either staying in the room Yuna had been given, or following her around. It was almost cute how he'd attached himself to the young summoner.
"You could come in with us," Auron said drily.
"And risk my airship?"
"Yunalesca," Harry said, rubbing at his face. The woman frowned at him. "The Al Bhed found the Fahrenheit fairly. Their claim is legit."
"But it's Father's!" Yunalesca insisted, leaning forward.
"I somehow doubt Yu has much use for it," Harry replied.
"I will not sit here and–"
"You're not yet too old for me to beat you over my knees, young lady," Harry snapped, standing from the table and giving his niece a sharp look. "The Al Bhed found this ship and repaired it and figured out how to drive it themselves. It belongs to them. If your father wishes to make a claim, he's more than capable of doing so. Now sit down and shut up."
Yunalesca glared at Harry for a long moment before, finally, sinking back into her seat and crossing her arms over her chest. It wasn't the first time the vampire had reminded her that he was still the man who'd brought her up to be a Lady of Zanarkand, in spite of his usual flirting. He'd already had her change into something a little less revealing and told her off a few other times when she'd complained about the Al Bhed being on her father's ship.
Harry dropped himself back into his own chair and looked tiredly at Cid, who was trying to hide a smile. "Oh, sod off."
Cid chuckled. "Want to play parent to my kids, too?"
Harry gave the man the finger, which set most of the people around the table off.
"Oh, I needed that," Tidus said once he'd caught his breath, and the others nodded. They'd all been on edge since Harry had set a date with Sin, both because of the impending battle, and the state of the city they were to fight near. They'd sent word to Bevelle that Sin was heading their way, but considering who the message had been sent by, the party had a feeling Bevelle wouldn't evacuate. Indeed, the Al Bhed in the area around the city said the people were continuing on normally.
Harry, Tidus and Yuna were feeling the stress the most. Yuna had become friends with all her aeons, and wasn't looking forward to watching them be killed. Moreover, Harry and Tidus had let her in on the secret of what Tidus was, since the younger vampire needed someone to feed from, and Yuna had seemed the most likely prospect, as the two were good friends. So all three of them were worried about whether or not Harry's plan would keep Tidus in this world, as well as feeling pained at the knowledge that they were going to be killing the fayth.
The whole party, of course, now knew that Tidus was a vampire, as it had been a little hard to hide his growing abilities and the fading of his dark tan. But the only people who knew why Harry had turned him were the two vampires and Yuna. Tidus and Harry agreed that Auron probably guessed, since he, too, knew the whole story, but considering how tight-lipped the unsent was about most things, he would never voice his suspicions.
Cid sighed and leaned forward, all joking gone from his expression. "You two know this ship," he said, looking between Harry and Yunalesca. "What are the chances of it coming out of a battle with Sin in one piece?"
Harry and Yunalesca traded looks. "Not very," the woman replied. "But Father may not want to actually damage Fahrenheit, considering how much he loved it, so it's got a better chance than any other airship."
"There are... certain precautions we can take," Harry added carefully.
"Like that ward you used against your boat?" Tidus asked.
Harry grimaced. "I don't know that I can create a shield strong enough to completely ward off Sin's attacks, but I can probably put something together. We can also keep to distance attacks. It'll limit how much damage we can do, but enough of our party can use magic that we should be fine on deck, and if we can get that damn main gun working properly without overheating after ten minutes, that'll go a long way to evening the playing field."
"If we help you with this shield, could we make it stronger?" Lulu asked.
Harry blinked and considered that. In his time, creating shields like the one he was planning were usually done by a group of wizards and witches, but he'd never been sure how much Old Earth magic the people of Spira could do, and since he was a fairly strong wizard, it had never been something he'd really needed to think on. "We can certainly try it," he agreed. "It's Old Earth magic, but since you lot were able to cast the lightning ward..."
"No harm in trying it out," Tidus said, practically bouncing in his chair. "Can we?"
Harry chuckled and nodded to Cid. "We'll go see what we can do. Yunalesca, would you like to come?"
Yunalesca looked around the table to where Tidus, Yuna and Lulu were all rising, then nodded and got to her own feet. "Sure. Never tried casting Old Earth magic, before."
Harry shrugged and led the way out, with Fred moving quickly to follow Yuna.
"So, what about us?" Wakka asked.
Cid stood. "Well, I've got a main gun to fix," he said. "Which you can help with, if you feel like being sacrilegious." He smiled knowingly.
Wakka blinked while Rikku stood to go with her father, and both Kimahri and Auron went their own ways. Without anything better to do, Wakka sighed and stood. "Sure."
Looking impressed, Cid led the two guardians down to the bottom of the ship, where the gun was located.
Harry went over the ward he wanted to use with his group before they went out onto the deck to cast it. With five casters, the ward was much stronger than the one Harry had cast himself over the boat to Bevelle. Considering the ward after they'd finished anchoring it, Harry said, "You know, this might – just – work."
"Really?" Yuna asked, looking up and trying to see the magic that she could feel surrounding them.
Harry walked over to her. "Here, close your eyes," he ordered, then cast a spell on her eyelids. "Okay, try now."
Yuna looked up at the ward and gasped. "Wow..." she whispered, staring at the various colours swirling above them. "That's the ward?"
Harry nodded, then turned to add the magic vision to his other helpers so they could see it too. Even Fred.
"Colours," Fred said, blinking up at the ward with all seven eyes. "Pretty."
"It is," Lulu agreed. "Do they mean anything? The colours?"
Harry nodded, then smiled when everyone turned to him. "Anyone who uses magic has an affinity for a spell, or a certain type of magic, and that particular magic shows in their magical aura, which you can see with magical sight when a person casts a spell. Wards are coloured with the auras of the people who create them, so all those colours are us."
"So, who's which?" Tidus asked.
Harry considered the colours. "The yellow-green is me. It used to be more green, but after that lightning accident I told you all about, it took on a yellow hue."
"What was the green for?" Yunalesca asked.
"The Killing Curse," Harry replied grimly. "Old Earth Death spell." He sighed and rubbed at his chin. "The white is Yuna, blue is Tidus, purple the lovely Lulu, and that sickly green is you, lily." He glanced curiously at his niece. "Looks like a zombie spell, to me."
Yunalesca nodded. "I started favouring it near the end of the Wars."
Harry chuckled and looked back up at the bright colours again.
"Why white?" Yuna asked of herself. "Cure magic?"
Harry shook his head. "Cure magic is more blue. No, the white is life magic."
"And I'm water?" Tidus asked, pointing at a bright blue patch directly above him.
Harry nodded. "Most blitzers I've met were. Something about spending so much time in the water."
Tidus snickered. "So I'm your opposite?"
Harry chuckled. "Partially. I also have an affinity for death, if you'll recall."
"So that means we're both your opposite!" Yuna said, bouncing a little.
"Hm. I suppose so," Harry agreed with a smile.
"And purple?" Lulu asked.
Harry considered the colour. "Poison."
"You do like to use Bio a lot," Yuna commented.
"Not as much as she does Fire," Harry complained.
Lulu rose an eyebrow at him. "That's because I can't grab your ear."
Harry rolled his eyes while the others laughed. "Yeah, yeah. Sorry I'm so fast. But why Fire?"
"Because you hate it so much. And you always duck it, anyway," Lulu replied.
"Hey, why is that, anyway?" Yuna asked. "You do always manage to duck the Fire."
Harry shrugged. "Fire's not really the fastest element. Especially through air. Thunder, on the other hand, I cannot dodge. Even if I wanted to."
"Really?" Yuna said, looking surprised.
"Black mages learn that as part of their training," Lulu said quietly.
Yuna frowned. "Does that mean I was the only one that didn't know that?"
"I, too, am a white mage," Yunalesca offered. "It not something I learned, but it is something I figured out, from the war."
"Well, maybe I'll learn some black magic, then," Yuna decided, looking around at her friends. "Will you teach me?"
Harry smiled. "Sweetheart, when we've defeated Sin, we'll teach you anything you want to learn."
"Even Old Earth magic?"
Harry nodded. "Even Old Earth magic."
Yuna smiled. "I'll hold you to that."
The next morning, they flew to Bevelle with a full shield and a mostly functional main gun. Surprisingly, it had been Wakka who found the problem in the gun: a small piece of grey-green seaweed had gotten caught in the mechanism, and the islander had been the only one to see it. The machina-hater had found himself suddenly the centre of attention on the ship and had been asked more than once if he could fix something else before, laughing, Harry and Lulu rescued him.
Sin hadn't yet arrived when they flew into the city's airspace, so Harry had hopped into the comm. chair and flipped it on. "Okay, you bunch of idiots, this is your last warning. Sin will be here today and there will be collateral damage to the city. If you don't get the hell out of there, we won't be held accountable for your deaths. That's all!"
"Hm. And here I thought you didn't care about the people of Bevelle," Lulu commented once Harry had shut the comm. off.
Harry snorted. "I don't. But I also can't just let them all die because they're idiots. Well, actually, I can. But not because of a lack of trying."
"He's got such a kind heart," Yunalesca commented with a touch of sarcasm.
Harry rolled his eyes and leaned back in the chair. "Yeah, yeah. So what? I'm allowed to be nice."
"To Bevelle?" Yunalesca replied, looking dubious.
Harry shrugged. "So they chose to live in a bad place and followed idiots. Doesn't make them bad people, just stupid."
"Sure about that?"
"Well, most of them aren't bad people," Harry corrected, grinning at his niece.
"Unless you're an Al Bhed," Rikku supplied playfully, "then they throw things at you."
Harry chuckled. "Or one of our party. I'm sure, if they saw us, they'd pull out the pitchforks and chase us through the streets."
"Why pitchforks?" Rikku asked.
Harry just groaned.
Yunalesca snickered. "Old Earth," she explained.
"Ah..." Rikku nodded. "He does that a lot."
"I know. You'd think, after a thousand years with people who keep asking him, he'd start using Spiran terms," the unsent woman commented. "But he just keeps on making a fool of himself."
Harry eyed his niece balefully. "You grow up in a different world and try to keep up," he complained.
"Sin's coming!" Cid shouted from the front of the ship.
"That's our cue," Harry said, hopping out of the chair. "To the deck!"
Together, the party ran for the elevator and made their way to the open deck of the airship. Fred went with them, scared but determined.
When Sin saw the ship, it seemed almost surprised for a moment, then let out an angry sound and shot a blast at it, which missed completely.
Harry chuckled and pulled out the remote connection to the comm. "Sorry about that, but we couldn't let you destroy her. You understand."
"Where'd you take that from?" Rikku demanded as Sin let out another angry shout.
"Made it last night," he said, keeping it from the Al Bhed girl. "Do you mind?" he added when Rikku kept bouncing around him, trying to get the controller.
"Save your energy for battle," Auron suggested, pulling out his sword. "Sin is here."
"It flies?" Tidus demanded as Sin grew wings and rose from the water.
"Apparently so," Harry said drily, putting the controller away. "Don't stare, hit it before it hits us!" he ordered, then shot Thundaga at it.
"Pops! Start firing as soon as it's in range!" Rikku ordered into the mini comm. on her shirt which allowed them to keep in communication with the bridge.
"Roger! Loaded and ready!"
"Hey, what's that?" Tidus asked, pointing at something on Sin's fin.
Harry stepped up next to the teen and looked at the spot. "Rikku?"
"Tell Cid there's a shiny spot on Sin's fin. It's really small, but I think that, if we aim for that, this might be a little easier."
"Right!" Rikku said, then set about passing the message on while Yunalesca, Yuna, Lulu and Wakka all moved forward to stand with Harry and Tidus.
Those using magic all started casting – Yunalesca had spent the night before teaching Yuna Holy – while Wakka waited for the monster to get a little closer before gleefully bouncing his ball against it.
With six distance attackers and a full arsenal of guns, it didn't take long to bring Sin out of the sky. Wounded, the great beast landed in the centre of Bevelle.
Harry cackled. "Well done, old friend! Brilliant aim!"
"Looks like Bevelle will have to rebuild again," Yunalesca said with a smug look.
The two gave each other high fives, making the rest of the party shake their heads.
"Here," Rikku said, handing out elixirs to the party.
"He's not going to stay down for long," Auron pointed out.
"And we still haven't found a way in," Tidus agreed grumpily.
Harry scratched at the back of his head. "Hm. Wait!" He turned to Yunalesca, braid whipping out behind him and almost hitting Tidus and Wakka. "Yu's favourite spell."
Yunalesca's eyes lit up. "Gravity!"
"Translate?" Yuna asked.
"Gravity pulls people to you," Yunalesca said while Harry picked the bridge comm. off of Rikku's shirt.
"Hey, Cid! Willing to come in with us?" Harry asked, skipping out of Rikku's reach.
"What are you planning now, you crazy vampire?" Cid demanded.
"I'm thinking, since we're having trouble blowing a hole in the side, why not take the door? Sin might just be angry enough to think swallowing us is its best bet."
"Take it from the inside?" Cid replied.
"Blow it," Harry agreed. "We'll take the long path to destroy Yu while you lot make us an escape route. Sound good?"
"Perfect!" Cid replied, then started bellowing orders to his crew.
Harry handed the comm. back to Rikku, who glared at him, then pulled out his own comm. and flipped it on. "Poor little Sin," he said nastily. "Can't take on a little ship. Maybe you should just eat us, hmm? Might work better."
Sin let out a furious roar and tried hitting them with another blast of energy, but it just went around them.
Harry laughed. "You missed."
Sin screamed at him, then pulled itself up and got back in the air, heading for the airship.
"Hold on tight!" Wakka shouted as Sin opened its mouth.
Everyone grabbed at the deck and each other as Sin pulled them all inside.
"You know, a part of me was actually expecting a stomach," Harry commented as they left the airship behind to start blasting holes in the armour.
"Even though you knew Sin wasn't actually alive?" Yuna inquired.
Harry nodded. "Odd, isn't it?"
"How do you know this isn't a stomach?" Wakka asked.
Harry blinked. "My people sent little cameras down into people's stomachs. I know what one looks like."
"You put machina in people's stomachs?" Wakka demanded.
"Usually after they were dead," Harry replied, as if that would make is better.
"Well, I didn't expect to find fiends in here," Tidus complained as they got attacked.
"Fiends everywhere," Fred said helpfully, then shot a string of acid at the adamantoise.
"What he said," Wakka added, tossing his ball.
Tidus just sighed.
"Aren't you dead yet?" Tidus asked Seymour when they ran into him again.
Seymour smiled at them creepily. "Sin has chosen me. I am part of Sin. I will be with Sin, forever. Immortal!"
"That's funny," Harry said. "From what I know of Sin, it's hardly immortal, just hard to kill."
Seymour looked at where Yunalesca stood, staff held ready to attack. "But without Lady Yunalesca, no one will ever attack Sin again. I will live forever!"
"Not if I can help it," Yuna said, then cast Holy.
Seymour hissed at the damage and glared at the party. "Then I will destroy you," he said, and attacked.
Once again, they kicked Seymour's arse, and, this time, there was nothing to stop Yuna from sending him. So she did.
They came across Jecht next, inside a ruined blitzball arena.
"You're late, Auron."
"I know," the red-clad man replied.
Jecht looked at Tidus, who cocked an eyebrow at him. Jecht sort of smiled and said, "So you came."
Tidus shrugged. "Not for you."
Jecht laughed. "No, I don't suppose you did," he said, looking at where Harry stood behind the younger vampire, something in his eyes asked Harry to protect Tidus, and Harry nodded.
Tidus looked between his father and the other vampire with a frown. Harry just smiled at him, so Tidus turned back to Jecht and said, "I hate you."
Jecht laughed again. "I know." He smiled crookedly. "When this battle starts, I won't be myself any more," he warned them. Then, looking at Yunalesca and Harry, added, "Neither will he."
"We understand," Harry said for the whole party.
Jecht nodded and turned into his aeon, which they beat ruthlessly.
When it was over, Jecht was just himself again, and he smiled up at where Tidus stood over him. "So it ends," he whispered.
Tidus nodded. "Say hi to mom for me."
Jecht nodded and closed his eyes. "I will," he agreed, then faded away into pyreflies.
Above them, a ball of black light glowed down at them, just watching.
"Father," Yunalesca whispered.
The light bobbed, as if in agreement.
"Let's set him free," Yuna said firmly, holding her staff out to start summoning.
"And end this," Auron agreed.
"Keep an eye on Yuna," Harry ordered Yunalesca as Yu came down to take control of the first aeon Yuna had ever made friends with, Valefor.
As Yunalesca hurried over to the younger summoner's side, the party met Valefor in battle and defeated it.
So it went, until there was nothing left but a ball of light, and that light formed into a greying man with full robes. He looked over at where Yunalesca hugged a crying Yuna, and then to where Harry stood, a streak of blood on his face from where Odin had gotten him and the wound had healed. "Thank you," Yu said.
Harry cocked his head to one side. "For?"
Yu smiled. "For coming back. For fighting me, no matter what. For being my friend, even when I sent you to your death."
Harry grinned. "You never tried burning me at the stake."
Yu shook his head. "I did worse, though."
"I suppose that depends on your definition of 'worse'," Harry said. "As far as I'm concerned, burning me at the stake was the worst thing my friends ever did to me, and they didn't even do it believing I'd live. You knew I wouldn't die, and, yet, you always worried. That made it worth being your friend."
Yu inclined his head. "I'll be waiting for you, when you finally figure out how to die."
Harry grinned. "I look forward to it."
Yu smiled, sadly, and looked at Yuna and his daughter. "Send me," he requested.
"We thought we'd have to fight you," Tidus said, confused.
Yu chuckled. "I am not yet so lost that I cannot keep myself from attacking my family. Send me, daughter of Braska."
Yunalesca rested a hand on Yuna's shoulder. "Remain strong, High Summoner Yuna," she said, then stepped forward to stand next to her father, who took her hand.
Yuna nodded and started the sending.
The air around the party filled with pyreflies as Yu and Yunalesca faded away. Auron stepped forward, pyreflies leaking from him, and nodded to Yuna. The girl swallowed, but sent him as well.
Just as the armour they were standing on started to break apart, the airship came thundering over and picked them up. They flew out a hole that had formed and the party went out onto the deck to watch Sin, finally, go away for good.
Above them, the aeons appeared, smiling. In front of Yuna, James appeared. "Send us, Lady Yuna. Free us from our prisons."
Yuna nodded, and started her dance again.
James looked past the dancer, at his grandfather, and smiled. Harry smiled back at him, understanding, and the child disappeared.
"Harry?" Tidus whispered, setting a hand on Harry's shoulder.
"Hm?" Harry asked, watching the fayth disappear.
"I'm hungry," the younger vampire said.
Harry frowned and turned to look at the boy. He took in the eyes hazing over with red and the unusually long fangs, horror welling in his stomach. "You're going into bloodlust," Harry whispered.
Tidus closed his eyes. "The party..."
Harry swallowed and looked around. No one was watching them, entranced by Sin's explosion as they were, so he grabbed the teen's arms and said, "There's only ocean beneath us."
Tidus smiled. "Jump."
Harry nodded, and, together, they jumped off the Fahrenheit and into the sea not far from the empty streets of Bevelle.
There was a search for the two vampires for a couple days, Yuna fearing the worst about their fate. But, finally, the search had to be called off, because Kinoc had asked them to come to the stadium in Luca, where the whole party could be congratulated. Kinoc was the only maester left, as Mika had been in Bevelle during its destruction, and Kelk had been one of the Ronso on the mountain who had died trying to stop Seymour in his mad quest up the mountain to destroy the people who had denied him.
"Yuna," Lulu said, walking up behind the summoner who was looking over the ocean hopefully, Fred next to her.
Yuna looked back at the black mage. "It's time?"
"Time for what?" a voice asked behind them.
Yuna turned around. "Tidus?"
Tidus and Harry pulled themselves onto the dock, soaking wet. "Hey," the blond vampire said.
"You're still here!" Yuna cried, throwing herself into waiting arms.
Harry rolled his eyes and cast a drying spell over both himself and Tidus. "My poor guns," he complained, pulling one of them out and dumping water out of the magazine chamber.
Yuna hugged Harry after letting go of Tidus, smiling up at him. "You can make more," she said.
Harry put the gun away and hugged her back. "I suppose I can," he agreed. Then he looked up towards the stadium. "Now, what in Merlin's name is going on over there? Doesn't look like a blitzball game."
Yuna shook her head. "It's a celebration of the destruction of Sin. I have to give a speech."
"Think they'd mind if a couple of vampires attended?" Harry asked teasingly.
"You're the guests of honour!" Yuna exclaimed. "Well, with me, I suppose."
"And we're going to be late," Lulu added.
Harry snorted. "If we're the guests of honour, they can wait," he replied easily, but started walking towards the stadium anyway.
"So, what happened?" Yuna asked the two vampires. "We turned around and you'd both just disappeared."
"We told you Sin and the fayth were what was keeping Tidus there, right?" Harry said. Yuna nodded. "Well, when those two entities disappeared, the only thing left was the vampire, and since Tidus had been turned with those other two supporting bits, the vampire wasn’t quite ready to support everything. So Tidus went into what we call bloodlust."
"We had to get off the ship, or I would have killed everyone on board," Tidus said grimly.
Yuna looked between the two in horror and they stopped walking, Lulu turning to look at them with understanding; Yuna had told the rest of the party about the possibility of Tidus disappearing while they were looking for the vampires.
"You cannot tell friend from foe in bloodlust," Harry said softly. "Tidus would have killed without knowing what he was doing, and I'm not sure I'd have been able to stop him."
"So we jumped," Tidus said. "Down into the ocean. Something about that... knocked me out of bloodlust. But it also, uhm..."
"The stress, of his vampire blood having to take over all of his systems knocked him out," Harry said drily. "I wasn't sure if he was safe to bring back to land, so we just sat on the ocean floor, him sleeping and me bemoaning the state of my things. Didn't have time to cast any spells on them."
Yuna giggled, having seen, during the course of their journey, how Harry always worried over water ruining his clothing or guns. The vampire had once said that it was because his thousand year sleep had left him with two useless guns and rags for clothing, and the party had laughed over it.
"You stayed underwater for three days," Lulu commented.
"Vampires don't need to breathe," Harry replied.
"I only just woke up today," Tidus said, blushing. "Harry and I came up near Macalania Lake early this morning, before the sun rose. Luca was the nearest town we could think of that was still in one piece, so we decided to swim here."
"Faster than walking, if you'll believe it," Harry added cheerfully.
Yuna shook her head. "If you say so."
"Blood?" Fred said to the two vampires.
"Oh! Do you need some?" Yuna asked.
Tidus shook his head. "Turns out water for me is like lightning for Harry. After three days in the ocean, I'm full of energy."
When Yuna and Lulu looked curiously at Harry the elder vampire shrugged. "I can't tell you. Tidus and I are the only two vampires I've ever heard of that could survive on a magical element, rather than blood. I don't know if it's just a gift I passed on to him because of my own damned luck, or if it was his vampirism reaching out to find something to help him survive. But he's like me now."
"But with Water," Tidus added with a grin.
Harry just sort of stared at the younger vampire for a long moment before looking back towards the stadium. "So, event?"
"Oh!" Yuna nodded and grabbed both Harry and Tidus' hands, then hurried down the dock with them, smiling.
Shrugging, Lulu and Fred followed them.
"You're back!" Rikku said as soon as the three walked into the back of the maesters' box.
"Cheers," Harry replied with a wink.
Rikku jumped forward to hug the two vampires, while Wakka and Kimahri both greeted them with smiles.
"Is she– Oh!" Kinoc stared at the two new additions.
"These are the two friends we've been looking for," Yuna said, gesturing to the two vampires. "I met them at the docks."
Kinoc looked suspiciously at Harry – all the maesters knew about him and his forbidden machina – and the vampire just smiled at him, uncaring.
"Maester Kinoc?" Yuna said, stepping nervously between Harry and the man.
"Ah! Yes. If you're ready?" Kinoc said, focusing on the summoner.
Yuna nodded. "Yes," she said, trying to sound brave.
A hand landed gently on Yuna's shoulder and Harry kissed her cheek. "We're right behind you."
"If Lulu doesn't burn him for kissing you," Tidus added easily, taking Yuna's hand in his own.
On the summoner's other side, Rikku grabbed her hand too. "You're not facing this alone."
Yuna smiled at the three around her, and at where Lulu, Kimahri, Wakka and Fred stood next to the door, all smiling their support. "We go out together," she said. "Because we all fought. It was all of our victory. I wasn't the only person who defeated Sin."
"Why not tell them that," Harry suggested.
Yuna nodded. "I think I will," she said, and they all walked out to cheers.
"May I present, High Summoner Yuna!" Kinoc shouted, moving to one side.
Tidus and Rikku let go of Yuna's hands and the summoner walked up to the edge of the box. "Sin is gone," she said, and the stadium broke out in cheers. Yuna swallowed. "Sin is gone, but I didn't defeat him alone. I fought with friends, all of whom have become my family, and I fought with your help, in your kind words and the hope that we would make it. I may have been the one to finally send Sin, but I didn't do it alone. I want to remember that.
"And... And I want to remember the people who fought beside us who aren't here any more. The people who fought Sin at Mushroom Rock Road and those who died when it attacked various cities and towns. I want to remember the people of towns long gone, and the summoners before me, who gave us the time to find another way. I want to remember the fayth – those men and women who died to give summoners a chance to fight back.
"And, most of all, I want to remember the man who created Sin: Yu Yevon." The stands filled with whispers as everyone turned to their neighbours in disbelief. But Yuna said, "Yu Yevon, leader of Zanarkand, who faced the horrible choice between the destruction of his people by Bevelle, or the continuation of their way of life by becoming Sin. I want to remember that, sometimes, good people are forced to do horrible things.
"Remember Zanarkand. Remember that Sin was created to protect it. Maybe, then, we won't make that mistake again." She glanced back at her party, all of whom were smiling in understanding. "That's what I want everyone here to remember."
Slowly, the crowd started to clap. And, soon, they were all cheering again, so Yuna stepped back to let Kinoc talk again.
"Do you think they'll remember?" Yuna asked her guardians.
"I don't know," Harry replied honestly. "But they'll think about it for a while. And maybe they'll make mistakes again, mistakes which remind us of Sin. But that's the beauty of being alive. They have that chance. We all do."
Yuna looked back at the stands and stared over the people there, cheering and laughing. "Okay," she said.
"The important part," Lulu added, "is that there's someone there to keep them from destroying themselves."
Harry rose an eyebrow at him. "Are you implying that I'm here to make sure humanity doesn't completely destroy itself?"
"Isn't that what you've been doing for five thousand years?" Rikku asked.
"Four thousand and a half!" Harry complained.
Tidus glanced over at the older vampire. "At least you don't have to do it alone?"
Harry blinked, then grinned. "No," he agreed, "I don't suppose I do."
"See! None of us is ever alone," Yuna insisted. "Because we've always got our friends and our family beside us. And even if some of our friends die, there's always someone else there. Right?"
Harry nodded and hugged the summoner. "Right."
So, I have a vague thought of doing a sequel, but since I'd be basing it on X-2, I feel that I should actually play that game first. (Or, at least, get further than Besaid, which is where I've gotten stuck all three times I've tried playing that game, now... -.- ) So the sequel, if there is one, won't happen for a while.
But Harry, as mentioned in an earlier chapter, knew about Vegnagun, and that hasn't really been faced, yet. So there's definitely potential for a sequel, I just have to play that damn game before I feel I can write it.
The sequel, if it ever actually happens, is going to be titled Twin Bullets. However, I've been working at it for over a year and gotten nowhere, so don't hold your breath. ^.^" (07 June 2011)