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Strangers in Bars

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No-one who knew Harry Potter would recognize him now. His hair was long, tied up in a messy ponytail and his scar was covered beneath a sweatband. The round, thickly rimmed black glasses had been replaced by a more subtle oval counterpart and his usual oversized muggle wear thrown away. Instead of cast-offs he wore comfortable well-fitting black slacks and a muggle t-shirt with a picture of a cartoonish roaring lion.

After many years of shared adventures, the Golden Trio had decided to take a little breather from each other and went their separate ways. Oh, they still kept in touch and visited often and they could still understand each other better than anyone else but for now they were each of them trying to discover things on their own.

For Harry this meant taking a step away from the Wizarding World altogether. He had never enjoyed his fame and right now, in the aftermath of the war, it was worse - or better, if you're into that sort of thing - than ever.

So he decided to take a vacation.

For the first time in his life he was completely free to go where he wanted to go and to do whatever he felt like. It was liberating to explore the world, muggle and wizarding, on his own. It was wonderful to be able to make his own decisions about completely mundane stuff, for example about what he wanted to eat, or about going to a muggle amusement park for the first time in his life or lazing on the beach for days on end.

He had never been so free, not at the Dursleys - obviously - , not at Hogwarts, not while the three of them where on the run, chasing Horcruxes, and not even in the Wizarding World after the war, with everyone watching him.

He had never been so free. And now, after the initial glow of the first few months had worn off, he had never been so bored.

Harry supposed that this utter boredom was what caused him to end up in a muggle bar in New York City in the first place. With a sigh he nursed a drink and observed those around him.

The muscled blond caught his attention immediately.

The man stood out like a wizard amongst muggles. But Harry had spent enough time both in and out of the wizarding world that he could tell the blond wasn't a wizard at all. His curiosity awoke immediately and brighter than ever, fuelled further by his utter boredom.

Everyone else was avoiding the strange man but Harry felt himself drawn to him. His loud, archaic speech and enthusiastic drinking seemed to be off-putting to most people but to the Gryffindor it felt comfortingly familiar how different the man was.

Harry blinked and realised that this probably made him a little odd. Not that he cared to be normal. He nearly shuddered at the thought of becoming like the Dursleys and shook off these thoughts, instead focussing on the strange man again.

So when the man raised his large tankard of liquor and started an enthusiastic speech about bravery that hit a little close to home, Harry couldn't help but raise his glass as well; "I'll drink to that."

"Ah, my friend! So you also have a true warrior's spirit?" For a moment the man looked a tinge sceptical and Harry could understand why. Physically he was the blonde's complete opposite: small and lean, a Seeker's build. Even so, after a moment, the man smiled warmly at him, welcoming him to his table with a grand gesture.

The wizard shrugged at the overly dramatic speech and manners of the man and joined the bloke at his table. Harry got along fine with Luna, Professor Dumbledore, the Weasley twins, Hagrid and Dobby. So why not this man?

Anyone else in this bar was probably too normal for him to feel comfortable speaking to, anyway.

"Once I would not have believed that one of such a small stature could be a true warrior, but I have learned since that it is not only strength of body that makes one a warrior. 'T was a harsh lesson to learn, but a true one."

Harry gazed thoughtfully at the big guy and figured that there was a story there. The higher you go, the more painful the fall. And this man struck him as someone very confident in his own prowess.

He must have stood very high before his fall.

The Gryffindor nodded; "And yet, the harshest lessons are often the most important ones to learn. Even if the process is somewhat painful."

Harry thought back to Voldemort who, for all his power, still managed to lose to a kid every single time because of his own overconfidence. "And those who do not learn them and begin to believe that they are better than anyone else will only set themselves up for failure. Everyone falls. But not everyone is strong enough to get back up again."

The blond stared at him for a moment before a smile formed on his lips; "Indeed! 'T was humility I was sent here to learn, and I have learned it. And here you are to remind me once more. It seems that humans are surely the best teachers in this regard."

The wizard didn't even blink at the oblique reference to the man not being human at all. "You fell, then." he stated matter-of-factly, "and managed to regain your feet and struck back at your foe. Did you defeat him, in the end?"

The man laughed; "Yes! You read me well, my friend, in the end I felled my enemy." the smile turned to a frown as a sorrowful glint entered his eye "but it was not without loss."

"It never is." Harry agreed with a sigh, thinking of Sirius falling away from him into the Veil, his own hopes for the future falling with him. A moment of silence settled between them before the man by his side spoke up again.

"Would you grant me your name, young warrior?" The serious look in the man's eyes stopped Harry from smiling at the odd way of asking who he was.

"Harry Potter" was his quiet answer, giving the man the unadorned truth, no more and no less.

No recognition bloomed on the man's face, but then, Harry hadn't expected it to. Instead the muscled giant offered his own name in return as simply as Harry had given his own. "I am Thor Odinson."

A firm handshake sealed an undefined understanding between them.

This is how the saviour of the wizarding world and the Norse god of thunder ended up swapping war stories in a muggle bar, both staggeringly drunk and being given a wide berth by any other patron.

Not that any of them would put any credit in their fantastical stories.