It took a little over seven years between Harry’s compulsion spell and the arrival of Muggles. He had thought, at the beginning of the wait, that sooner would be better but he soon learned otherwise.
Harry had cut himself off from the society the wizarding world had made for itself, made himself a pariah from the peoples who looked to him for guidance. He was the kooky magician on the hill; the prophet from old fantasy books. Visited only when advice or help was sought. He’d not gone quite so far as to actually live in a cave on top of a misty mountain, but he had grown quite skilled at glamour charms and his sense of humour was inherited from the Marauders after all. His home was a cottage on top of a bit of an incline a few miles outside of the capital, but a few well placed spells and he had any visitors convinced that his front porch was a cave. It was a bit childish, perhaps, but it kept him amused and the gawkers away.
Knowing he was going to leave before too long, however, changed his priorities. These were his people. The people he had saved and safe guarded for well over two centuries. There were none now alive who remembered the horrors first hand, with the exception of himself and perchance one or two of the elder centaurs, and all that was left was a racial memory of being wronged. He needed to make sure that any notion of vengeance was purged before he left. Before they arrived to take him.
So he started talking to others again. He had always kept in contact with his line - his descendants - but it had always been an uneasy relationship. Only Albus Severus, his second son, had learnt how to properly respect his father. Open arms, a complete disregard of the fact that his father looked like a brother, then a son, then a great-grandson. To Albus he had always been ‘Daddy’, even when he’d lived his first century looking every one of his hundred years while Harry remained youthful.
The others - Lily, Jamie and Hermione and Ron’s children, and the next generation after them - they had all taken Albus’ lead. But when Albus died, they lost that crutch. And Harry suddenly found his children and grandchildren treating him like a vagrant adolescent, or worse, as the hero and saviour that everyone else did. Visits had been perfunctory at the most. Now, Harry almost mourned the loss of family. Almost, but not quite.
Frederick Potter, the current ‘alpha male’ of the Potter tribe and its various offshoots, was a strange man. He was Harry’s direct heir, with too many ‘great’s to add to the grandson for Harry to care to count. And his attitude towards the patriarch of his line swung back and forth between irritable and totally cowed. He disliked Harry, that much was clear, but he stood in awe of him too, a long-lived respect rearing its head when the man’s temper flared. Needlessly to say, Harry distrusted him. If he was to leave he needed to leave a strong ruler in his wake, and this was not he.
Frederick had two young sons, twin boys - an irony that only Harry knew to appreciate - who both might have been options, had they been older. But they were only starting magic school when Harry reacquainted himself with society - too young yet. So Harry broadened his search. Looked at everyone. Wandered the streets seeing who was a natural leader among the people. He visited various societies and clubs, talked to the ministry that had set itself up.
Eventually he settled for a young woman who he rather suspected was of Tonk’s and Remy’s line. Both had died in the Eugenic battles, but their young son, Teddy, had been taken under Harry and Ginny’s wing as they fled. There had been a clumsy quietude to the werewolf and metamorphmagus’ son that he had inherited from both of them. The young woman - Fiona - did not have the Lupin name, but many of the older names had gradually faded from society at large.
Harry had taken Fiona - then twenty four - into his tutelage along with the mischievous twins that, aside from their hair, reminded him so much of the long-passed Weasley twins. It didn’t do to dwell, but sometimes, he’d catch a glimpse of his old friends in this newest generation and it made him feel so old. It was definitely time to move on. Fiona and the twins learnt well and gained the respect of all four of the quadrants as the twin’s pranks became fewer and Fiona’s words began to mean more than just another ill contented witch’s moans.
They knew, of course. Not society at a large, but Harry’s three personal ‘chosen ones’. They knew that he was leaving, that soon the Muggles would come and Harry planned to go with them. Everyone knew that the wards on the planet were such that, should anything remotely electrical come anywhere near, it would soon power down, the energy keeping it going disintegrating. So they weren’t worried about the Muggles staying. They could run all the experiments they liked, but it wouldn’t do them any good where the only experiments were the magical or old-fashioned ones.
Fiona and the twins knew that once Harry left he would not be coming back. They knew that he hated seeing the shadows of long-lost friends in the faces of people that would never know him like they had. They were sad for it, but happy too. They would, perhaps, lose their hero. But they could not lose Harry, not when he hadn’t really been theirs to begin with.
The twins planned. There was no room for fond farewells, if they were to do this right. It had to be a clean cut. So they made a prank portkey. They were not of huge magical power but between them, with several years adding to the spell work, they knew that it would land Harry directly in the heart of any spaceship that came near their planet. They had based this off the design of the decrepit old ship that had originally brought them, the skeleton of which towered over one corner of the Ravenclaw quadrant. So there was no knowing if the new spaceships might be at all similar in design, but the portkey wouldn’t put Harry anywhere he might be harmed - they ensured that too - so they weren’t worried.
Well, maybe a little bit. But not too much. After all, Harry had always been and would always remain the Boy-Who-Lived.
What they hadn’t counted on was the Muggles landing. They had assumed that the explorers would wait and watch and make sure that the force field around their planet wouldn’t harm them. And as soon as they learnt it would that they would leave, Harry safely on board. But no.
It arrived like a great silver shadow in the sky, and the twins had thrown their specialised portkey to their mentor, who had promptly disappeared. Then, about half an hour later, ten men and women had appeared in the centre square of the Gryffindor quadrant. Fiona had tried to talk, but it was Frederick who the people chose and the twins could only wait and worry and hope that Harry might save them or the Muggle’s system hadn’t degraded so much that they would be able to disappear straight back where they came from.
It worked out in the end, of course, because Harry played hero. When he had landed it was in one of the smaller hallways of the ship, leading directly to the medical bay. He had never travelled well with portkeys, but this one put the title ‘long distance’ to shame. He’d travelled several thousands of miles, out of the atmosphere and landed on a ship where the gravity boosters were ever so slightly weaker than the natural gravity of the planet below. Harry threw up spectacularly. He had just enough presence of mind to mutter a cleaning charm before he passed out.
He woke only a few minutes later - just long enough for his body to regain some kind of equilibrium and reduce his chances of vomiting again, when he heard voices - or rather just the one voice - cursing up a storm just down the hallway. Ever curious and somewhat delighted to work out that he was actually on a Muggle spacecraft, Harry did another quick charm to clean his mouth and freshen his breath before he followed the shouting so that he could make first contact.
“Dammit Chapel! I’m a doctor, not his bodyguard! I only just fixed his shattered shin bone, and off he goes again! Fucking asshole doesn’t know the first thing about taking care of himself - excuse my language,” a brunet man was shouting, while a young blonde woman who looked far too amused by everything, busied herself with some sort of handheld device.
“Er,” Harry began, instantly grabbing their attention. “Excuse me?”
“For what?” the man shouted, before recollecting himself and straightening. “Sorry. The Captain again, damn fool boy winds me right up. How can I help?”
Harry grinned shyly, wondering what kind of Captain it was who was well enough known to rile up this man that he felt comfortable sharing the fact with a stranger. “I - er -” he could almost hear Snape’s voice snarling in his ear - ‘So eloquent, Potter!’ - and gathered his wits. “Feathers,” he said, raising the arm that had sprouted the brightly coloured plumage.
The man stared blankly at the feathers for a moment, blinking at them, before sighing and gesturing towards one of the biobeds. “One of the science geeks, are you?” he asked gruffly. “I told Stephens to leave those damn Thelestrian crystals alone, but would he listen? My punishment for past sins - to be hounded by idiot geniuses for the rest of my days. What’s your name then?”
“Harry Potter,” Harry said, just avoiding starting his sentence with ‘er’ again.
He - a doctor, apparently - frowned, but didn’t comment on the fact that he clearly didn’t recognise the name. “Alright then, hold still while I do a few quick scans to see what’s wrong with you.”
“Bloody bastards thought it would be amusing,” Harry muttered to himself, obediently sitting as still as could. He was familiar enough with doctors, nurses, healers, medi-witches and all type of professional medics to know that if you did what they said, you’d probably get away faster. Although - and here he let his eyes take in the doctor’s lithe form and couldn’t help but smirk to himself - he was in no hurry to move further away from this particular medic.
Harry hadn’t thought he’d said the last comment loudly enough to be heard, so he startled a little when the doctor responded, “Thought what would be amusing, Mr Potter?” he asked. “If you have anything that could enlighten me as to why you have feathers growing from your skin when your DNA registers entirely human I would love to hear it.”
Deflating a bit, Harry let out a quick breath of air and slumped. “It was a prank. A reminder. Well, the feathers were. I could put up with the feathers. It’s the whole throwing a long-distance portkey and consequent vomiting I could have lived without.”
The doctor was staring at him rather blankly again, his eyebrows slowly rising across his forehead. If Harry hadn’t been so worried about making a good impression it might have been funny.
“This is a starship, not a high school, Mr Potter. I don’t know what a ‘potkey’ is but if I get the hands on the ensigns who thought it’d be funny to cause another crew member to throw up be sure to tell ‘em I’ll ring their necks.” The man finished his tirade by stabbing something that was not quite a needle into Harry’s neck with what was undoubtedly more force than necessary.
On the hope of remaining vaguely diplomatic Harry tried his very best not to spit up the injection that his body had automatically rejected. As part of the core defence group that invaded the Muggle buildings to free the Wizarding kind being experimented on, Harry was one of many who Hermione had protected with a spell she designed to make a body excrete anything inserted into the body via injection or incision. Potions were primarily ingested orally so the spell meant that they were protected from a large proportion of Muggle medicine but could still be healed magically.
“Ah – what did you just try and give me?” Harry asked tentatively.
McCoy’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean ‘try’?”
The urge to get rid of the fluid building in the back of his throat overwhelmed him and Harry had just enough time to grab a tissue before he coughed the contents of the injection back out of his body. He looked up at the Doctor sheepishly. “Sorry. It was a precautionary spell my friend used years ago – sort of redundant now but what with wizards not using needles I didn’t see the point of getting rid of it.”
The blank look just continued, although McCoy seemed a little affronted by seeing his medicine returned to him in such an unseemly manner.
“‘Spell’? ‘Wizards’? I’m of a mind to schedule you for a psych evaluation just this minute,” the Doctor finally spluttered when the silence stretched.
Harry scowled furiously. While it was understandable that McCoy might not get the references about portkeys and entirely-human-DNA-feathers, the whole ‘spell’ and ‘wizard’ thing was pretty much a neon sign saying ‘Me! I can do magic!’. Was it possible that Muggles had forgotten about the existence to magic? He laughed. Surely not.
“Really?” Harry asked. “But, I thought you people had it all worked out? That’s why we left in the first place.” Well, if they were going to be specific it was what the Muggles had done to them because of working it out that had been the real reason behind them leaving, but there was no point musing over semantics of a war that had ended two hundred and fifty something years ago.
When the stranger just continued to stare at him, eyes flicking between him, his feathers, the tissue, and the scanner that he still held, Harry figured that his best bet was just to come out with it and try and deal with the fall out when - and if - it happened. “You don’t know anything about Magic, Wizards or the Eugenic Wars that ensued when you became aware of our existence?” he blurted out incredulously. After all, if he was going to let a little slip, may as well share the whole story, right?
“Well of course I know about the Eugenic Wars!” the man shouted back indignantly. Then added, almost embarrassed by saying it, “That had nothing to with - with magic.”
Harry gaped at him. Had the Muggles really forgotten? How… how tragic. Really. They had chased a major part of their cultural and racial history from their very planet, nay solar system, and they didn’t even recall what it was! “Nothing to do with - oh Merlin,” Harry let out a bitter laugh, dropping his head to his hands, unsuccessfully avoiding his newly acquired feathers. He despaired of the human race sometimes, he really did. He glanced up into the curious brown eyes of his newest acquaintance. “The Eugenic Wars had everything to do with magic. Why the hell do you think they started in the first place?” His mind flittered back through the centuries and the face of the Dark Lord in his prime appeared for a moment, spells flying fast and thick at him, primarily, but also at the Muggles who had noticed, who watched too dumbstruck to try and duck. So many died. “Bloody Voldemort,” he muttered.
“I’ve heard that name… Voldemort… wasn’t he one of the leading researchers pioneering for human perfection?”
Harry only just kept himself from laughing aloud at that. While Voldemort had sort of been pioneering for human perfection, it was not the type of perfection Muggles imagined. And he had hardly been a researcher. If anything, he had been the most prominent victim of the Muggle researchers. His Horcruxes had been his pride and joy, but at the point when all the other test subjects had succumbed to death, they had kept Voldemort alive. Nothing quite like torture when the victim couldn’t die. Some might argue that, after all the death he caused, Voldemort deserved everything he received at their hands. But only Harry had seen him at his worst, only he had seen what the Muggles had put him through. And no one, but no one, deserved that.
“‘Researcher,’” he scoffed, turning back to the irony of that and burying the memories once more. “Oh if Hermione were alive today, how she’d scold you all. Megalomaniac running around killing people by the hundreds and he’s remembered as a ‘pioneering researcher’.”
The Doctor scowled darkly at him. “How am I supposed to know any better? Most of the records of that time were destroyed during World War III! On that note, how do you know so much?”
Harry blinked hard. Really. Another war? Were the Muggles really so self-destructive? “World War III? But we’d left before that, I’m sure of it…” Both the First and Second World Wars had been initiated in the Magical World by hot shot Dark Lords taking their obssessions out on the rest of the world. He wasn’t certain who the first had been, but everyone knew that World War II had been Grindelwald’s fault. The uprising of a particularly hot-tempered and charismatic Muggle with an ambition for world domination hadn’t helped, of course. Come to think of it, hadn’t there been some sort of attempt at Eugenics then, too?
Thinking back on their ten-year pilgrimage through space, Harry did recall a group of people - quiet ones, the ones you have to look out for - turning back on the escape pods. As he remembered, they had been an independent, proud group, living in relative isolation only to be thrust onto a ship too small for the number of people living there. “Oh,” he said. “The Zimbabweans. Stubborn nation. Must have made it back then.” He’d say good for them, except if they really had been the cause of a Third World War he really didn’t think it was all that ‘good’.
Seeing that the doctor was still staring incredulously at him he bit back a sigh and attempted to explain properly. “Muggles are non-magic people. I’d assume by now that everyone still left on Earth is a Muggle. The people down on the planet I imagine you're still circling are, originally, from Earth. We left at the end of the Eugenic Wars so that any future wars of similar nature might be avoided. Or at least brought down upon only our people and not yours as well. We tried to bring everyone, but some must have slipped through our nets. They were difficult times and we needed to leave as swiftly as possible. Voldemort’s rapid rise in power produced a massive increase in prejudice in both Magic and Muggle people - we had to leave before prejudice became fights and fights became war. Again.”
Harry stopped talking and had to close his eyes as memories once more crowded forward. Flashes of blood and pain and friends torn apart… he opened his eyes and the bright light of the Medical Room chased most of the shadows back into hiding. “You can’t tell the rest of your crew this,” he whispered urgently. “If the human race has forgotten about magic again, all the better. But you must warn them not to send anything electric to the planet. It might take a little while due to the advancements you’ve no doubt made, but eventually your systems will get fried.”
The stranger jumped, hand not hesitating as he reached for the communications panel on the wall beside the bed.
“Doctor McCoy to the Transporter Room, beam the away team up immediately!”
It was Harry’s turn to jump a bit when a voice replied from the speaker barely moments later. He knew about telephones and even mobile phones, he’d brought up by Muggles after all, but after so many years going without, a disembodied voice surprised him.
“We can no longer get an accurate fix on the away team, Doctor,” a thick Scottish accent said. “There’s some kind of interference. I might be able to force a better signal if you reckon they’re in immediate danger. If not, I’d prefer to wait it out.”
Harry couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the doctor when he heard that. “Figures. The interference won’t get better, it’ll only get worse the more you probe at our magic. They’re strong wards, hundreds of years old now, and they’ve only got stronger with each generation..”
The man seemed not so much frantic as resigned to worry as he asked, “Are the crew members in danger down there?”
Harry considered this. He had, foolishly perhaps, not considered the option of the Muggles going straight down to the surface without first exploring what the wards might do - after all, Muggle scanning had always been able to pick up Magic, although it never recognised it as such as the signatures of each Witch or Wizard differed so wildly. “In danger? Well, I’m guessing they’re in uniform-” Harry allowed his eyes another quick sweep of the doctor’s body. There really was something to be said about a man who didn’t remind him - however distantly - of dead friends. “-so they’ll stick out like a handful of sore thumbs, but as to whether their lives are in danger is entirely dependent on which quadrant they landed in. None of the houses will attack with intent to kill, but if they make it obvious that they don't have any magic and are human they will be faced with a lot of angry descendents.
“The peoples of the planet below are split into four basic houses, each house known for varying personal qualities - bravery, intelligence etcetera - and each house is a quadrant. The rivalries between houses goes back thousands of years, but that was overshadowed by the rivalry those people feel towards non-magic folk. When our existence was revealed to the human race as a whole they tried to use our most formidable attribute to breed a race of super humans. They slaughtered if we resisted. So we ran. And we hated. Our people are mostly united now, the old prejudices shoved aside by the need to survive. If the descendents of the families that lost loved ones find out that the descendents of the people who they believe to have slaughtered them are on the planet…” Harry trailed off.
“Shit,” the Doctor summed up succinctly. “Jim’s not big on subtlety. Knowing him, he introduced himself with a big ‘Hey, we’re from Earth, wanna be friends?’ speech.”
Ah. Not good. That would be rather like sending dear into the lion’s den with big ‘I’m lunch’ sign hovering over their heads. Speaking of lions - “Well then you’d better hope they didn’t land in Gryffindor, no one holds a grudge like they do.”
“How do we get the crew members back on board the Enterprise?” Leonard asked. “If Scotty doesn’t have a fix on them now and you reckon that signal’s only going to get weaker, there's no way of getting them back.”
“We?” Harry shot back, laughing briefly. “No, my good doctor, I’m afraid you and your crew are going to have to sit back and let the old fashioned hero do the rescuing this time. Can you get me coordinates of where they were last?” Maybe he was over-doing it just a tad, but the idea of a rescue mission, no matter how tame… well, it had been a while. And Hermione always had accused Harry of having a hero complex. Or a ‘saving people thing’ as Ron preferred to call it.
“Scotty. How’s that signal doing?” the Doctor spoke to the comm device again.
There was only a hint of alarm in the Scott’s voice as he replied, “Just a blip now, lad. We're going to have to wait this one out, danger or no danger. Disintegration happened too swiftly for me to try and boost it.”
“What are the coordinates?”
“I’ll send them up to you now.”
After a brief delay as the data was received by the Doctor’s handheld device and Harry tried to work out what points of reference ‘Scotty’ had been using for them, Harry felt rather like slamming his head to a desk. Preferably one of the good old sturdy, potion smeared ones from Snape’s old classroom. He was a practised head-slammer on those. “Slap bang in the middle of Gryffindor. Figures they’d land among the hot-heads.” Harry clambered to his feet in lieu of bashing his head in. He daren’t hope that Frederick had learnt any sort of subtlety in the three days since he’d seen the arrogant sod last so he could only cross his fingers that the man wasn’t around to offend - or hurt - the crew members too much.
He shook the magicked feathers loose from his arm with a hot pulse of his own magic and grinned when the Doctor protested the mess loudly. One more lingering look at the handsome man before him Harry tried not to throw in a leer as he bid him goodbye before apparating from the medical bay.
If there was one thing about the rescue mission that Harry could feel grateful for it was its brevity. The multiple distance apparations, with three extra people as side-alongs for the first three and Spock for the forth, were exhausting. Harry had learnt long ago the proper control needed to stop the constant leak of magic that most wizards and witches unconsciously laid trail to wherever they went, which meant that he was able to expend more magic without tiring. It did not mean he was impervious to the rapid drop in energy levels. He could have done the rescue mission twice, three, four times more and still have magic to spare but he was rather happy he didn’t need to.
The ten crew members, including the captain and the first officer, who had beamed down had landed in the centre of the Gryffindor quadrant – in the main town square to be exact – and, just as Dr McCoy had predicted, had promptly drawn a lot of attention to themselves. By the time Harry arrived a crowd had gathered, led by Frederick Potter and spouting the all-too familiar Muggle prejudices of long ago.
The Captain had already been hit by a rather weak stupefy, but luckily it only took Harry a few words of chastisement for the crowd to settle. Once it became clear that all that was going to happen was the returning of the Muggle strangers to their ship, the gawkers soon dispersed, only Fiona and the twins staying.
The first nine crew members Harry delivered back to the ship to the corridor outside Medical Bay where he had landed before and Harry took the time to direct them to carry the still unconscious captain down the hallway into the Doctor’s care and to take some kind of anti-nausea medicine to counteract the effects of apparation before he returned one final time to pick up Spock. None of the crew members seemed particularly suspicious of his ability to transport them while their own technology could not, but Harry supposed that, were you to remove the Earthly hearsay surrounding magic, it didn’t sound that ridiculous.
In spite of the fact that Harry and all of Wizarding kind predominantly spoke English, there was no suspicion that they were not simply aliens. And, taking the human element out of the equation, magic was just another power source that Harry’s people had learnt to channel. Another alien race with another strange ability that humans couldn’t quite comprehend – intriguing, certainly, but not worth the explosion of experimentation and demands for explanation that Magic had previously faced.
Harry bid Fiona and the twins a brief but fond farewell. They had been his best friends for the past seven years now and he would be sad to leave them, but what sorrow he felt was overshadowed by the sheer brilliance of his excitement at the unknown that the Muggles and their spaceship represented. It had been a long time since Harry had been faced with the opportunity to go on another adventure and by Merlin how he missed it!
He took the bag that one of the twins offered him that had a change of clothes and his photo albums in it. Harry didn’t have many material objects that meant much of anything to him, but he’d made another three photo albums of all of his friends and family on top of the one of his parents that Hagrid had given him centuries ago. He believed that a good picture, a good memory, and a bright smile were the best ways to commemorate his long lost loved ones. Anything else caused him to dwell too much on the past.
Ready to go, Harry turned to the only remaining crew member and smirked softly at him. He had left this particular gentleman until last because, in spite of looking very much like a human it was obvious that he was not. Aside from the physical differences – the pointed ears, the strange eyebrows and the green-tinted skin – there was also a strange aura to him that anything with a Magical core could recognize, no matter their experience. It wasn’t bad or powerful or even a Magic of its own – all beings had an aura of some kind – but it was very different. Very alien.
And what a mind the alien had! Harry only brushed the lightest of fingers across the surface of Spock’s mind and had been rewarded with a firework display of information. He apologised for the intrusion, for it soon became obvious thatthe First Officer did not keep a tight hold of his mental barriers when not at risk of physically touching another being, but it had told Harry all that he needed to know.
The Captain and his crew were part of an inter-galactic organisation that tried to keep the peace and to explore the limitless expanse of space. They were like children at times; stumbling around in awe of just how cool their mission was, little boys with fancy toys that they could do what they liked with. At other moments, they were older than Earth; the alien’s telepathy connecting him to his entire race and the vast majority of it ripped away in one day, leaving only a gaping sadness that even the psi-null humans sensed. Connection like that made Vulcans mature in a way that humans did not, in a way that made Harry feel as though he had found a kindred soul.
And if the revealing eyes - the only emotion on a stoic face - set in Spock’s face were any testament to his true feelings, the sense of kinship was not one sided.
“I’m not quite as young as you’re thinking,” Harry had shared with a wink before the last apparation, hoping that a little joviality might go some measure towards foregoing the round of vomiting all first-time apparators experienced. He should have known that an alien - and one such as Spock - would not react in any way he could predict.
Spock had gone a little pale and the expressive eyebrows curving across his forehead rose to his hairline, but he had not so much as coughed. “How old are you?” he had asked mere moments after their landing, with only the slightest of quivers in his voice.
“You wouldn’t believe me,” Harry told him quietly. “Or if you did, you’d have to know why.”
Spock’s eyebrows lowered in an imitation of a frown. A fragment of a memory from when their minds had touched flickering behind eyes that were so strangely human. The twisted face of a man that couldn’t die, and his saviour, his defeater, his mortal enemy and his hero - the young man who stood before him now - a flash of light, of that energy Harry called ‘magic’ and the aberration died. But Harry had not. Three parts of one whole that were never meant to be brought together and there, in the spaces between understanding, was the bizarre knowledge that Harry was - “Master of Death,” Spock gasped out.
Harry bowed his head, tucking his chin to his breast bone for a second before raising his eyes again. “About 250,” he answered Spock’s previous question. “I don’t know exactly - this planet’s rotation is not exactly the same as Earth’s and, well, I stopped counting after a while.”
“When were you born?”
“1980,” Harry whispered, as though expecting censure now in spite of the Vulcan’s seeming acceptance.
“Then you are in the year of your 280th birthday,” Spock stated simply.
Harry blanched. It didn’t change anything materialistically, he supposed, but to have been thirty years out in his approximation… it said a lot. It was far past time for him to have left his people - or the people who had once been his - far behind.
“I can authorise a civilian pass to the nearest Federation planet if that is your wish?” Spock asked, the deduction that Harry did not want to stay on that planet was hardly a challenge for his genius.
“Yeah. That’d be… yeah. Thanks.”
“Your age surprises you.”
Harry shrugged half heartedly. “A bit. Shouldn’t do, I guess, but it means that it’s been over a century since the last of my children died. We’re a long lived people, Officer, but I have seen my friends, my wife, my children, and so many more die of old age.”
Spock gazed solemnly at him while he got lost in memories of the past and offered simply, “I grieve with thee.”
Was it strange to look into the face of someone who appeared to be older than him and wonder at how young they were?
Then Harry shook himself clean of the memories of the past and smiled brightly. If he was to make a new future for himself - one in which the shadows of a previous life were just that - shadows, not constant ghosts breathing at his shoulder, then he must start anew.
“I’m afraid I brought nothing with me except a memory or two, so I shall be rather useless for the rest of the trip.”
“The Federation looks kindly upon people who risk their personal health for that of the Captain and crew members of their starships - in particular their flagship,” Spock informed him. “A monetary reward will be awarded to your bank account as soon as you have shared your details with them.”
“Flagship, eh?” Harry teased, “That must make you young things the best of the best then?”
Spock raised an eyebrow saying, “indeed.”
Harry laughed delightedly. “Well, I shan’t keep you from your duties any longer, Officer. If you could just let me know where I might be able to apply for living quarters I’ll be out of your hair.”
“A curious turn of phrase since you have never been ‘in my hair’,” Spock replied blandly, a low hum of amusement hidden in his tone.
Harry laughed delightedly. “Indeed. But then I’m sure that by now you are well used to the curiosities of human idioms. I wonder how many of your colleagues have worked out that you know more than you let on?”
Spock did not reply to this comment, though there was a flash of amusement in eyes that were too human to mask his emotions entirely. “If you return to the Medical Bay I will have a yeoman meet you there. It would also be advisable for Dr McCoy to give you a complete physical as you have no medical records.”
“Yes, that is a good idea,” Harry murmured in agreement, pausing to consider an entirely different kind of ‘physical’ he would be more than happy to perform for the gorgeous young doctor. He caught himself before the thought developed too far, bid farewell to the First Officer, and headed towards the Medical Bay as suggested. He should be ashamed of himself, really. Two minutes with a handsome fellow who didn’t remind him of lost friends and it was as though Harry were a horny teenager all over again.
Mind you, he supposed he couldn’t be help entirely accountable for having a suddenly overactive sex drive. Harry had only had sex once since his beloved Ginny had died and that once had been an unmitigated disaster. The wizarding population of the world had never been particularly prolific and when you took that entire population and put it into a confined space it did not take ten years for everyone to be friends of friends with everyone. To find out that the young man he’d been quietly dating was the great-great grandson of Viktor Krum’s little brother had rather put a spanner in the works.
And Harry did have the body of a twenty-something year old. To be faced with a whole ship full of gorgeous young officers who he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt weren’t related to him was a strange, blissful sort of torture. He supposed that there might be a relative of the Dursleys’ floating about somewhere, but given the percentage of Americans and Aliens in the crew Harry felt safe in the assumption that they were not floating about on this particular spaceship. The Dursleys had hated foreigners as much as they did magic.
His musings were mostly superfluous, though. Harry had always been a one-person-at-a-time kind of guy – even when Ginny looked old enough to be his grandmother he had eyes only for her – and now he had his eyes set on the grumpy doctor he’d met earlier. To others it might seem odd that he could meet someone for a few minutes and decide then and there that he’d like to try and love them, and it had certainly got Harry into messes before, but he was a Potter and the godson of a Black; neither of whom did things by halves.
“Knock knock,” Harry called cheerfully as he arrived at the Medical Bay, the automatic doors swishing open before he had a chance to knock properly.
“Oh good, you’re back,” Dr McCoy grouched sarcastically, though there was concern in his voice that was unmistakable and totally unsurprising, given the captain who was lying prone on one of the beds behind him.
“He’s in no danger,” Harry reassured him. “The – ah – energy that was directed at him was ‘set to stun’ I believe is the terminology you use?”
The Doctor snorted. “And I suppose you’re the one to blame for the number of hypos I just had to administer?”
Harry shrugged. “Apparation is a tricky business. It’s like being squeezed into a very small tube and sucked up a straw and bam! Next thing you know, you’re the right size again but in some place completely different. Doesn’t help that the gravity settings on your ship are slightly different from the planet surface either.”
McCoy had winced at the description, but like the other crew members didn’t seem too fussed about the idea of being instantaneously transported from one place to another. Muggles really were too creative and clever for their own good, Harry considered.
“D’you want me to wake the Captain up? He’ll do so by himself in a couple of hours anyway,” Harry offered.
“Best to leave him. Damn fool boy doesn’t get half as much sleep as he ought,” McCoy grouched in a fond sort of way that made Harry smile foolishly. “What are you doing littering my Medical Bay? If you want to return dirtside you better beam back now before we leave.”
“I’m staying,” Harry said instead. “Mr Spock said he could get me a civilian pass to the next Federation planet if I wished and I took him up on that. As to why I’m here here, not just wandering around irritating random crew members, Mr Spock suggested that I get a complete physical so that I have some kind of medical record should an emergency arise.”
The Doctor nodded, then waved him over one of the biobeds down from where the Captain was still out cold. “Hop up here then and we’ll start with the basics. Full name?” he asked, reaching for his ever-present PADD and opening the relevant form file.
“Harry James Potter,” Harry replied and bit his lip in preparation for what would probably be the next question.
Sure enough – “Date of Birth?”
“31st July 1980, by the reckoning of the Earth calendar at the time,” Harry replied honestly, laughing out loud when McCoy sent a glare that rivaled any of Snape’s. “No, honestly. I sort of accidentally became the Master of Death and haven’t aged a day since.”
“‘Sort of accidentally became Master of Death’,” McCoy repeated back mockingly. “Of course you did. Because I don’t get enough of that kind of shit from Jim. I’m going to need a whole different set of forms for the barrel o’ fucks that kind of information’s gonna kick up.”
“Sorry?” Harry attempted to apologise, still fighting down the laughter.
The Doctor shook his head and closed his eyes momentarily in a give-me-strength sort of gesture before eying Harry critically for a moment. “I don’t know why I bother being surprised anymore. I’ll just put you down as 21, shall I? That’s old enough to be legal just about anywhere but young enough that it’ll take people a while to notice the whole not-aging thing.”
“Thanks, Doc,” Harry said, putting as much gratitude behind his words as he could. “You know, you’re awfully accommodating about this. Most people wouldn’t believe a tenth of some of the stuff I’ve said.”
“It’s strange, I’ll give you that, but I’m starting to get used to that. God help me.”
The rest of the interview and the physical that followed it followed along the same lines - standard questions with non-standard answers decorated with enough snark it’d make Snape proud. Although some of the niggling worries that almost three centuries of living should have put to rest were finally absolved. Other than a strange energy that McCoy could detect but not identify there was nothing at remarkable about Harry’s biology - to all intents and purposes he was a perfectly average bloke in his mid twenties.
“Although you could do with eating more,” the doctor grouched, poking at Harry’s ribs.
Harry rolled his eyes. “I eat plenty. I just still have the metabolism of a teenager.”
“Well then eat more,” was McCoy’s only response to that. “I still don’t like this weird energy my tricorder’s picking up off you,” he muttered, more as an aside than to Harry.
“What’s weird about it?” Harry couldn’t help but ask. His first assumption was that it was his magic, or possibly whatever it was that kept him immortal, but if he knew how it was behaving, maybe he’d get a better idea of what it actually was.
McCoy pressed some buttons on his tricorder and the screen above Harry’s biobed switched to the scanner view, showing a distinctly human shape, almost pulsing with whatever the scanner was detecting. The strange thing about it was that it although it darkened then lightened again - and did so in time with his heart beat, Harry noted absently - the energy clung specifically to the body, none of it broke lose.
Harry immediately knew what the energy was, and knew that he was the only one who would look like that under one of these scanners. Not directly because of the Deathly Hallows, but thanks to how long they’d kept him alive. The energy was indeed his magic, and anyone else would be leaking it like the doctor might expect - they couldn’t help it, it was in the nature of such energy. But Harry had decades, centuries, longer than anyone else to practice control over himself and his body.
For years, trying to keep all of his magic tied to his body, as closely as his skin, had been a constant task. Harry had, at one point, spent well over a year neither eating nor drinking nor sleeping, just clinging to his magic, hugging it tight to himself and not letting the smallest of tendrils free. It had been a terrible, dark time for him falling in the shadow of the last of his beloved childrens’ death. For their sake he had not allowed himself to mourn for Ginny when she had passed, so when darling Lily had breathed her last, Harry had let all the grief of all his lost friends settle deep into his bones.
He had lived, of course, where no other man could. He had lived to curse the title of ‘Boy-Who-Lived’. And he had learnt the beginning of control. It became his obsession over the following decades, to keep his magic all to himself for longer and longer periods of time. It was difficult, at first, but the rush of feeling magic literally pumping through his veins was addictive so he kept trying. Now he could do it without thinking. He controlled his magic totally, even in sleep. The initial rush was no longer there, but Harry believed that the taste of magic - of energy - on his tongue and in his blood was probably what had kept him from depression for so long.
He said none of this to McCoy, murmuring instead; “It’s my magic.”
“It’s beautiful,” the doctor whispered back, before collecting himself and turning red at the tips of his ears. “How are you keeping it inside you? It must be bursting to come out. Or is it instinctual?”
Harry chuckled a little at the last, “Far from it,” he corrected. “I worked very hard at the control I have now. My magic builds up a bit, but I’ve had plenty of time controlling the power levels of my spells as well, so I know plenty of ways of expending a bit of energy.” Harry winked and grinned at McCoy when he said that, pleased when the fading blush reappeared.
Unfortunately (for Harry and his hopes of asking the doctor out, at least) it was then that the yeoman Spock had promised to direct him to his temporary quarters arrived. She was a stunning blonde woman with a no-nonsense attitude that Harry felt certain she’d adopted in the hope that people might pay more attention to what she was saying than what she was wearing.
“Hello, Ms Rand,” McCoy greeted her, making Harry feel absurdly jealous at just a small amount of attention not being directed at him.
“Leonard,” ‘Ms Rand’ replied, pouting a little, “How many times have I asked you to call me Janice?”
“Probably the same number of times you’ve asked Jim not to,” McCoy replied, turning away from both her and Harry to put away the medical tricorder he was still holding and switch off the screen above the biobed. “If you’re looking for him, he’s still unconscious, and likely to stay that way for a couple of hours.”
“Oh no, I’m looking for Mr Harry Potter. Commander Spock has assigned him a room until we get to Colony 5.”
“That’s me,” Harry put in, waving and smiling in greeting, before offering her his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms Janice Rand.”
“Mr Spock tells me that you’re originally from Earth,” she said, shaking his hand briefly and dropping it again as quickly as she could whilst still being polite. “That your ship was one of the first that achieved long distance space travel.”
“Something like that,” Harry agreed amiably. “I’m afraid we’ve not had any contact with Earth since not long after we left. I apologise if I offend you in any way - I’m sure my manners are very outdated.”
McCoy glowered a bit at Harry, offered a grumbling response of, “Just remember your ‘P’s and ‘Q’s and I’m sure your accent will do the rest.”
Harry bit back a chuckle and smiled his most disarming smile at the Doctor. “Should I wait for you to pick me up from my quarters, Doctor, or shall I come and collect you from here?”
“This isn’t some damn fool prom date!” McCoy spluttered. “You can meet me in the mess along with everyone else.”
He fought down the disappointment that rose a little bitterly at the absolute conviction that McCoy declared their dinner to not be a date, his smile turning ever so slightly more brittle. “I don’t know my way to the mess yet, Dr McCoy,” Harry reminded gently.
McCoy huffed and scowled some more but the barest hint of his blush was back and Harry allowed a little hope that maybe the strange, caustic Doctor was just uncomfortable with the attention, not unappreciative. “Meet me here,” he offered gruffly, turning away from Harry and from Rand both, and escaping to his office.
Rand raised an eyebrow at Harry, inspecting him speculatively for a minute before a sly grin broke out. “You really fancy him, don’t you?”
Harry shrugged and tried to look ashamed but only succeeded in looking a bit smug. “I like people who’d still tell you an idiot even if they’re in love with you.”
“Well Leonard’ll certainly do that,” she replied, smiling politely as Harry let her leave the sickbay first. “But you should know that if you break his heart it’s not just the Captain - his best friend - who’ll come after you. He’s saved the lives of just about everyone on board in one way or another.”
“Good,” Harry agreed. “Although that warning won’t put me off. My previous serious relationship was with my best friend’s little sister. And she had six older brothers.” It was funny how, in hindsight, the various painful ways described to him in which he might die if he hurt Ginny were now a fond memory. At the time they had been bloody terrifying. Especially Charlie’s - the man hadn’t been a dragon tamer for nothing.
Harry hesitated, before deciding to go with the closest approximation of the truth he could without breaking the I’m-only-twenty-one cover. “She died. There was a pretty mean virus going around - a couple of our youngest and oldest had died from it already - and my Ginny was always a fighter, but sometimes…”
“Sometimes life just fights harder, huh?” Rand said, placing a warm hand of support on his shoulder. “It must be tough, on a colony so far from medical advancements.”
Harry bristled a little at that - the population of their planet was nothing in comparison to Earth, but magic could do things that Muggles simply could not. And Ginny had been the only one of their generation still alive when she’d finally moved on. But, having seen only a glimpse of the instruments McCoy had at hand, perhaps she did have a point.
“She meant a lot to you?”
“Huh? Oh. Yeah, yeah she did. How could you tell?”
“The look on your face - it’s the look my granddad gets when he talks about my grandma. She passed away about a decade ago.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry commiserated. “And yeah, me and Ginny were childhood sweethearts. Well, kinda. She was my best mate’s little sister, so mostly off limits. But it got to the point where he just didn’t have a say anymore.
“We got married straight out of school, which Ron and her other brothers weren’t best pleased about, but they’d all known me for seven years by then and knew I’d do right by her. And I think I did, in the long run.”
Rand was looking at him oddly by then and Harry realised that he’d started talking without thought for the fact that, if he was to stick to his story, he’d only had a year or two more with Ginny before she died.
“Are you sure you’re ready for another relationship?” Rand asked seriously. “Because you have to know, if you’re serious about dating Leonard, you have to be serious about long term, too.”
Again, Harry paused to consider the right way to answer. Eventually he settled with, “I did the rebound thing and, frankly, I hated it. I don’t want stepping stones, I want the rest of my life.”
“You only just met Leonard,” Rand reminded him. “You don’t know him. He doesn’t know you. Hell, you don’t know guys. From the sounds of it, you’re whole love life so far has been all about this Ginny girl.”
Harry tilted his head at her, curious as to why she’d say that. “Love life isn’t sex life. I never cheated on Ginny, but we didn’t get together until we were sixteen. I was a horny teenage boy living at a boarding school. Then I was a twenty-year-old widower with a bed that was far too cold. Why do you think I don’t know guys?”
Rand scowled a little, but Harry could tell she wasn’t too offended by what he’d said. He was exaggerating quite a bit anyway. He was squashing two hundred and eighty years of life into twenty.
“And I’ve always said that you should approach a relationship thinking about ways that it might succeed, not ways it might fail. And given what I’ve seen of Doctor McCoy so far, and your loyalty to him - well there’s a whole load of reason for success right there,” Harry continued with a smile.
“Fair enough,” Rand agreed, then stopped by one of the doors. “This is your temporary room. If you’re serious about Leonard your first step’s going to be finding a reason to make it permanent.”
“Any ideas?” Harry asked teasingly, glancing about the small room as he placed his bag on the bed.
“Nothing that immediately comes to mind, but I’ll let you know if I think of something,” she replied with a half smile. “The bathroom’s just through that door there and is shared with the bedroom on the other side, so make sure you lock both doors. There’s access to most of the civilian information through the desktop computer, although we’re out of range of some of the smaller data storing companies. I’ve sent you a data package containing all the information I could think of that you’d need to get started here. There are maps, your ID code, and some basic how-to guides. If you need any further help, just ask one of the crew or send me a message. Do you think you can make your way back to the medical bay without too much trouble?”
Harry blinked at the onslaught of information, but smiled warmly at her. It was obvious that she hadn’t got the job through just her looks, with organisational skills like those. “I’ll be fine,” Harry reassured her. “It’s a bit of a culture shock, that’s certain, but I’m pretty good at adapting.”
She looked at him dubiously - so far as she knew he was a simple, old-Earth colonist, after all - but she didn’t question him, just nodded and left him to it.
If Harry was being entirely honest with himself, the change from being the freak cousin who lived in the cupboard under the stairs to boy hero, saviour of all wizard-kind was a lot larger shock than what he was going through now. To someone who’d only gone to Muggle school until the age of ten it seemed like the only way to get technology like that on board this spaceship was through magic - and a lot of it, too - but it didn’t surprise him that Muggles had managed to make what should have been impossible a fact of every day life. So while it was all very strange, and a little absurd, the strange technology was nothing compared to being told that he was a wizard for the first time.
Harry moved to his bag and pulled out the few belongings he had. The extra clothes went into the wardrobe, and the photo albums he placed upright along the shelf above the bed. There was a toothbrush and a bar of soap that Harry blessed the twins for having the foresight to pack and then there, underneath everything else, were the Deathly Hallows. Following him again.
Harry had lost count of the number of times he’d tried to throw away both the wand and the stone. Once, in despair, he’d even tried throwing away the cloak too. But to no avail. Every time he’d snapped the wand or thrown the stone into a lake, they appeared the next day as good as new. He’d given up trying to get rid of them, but he was certain that the twins had not packed them, and he knew he hadn’t.
Glancing at the clock provided for him on the bedside table, Harry noted that it was only half past one in the afternoon. His watch was still attuned to his old home, and read six thirty. Considering that he would no doubt be called to the Captain’s office for a debriefing once the man woke up again, Harry set the Deathly Hallows on his bedside table and kicked his bag under the bed. Then he toed off his shoes and curled up on the bed to grab a nap whilst he could. It was likely to be a long day.
A little less light-hearted than the first, especially the beginning. We writers like to think of it as ‘character building’ but really it’s just us writing about our characters getting beaten up (physically and emotionally). Snippet of present-tense, second-person writing because I’m a rebel like that and a pinch of angst to spice things up. On the plus side there’s good food and glomps for all, because I just can’t take myself that seriously for a whole 9k words ;)
There’s white and black and silver, and by God how the silver shines. There’s clear plastic - and why’s it called clear when it makes everything fuzzier? - scattered around, hanging from ceilings and specked with red. There’s red everywhere amongst the shining white, why red? It’s quiet to start off with, but the noise is growing now, like you’re just getting your hearing back after an explosion. There are muffled voices, fuzzy like plastic, and scratching and scraping, but louder and louder until it’s the loudest thing of all is the screaming. There’s so much screaming. So much pain. But it doesn’t scare you, you’ve lived with screams. What scares you is the beeping. It’s quiet and constant and you couldn’t hear it at first because it’s always been there but your world is narrowing down even as it gets larger and suddenly the beeping is all you can hear. And it’s getting faster and faster and faster and faster and faster and you know that it can’t keep on like this.
More red splatters across the shiny world you’ve found yourself in and you start to wonder if maybe you’re the one who’s screaming. Is it your pain you’re feeling? You didn’t think so. There’s a crescendo moment - you’ve never been that big a fan of music, so maybe that’s the wrong word - everything’s happening at once, the impossible beeping impossibly faster until -
This is your pain. You know that because it explodes across your chest worse than Basilisk venom, worse than cruciatus. The beeping is just one, high, constant note now. The blackness that’s always been haunting your vision around the edges creeps towards the centre of your world, dark tendrils of thrilling power closing your eyes and flooding your veins until all that’s left is a thin sliver of silver specked with your blood.
Harry woke with a gasp and flung himself off the bed, rolling into a crouch at one side and already grasping for non-existent IVs to pull from his arms before he remembered where he was. A choked sob escaped his throat without permission, and Harry buried his face into the comforter thrown over the bed for a few long moments. Once he’d steadied his breathing he relaxed from the crouch and slumped sideways against the side of the bed. It had been decades since he’d a had a dream like that.
It had occurred a year after Harry became Master of Death, in the first wave of Muggle experimentation. Harry had just received news of what the Muggles had started doing and it was in the process of warning as many as he could to run and hide that he himself got caught. It was a little demeaning, in all actuality, how easy it had been for them to capture him. But he’d been eighteen, not even full magical majority and the control he had over his magic has poor at best. He didn’t so much leak it as spew power over everything. Even before the Deathly Hallows Harry had been far and away the most powerful wizard of his generation.
A full twenty-eight hours of quick-fire apparition before he landed in the middle of one of their traps. Harry hadn’t even fought them, just let the Muggles take him to one of their facilities. He’d always managed to make miraculous escapes before and he did not doubt that it would happen again. Of course, it didn’t quite work out like that.
Harry couldn’t really remember all the details of his stay. He’d only remained there for three weeks in total and the majority of that time he was so pumped up on drugs to ‘keep him sedated’ the only memories he had were deluded, twisted things that were more like remembering a dream. What Harry did know, however, was that the thing that got him out in the end was not outside help - or even inside help - and it certainly wasn’t his own doing.
No, the Muggles only had themselves to blame, although they couldn’t have foreseen the consequences. Like Voldemort, when they finally captured him a couple of years later, it did not take them long to work out that their new science project could not die. Which was all the more reason for them to push further and faster, stretching to touch the impossible. They could not have possibly known that the man they were killing over and over again was intimately acquainted - and Master of - Death.
Death had not had a Master for a long time - more than the centuries and millenium that humans measure time in - Death is timeless, after all. And he must be ruled. He would not have created the Deathly Hallows if he had not been on his search for his next Master, a Master of his own choosing. And Harry had more than earned the right to live. Death is faithful - he will forget no one - and he is loyal - he will come for everyone - and when he chooses a Master the loyalty of a million deaths are at his feet.
So when some puny mortals try again and again to inflict him on his own he gets angry. Once or twice he could let it go, but almost daily for three weeks is out of the question. According to what Harry heard after the incident, when he was home once more and burning from the loss of his three week high, Death made angry was not a pretty sight. Not that the others had called it that, but Harry knew what they meant.
Over the years Harry had become careless about dying. Not on purpose, just because Death was one constant. A constant that had eaten so many lives he had long since become sentient. His logic was odd and twisted, and having a conversation with Death was like having a conversation with a two year old sometimes. A two year old with limitless knowledge. And Death had changed over the centuries, as he became more familiar. A figure in a cloak, face concealed, to start off with. But now, if Harry were to die, he’d see a face, a person, dressed in old fashioned wizarding robes and with a ready smile. He never lost the scythe though.
Dying didn’t scare Harry, not when Death was his friend. But those lost weeks where he can only remember colours that hurt and noises that smelt, they scared him. He was like any other human being, he supposed. Scared of the unknown. And the unknown in the past is all the more terrifying because it’s gone now and there is no chance for an explanation.
Breathing under control, Harry stood up straight and shook himself out a bit. It would not do to dwell too much. He’d been too self-confident before, he realised now, in thinking that the transition from his comfortable life planet-side to this shining, unknown future would be smooth. But as magic affected electricity, it affected style and décor too. Everything was darker, earthier, when light came from candles and the use of plastic was impractical at best.
The Enterprise, though… She was beautiful, certainly, and Harry knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would grow to love her. But she was gleaming white and silver, and that fact couldn’t help but raise old memories long since put to rest. Harry did not think he’d have the nightmare very often, but he wouldn’t be surprised if he revisited it more than a few times in the coming months.
He hummed in contemplation to himself, glanced at the clock and wandered over to the replicator in the hope of summoning up a quick snack of some sort - a cup of tea would be wonderful, but he doubted that anything created on the spot would measure up to a properly steeped cuppa. He’d find a way of figuring a way around that later, but for just then, a pastry and a glass of orange juice sounded good.
And it was lucky it sounded good, because it looked and tasted awful. Harry glowered at the strange contraption in suspicion and left the caramel shortcake to one side whilst he took the glass of orange juice down the sink and poured himself a glass of water. His stomach grumbled in protest, but there was nothing to do about it now. He sifted briefly through the instructions that Rand had left for him to check that he hadn’t just punched the numbers in wrong, but no explanation seemed forthcoming, so he changed his attention to the other information provided.
The ID code appeared to double as an email address, which was both useful and slightly disorientating as his voice itself seemed to be the password, but it was the maps of the spaceship he was onboard that drew Harry’s attention fastest. It was an odd looking ship, nothing at all like the rockets that he remembered from his childhood, but a\s odd as it was, it was equally beautiful.
Muggles - American ones in particular - always seemed to have this odd fascination to having everything in the perfect order and arranged just so. It was something that Harry - and his kindred with him - found almost disturbing, the square, cleanliness that Muggles seemed to enjoy so. From the glimmering skyscrapers to towns that, from the air, looked like a sheet of squared paper all coloured in. So the gentle curve of the corridors here was - comforting, almost.
Of course, the precise curvature and careful proportions couldn’t hold a candle the chaotic sprawl of London in its prime, but it was enough to save Harry from going spare, of that he was certain. He wondered, a little absently, a little fondly, a little sadly, whether or not London still existed. If there had been a third World War, like McCoy had mentioned, London would no doubt have been one of the cities hit the hardest. And Harry already knew what Muggles were capable of doing to each other.
His attention was broken from further musing when a sharp knock came from the doorway. Harry glanced at it for a moment, glaring a little sullenly at the number pad that was present instead of a door handle and decided, this time at least, just to call out ‘come in.’ Given the efficiency of the knock it came as no surprise that it was Spock who entered.
“Hello again, Commander,” Harry greeted amiably enough. “Has the Captain reawakened then?”
“Mr Potter,” Spock offered his own acknowledgement. “Captain Kirk is waiting for you in his ready room for your debriefing.”
Harry had enough control over his faculties not to actually snort in amusement at that. The Captain might officially be in charge, but it would be fair to say for that particular mission he wasn’t exactly the person who’d taken point. He didn’t say any of this to Spock however, although he suspected that the Vulcan had a good idea where his thoughts had gone, and stood to follow his lead to wherever the Captain’s office was.
“So has it been decided what’s going to be revealed to the general populace of the ship regarding my - ah - colourful past?” Harry inquired.
“Am I the only one aware of your true nature?” Spock asked.
Harry tilted his head, eyeing Spock curiously. “I first appeared on board just outside your Medical Facilities. I did not know, then, that human kind had forgotten about magic. So Dr McCoy knows about my magic, possibly his nurse, too, if she overheard our conversation. When I returned you suggested that he give me a complete medical examination, during which my date of birth was asked after. I could have lied, I suppose, but I didn’t know what purpose that would serve. I’d also prefer to lie as little as possible.”
They reached the lift and spent the journey in it in contemplative silence, which was fortunate for Harry because he was entirely unprepared for the door to open onto the bridge. At least he only gaped at what he saw, rather than come to a spluttering stop mid-sentence. He was 280 years old, had personally travelled through space for almost two decades, and had seen the silver shadows of the Enterprise from the planet whose orbit they had now left. But actually walking into the bridge was like walking into the set of a sci-fi movie.
You could take the Muggle out of the magic kid, Harry thought absently, but you couldn’t take away the Muggle TV. Centuries of experience containing his emotions or not, it did not stop Harry from laughing out loud and racing on to the bridge with all the excitement of a five year old at Christmas.
He recognised one of the bridge crew as being one of those he’d brought up from the planet, and Rand was standing beside the station of a stunning dark skinned woman who Harry had caught a fondness for from Spock’s memories. But he didn’t pay much attention to them, spinning in the spot trying to take in everything and coming to a halt when he faced Captain Kirk.
“You must be the elusive Captain Kirk,” Harry said, racing forward to shake the man’s hand.
Harry chuckled, but his eyes couldn’t stay on Kirk for long, swivelling around once more to try and take in as much as he possibly could. “You’ve been unconscious the last couple of times I’ve met you. I like the chair, by the way, very ‘King of the Rock’. Or ‘King of the Ship’ I guess.”
“Don’t compliment the chair,” someone else cut in, their voice fast becoming familiar to Harry.
And Harry couldn’t help but beam at him as McCoy entered the bridge. “Doctor McCoy! Pleasure to see you again. You didn’t tell me the bridge was so spectacular - neither did you Mr Spock. Both of you know my past, and for neither of you to warn me of its brilliance… I’m sorry, I’m babbling a bit, but this ship is like something directly out of my favourite TV shows as a kid.”
Harry took a deep breath and pressed his lips shut, still grinning foolishly as his eyes continued flickering over everything.
“It’s always a pleasure to meet someone who finds my baby as beautiful as I do,” Kirk replied, his tone a careful cool fondness of someone who wishes to like a stranger but doesn’t trust them enough yet. Then he added, in a decidedly un-measured tone; “The chair is pretty fantastic isn’t it?”
Harry laughed again as several of the bridge crew groaned or rolled their eyes in exasperation. “I’m Harry Potter, Captain, it’s a pleasure to meet you too.”
“Right, onto business then. I hear you’ve quite a tale to spin for me, Mr Potter?” the Captain said, standing from The Chair and starting towards a different door leading from the bridge.
“I suppose,” Harry agreed. “Although, really, I think the decision as to whether everyone knows or not should be made as soon as possible just so that I won’t have to keep retelling it. I’m used to people just knowing.”
“The decision can not be made without the Captain’s input,” Spock said.
Harry rolled his eyes, “I know, Mr Spock. I’m an old man. Old men - humans, at least - like complaining. I don’t do it as often as I’m inclined to, so you’ll have to excuse me when I do.”
“Old? You can’t be over thirty,” the Captain interjected. “Well - you could, but you said ‘human’.”
“You might want to sit down before you hear this story, Jim,” McCoy said, grinning in preparation for what he knew Kirk’s reaction would be.
And so, for the third time that day, Harry retold the basics of his life story. “I have a couple of photo albums if you want photographic evidence,” he offered when Kirk continued to stare blankly at him several minutes after he finished.
“Dude,” Kirk said, apparently forgetting that he was Captain. “Dude,” he repeated. “You. Are awesome.” Then he turned to McCoy, who was clutching the back of Kirk’s chair, and almost doubled over with laughter. “Bones, I think I have a new hero.”
Harry blushed a bit at that declaration. His people had seen him as a hero, of course, but then he’d been lauded in the press as everything from saviour to the next Dark Lord, so he had considered all public opinion of him insignificant by the age of sixteen. But Captain Kirk was a stranger, a Muggle, and a pretty damn heroic person himself so his word actually seemed to mean something.
“Captain,” Spock interrupted. “If you could get back to the point?”
Kirk and McCoy both straightened, adopting a more professional air, but it was the slight pinking of the Captain’s cheeks that Harry had to stop himself from laughing at. From only knowing the Captain for about an hour, he was 80% certain that Kirk was not flushing just because he’d made a bit of a fool out of himself. The Captain seemed like the kind of person who, when not on duty, went out of his way to make a fool out of himself for the dual purposes of having a bit of fun and making everyone else feel better about themselves. Which meant that Kirk had a crush on his First Officer.
Harry glanced at McCoy to see whether the doctor had seen it as well, and was further amused to see that he was wearing an expression that indicated he was very aware of his best friend’s infatuation and equally certain that it was a lost cause. Harry wasn’t so certain about the latter, but he didn’t really know these men, or the world they lived in, so decided to reserve judgement.
“I think that the best way to approach this would be to keep it an ‘open secret’,” Kirk said, drawing Harry out of his musings.
“Clarify,” Spock demanded.
The Captain’s attention narrowed down so that he was focussed entirely on the Vulcan. “Mr Potter’s a wizard, someone that human beings have persecuted for millennia. To announce to the Federation at large that we have a fully-fledged, undying Sorcerer on our hands would invite exactly the kind of shit storm we don’t need. However an explanation for Mr Potter’s existence must be provided, as well as well founded-reasoning for the Federation to not return to the ‘magic planet’. Therefore, I suggest that in the report we… fabricate some facts.”
“You are suggesting that we lie to our superiors,” Spock paraphrased solemnly.
“Yes, Mr Spock, just so. We will tell them that the race existing there is alien, but similar enough to humans that we assumed they were early colonists. And from there we can essentially tell them the truth - they have next to nothing electric because their planet has an energy that dissipates it.”
“Actually, it’s us that have the energy-” Harry cut himself off at the sharp look Kirk sent him. He supposed saying the energy belonged to the planet made the story more plausible.
“And Mr Potter?” Spock asked.
Kirk eyeballed Harry for a bit then smiled softly. “We’re part of an exploratory organisation, are we not? Our technologies weren’t compatible with those of Mr Potter’s planet and the rest of his race weren’t interested in joining us. But if one person were to express an interest - surely Starfleet would have no complaint in us ferrying one alien to a different planet where space travel is easier and more accessible?”
McCoy still looked amused. “And the bit about him being ‘Master of Death’?”
“It’s not nearly as threatening or as interesting as it sounds, doctor,” Harry remarked, perhaps a little more coldly than he intended. “I don’t age like everyone else does and I have a few supernatural trinkets that refuse to be left behind,” he paused, considered, and smiled a little. “And if some fool gets it into their head that they want to see how many times they can kill me in a day they might not have that head for much longer. Death doesn’t care for me, particularly, but if called too often for a soul he can’t take he tends to get irritable. And Death doesn’t have the same metaphysical limitations that we do.”
“You realise you sound completely mental, right?” Kirk asked in a deadpan tone. In contrast to his tone, his eyes were vibrant blue and flickering with possibilities and questions. It was then that Harry gained a little understanding about the Captain. He was brash, and brave, and more than a little foolish on occasion, but a lot of that was covering the genius brain hidden behind. His face alight with hundreds of ideas Harry realised with a jolt that Kirk played the fool because then it took less time to explain why, as crazy as a plan might sound, it was still their best bet.
A glance at McCoy and Spock told him that the pair of them were all too aware of this defence mechanism of Kirk’s - no doubt there were several more that they knew and he did not.
“I’d offer an old family vow as a promise I don‘t mean any harm, but the only one I know is ‘I solemnly swear I’m up to no good’ which I don’t think will help,” Harry said. “As a more positive reassurance, however, I’m willing to open my mind to any one of you.”
“You’re a telepath?” Kirk asked, his eyes shooting briefly to Spock before resting on Harry again.
“We call the practice of guarding one’s mind against foreign invasion Occlumency and the art of that invasion Legilimency,” Harry corrected. “Both of which can be achieved by the majority of magic folk with enough practice and willpower. It was outlawed before we left Earth, however, as there were those who had taken to, well, raping minds, I suppose is the closest comparison that can be made.”
Spock looked positively outraged at that statement, as Harry supposed he had the right to having only heard half an explanation and already felt Harry’s mind touch his. “You tried to-”
“No!” Harry interrupted before any kind of accusation was made. “All I did was - the mental equivalent of a handshake. Trust me, if I’d wanted to hurt you, you’d be brain dead by now - your shields wouldn’t have stopped me. I was proficient in both arts before the age of nineteen. The core group of resistance fighters for our side, led by myself, all were. It was too dangerous for us to communicate in a way the Muggles could tap into, let alone actually meet in person! We had to know that if one of us was captured or killed there was no way to use us against the others. So Hermione and Draco made a mind web with seven cores - the most proficient of us to keep the web alive - with everyone else satellites around that.
“You cannot possibly imagine being part of something like that. It was a concept that no one had dared to try before and no one has the knowledge to attempt again. It demanded absolute and complete honesty between the cores, there were no secrets there, all of our darkest, ugliest secrets laid bare. And the slightest deception in anyone - core or satellite - reverberated throughout the entire web. It was the only way to eradicate any impostors or spies.
“As soon as we were free of the Earth’s stratosphere we broke the web,” Harry continued. “A tiny ship with the entire wizarding population squeezed on board and I have never felt so alone in my entire life. But it was imperative that we break apart and stay separate. Our conscious were bleeding together. Draco said that if we had stayed like that for much longer we wouldn’t have been able to separate - we’d have become one, multi-bodied entity. As it was, it was the most painful thing I have ever done.
“And that was all before I was twenty-five. You said I’m 280 now - I’ve had plenty of time to practice. Mind-magic has become something of a taboo over the last two hundred years. Everyone who knew or had been part of the mind-web chose not to talk about it. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that,” Harry chuckled humourlessly.
Kirk interrupted then. “How do we know, if you are so good at this mind-magic stuff, that you won’t just fabricate what we want to see?” he asked.
Harry opened his mouth to answer, but Spock cut in before him. “That is why it makes most sense for me to be the one to look inside Mr Potter’s mind. Whilst creating memories is not impossible it is very difficult. Even supposing you are capable of providing all of the details your brain subconsciously detects, counterfeit memories continue to… taste different.”
For Harry, when he started being able to tell the difference between fake and real memories, he attributed the difference to a sense of smell. It was a feeling that went beyond the senses people relied on in reality so he could understand the Vulcan’s difficulty in explaining it.
“Great!” Harry agreed, lounging back on his chair. “Are we going to do this your way or mine?” He asked Spock.
“There’s more than one way to read someone’s mind?” Kirk asked, brows furrowed and eyes lit up with possibilities again.
Harry leered. “There’s more than one way to do anything,” he told the Captain with a wink and felt a well of satisfaction that he managed to make Kirk look surprised, and McCoy look irritated.
Spock was, as ever, impassive. “My way,” he told Harry blandly. Harry couldn’t be certain, but he was almost positive that Spock was being ever so slightly territorial of Kirk.
Harry smiled blandly back and sat up, leaning forward a little. “Your way,” he agreed without complaint.
Spock’s fingers met his face half way and Harry felt the unwelcome slide of another consciousness trying to worm its way into his. He had become used, in the last two centuries, to being the one in someone else’s mind, the soothing blanket wrapping around others. It felt strange to be the one letting someone else in, and it took a lot of effort to peel back his boundaries and let Spock skim the surface.
He pushed forward his primary feelings about the Enterprise - escape, second chance, adventure, scared of the memories it brought out. About the people - foolish, brave, clever, not his, and so very young. And yes, there, McCoy - brilliant, warm, fondness. The Captain - hidden genius, hidden sadness, stubborn streak a mile wide. Faster and faster the impressions came and went; a thousand and one fleeting memories with emotions attached of the few brief hours he’d been on board, all orbiting the one idea.
I want to stay here.
Spock pulled out slowly, carefully, making sure that he didn’t knock any memories loose as he did so. Harry was grateful for the consideration - he’d never kept his mind particularly tidy - and while he’d come to terms with everything that had happened a long time ago, it still hurt to remember certain things.
“You may not be able to,” Spock told him, referring to the barely hatched idea that already had everything else revolving around it.
Harry tilted his head to the side and watched him curiously. “I know. But there have been many things that I might not have been able to do that I did, and many more that people said point blank could not be done - and yet I did. I think becoming a member of the Enterprise crew will be one of the easier things I’ve attempted in my life.”
McCoy and Kirk’s gazes were dancing between the two of them, Kirk grinning a little and McCoy scowling a little - it seemed to be a permanent state of being for both of them.
“He offers us no threat,” Spock told the Captain serenely. “It wouldn’t be difficult for him to kill us all if we wished, but the same holds true for any member of the Enterprise in the right place at the right time with the right intentions.”
“So cheery,” McCoy remarked as an aside.
Kirk brightened and bounded up from his seat. “Fantastic!” he enthused, and slapped Harry on the shoulder. “There’re always spots on the security team available, if nothing else opens up, but you’d end up having to spend at least three years dirtside getting the correct qualifications and psych evaluations from the ‘Fleet. We could bring you on as a civilian contractor, but you’d still need to be contracted in something - what specialties do you have?”
Harry chuckled warmly and stood too. “You mean besides the magic thing?” he teased.
“‘Magic thing’ isn’t currently one of our departments, and I really can’t see that application going down well with the high-and-mighties,” Kirk shot back, grinning wildly, “Anything usable?”
Harry considered, chewing on the inside of his cheek absentmindedly. “I cook a mean beef lasagne?” he tried. It wasn’t a lie - he’d been a good cook for the Dursleys before age eleven. Leaving them behind just meant that he had more options to chose from. But they were on a starship. The prize lady of the Starfleet. No way they didn’t already have a decent cook on board.
And yet -
“Really?” Kirk asked. “Does this culinary skill extend beyond the one dish?”
“Uhm, I can cook and serve a full roast dinner with one hand tied behind my back?” Also true. Although his hand had been less ‘tied behind his back’ and more ‘wrapped in a cast after Vernon slammed it against the hob’.
“Desserts?” Kirk continued questioning.
“No,” McCoy cut in before Harry could reply. “You consume too much sugar as it is, I’m not allowing Mr Potter’s choice of desserts influence whether you hire him or not.”
“Aw, come on Bones, won’t you let me have any fun?”
McCoy rolled his eyes. “What you classify as ‘fun’ normally end up with you in my Sickbay, either from a set of broken bones and raw knuckles or a shiny new STD that no one’s ever heard of before.”
There was no doubting it this time, Spock definitely stiffened. No one else saw it, and it was probably only because Harry had become so very good at watching people and knowing what they wouldn’t say that he saw it, but Kirk’s First Officer was definitely very protective of him. Whether it was just as a good friend or as something more Harry couldn’t say with any degree of accuracy yet, but it he had to place his money on one or the other, it’d be the latter.
“I’m not going to get into a fight or have sex with a pudding, Bones!” Kirk cried in exasperation.
The doctor just raised his eyebrows at his friend, causing Harry to giggle at the insinuation and Kirk to pout a bit. He did not deny it again though.
“The current chef is getting married and leaving the service next month,” Spock said, cutting into what would have grown into an awkward silence, had it lasted any longer. “We would need to get a new galley master at some point soon.”
“Good thing she’s leaving too,” Kirk remarked, wrinkling his nose. “Lovely lady - completely nutters of course - but I’ve no idea how she ever became a cook. And, you know, marriage is a wonderful thing, congratulations and happiness all around.” He added the last uncertainly.
Harry bit his tongue to keep from commenting on that. He wasn’t sure where Kirk’s uncertainty lay and he didn’t want to go off on another ‘in the good old days’ spiel over a conversational slip up that may or not be related to what he was about to say. But the word ‘marriage’ always did bring up fond memories.
“I can temp with her for a bit, if you like?” he suggested instead. “See if I’m any good before you make a decision?”
“This is the military, not some fancy cooking competition,” McCoy remarked. “So long as you don’t poison us Jim’s got nothing he can legitimately complain about.”
“I complain about illegitimate stuff all the time,” Kirk shot back, and Harry thought he only did it to be contrary.
“So long as it’s not your potential illegitimate kids I’ll try not to worry, shall I?” McCoy grouched.
“You always worry, Bones. You’re a worry monster, spewing your anxiety out into the world through scowls and bitchiness.”
“You talk out of your ass Jim,” the Doctor replied, and stood to leave. “And no, that’s not a medical opinion,” he added in a way that suggested they’d had this conversation - or one similar to it - many times before.
Kirk beamed. “You love me,” he stated.
“God knows why,” McCoy agreed. “Now get your skinny ass back into that ridiculous chair of yours and keep this bucket of bolts flying. I expect to see you at dinner.”
The four of them all trooped out of the briefing room and back onto the bridge. Harry took a moment or two, again, to take it all in, listening to Kirk and McCoy’s bickering with a smile. “Are they always like that?” he asked Spock softly.
“Yes,” he answered simply.
Harry nodded and grinned, half at himself and his life now, and half at how, no matter how much time had past or how far you travelled, humanity always remained the same.
Harry hummed to himself as he gave the dough he was kneading another good shove before popping it back in the bowl, placing a tea towel over the top and leaving it to rise. Behind him, the noise and clutter of the kitchen - or galley, really, since it was on board a ship - kept a bubble of suspicion and uncertainty around him, and he could feel the distrustful gaze of Lenora - the head chef - heavy on the back of his neck.
Perhaps it made him crazy or, at least, a little less mentally sound than he’d previously seemed, but Harry kind of like it. It reminded him of Snape’s classroom where the worst thing that could happen was a loss of house points and a detention. Snape had been a grumpy old git, certainly, but he’d protected all of his students fiercely and, in the end, at the cost of his own life. Of course, in Potions the bubble of quiet around him had more to do with the whole ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ propaganda rather than everyone trying to work out if he actually was going to poison them or not. Harry blamed Kirk entirely for this.
After they had finished in the briefing room the official reports had been completed, signed and filed away, and Harry had returned to his quarters to try and catch-up a little on human scientific and cultural development. Kirk, naturally, had taken the opportunity to get a foot-in with the Enterprise rumour mill.
By the time Harry left his rooms in search of McCoy and some dinner he had become a telepathic-alien-god-demon, who had come to save/kill/have sex with them all. Considering how well everyone took this in stride Harry had to wonder how often they got passengers of any of that type of description on board. It was nothing like the accusations flung about at Hogwarts (at least there he had always remained human and mortal - which was kind of amusing, in hindsight) but it wasn’t as though Harry wasn’t used to being treated like a pariah, so he dealt with it reasonably well.
Kirk found his reaction disappointing. McCoy found it amusing. Although that amusement could be more based on Kirk’s disappointment - Harry didn’t know and he didn’t ask.
He’d been on the Enterprise for a week now and everyone else had settled down and relaxed enough around him that Harry was starting to make some tentative acquaintances. The head of Engineering, a frank, stubborn fellow with a broad Scottish accent and a nickname to match, was fast becoming one of Harry’s closest friends on board. The combination of no-nonsense attitude and the accent that distinctly felt like ‘home’ made it easy for Harry to smile and joke and forget that he was an outsider.
And then there was McCoy. Leonard, as Harry had started calling him already. They had indeed had the dinner Harry had teased out of the man and it had both exceeded and failed to meet his expectations. Nothing had come of it, although the doctor got less flustered by Harry’s casual flirtation, but it had been a good evening. Harry had started picking up bits and pieces of information from the crew - from Janice Rand especially - and he had found out that Leonard’s ex-wife had gained complete custody over their daughter, whom he now hadn’t seen for almost five years except via video-feed.
It explained Leonard’s hesitation to get involved on a more serious level, at least, and it didn’t take a telepath to know that a long-term relationship was what he was looking for. Which meant that courting Leonard would be a slow process. Not delicate - he wasn’t a fragile man - but carefully building up trust, firming it into place and building on top of that. Harry was looking forward to it, actually. He and Ginny had just slotted into place, there had been too much going on to take time with these things. Now - now, he had all the time he could wish for and he wanted to curl himself inextricably into Leonard’s life, one date at a time.
He’d already been warned by several of the crew not to hurt Leonard. Kirk’s had been the least descriptive and, at the same, the one that had sounded the most dangerous. The Captain had just sidled up to him, clapped him on the back and said, cool as a cucumber, “Hurt him and I’ll end you.” Then he’d grinned - a quick, sharp grin with two many teeth and a million and one sharp edges - and walked off. Master of Death or not Harry had thought, watching him walk off, if there was anyone who could get around that, it’d be Kirk.
Kirk was a strange one, that was for certain. He was easy-going and amiable at times, and cold and hard as ice at others. From what Harry could tell, the Captain was on first name terms with almost all of his crew and didn’t have to enforce rules - they wanted to do their job to the best of their abilities for his sake. There was a bravado that spewed sexual innuendo left, right, and centre on a near-constant basis, but under that there were edges. Dangerous edges that would as soon cut him as anyone else.
There were people who knew about the Captain’s past, Harry could see it in their eyes as they watched him. Not pitying, although they probably had been at one point, but tender and fond in a way that if Kirk had been his mask alone he wouldn’t have been able to stand. But there were probably only two people who knew the whole truth of whatever messy past Kirk kept hidden, and neither of them would say anything.
It was wonderful the way basis of friendships didn’t change. Although, after Harry had made the comparison between Leonard, Kirk, and Spock, and the Golden Trio as they had been known, it was that much harder not to share commiserating glances with Leonard. Which only earned him strange looks in return.
Harry returned from his musings of the past week in time to retrieve a tray of biscuits - cookies, he reminded himself - from the oven and set them on a cooling rack. Then, pointedly, he picked one up, blew on it, and bit into it before waving cheerfully at Lenora. She continued to glower back and Harry turned away again before he started laughing.
Perhaps not the most encouraging way to introduce a new chef - “Keep half an eye on him so he doesn’t poison us, won’t you?” - But it had now been a week and surely they were used to Kirk’s jesting by now? Harry chuckled to himself and started making the caramel for the millionaire shortbread that he’d almost finished the base for. 100g margarine here, 100g sugar there, two tins of condensed milk and oh! Yes, a sprinkle of arsenic to spice things up a bit.
He glanced up and saw that Lenora’s glare had intensified. Maybe chuckling at his internal monologue whilst making food wasn’t the best of plans when everyone thought he might kill them at a drop of a hat. Harry had grown fond of creating a persona for himself, then disproving everyone who thought they knew him by doing something completely out of character; why not have a go at mad scientist? Well, chef, really, but potay-to, potah-to.
Janice wandered into the kitchen, pausing by him to kiss him fondly on the cheek before gathering together some lunch things. They had fast become friends, partly because she was Harry’s cultural go-to-girl when he didn’t have a clue what he was supposed to do or how he was supposed to do it, partly because she was a terrible gossip and he was the current source of the juiciest stuff, and partly because they just got on well.
“How are you? Coping with the devils down here?” Janice asked, winking at Lenora and grinning at Harry when the other woman hissed and turned away.
Harry half shrugged and left the bubbling caramel to take the shortbread base out of the oven. “Ah, they’re not so bad. Well. I think they’re not. No one’s actually said anything to me other than ‘Eep!’ so I couldn’t say for certain.”
“Oh, Harry,” Janice sighed, chopping what might have been celery if it weren’t a bit red around the edges. “What did you do?”
“Glamour. Pretended I had fangs for a bit,” Harry replied blithely, then grabbed a napkin to pick up a couple of the biscuits to pass to her. “Here, take these. If that tray’s for Sulu, he’ll love them.”
“Thanks. Fangs? You were going for the vampire angle then?”
“Well I didn’t include any blood or evil cackling, but the crew does have a wonderfully overactive imagination.”
“You are a horrible person,” she informed him with a wicked smile, reaching for a glass.
Harry grinned at her unrepentantly then asked, in a lower voice, “Do you know how Leonard is?”
Janice hesitated for a moment, then shook her head. “I haven’t seen any of the landing party since they left, love.”
Harry nodded, pouring the caramel over the base and starting to melt the chocolate. The current mission - if it could be called that, it was more of a pit stop, really - was one that had been handed to the Enterprise at the last minute. The planet they were currently circling hadn’t been visited in longer than the Federation’s contracts normally allow when there are only two people there doing research, so they’d been asked to stop by, check the scientists’ progress and give them basic medical examinations.
There was nothing at all unusual about any of this, except that the woman who was planetside was apparently Leonard’s ex-girlfriend. And a pretty significant ex from the sounds of it. She was married to the other scientist working there, but Leonard had seemed rather dazed that morning, having found out only the day before that he’d be seeing her again. Harry wasn’t at all sure what to make of any of it all and had decided, for politeness’ sake to step back and let events play out as they would. The Enterprise would be leaving soon enough as it was.
But Janice was leaning forward, with the sly expression on her face that Harry had already begun to associate with her having a hot bit of gossip to tell. “You can’t tell anyone, because it’s still being kept under wraps at the moment, but Crewman Darnell, who went down with the Captain and Dr McCoy was killed. According to Mrs Crater he ate some kind of poisonous plant, but they haven’t been able to find any poison in his system and his symptoms don’t match anyway.”
“He’s dead?” Harry asked in a shocked whisper.
“Uhm-hmm,” Janice confirmed, nibbling on one of the sticks of not-celery. “So we’re going to be here a bit longer than originally planned. Captain reckons McCoy’s old sweetheart did it, but has no idea how and McCoy’s certain that wasn’t the case anyway. They’re bringing the Crater’s up to the ship now to try and determine what happened.”
Harry finished the shortbread and put it to one side to set. “Is Leonard back on board?”
Janice nodded, and finished arranging the tray. “Dinner tonight at six?”
“Yeah,” Harry replied distractedly, before focussing on her again with an sad smile. “See you later. Have fun flirting.”
“Oh I do,” she told him cheekily. “Go find your doctor.”
“Yes ma’am!” Harry watched her as she left and shook his head fondly. He kept making comparisons to his old friends and he had to stop it, particularly if he wanted to be happy here. Quickly, he grated some of the left over chocolate and poured it into a blender along with milk and ice cream. Chocolate milkshake in one hand and cookies in another he raced quickly out of the kitchen whilst Lenora was still distracted and went in search of Leonard.
He found him in his quarters, fast asleep and snoring lightly. Harry smiled fondly and placed the food and drink on the bedside table before grabbing a pen and paper to jot down a quick note to leave him.
I brought some comfort food as it sounded like you were having a bad day. If you need someone to talk to, you know how to find me.
He propped it up against the glass and put the writing materials back on Leonard’s desk. As Harry was about to turn away and leave the room he caught sight of the only framed picture the doctor seemed to own. The photograph was of a petit little girl, maybe seven or eight years old. She had bright, curly blonde hair and Leonard’s dark, warm eyes. Joanna, Harry thought. She was smiling shyly up at the camera and tugging at the bottom of her dress, and it caused the paternal part of Harry to burn fiercely.
It wasn’t right that this man, someone he’d come to trust inside only a week, was kept from his daughter. If this were his society, Harry would be knocking on the mother’s door and demanding a fairer arrangement. And he would get it, too. But this wasn’t his society any more. This was a strange new place where he was a stranger and his word meant just as much as the next man’s. It was freeing, like he had hoped, but it was terrible, too. Because now he could do nothing to help Leonard’s situation with his daughter.
Harry sighed heavily and left the room with one last glance at the sleeping doctor. He looked even younger in sleep, stress lines smoothed by the calm of dreams. He was vulnerable and strong and far too damned handsome for Harry’s comfort of mind. Laughing at his foolishness, he let the door shut behind him and hurried back to the galley.
About half way back, a curious tugging sensation tickled along the back of Harry’s mind and caused him to stop short. He blinked a few times and reached out a hand to steady himself against a wall as poked at the feeling with his mind. It was… bizarre. It was an alien consciousness of some sort, both in the fact that it was foreign to Harry and that it was nothing like any mind that Harry had encountered before. It was - sucking, almost. Searching, definitely. Although for what, Harry really couldn’t tell.
There was a sort of directionality to, and Harry couldn’t help but glance up in that direction and found himself using the wall for support again when he caught sight of what he assumed was the source. It was a hideous looking think, with suckers all over the place and the most awkward looking facial features Harry had ever seen. However, there was a shimmer around it, like he was seeing through a glamour. How strange.
Harry shrugged it off, offered the alien a half-wave and carried on his way. From the way that other crew members didn’t give the alien a second glance he could either assume that it was either a well-known race or crew member, or its equivalent to a glamour worked perfectly well on everyone else. Harry was going to guess at the latter. No matter how far humanity had come, there was always a vanity in people that meant no amount of training could prepare you for facing something like that in real life.
He was going to have a word with the Captain, though, when the weird ordeal with the dead security man was sorted out. It would be nice to get a little warning about these things, especially when Kirk and Spock both knew that he was having a little difficulty getting used to his new environment as it was. Ugly-ass aliens appearing in random corridors and tugging on the back of his mind was not the kind of surprise Harry appreciated.
It was several hours and one red alert later that Harry worked out that the alien he’d seen had, in fact, been the alien behind all of the deaths. And that sat incredibly sourly on his tongue. If he had only known, he could have saved - but no. If there was one thing he should know by now, it was that there was no point musing on what-ifs.
He’d spent the hours leading up to dinner in the galley and, when the red alert had sounded, he’d stayed there too. Lenora had sent someone running off with a selection of salt capsules, and had looked dearly as though she’d wanted to send Harry. Thankfully, he was still to new and unsure of the layout of the ship to be an option, and any small dissatisfaction he could give the other chef was a pleasure.
Kirk and Spock came for dinner at the usual time at the end of their shift, with Janice following them in some twenty minutes later, but Leonard didn’t show. Once it got to the end of Harry’s shift he moved to sit next to Kirk and Spock.
“Do not ask me what happened,” Kirk pre-empted any questions. “Hell of a day.”
Harry tilted his head, observing Kirk for a long moment before realising that the deaths of the crewmembers weighed heavily on the Captain’s mind.
“I was wondering where Leonard was,” he corrected softly. “And, uh, also if I could have a list of all the non-human personnel onboard, along with species.”
“He went straight to bed. Fucking arse of a day. Worse for him,” Kirk commented, then looked at Harry sharply. “You better not be a damn Xenophobe. I’ll have you off my ship in seconds.”
“No, no,” Harry reassured. “It’s not that at all. It’s just, there’s one of your crewmembers who uses a low-level telepathic shield to project a humanoid appearance and, well, I saw through it and it gave me a bit of a shock. I’d prefer to know what to expect.”
Spock narrowed his eyes at Harry, as though searching for some answer that was not immediately obvious.
“There’s no one onboard that’s like that-” Kirk began.
“But the alien we faced today was,” Spock finished, the words pinning Harry to the spot as realisation dawned. “I couldn’t see through the projection because I am touch telepath. Mr Potter is not. Perhaps it would be a wise idea to allow him access to crew records to see if we can avoid this kind of mishap in the future.”
Kirk’s eyes sparked fury momentarily, before it cooled and he calmed again. It was clear that the use of the word ‘mishap’ had angered him briefly in its connection to several deaths, but he had thought better of his immediate response. Spock did not mean to trivialise their deaths just… put them in perspective. Grieve it, accept it, move on.
“Yeah,” he agreed quietly. “Yeah. I’ll get Janice to forward them to your PADD first thing tomorrow.”
“Why don’t you head to bed too, Captain?” Harry suggested. “You look like your coming off an especially tiring adrenaline high. Nothing’s going to happen over night.”
Kirk snorted in wry amusement at that. “You’ve gone and jinxed it now,” he teased. “If I’m up in anything less than six hours, I’m blaming you.”
Harry grinned back. “You do that.” He then left them to their conversation to grab his own dinner and join Janice and her friends.
“Hey love,” she greeted. “Did you hear?” she asked, obviously in reference to today’s ‘mishap’.
“If you’re talking about the beastie wandering the corridors disguised as Mrs Crater and sucking all the salt out of people, then yeah, a little bit.”
“No, silly,” Janice contradicted. “Everyone knows about that, old news. No, I’m talking about Gordon, down in robotics.”
This brought Harry up short. Gossip have moved on from serial killing alien already?
“Your face,” Janice tittered. “We never gossip about missions. Too many deaths, feels too much like talking ill of the dead. Besides which, no one wants to think about lost friends or - ah - neglected jobs.”
“Makes sense,” Harry agreed readily enough. “Now what’s this about Gordon?”
“Gordon in robotics, not Gordon in personnel,” Janice reminded.
Harry gave her a flat look. “I don’t, currently, know any Gordons.”
Janice responded with an equally flat look and proceeded to tell a rather long, convoluted tale involving many people, only a few of whom Harry recognised the names of, let alone was able to put a face to, resulting in poor old Gordon-from-robotics getting yelled at on two separate occasions for the same crime, that he hadn’t actually committed. Harry oohed and aahed in the right places and tried not to laugh too much. It was good to know that the rumour mill had moved on to bigger and better things already.
“How did your flirtation with Sulu at lunch go?” Harry asked lightly, once Janice’s previous story had come to the end. It appeared to be the wrong question to ask, if her disgruntled expression was anything to go by.
“I don’t know,” she replied, somewhat bitterly. “I know he’s flirting back, I just can’t tell if it’s because he likes me or not. You know, I’m half convinced he’s gay?”
Harry let out a startled laugh. “Just because you’re gorgeous and he hasn’t asked you out already doesn’t mean he’s gay,” he tried to reassure around chortles.
Janice humphed and pouted a little, clearly not believing it. “What about you and Leonard?” she asked in retaliation. “Did you go and see him?”
“Yeah,” Harry said. “He was asleep when I got there though, so I just left him the milkshake and cookies and headed back to the kitchens - uh, galley.”
Janice shook her head at him. “You are unbelievably cute,” she informed him. “How do you get to be 280 and still as kittenly adorable as you?”
“‘Kittenly’ isn’t a word,” Harry felt the need to inform her. She ignored him.
“You’re all first-love over Leonard, sweet smiles and adoring looks. If you weren’t so charming I might have to smack you for it.”
Harry offered a one-shouldered shrug and a half smile. “I have only ever been in love with one person, and I lived to see her die of old age. Maybe I can still be ‘first-love’ about it because I still believe that love can last a lifetime?” He regretted the words almost as soon as they left his mouth, because Janice’s eyes got huge and her expression soppy.
“Aaaaw,” she exclaimed, leaning across the table and crushing him into a hug. “You are too adorable!”
Harry suffered through the hug with fond exasperation and vowed to not speak about love again, unless it was to someone a lot less likely to get quite so mushy about it.