He’d been fighting the pain in his head for weeks, fighting off visions of Voldemort, battling hunger and stress, searching for Horcruxes.
The Snatchers came as Harry had to fight yet another vision--this one of Voldemort finding and confronting Grindelwald at Nuremburg. He tuned in and out of the raucous laughter and fighting of the Death Eaters that were trying to turn him in at Malfoy Manor. His eyes were puffy from the stinging hex Hermione had used to help disguise his features, and he could hardly bear up under the pain as Draco failed to identify him (on purpose?), Bellatrix tortured Hermione, and Pettigrew’s own silver hand turned on him.
Dobby popped in and out with Dean, Luna, and Mr. Ollivander, and Harry felt a distant ringing in his ears to go along with the headache as he fought in the Malfoy’s livingroom, ripping Draco’s wand from him. Dobby popped back in, dropped a chandelier on Hermione and Bellatrix, and Harry grabbed Dobby and Griphook to disapparate--
They landed on the beach.
Dobby had a silver knife stuck in his chest.
Harry held him, crying out for him not to die, desperately calling for help as he saw the loyal elf’s blood spread across his chest. Reality wavered; the blinding pain in his scar, the pressure in his ears, the sheer weight of the grief that pulled him down, down into an abyss--
Everything turned blue.
Luna Lovegood rushed out with the others to the beach to meet Harry just as his eyes rolled back. She felt the rush of psionic energy explode out from his core as a phoenix burst into existence and flashed into Harry’s body.
“Don’t touch him yet!” Luna screamed. “He’s come online.”
That brought the rescuers to a halt. “Luna?” Bill asked. “Online?”
She raised a hand, panting. Weeks of captivity had done her fitness no favors. “He’s a Guide. He’s just come online.”
Bill reeled back. “Magical Guides are extremely rare.”
“That’s Harry for you,” Luna said, trying to regain her serenity. “And me as well.”
“That explains a few things,” Dean muttered.
“If ‘Arry is a Guide, he will need his Sentinel,” Fleur observed. “Ze legends all say that a Magical Guide will call his Sentinel to him.”
“Especially one forced online,” Luna agreed. “My own Sentinel is in the nonmagical world; we met on the spirit plane when I came online, when my mother died.”
“You were nine, Luna!” Bill exclaimed.
She shrugged. “It was the trauma, Bill. I stayed on the spirit plane for weeks, looking for my Sentinel. He’s much older than me. A doctor in the army. We agreed not to meet physically until I was of age, but our spiritual connect was enough for me to come out of the magical coma.” Luna looked at Harry, prone, still holding Dobby. “Are any of you latent Sentinels?”
“Not me,” Bill said. “Some Weasleys had the trait years ago, but none in this generation have tested positive. The charms come back red, for no Sentinel or Guide traits.”
Dean Thomas shook his head slowly. “I don’t know. No one’s ever done the charm for me.”
“Here,” Bill said, and incanted, “ Tueri Tribus.”
The soft beam of light hit Dean, and lit up green.
“Oh!” Luna exclaimed. “You’re a latent Sentinel. Congratulations. A Guide would be blue.”
Fleur hummed. “Veela traditionally are neither. We are merged with the creature, and are something different altogether.” She gestured to Bill. “Do me.”
He winked at her and obliged. She glowed a soft red. “See?”
“I asked because Dean should not touch Harry at all; his own Sentinel wouldn’t like it,” Luna said briskly. “If Dean was his Sentinel, he would have come online at the same time.”
“So I can pick him up?” Bill clarified.
“Yes, Bill,” Luna said, kneeling next to her friend on the beach, and gently closing Dobby’s eyes. “Please come pick up Dobby first. Dean and I will bury him. And take Harry into the house. He’ll be out for sometime.”
In the blue, Harry felt no pain. The relief, from the pain and the stress, staggered him, and he sat down abruptly on a chair that suddenly appeared under him. A phoenix flashed into existence next to him.
“Oh, hello,” Harry said, reaching out to stroke the bird’s feathers. “You’re beautiful.”
The bird chirruped, and sang a long, liquid note.
“Ah, thanks,” Harry replied. “Are you mine?”
The bird nodded, and nudged Harry’s hand.
“Brilliant.” Harry rubbed her head with his hand. “I can feel that you’re female. Do you have a name?”
Another chirrup and a shorter note.
“No?” He thought for a moment, and smiled. “As you are so beautiful, why don’t I call you Lovely?”
Lovely nodded vigorously and leaned into her Guide.
“So I’m guessing that I’ve come online as a Guide?” Harry looked around at the blue plane surrounding them. “Not what I expected, actually.”
Two chirrups and a short note.
“Well, I knew I was latent, but I sort of figured that I wouldn’t come online until after Voldemort was gone from my brain.”
Lovely shook her head, and in the distance, Harry saw a heavily damaged magical pit viper shaking. He stood up and walked over to the clearly hurt spirit guide. “He was Voldemort’s? Was that how I was seeing him?”
“He needs help,” Harry said. “How do I go about finding it here?”
A figure appeared in the distance, accompanied by a wolf. “Just ask for it.”
“Hello,” Harry said. “I’m Harry.”
“I’m Blair.” The short man with the shaggy hair smiled at him. “Shaman. I felt you come online. You’re a magical Guide, aren’t you?”
“I’d guess so, as I’m both wizard and guide,” Harry said ruefully. “What is this place?”
“The spirit plane,” Blair said. He looked down at the poor pit viper. “That’s a heavily damaged spirit guide.”
“He was apparently my link to Voldemort.”
“So you’re Harry Potter, then?” Blair shook his head. “It’s good to meet you, but I wish it were under better circumstances.”
“What does it mean that Voldemort’s spirit guide was helping me?” Harry asked.
“I don’t really know. But it’s clear he can’t be healed. He’s very damaged.”
“How can we help him?”
Blair smiled. “We’ll call the other Shamans, and we’ll send him on his way.”
“Oh, yes. We have about six Shamans right now, plus you, who will be fully a Shaman once you’ve bonded. I can tell. You’re very powerful in your own right.” Blair quietly called out to the others. “You can witness this, or you can continue on your journey.”
“To find your Sentinel. Magical Guides use the spirit plane to find their Sentinels. You should be feeling that tug soon. Just follow it, and you’ll find him or her.”
Harry blew out a breath.
On the beach, Bill picked up Harry and started for the cottage as Ron came out of the house. “What’s wrong with Harry?” he exclaimed.
“He’s come online as a Guide,” Bill said briefly.
Ron’s jaw dropped. “I didn’t even know he was latent.”
“I doubt he shared the information,” Bill said drily. “You’ve not been too supportive of your friend, Ron.”
Ron looked away, briefly ashamed. “True. But I’m trying to make up for it.”
Bill gestured to the door with his chin. “Start by clearing the way, will you? We’ll need to take him up to the top floor. I’ll ward it against intrusion for any but his Sentinel. We’ll have to figure out how to let them connect.” He shook his head as Ron opened the door for him. “This has the potential to be a security nightmare.”
Ron preceded Bill up the stairs, opening doors as needed, until they arrived on the attic level. Bill gently lay Harry on the bed and straightened his clothes, checking him over. He cast a diagnostic charm and growled a little at the result. “Dehydrated, malnourished, and overall beaten up. You all desperately need a bit of a break, don’t you?”
Ron shrugged. “More them than me, yeah? I at least had food and shelter here.”
Bill glared a little, and checked Harry’s forehead. As he smoothed the hair away from Harry’s scar, Bill noticed it was swollen, inflamed as if fighting off infection. Even as he made note of that, Harry stiffened, and black mist eased out of the scar before dispersing.
“I’ll be damned,” Ron said softly. They watched as the swelling eased, and the scar thinned, becoming no more than a thin white line on his forehead. Ron was silent another moment, putting the pieces together. “I have to talk to Hermione.”
On the spirit plane, Harry watched briefly as the Shamans gathered, chanted and dispersed Voldemort’s pit viper. “So that happened,” he muttered.
Blair looked up. “Don’t you have a Sentinel to find?”
Harry grinned at him. “On my way, Blair.”
“Good. Call me if you need help at any time, Harry. Good luck.”
Harry waved, and headed in the direction of the tug. It felt as though his Sentinel was some physical distance from him, but of course, that meant nothing on the spirit plane.
Lovely kept up a stream of phoenix song as they walked, quietly. At one point, Harry crossed a spirit stream, and the tugging became more insistent. A shining gold line snapped up, connecting at Harry’s chest and directing him forward into the distance. He followed it, and when he got close to its end, he reached out to tug on the golden light, and pulled his Sentinel into the spirit plane.
“OK, that was abrupt,” the man said snarkily. “I was in the middle of a very important interrogation.”
“Interrogation?” Harry asked. “Are you the interrogator or the interrogatee?”
His Sentinel stepped closer. Harry could now see that the man was unfairly gorgeous, fit and lean, wearing a leather jacket. A shield facing outward from the man’s belt answered Harry’s question, but he looked up at the man expectantly, anyway.
“Interrogator,” his Sentinel said, and held out a hand. “Tony DiNozzo, detective, Baltimore Homicide division. And considering that you appear to be a magical guide, I can add this: Auror, United States Magical Law Enforcement. We spread out among the mundane law enforcement offices to handle magical crime when it occurs. The country’s too big to cover, otherwise.”
Harry took Tony’s hand and smiled as the joy of connection burst through him. “Harry Potter.”
“It’s good to meet you, Harry Potter,” Tony stepped forward and cupped Harry’s cheek. “My Guide.”
“Yours,” Harry agreed.
Hermione looked at Ron in awe. “Harry’s scar must have been a Horcrux!”
“Not anymore, though,” Ron said. “It’s practically gone. And the same black misty thing happened as when we took out the locket.”
“Oh, that’s brilliant,” Hermione said. “How’s Harry?”
“He’ll be in a magical coma until he finds his Sentinel,” Ron said. “Luna says all she and her Sentinel needed was a spiritual connection to allow her out of it, but that every guide is different. We should expect to allow his guide to physically interact with him before he’ll truly come out of it.”
“I know so little about how Sentinels and Guides work in the magical world,” Hermione mused. “It’s never come up.”
“Do you know if you’re a latent anything?” Ron asked, curious.
“I’m not, I don’t think,” Hermione said. “There’s nothing like that in the family.” She paused. “Of course, there’s no magic in the family tree, either, that I know about.”
“Come on, if you’re able,” Ron said, extending a hand. “We’ll have Bill check us both. I was charmed years ago, and it came back negative, but it’s worth a second look.”
On the spirit plane, Tony and Harry nuzzled each other for a moment, then pulled back. Tony looked at Harry.
“No offense, Guide, but you look like you’ve been through the ringer,” he said.
“I sort of have.” Harry cleared his throat. “What do you know about the goings-on in Britain?”
Tony snorted. “You’re basically in a magical civil war. None of us is allowed to go to Britain at the moment, as the U.S. doesn’t trust the current Ministry of Magic there.”
“With good reason,” Harry said. “It’s been taken over by Death Eaters.”
“Lovely,” Tony commented. “And you’re Harry Potter, which means you’re ‘Undesirable Number One’ on their hit lists.”
“Um, yeah.” Harry fidgeted. “I guess I’m sort of technically the leader of the Light at this point?”
Tony laughed. “Of course you are. Well, don’t worry. I won’t be turning you in. But I do need to get to you. And I’m compelled to help you in any way I can.”
“You just said you’re not allowed in Britain.”
Tony smiled, wide and sincere, then winked. “Leave that to me.”
Having his Guide appear to him on the spirit plane? The very last thing Tony DiNozzo expected from his first day as a newly minted Homicide Detective.
Already a master interrogator with a keen eye for detail, Tony’s “special training” in magical law enforcement helped him up the ranks fairly quickly for a man his age. Only the Police Chief of any given station knew about the magical world and who among his or her ranks had the dual training as an Auror with magical law enforcement. Those with the training tended to be promoted quickly as they were needed; Tony had already advanced from small districts in Illinois and Philadelphia to his spot in the larger Baltimore region.
He’d literally just asked his current suspect, a tough-looking guy named Bob, about his whereabouts during a recent murder. It was an easy question that Tony already knew the answer to, but it was a preliminary way to worm more information out of the man. Tony asked the question, kicked back in his chair nonchalantly, and promptly lost consciousness.
His world went blue, and he found himself in front of a young man who could only be his Guide.
“OK, that was abrupt,” Tony said, looking at the beaten-up visage in front of him.
But there was no doubt at all he’d accept his Guide--even knowing that the man was number one on Britain’s undesirables list.
Their initial connection established, Tony assured his Guide he’d find him, then drew back. “Harry, I know you’re worried about how I’ll find you. It’s clear you’re very good at hiding. How long has it been since you’ve had a safe place to be?”
Harry cleared his throat. “I think I’m safe now. At least, that was the plan. I came online sort of abruptly.”
Tony couldn’t sense his Guide in the way he really wanted to, but he continued to hold Harry’s hand, maintaining their spiritual connection. “Can you explain that?”
Harry squeezed Tony’s hand, and explained about the prophecy, Ron and Hermione, their hunt for the Horcruxes, and the months spent in the woods before being captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. “I was on the beach--I thought I’d saved Dobby, my house elf friend, and Griphook, a Gringotts goblin--but when I arrived where I’d intended, Dobby was dying. He had a silver dagger in his chest, thrown, I think, by Bellatrix Lestrange. I’d been fighting off Voldemort’s visions this whole time, and I think it was just finally too much.”
Tony stroked Harry’s hand. “So you popped online.”
“Everything just went blue,” Harry agreed. “Voldemort’s spirit guide, a pit viper, was smoking and damaged in front of me. I think it’s the guide that was helping me see what Voldemort was up to, but he was too damaged to survive long. I met a Shaman on this plane who brought others to help it on its way.” Harry shrugged. “His name was Blair, and he said I’m a Shaman, too.”
Tony snorted. “Wow. We’re going to be quite a pair. I’m a level-ten Sentinel, Harry. The only reason I’m not an Alpha is because I’m not bonded yet. I’m 28 years old, and I just got my shiny gold badge yesterday.”
“How will that work, once we’ve bonded?” Harry asked. “I sort of thought I wouldn’t have to worry about this until after Voldemort is dead, if I survived that, and, well, I’ve been shoving all the Guide stuff in a mental box labeled, ‘Study Later If Necessary.’”
Tony growled a little at the thought of Harry’s pragmatism. “You’ll not die if I have anything to say about it all,” he said bluntly. “As for after we bond, well, what did you want to do with your life?”
“If I survive the war?” Harry asked. “I thought to be an Auror here.”
Tony grinned. “Then I think we’ll be just fine. And you’re probably right to focus on the war. In the short term, I’ll get leave. It won’t be hard, I don’t think, because the international law requires that Sentinels be allowed to pursue their Guides, when found. International magical law puts heavy penalties on government agents or agencies that interfere. Even if I can’t get a portkey to Britain today, I can book a mundane flight. Those are still going out, because the mundane world is not at war--though travel agencies advise limited travel to Britain.”
“Then you just have to find me,” Harry said thoughtfully. “Ron said we’re at his brother’s place--Shell Cottage, north of Tikworth.”
“That’s a start, then.” Tony looked his Guide over. “You really do look beat up, Harry.”
Harry smiled wryly. “I am really beat up, Tony. I’m tired. We’ve still got two Horcruxes to find, and while I know where the third is, we still have to kill it, which probably means killing the snake that’s housing it. We’ve gotten rid of the diary, the ring, and the locket. No idea what’s left.”
“But you’re safe right now?” Tony questioned.
“As far as I know, I’m in the care of Ron’s family,” Harry affirmed.
Tony squeezed Harry’s hand lightly. “Good.” He paused. “Harry, how old are you?”
Harry blushed. “I’ll be 18 at the end of July.”
Tony nodded slowly. “So we’ll need to put off a full sexual bond until then. That’s international law, too, to protect vulnerable Sentinels and Guides.”
Harry’s blush deepened, making his cheeks look almost as blue as their surroundings. “I’ve never done anything that sexual, before, actually.”
“I’m a lucky man, then, Harry,” Tony said huskily. He lay a chaste kiss on Harry’s cheekbone. “We’ll make a platonic bond work until then.”
“I guess that means I’m a lucky man, too,” Harry agreed, and tilted his head to kiss his Sentinel’s lips, instead.
They exchanged chaste kisses for a few more minutes, and Tony finally withdrew, slowly. “Harry, if I’m to make my way to you, I’ll need to go back to my physical body and get that trip started. If I’m lucky, my chief called the S&G Center and got me into an isolation room. If I’m not lucky, I’m passed out in interrogation.”
Harry laughed a little. “Let’s hope it’s the first.”
Tony grinned back. “Let’s. Meanwhile,” Tony held out a hand and called, “Duke!” A large German Shepherd appeared at his side. “This is Duke, my spirit guide. I’d feel better if you let him watch over you, wherever you are.”
Harry, touched, stroked Duke’s fine ears. “I’d like that,” he said quietly, then he called out, “Lovely!”
His phoenix burst back into view, and Tony whistled. “She’s beautiful!”
“Hence her name,” Harry said. “Lovely, will you help Tony when he needs it, please?”
Lovely nodded vigorously and chirruped.
“Thank you,” Harry said. He sighed. “I suppose I should go back.”
Tony shrugged. “You might not be able to go completely back until I physically find you. But if you can, try to let your friends know I’m coming.”
“I will,” Harry said, and leaned up to kiss his Sentinel one more time. “Last one for the road?”
“Mmmm,” Tony hummed. “We won’t be able to do this in the physical world until your birthday, so we ought to take advantage of the spirit plane when we can.”
Harry laughed shyly. “Agreed.”
“Right,” Tony kissed him chastely one more time. “I’m off. Hopefully, I’ll see you soon.”
“Safe travels, Sentinel.”
“Until I see you, Guide.”
Hermione Granger was stunned to see her charm turn green. “I’m a Sentinel?”
“Latent,” Ron said gruffly. His own charm had turned red, just as it had before. “I guess this means we’re not going to be more than friends, then.”
Gobsmacked, Hermione looked at Ron with more than a little confusion. “Why? I mean, not that we’ve ever discussed it. Or done anything about it. But I sort of thought maybe …”
Ron cleared his throat, and laid his hand on Hermione’s. “Hermione, once you come online, you’ll need a Guide. And that Guide will be everything to you. Everything you’ll ever need. He or she will be your partner for life. I can’t give you that. But I will always be your friend.”
“Oh, but--” She stopped. “That’s a very mature thing for you to say, Ron, but I’d really hoped that we could be something more than friends. At some point.”
Ron looked into the soft brown eyes he’d been more than a little in love with. “Once you’re online, your Guide will fill that place in your heart, Hermione. And if he or she treats you horribly, I will murder them.”
Hermione gasped, then laughed. “That’s terrible. But thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Ron said.
Tony opened his eyes, and as he’d hoped, he lay in a bed in an isolation suite at the S&G Center in Baltimore. He sat up, and used the intercom to call the front desk and ask for the magical representative.
Assured it would be no more than ten minutes, Tony assessed his overall well being and looked around for his accessories. As expected, he’d been stripped of weapon and holster--they’d probably been checked into secure storage at the center--but his badge, wallet, keys, jacket and shoes were nearby. His wand, tucked into a dimensional storage space attached to the watch he wore, was secure.
A discreet tap at the door told him his rep had arrived. Tony answered the door, and started the task of wrangling transport to Britain.
Harry, stuck on the spirit plane, drifted back toward the spot he knew where his body lay. He found, if he concentrated, he could see his body. He just couldn’t make it do anything. He decided to settle back and rest, petting Duke’s head as he did so.
Tony rolled his eyes as he was told, yet again, that a portkey to Britain was out of the question.
“Look, my Guide is calling me to Britain,” he said firmly. “Last time I checked, international law requires cooperation for Sentinels looking for their Guides. That means I must be allowed to travel to where my Guide is. Ergo--” he smirked internally at his use of the archaic term-- “I need a portkey.”
The magical representative from the S&G Center, Michael Turner, stood next to Tony as they addressed the third person in the U.S. International Portkeys office that they’d talked to that day alone. It had been two hours since Tony saw Harry on the spirit plane, and the Sentinel was understandable antsy. Turner cleared his throat. “It’s a matter of international law, both magical and mundane, to allow these searches.”
The portkey rep sighed. “I understand that, but we’ve been absolutely blocked from issuing portkeys to Britain. I know you’ve been told that already. But you may not have been told why.”
Tony sighed. “OK, I’ll bite. Why?”
“Because people we send with portkeys disappear over there. We’re not entirely sure why. But they pop into the arrivals area, walk out the door, and we never hear from them again,” the rep explained. “We can’t, in good conscience, send you that way.”
Tony narrowed his eyes. “My Guide told me that the British Ministry of Magic has been overtaken by Death Eaters.”
The rep, whose tag read “John Smith,” nodded. “That might explain the problem, yes.” He fussed with his paperwork. “I can’t send you via portkey to any location in Britain.”
Tony thought. “What about France? Is there an order against France?”
Smith looked up. “No, and we’re not losing travelers there, either.”
“How about a portkey to Paris? Can I get that? Then I can make my way via other routes into Britain,” Tony suggested.
“That I can do,” Smith said, reaching for a U.S. dollar coin. “I’ll make this a two-way key, just in case you need to get back in a hurry.”
Harry watched as Luna stopped by his body and sank into a meditative pose. He was unsurprised when she appeared on the spirit plane next to him.
“Hello, Harry,” Luna said calmly. “Are you well?”
“As can be expected,” Harry replied with a smile. “My Sentinel is on his way to find me.”
Luna beamed happily. “That’s excellent news. Who are we waiting for?”
“His name is Tony DiNozzo. He’s an Auror in America,” Harry said. “It might take some time for him to get to me. Apparently, they’re blocking travel to Britain from the U.S.”
“Hmmm. Well, as he’s your Sentinel, I assume he’s resourceful. We’ll likely see him soon.” Luna smiled, and looked around. “Oh, what a lovely dog! Yours?”
“Tony’s,” Harry answered, petting Duke’s ears. “He’s Duke. He’s keeping an eye on me while Tony makes his way here. My spirit guide is Lovely. She’s a phoenix, and she’s keeping Tony company.”
“That’s wonderful, Harry,” Luna said, and called, “Fitzi!” An odd looking creature with a very wrinkled snout appeared. “This is Fitzi.”
“Luna, is that a--”
“Yes, Harry, Fitzi is a Crumple-Horned Snorkak. That’s how I know they exist somewhere,” Luna said happily.
Harry laughed. “You’re wonderful, Luna.”
“Thank you, kind sir.”
Another spirit guide flashed into existence--an English bull mastiff. “Oh!” Luna exclaimed. “Bull!”
“Someone you know?” Harry inquired.
“Bull is my Sentinel’s spirit guide,” Luna explained. “He’s a Muggle doctor in the army. Much older than me. We haven’t met in person yet.”
“Ah,” Harry said. “Wait, how does that work?”
Luna smiled gently. “I came online very young, at nine, when my mother died. I was in a magical coma for weeks before I found my Sentinel-to-be. He was 19, in uni, working on his first degree before joining the RAMC. I was far too young to physically bond, so we decided not to meet physically until I was of age. We meet here every week or so to stabilize our spiritual bond.”
“That’s nice,” Harry said wistfully, thinking about Tony. “I’ll see my Sentinel in person, but we’ll have to wait for a full physical bond until I turn 18.”
“That will be hard, Harry, but I think having him beside you as you fight He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named will be very helpful, and worth the annoyance of waiting,” Luna consoled.
“I agree,” Harry said. He looked around. “Now, can I meet this Sentinel of yours?”
Luna shook her head. “I think he’s on maneuvers, just now, Harry. I wouldn’t want to pull him out. We’ll meet tonight after he’s in bed.”
Tony blended quietly into the crowd surrounding the Louvre, which housed the Parisian Ministry offices and portkey arrivals, and headed for the train station. He would take the train through the new Channel Tunnel to London, and find Harry from there.
He easily weaved through the crowds to the nearby Metro stop, and, miracle of miracles, found a train immediately arriving that was heading his direction. He popped on, found a seat, and relaxed, ear buds playing soft jazz. He carried a small leather backpack, larger on the inside, that contained clothing for a week, survival supplies, and his weapons. His wand remained stashed in his storage bracelet, but ready to hand if needed.
He tipped his head back, watching the map on the train light up with each stop, keeping an eye out for the main train station, which would take him north to England, and there, to his Guide.
Michael Turner had been clear. The British government considered Harry Potter a fugitive from justice, though they didn’t specify his crimes. The reports from Britain expatriates who’d fled the country told of forced inquisitions, labor camps, and persecution of No-Majs and what the British called half-bloods.
Tony snorted. There were no purebloods in the United States. Nearly every magical human could claim mixed ancestry. Like Tony. His father was a Squib, but his mother had been a magical pureblood, a Paddington. She’d fallen in love with the charming Anthony DiNozzo, Senior, married him, and fled with him--and her money--to the United States, away from a father and older brothers that were against the marriage. Not on magical grounds, though none were impressed that Senior was a Squib, but because they could all spot a gold-digger a mile away.
It didn’t take long for the blush to fall off the rose after they were married. Senior tore through Claire Paddington’s personal fortune like it was barely there, trying to make investments that would make him more money, getting angry when they failed. Senior welcomed his heir when he arrived, proudly calling him “Junior,” but forbade Claire from introducing the new baby to her family.
As her life spiraled out of her control, Claire turned to alcohol for comfort.
It claimed her when Tony was eight. He’d found her, dead of alcohol poisoning, lying in her own vomit in the ensuite of her personal room.
With Claire’s death, Senior got a nasty surprise: He could no longer touch Claire’s money. It, and all her property, was entailed. It could only go to a magical relative.
As that wasn’t Senior, Lord Paddington and his sons controlled Claire’s estate.
Senior flew into a rage, especially when they refused to pay for any of Senior’s extravagances. Only Tony’s needs were provided for--and they required invoices and proof that Tony was well. This state of armed truce lasted until Tony’s invitation to Ilvermorny arrived, and Senior disowned the boy who could do nothing for him.
Tony, sorted into the Wampus house, lived at Ilvermorny year round until he graduated and set out for the Ohio University on an athletic scholarship. He came online as a Sentinel his senior year, during the week of the Final Four, when on an evening run he came across two children trapped in a burning building. He was able to rescue one; without his wand, which he’d left in his hotel room, he was unable to rescue the other.
He’d made it a point to have his wand on him at all times after that. And once he was in control of his senses, Tony’d signed up for the Auror Academy.
His stop was called, and Tony stood and shouldered his way off the train. He’d need to meditate soon, to talk to his Guide. The closer he could get to his guide the non-magical way, the better.
“Luna,” Harry asked, “Where are we, exactly? I called for Shell Cottage when I disapparated, but I need to be able to give Tony precise directions.”
“Oh,” Luna said. “We’re off the coast of Cornwall, near Tinworth. It’s a mixed magical/nonmagical village.”
“I’ll let him know when I see him.” They watched their bodies for a moment, and saw Fleur stop in to check on them, then move on when she determined they were well.
Tony emerged from Paddington Station in London and followed his nose to the Pride of Paddington Pub, a nearby hostel. He asked for the single at the family rate for a night, though he didn’t intend to stay the whole night, then locked and warded the door. He sat, cross-legged, on the bed, and sank into meditation.
As he went deeper into his core, Tony saw the golden cord that bound him to Harry on the spiritual plane. He tugged it playfully, and it drew him straight to his Guide.
“Harry,” Tony called out.
His Guide turned around and smiled at him. “Tony! Where are you?”
Tony laughed. “I’m on British soil. I just need to know where to find you.” He looked to his Guide’s left. “And this is?”
The slight blond girl smiled dreamily. “I’m Harry’s friend, and fellow Guide, Luna. It’s good to meet you, Mr. DiNozzo.”
“Tony, please, Luna.” Tony reached out and clasped Harry’s hand. “I’m almost here. I had to portkey to Paris and travel by train to London. I’m in a private room in a hostel owned by my family in London.”
“Your family?” Harry asked.
“My mother was a Paddington,” Tony explained. “They’re an old pureblood family, but they keep mostly to themselves. She died when I was eight, and the Paddingtons made sure my father couldn’t get his hands on her money except to care for me. Trust me, that was a good thing. We’ve got a few family properties about that I’m entitled to access.”
“It’s good you have a place to be safe,” Harry said. He squeezed Tony’s hand. “Now, as to where I am, look.” He gestured toward his body. “At the top of Shell Cottage, which is on the coast of Cornwall, near Tinworth.”
“Wards? Fidelius?” Tony asked.
Luna wrinkled her nose. “Strong wards, cast by a Gringotts curse-breaker. With your name, I can tell Bill to keep an eye out for you. You might want to make your way to Tinworth and walk the rest of the way, to the edges of the wards here. If you fix your mind on your spiritual bond with Harry, it will help guide you to him in the physical world, even without the physical imprint.”
“Thank you, Luna,” Tony said. “That’s very helpful.”
Luna beamed at him. “You’re welcome. Now, I’ll leave you two and go talk to Bill.”
“Thanks, Luna,” Harry said.
She smiled, and disappeared, taking Fitzi with her.
Lovely popped in over Tony’s shoulder and sang, one long, liquid note.
“Thank you, too, Lovely,” Harry said, reaching out to pet his spirit guide. “For keeping Tony as safe as you can.”
She sang again, and burst out of existence, presumably to watch Tony’s body.
Tony cupped Harry’s cheek again. “You look better.”
“I feel better,” Harry conceded. “Fleur--she’s one of the cottage owners, and sort of a sister-in-law-- healed up the worst of my cuts and bruises, and they’re keeping an eye on me. Honestly, the rest is doing me a lot of good.”
“I bet it is,” Tony said, rubbing a thumb over a cheekbone. “Stay safe, Harry. I’m almost here. Given the conditions, though, I don’t want to be detected using magic. I’ll take the train as close as I can get.”
“That’s wise, I think,” Harry said, and nuzzled in. “I really don’t want to wait until my birthday, Tony.”
Tony swallowed. “Too bad, Harry. And I mean that sincerely. But everyone in the magical world knows your birthday, and the U.S. magical rep knows you’re my Guide. If you show up fully bonded before your eighteenth birthday? We’re going to be sanctioned. I really don’t want that to happen. It’s only three months.” He took a deep breath. “We can do three months.”
Harry looked up at Tony through sooty lashes. Even in the blue, Tony could tell that look would be his undoing. “How is that going to work?”
“Sit with me,” Tony said tugging on Harry’s hand. A squashy arm chair appeared behind them, and Tony sat with Harry sprawled on his lap. Though Harry had very little experience with physical affection, he found a good spot to tuck his head in under Tony’s chin, and settled in comfortably.
“I could get used to this,” Harry said dreamily.
Tony tightened his arms around his Guide. “Me, too.”
They cuddled for a long moment, then Tony started to speak. “When I see you, I’ll be compelled to imprint, if you’ll allow it. I do this with each of my senses. In order to complete the bond, I’d imprint all five senses, then we’d engage in penetrative sex--meaning either your cock or mine actually goes into the other person, usually anally.”
Harry scrunched his nose a little. “Sounds painful.”
“It can be, if it’s not done carefully and right,” Tony allowed. “Then it’s just incredibly hot. But we have a few months to work out those details.” He stroked a hand through Harry’s hair. “Since we have to remain platonic for a while, I’m going to suggest I imprint four senses--sight, scent, touch and hearing. If we hold off on taste, it will make it easier for us to keep from completing the physical bond until we’re legal to do so.”
“Seems reasonable,” Harry said, compliant.
“Why do I get the feeling that you’re not usually this agreeable?” Tony wondered out loud.
“Because I’m not,” Harry said, laughing a little. “But I don’t see any sense in fighting something I want, desperately. And I have an older, sexy Sentinel to teach me the ropes. Why would I fight any of that? It gives me hope that I’ll have a future with you, Tony, and I’ve had precious little of that in my life.”
Tony tightened his arms around his Guide. “If I have my way, we’ll have an amazing future.”
After a reluctant parting from Harry on the spirit plane, Tony eased out of meditation, canceled the wards, and called Paddington Train Station. He found that the closest he could get to Tinworth by train was Falmouth, and that he could get on a sleeper at 10:23 p.m. It would get him to Falmouth by 5 a.m.
He booked the ticket, then sat back down. The portkey had cut the travel time significantly, but Harry had come online in mid-afternoon. It was past 8 p.m. now, local time, and it would be 5 a.m. before Tony even got close enough to apparate to the edge of the wards at Shell Cottage.
Everything in him longed to be with his guide.
Tony double-checked his emergency supplies and headed into the pub for a bite before he caught his train.
Harry sat back with Duke. While the last few hours had been a whirlwind for his Sentinel, Harry himself had been resting comfortably. He found the spirit plane peaceful, and he could feel himself healing from the stress of the hunt.
Hermione spoke to Griphook. “So the reason Bellatrix Lestrange was so irate about the sword was because she thought it was in her vault?”
“That’s correct,” the goblin acknowledged.
“Thank you,” Hermione said, and stepped back out of the room. She paused in the hallway, thinking, and went to find Ron.
Michael Turner, the U.S. Magical Representative for the International Sentinel and Guide Centers, strode into the institution’s main branch in Geneva, Switzerland, his honey badger perched on his shoulder. The news that Harry Potter was an Alpha-potential magical guide needed to be shared quietly, and steps taken to ensure his protection in Britain. The quite alarming news that portkey arrivals to Britain were disappearing also needed to be shared with the ICW.
Tony boarded the train at Paddington Station and settled into the sleeper berth he’d purchased. He warded the door, and dropped himself onto the bed. Though it was early for him, he put his feet up, and fell into sleep.
Sleeping, he found it ridiculously easy to join Harry on the spirit plane.
“Nearly there, Harry,” Tony ran a hand through messy black hair as he approached.
“Tony!” Harry reached up and caught his sentinel’s hand, tugging him down to where Harry was sitting, cross-legged, watching himself. “I didn’t think I’d see you again so soon.”
Tony shrugged. “I’m sleeping in a warded berth on a night train to Falmouth, Cornwall. It’s the closest I can get by train. Should be in at 5 a.m. I thought I’d try to apparate to Shell Cottage at that point.”
Harry grinned. “You’ll land on the beach, just outside the wards. I know Luna was going to let Bill know your name so that you could approach.”
“Excellent,” Tony said, and imagined a long couch appearing behind them. “Cuddle with me? We can share our embarrassing life stories.”
Harry laughed. “Sounds good to me.”
Hermione and Ron consulted in low voices, sitting in the cottage’s immaculate kitchen and munching on biscuits.
“So, why was Bellatrix so scared that someone was in her vault?” Hermione mused. “It seems logical that You-Know-Who might have given her something else to guard.”
“Yeah,” Ron said, “but how do we find out for sure? And, even if he did give her something else to guard, how do we know it’s a Horcrux?”
“We don’t,” Hermione replied glumly. “But it’s our best lead at this point.”
Ron nodded slowly. “So, we have to figure out a way to get into the Lestrange vault.”
Hermione stood and brushed the crumbs off the table into her hand, so she could toss them into the refuse. “Let’s sleep on it. I’m sure we can come up with something.”
Tony jolted a bit. “I think the train is stopping,” he said. “I’d better get back to my body.”
Harry nodded, and pulled back from his Sentinel. They’d talked all night, sharing stories about cupboards and absent parents, abusive relatives and the wonders of being Muggle-raised wizards. “I’ll see you soon.”
Tony laid a chaste kiss on Harry’s lips. “See you soon.” He faded out, and Harry looked down to see Duke reappear and nuzzle his knee.
The train slowed as it pulled into Falmouth Station, and Tony, alert and watchful, got ready to disembark. He checked his supplies again, then, as the train stopped, disembarked, looking for a quiet, shadowy corner from which to apparate to Shell Cottage. He strode confidently through the quiet station before he found a good spot.
He turned on his heel.
And arrived on the beach, Shell Cottage just a short distance away. The house was quiet and dark, with a single lamp burning in a front window. Luna’s doing, Tony presumed. He walked forward cautiously, knowing that he’d be hitting wards at some point. He’d only taken a few steps when he felt the warning tingle.
“Ah, there you are,” Tony said. “Bill Weasley, this is Tony DiNozzo, Harry’s Sentinel.” He put a bit of his own magic into the ward as he sent the message forward.
Another light popped on in the second floor, and Tony listened as someone, presumably Bill, dressed and came down the stairs. Bill opened the front door, and Tony waved.
Bill came down to the beach where Tony stood, and said, “Welcome, Tony. Before I let you in, can you verify something personal about your Guide?”
Tony smiled. “I met both Luna and Harry on the spirit plane. Luna’s spirit guide is a Crumple-Horned Snorkak. Harry’s is a phoenix, and her name is Lovely.” Lovely popped into view and sang.
Bill laughed. “That’ll do.” Bill pulled a stone out of his pocket, tapped it with his wand, and it glowed. “Add your magic and you’ll be set.”
Tony slipped his wand from its dimensional store, and tapped the stone himself, adding his magical signature to the wards. He felt the heave of their magic as they accepted him, and watched soundlessly as Bill slipped the stone back into his own pocket and gestured. “Come on,” Bill said, and grinned widely. “Harry’s waiting for you.”
Tony grinned back and followed Bill into the house. He set his backpack by the front door and took off his leather jacket, hanging it neatly on the hooks there. Bill gestured to the stairs. “Straight up to the top,” he said. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Not until he’s 18, anyway,” Tony laughed quietly. “Thanks, Bill.”
“Not a problem.”
Tony quietly climbed the stairs until he reached the top door, then opened it. Harry lay on the bed there, and Tony got his first true look at his gorgeous guide. He immediately began imprinting sight, and as his ears picked up the sound of Harry’s heartbeat, Tony began to imprint sound, as well. He approached slowly, then reached out and took Harry’s hand in his own, starting to imprint touch.
“Harry,” Tony said quietly. “I’m here. It’s time to wake up.”
Harry’s eyelashes fluttered, and he squeezed Tony’s hand lightly as his eyes opened. “Oh.”
Tony chuckled. “Oh?”
“You are unfairly gorgeous, Sentinel,” Harry observed.
“Feeling’s mutual, Guide.” Tony stroked his other hand over Harry’s forehead, then leaned down to bury his face in Harry’s neck and take a deep sniff. “And you smell utterly delicious. Molasses and brimstone.”
“Molasses?” Harry asked.
“Oh, um. Treacle?” Tony thought back to the few holidays he’d shared with the Paddingtons. “Thick, dark syrup, sort of sweet and tangy at the same time?”
“Yes, that’d be treacle. My favorite dessert is treacle tart. And I’ve just realized I’m starving.”
Tony took another long sniff, denying himself the taste of his guide’s skin, and sat back. “Let’s feed you, then.”
They held hands as Tony led Harry down the stairs, and they crept into the kitchen, looking around. They found bread in the keeper, ham and cheese in the cooler, and fruit on the table.
“I hope Fleur doesn’t mind us raiding her kitchen,” Harry worried.
“I’m sure it’s fine,” Tony assured him. “They know you’ve been out for some time and are likely starving. And they’re awake; I can hear them. They’re just giving us some privacy.”
“Oh, well, that’s kind,” Harry said. They worked quietly to make their sandwiches, and sat next to each other at the table, arms brushing as they ate.
“So, what’s next?” Tony asked as they finished up.
“I honestly don’t know,” Harry said quietly. “We still need to get two Horcruxes plus Nagini, and without my connection to Voldemort …” He trailed off, thinking. “Wait. If my scar was Voldemort’s damaged spirit guide, are the other Horcruxes pieces of the spirit guide, too? Does the spirit guide represent the soul?”
“Huh,” Tony said, contemplating. “They didn’t actually teach soul magic at Ilvermorny, so I don’t know. I bet I know someone who might. Actually, you might, too. Didn’t you say Blair Sandberg came to you on the spirit plane when you came online?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah. He said I’m a Shaman, too, or will be once we’re bonded.”
“Right. Then he’s the one we need to ask, Harry. If the spirit and the soul are one, Voldemort’s been ripping his spirit animal apart and anchoring it to the living world.” Tony shuddered. “That shows a real lack of understanding of spirit gifts.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Harry said. “We think he made his first Horcrux at 16.”
“If he did that, he likely permanently damaged his ability to come online, and may not have known that he was a Sentinel or a Guide. Do we know which?”
Harry shook his head. “No. It wasn’t clear to me. Just that he had a spirit animal. And I don’t think it matters anymore, anyway.”
“I suppose not,” Tony conceded. “Though I would guess he’s likely a dormant Sentinel, given the utter lack of understanding he seems to have about spirit animals and the soul.”
Harry shrugged. “He’s shredded his spirit. It’s no wonder he’s pretty much insane at this point.”
“We should talk to Blair,” Tony said. “If the Shaman can bring together the pieces of his shredded spirit and send them on, that would take care of the Horcruxes.”
“And all that would be left is his physical body,” Harry agreed.
Tony stood and helped his Guide clear up the kitchen. “First, let’s go upstairs. We need to complete our imprints of each other before we can do much else.”
“How do we do that without physically bonding?” Harry asked.
“Well, I’m going to suggest we only strip to our boxers, for one. No naked time until you’re 18. It’s going to be way too tempting, I can tell. And no taste, either--so no kissing. We’ll do a four-sense imprint for me, and you can open up your empathy, and hopefully, that’ll hold us for a few months.” Tony took Harry’s hand to lead him upstairs. “Skin to skin cuddling, for now.”
Harry grinned. “I’m all over that.”
Harry felt warm, content, safe, and loved. Drowsily, he caressed the chest of the man who helped make him feel that way, thinking over the events of the past few days and basking in the warmth of their partially completed bond.
Tony caught the hand that was idly stroking through his chest hair and smiled slowly, eyes still closed. He, too, felt the need to bask. “We haven’t even completed the bond yet,” he said quietly. “How much better is this going to get?”
“Mmm,” Harry responded. “Dunno, but I look forward to it.” He was silent a moment. “I don’t remember ever feeling like this.”
Tony opened his eyes and looked down into Harry’s. “I don’t either.”
Harry snuggled back into Tony’s shoulder, and they let sleep take them.
“So Harry’s Sentinel arrived last night?” Hermione asked.
Bill nodded. “Good-looking bloke.” Fleur smacked the back of his head, lightly. “Not that I noticed.” He was rewarded with a subtle, very Gallic, “Hmmm.”
“Interesting that his Sentinel is a man,” Hermione mused. “I didn’t think Harry even thought of men that way.”
“Really has nothing to do with it, Hermione,” Ron said. “If you’re a Sentinel or a Guide, especially a magical Sentinel or Guide, magic has matched you up with someone perfectly compatible to you. Magic doesn’t care about gender; it will always seek a perfect match.”
“And the rest of it, er, follows.” Bill winked up at his wife, who smirked back at him. “Though Tony was clear that they’d be waiting until Harry was 18 for what ‘follows.’”
Hermione frowned. “What for? Harry’s of age.”
“In the wizarding world, yes,” Bill agreed. “But international law requires Sentinels and Guides to be 18 before bonding, to stem potential abuse. Besides which, Tony’s got to be a few years older than Harry.”
“Eleven years, actually,” Tony said as he and Harry came into the kitchen, holding hands. “Well, ten and change. We’ve both got July birthdays.”
“Oh! Hello,” Hermione exclaimed. “We were just --”
“Talking about us; yes, we heard,” Harry snarked, then laughed at her expression. “It’s fine, Mione. Tony, these are my best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley and Ron’s brother and his wife, Bill and Fleur Weasley. Guys, this is Tony DiNozzo, my Sentinel.”
Tony waved with his unoccupied hand. “Nice to meet you.”
Harry looked around. “Where’s Luna?”
“She’s up chatting with Griphook and Mr. Ollivander. Dean Thomas is here, too. He went for a walk on the beach,” Hermione explained.
“Right. Well, we need to talk to you two, at minimum,” Harry said bluntly. “We’ve got an idea about how to make the great asshat mortal.”
“Do you really think this will work, Harry?” Hermione asked as Harry settled himself into a relaxed sitting position.
“I think it might,” Harry said. “Moldy Shorts ripped apart is spirit animal when he made the Horcruxes. If we’re right, uniting all the pieces and send them on will take care of them.”
Hermione nodded and looked at Tony. “And what will you do?”
“I stay here and anchor him.” Tony moved behind Harry and lay his hands on his shoulders, just touching the skin of Harry’s exposed neck and collarbones. “He’ll call Blair, but they might need Harry’s magical oomph. My grounding him will keep him safe while they do what they do.”
“And we stand guard,” Ron said firmly.
“Right,” Harry said. “Here we go.”
He opened his eyes to blue. Harry could feel his incomplete bond with Tony, enough to stabilize him, but not quite all it could be, not yet. He smiled for a minute, thinking about his Sentinel, then called for Lovely.
His pretty phoenix popped into existence and sung for him, and Harry grinned widely. “Thanks, Lovely. Let’s call Blair.”
Harry thought about Blair, and a silver line appeared before him. Harry tugged it gently, and waited a moment.
He didn’t have to wait long before Blair appeared before him. “Harry! Good to see you!”
“Hi, Blair,” Harry said. “My Sentinel says hi, too.”
“And hasn’t he stirred up a hornet’s nest getting to you,” Blair remarked with a grin. “Hi right back to Tony. He’s got the ICW, the S&G Center, and the U.S. Ministry of Magic in an uproar.”
“Sounds like him.” Harry cleared his throat. “Got an idea about how to get rid of the leader of the Dark.”
Six Shaman plus a Shaman-potential--Harry--gathered the remaining pieces of Voldemort’s spirit animal. They’d agreed that the animal was the spiritual and physical representation of a soul, and that by reuniting the pieces and sending them on, that would theoretically take care of the Horcruxes, rendering Voldemort mortal.
Harry was fascinated by the process, and he freely contributed his magic and empathy to help the task along. As the remaining bits of pit viper dissipated, he smiled sadly. At one point, Tom Riddle had had the potential to be a Sentinel. With his magical power, he could have been an Alpha potential--but he’d thrown that gift away before he’d even known to check for it.
“It’s sad, really,” Harry murmured.
Blair agreed. “So much potential, wasted. Rendering your spirit in pieces will drive anyone insane. There’s no way to come back from that.”
The group closed their circle of seven, and with glad farewells to Harry, departed.
Harry blinked as he came back to himself in the sitting room at Shell Cottage. “Done,” he said quietly, then flinched as he tried to move. “Ow. How long have I been sitting here?”
“Four hours, one position, Harry,” Tony answered. “I could tell you were fine, or I’d’ve been concerned. You’re probably hungry, though.”
Harry put a hand to his stomach. “Oh, yeah, I could eat.” He grinned fiercely. “Rendering a dark lord mortal takes a lot out of a person.”
“So it worked?” Hermione asked excitedly.
“We think so,” Harry said. “We’ll probably want to kill Nagini anyway; she’s utterly corrupt. And it wouldn’t hurt to see if we could figure out what the other Horcruxes were, just to verify that they’re inert. But we Shaman believe that they’ve been dealt with.”
Hermione squealed, and Ron paled. “Shaman?” Ron asked weakly. “Only you, Harry.”
Three weeks later, Harry and Tony ran through the rubble on the south side of Hogwarts to get to the wooded path. They had minutes to get to where Riddle had issued his ultimatum.
“You will not surrender, Harry,” Tony said lowly and firmly. “We’ve got a plan.”
“We do,” Harry acknowledged.
They’d verified that Hufflepuff’s cup, in Lestrange’s vault, had been a Horcrux, but had been rendered inert, just as suspected. Tony had scoffed at the initial idea to break into Gringotts, and called the ICW for a warrant that allowed them to search the vault, quietly, for the Horcrux. Luna had brought up the idea of Ravenclaw’s diadem, and based on its description, Harry thought to check the old tiara in the Room of Requirement, which had also proved to be an inert Horcrux. They’d destroyed both pieces, just to be sure.
Ron and Hermione were tasked with hunting down Nagini using Gryffindor’s sword.
Tony and Harry had a plan, and it was simple. Go to Riddle and kill him. Tony had been issued a special permit from the ICW to take any action necessary to put down the threat. He had his wand, his Glock, and a pair of wicked daggers in tow. Harry had Draco’s old wand, another pair of daggers gifted to him by Tony, and his empathy, which had expanded exponentially with the partial completion of his bond. He also had a Snitch, and Harry’s flash of insight that it would open only when Harry faced his imminent death.
Harry didn’t plan to die, but it was always a possibility.
They worked their way quietly through the forest, mostly hidden under Harry’s invisibility cloak, and as they approached the clearing, the pair could hear Voldemort ranting about the Boy-Who-Lived.
“Wow, this guy needs a new hobby,” Tony said softly.
Harry chuckled. “I know, right? It’s like a broken record.” They grinned at each other, in perfect accord, as they counted the number of Death Eaters surrounding Voldemort. Most of the inner circle was there.
“So, Gryffindor confrontation?” Harry asked quietly.
“A little Wampus warrior could be called for,” Tony acknowledged. He checked his Glock. “Twelve rounds. I’m close enough. What do you think?”
“I think we ought to pull a Slytherin, shoot Voldemort dead, and get out of here before the rest catch a clue,” Harry said.
“Good plan,” Tony said, and took aim.
He put two in Voldemort’s chest and one in his head, and they watched from the cover of the cloak as the evil bastard fell.
They used the chaos of the Death Eaters reacting to the death of their Lord to make a swift retreat to the castle.
Killing Voldemort ended the confrontation. The Death Eaters who weren’t killed or caught fled, to be found another day.
Hermione came online, as did Dean Thomas, and spent a few days in an isolation booth in the infirmary to gain control of their senses. Like most magical Sentinels, they would know their Guides immediately. Unfortunately, magical Guides were rare, and it was more likely they’d find their matches in the non-magical world.
Ginny Weasley was not pleased that Harry had come online, nor that he’d found a Sentinel.
“You’re not even gay, Harry,” she argued. “And how on earth do you expect to have a family with another male?”
He shrugged. “I’m apparently gay for Tony, and quite alright with that. We’ll adopt or something. And spoil Teddy. With Remus and Tonks gone, he’ll need a father figure or two, even if Andromeda is raising him.” Harry looked her in the eye. “I’m sorry, Ginny, but we can’t be together. Tony’s literally my perfect match, and there’ll be no other for me.”
Ginny raised her chin. “I can do very well without you, Harry Potter.”
He smiled wryly. “I certainly hope so.”
Life in the wake of the battle of Hogwarts moved on. Tony, on leave, stayed to help with the cleanup, acting on behalf of the magical equivalent of Interpol to chase down and apprehend Death Eaters who’d fled the scene. Harry helped. They proved to be a formidable team, even without a completed bond.
And then it was July. They celebrated Tony’s 29th birthday July 8 in Rome, with pizza and good wine, friends and laughter. And they started to make plans for their future together. Tony’s job on temporary assignment with Interpol could become permanent, if they wanted. Or, Harry could join Tony in the States, and take Auror training there. He’d also have an opportunity to catch up on his education, and perhaps get a university degree.
“Frankly, I never thought I’d actually survive the final confrontation,” Harry admitted. “I don’t really know what I want to do, except keep helping people.”
“You’re good at law enforcement,” Tony pointed out. “And there’s going to be lots of opportunities for us, once we come online as a pair. We’ll only need to make sure you get the right training for the choice we finally make. Also, factor in that my apartment in Baltimore sucks. I can get into my trust fund with our completed bonding or my thirtieth birthday, whichever comes first, and we can get a better place wherever we want.”
“Oh, yeah,” Harry said. “Did I mention I inherited a really large ancestral pile of cash from my godfather? Money totally isn’t an issue.”
“Failed to mention that, yes,” Tony said, and laughed. “Guess the sky really is the limit, then.”
Harry smirked. “Too right.”
Their immediate plans, then, became finding a good, luxurious place in which to bond on Harry’s eighteenth birthday.
July 30th found Harry waiting up at midnight, looking out the window of the penthouse bonding suite they’d rented at the Four Seasons in Paris. At this point in his life, looking out at midnight was a ritual, a rite of passage that made his birthday something unique and special. Tony sat beside him, a beacon of quiet strength as he counted down the seconds to midnight. As the last seconds ticked away, Tony summoned a cupcake with a candle burning on top.
“Happy Birthday, Harry,” he said softly, presenting the treat.
Harry grinned at him. “Thanks,” he said, and blew out the candle.