Harry liked to think he was cool under pressure.
Just about everyone else thought the exact opposite.
Hermione, in particular, was of the opinion her friend was a naturally occurring human disaster.
In times like these, Harry had to admit she was right.
He had been staring at his front door for over an hour. His stomach was in knots and he felt bile rise in the back of his throat.
He had the most disgusting mixture of butterflies and stabbing pains, like the fluttery insects had grown razors for wings.
All of this because of one thing. His soulmate.
Because yes, soulmates was a thing.
The mark on the inside of his wrist proved it. The mark promised him a life with someone quite literally perfect for him.
And if that wasn't the most terrifying thing he'd ever heard. Even hearing he was going to die was less scary than this. That was death, this was... different.
What if they hated him?
Harry clenched his fist, digging his nails into the soft flesh.
He closed his eyes and took a ragged breath. He'd never know if he didn't go.
Because from the moment he woke up today he knew.
They were coming. He knew his soulmate, the tortured soul on that dreamscape, was coming. Every minute that passed the more the mark on his wrist warmed. The more he freaked out.
So many thoughts jumbled and bumped into each other, his excitement mixed with thick and heavy fear. He was shaking, trembling.
He had changed his clothes five times, and had gotten so flustered ended up in a Weasley sweater to feel somewhat comforted.
A whole hour went to hair that he had already known was untameable.
Harry wasn't sure how he was going to even get through the door.
It took several deep breaths before he turned the knob and stepped out.
It was a cool autumn day, the wind kissing his face. Harry took rigid steps down the stairs of his flat building. He gave shaky waves to a couple of neighbors and shoved his trembling hands deep in his pant pockets.
What do you even say to your soulmate?
Hi, my name is Harry and I we've never got to meet before because my parents were afraid a mass murdering terrorist would use you to hurt me. Don't worry though, I killed him a year ago.
He'd send his mate running for the hills.
Harry breathed out another heavy sigh and set into the familiar path.
He was rather fond of a nearby park. It was a bit out of the way of his grimy neighborhood, but definitely worth it.
Harry ran countless conversation starters through his head, thought about what they looked like. What that were like.
The dark haired male titled his head up, squinting at the hazy sunlight.
Stop freaking out Potter. You're a Gryffindor. Act like it.
Instead Harry focused on the sounds of leaves crunching under his feet, the squeak of swings and merry laughter of children, the distinct chirping of a bird.
Harry let his feet go where they wished and let his mind dip into a sensory daze. His eyes were unfocused, he could see but he wasn't really seeing. Harry could only feel the burn of wind at his undoubtedly red nose, and a mass of colors that meant things but he couldn't care to find out.
He wandered like this, nearly running into several things along the way. Eventually he came to the top of a bridge, which had another.pathway under it. Smiling people walked under him, joggers got in their morning run, children danced around exasperated parents legs.
Harry felt at peace for the first time that day.
He leaned over the railing and set his cheek on his fist.
There he waited.
His mark throbbed, not painfully, more of a warm pulse.
The warmth from his wrist started to travel up his arm.
A young man tossed a stick to an enthusiastic golden retriever.
The warmth spread across his shoulders.
A girl was reading, but from here Harry could see the smaller book tucked on top of the Sherlock Holmes volume. (If he squinted he could almost make out the positively dirty images drawn)
The heat travelled down the expanse of his back.
Two squirrels fought over an abandoned cheeseburger. While they did that, a third ran in and stole it.
His whole torso felt as though he was wrapped in a blanket.
The heat stopped spreading abruptly. Time passed, and Harry watched people pass by with it.
The warmth had started spreading at random intervals, no longer a steady pace.
Harry felt his earlier panic creep up on him.
What if- no. Don't go there Potter.
-too good to be true (shut up! Don't jinx it!)
Who knew Vernon Dursley would ever be rig-
-please don't leave him here standing like an idiot.
Maybe they will if you don't stop!
Harry was so distracted by the fear clogging his brain he almost missed the fact his body was warm, head to toe.
Harry blew out a breath, it turning into a small fog.
His fear rose up again, but he stomped it down.
His heart was beating out if his chest and Harry grinned, wild and just so damned happy.
He braced himself. “You're late!” He said turning on his heels and looking at his other half. “I've been waiting ages you know”
Harry peered at his mate, thankfully also a male.
Fear, it seemed to evaporate. They were here.
Harry felt so happy, so good, he wondered if he'd died for a moment.
Nothing this great happens to Harry Potter.
But he knew he was alive, because his mate was alive. And Merlin. He was everything Harry could ever want and more.
Loki didn't know how to reply.
All he could do was stare.
His mate was a Midgardian(and wasn't that just ironic) male, and Loki doubted very much he'd ever let him escape Loki.
His hair was a dark brown curly mess. It fell hazardly across his forehead, mostly covering the left side of his face.
He was short too, not so incredibly Loki had to look down, but enough he was equal if not a tad smaller than an average woman. His frame was slim, and wiry. Not a warrior, but perhaps a runner. He wore the most hideous round glasses Loki had ever seen, which showed dark green eyes.
His little mate wore a purple sweater with a golden C on it, just big enough it slipped slightly to one side, and covered up to his thigh.
He was an average Midgardian, but by the Norns , Loki wanted to tuck him into an embrace and never let him go. He wanted to make it so nothing could ever touch that face.
His whole body had a warmth Loki didn't think he'd ever had before. The mark thrummed with it.
Loki's mouth was dry, and his thoughts halted to a screeching stop. Every plan, every strategy, every manipulation disappeared with one look into smiling green eyes.
So this is what they meant.
All those stories of soulmates, all the dramatic retellings of first meetings.
They were nothing like the real thing, but also explained it perfectly.
Your world stops, and they become your world. Suddenly, the universe seems so expendable. All your tales of valor ring hollow, all your riches seem pointless. No matter how wise, or knowledgeable, it seems so ridiculous in the face of the one made for you. What's talent to them? What's honor when you'd gladly offer it up? What's pride, when you would go to your knees, beg at your enemies feet, just to hold them in your arms.
What's life, without them? For I cannot see a future without my mate. If I had to fight Odin himself or an army of Jotun, I would so so. My mate is not just my other half, but, my soul, the blood in my veins, the beating of my heart. The swing of my sword, the scream of victory, and the reason I'll rise every morn.
Loki understood that passage now.
So, he gave a smile of his own, the most honest seen out of him in years. “I apologise then, for taking so long.” He took several steps forward. “I have been wanting to meet you, for a very, very long time.” Loki stopped only a foot away, but made no move to do as he wished. That is, to pull his mate close, and truly know he was really here.
His other half, that he'd heard the echoes of pain from for so long.
His mate had a flush running across his cheeks and down his neck. “Well, I hope I live up to your expectations” it was meant to be teasing, no doubt, but it came out shy and tinged with insecurities. Loki would have latched onto that, to anyone else. Would have twisted them around his finger.
“More than I had ever imagined” Loki replied softly, embedding the image of that sweet face to memory.
The flush darkened, much go Loki’s interest.
The boy, for he looked so young, held out a hand to Loki. Words were carved into the back of it, and when Loki clasped it, he found it calloused by work. Much like a servant’s hands.
“My name is Harry.” His little mate, Harry , whispered, squeezing Loki's hand.
“Loki” he breathed. “I am Loki”
They smiled at each other, still holding hands.
“Loki” Harry repeated almost reverently.
If Loki had any dislike for his name, it would have just left him now.
Harry. It was phebian, and simple. But somehow Loki didn't mind, and found he rather liked it.
Simple. Maybe he needs simple.
Harry seemed to realize the handshake was going on long, and gently took his hand back.
“...I must admit” Harry began. “I don't really know what... marked do for first meetings”
“I'll do whatever it is you choose” Loki replied smoothly, mourning the loss of the smaller, and warmer hand in his.
“I see...I know a nice café not far from here? Excellent tea there.”
Loki felt his lips twitch into another smile.
“That sounds wonderful”
The walk was not uncomfortable, or full of useless chatter to fill a silence. It was as if they were old friends, and already knew everything to be known about the other.
They walked close to each other, hands brushing near constantly. Their breaths fogged the chilly morning air, not that it affected Loki in the slightest.
He kept stealing glances down, at the person who should have been walking alongside him long before this.
Occasionally, Harry would look to him as well, and their eyes would catch. Harry would smile, an awkward little thing, as if he didn't know what else to do, and look at his feet.
Loki had the feeling he would greatly enjoy playing tricks on his mate.
Eventually, Loki simply caught the other hand in his.
When they were but small children, him and Thor would hold hands. Mostly because he was being dragged after his brother to the latest trouble making.
Loki hadn't done something like this in a great many years. Harry shot him a surprised glance that quickly turned into a full blown grin. He intertwined their fingers and they kept them like that the whole way.
The cafe had the homey ambiance that some people couldn't even get inside their homes. The bell gave a cheerful ring, and the worker glanced up, smiling.
“Harry! Buddy, what are you doing here? It's your day off!”
Harry chuckled. “I'm here as a customer today Flash”
The male was tall, and built like a fighter. His hair was cut into a buzz cut, and his blue eyes trailed to Loki and then down to their hands.
“ I see ” the shit eating grin curled on the males lips.
“I will actually hurt you” his little mate huffed, flushed again.
He tugged Loki to the counter and released his hand in favor of poking this “Flash” in the forehead. “You better not be slacking off. Boss may be out of town, but Sooraya will still kick your ass”
Flash grimaced, glancing around nervously. “Don't say that! She may appear! And I'm not slacking off, I'm offended you'd even think so.” He said indignantly.
Harry gave him an accessing look, lips pursed. “Earl Grey for me” he looked to Loki.
The former prince eyed the menu. He must admit, this was much easier than memorizing the full list of recipes a cook knew.
“I'll have Darjeeling”
They settled in a table in a corner out of the way, but set so they could see everyone enter and/or walk by the shop.
Harry was right, they did have excellent tea.
It was Harry who started the questioning.
“Loki… how well do you know about...the reason we have marks?”
Loki watched his mate squirm, and decided to teach him tact, and how to ask question without ever really asking.
“If you mean Séidr, then I'm very well versed.”
At the confused look Loki clarified, “Magic”.
Harry's body slumped with relief. “ Thank Merlin. I was worried you may not be fully aware of the community”
“I'll admit, I'm not to familiar with this...area. “
“That's fine, I'm not either. The British Wizarding Community is pretty different compared to here. You'd think the one that only recently got rid of muggle interaction laws would be the more prejudiced. Honestly, I don't know what the ministry was thinking with the recent creature laws” Harry scowled.
Loki's mind quickly put the pieces together.
Séidr have communities here, and their own governments by the looks of things. Odin said these civilizations died off centuries ago! I should have known better than to trust his words
“Do they not have those where you're from?”
Loki thought to Asgard and all it's hate against those not aligned with their ideals.
“Of sorts. But, yours sound different”
“Well basically, everything not a wizard or witch but still Magical comes under our laws in England. They're heavily outdated, and marginalizes creatures horribly. A werewolf, for example, is only dangerous once a month. Yet, they are forced to register themselves, and have to meet insane standards to get basic rights. They can't even get the medicine they're required to take because it's so expensive. And if it's found they haven't taken it, they're put in jail for reckless endangerment. Nevermind most chain themselves up with silver.”
His little mate looked livid.
Loki, meanwhile, was in love.
“It's idiotic is what it is. Can't get jobs because no one will hire them, and if they do they may lose business or get the Aurors called on them! Or, let's say you're an elf. Half of your people's rituals and traditions are outlawed, because two hundred years ago a wizard misunderstood sacrifice as killing someone rather than an offering to nature which was normally food, or some type of object. We know better now, but the law still stands!
Any creature with traits that are not human looking is required to hide themselves, even in purely magical areas. Centaurs lose more land every year, and don't even get me started on the stealing of selkie coats.”
Harry had to stop to catch his breath. “It's barbaric! Just because someone is different. Honestly, we're wizards, you'd think they'd be a tad more accepting.”
Never had anyone's lips looked more tempting.
“...I am more behind than I believed in Wizarding culture. Is America better then?”
“Loads. They're heavily influenced by Native American culture, so much more accepting to creatures. They still have some disdain towards muggles, but it's a lot better now than it was fifty years ago. Of course, with all the mutants, and super powered people showing up they're having to change accordingly”
“I tried to take over the world with an alien army” were not the words Loki meant to say, but it's what he said.
Harry blinked. His lips began to turn up into an amused smile, before they fell. Loki began to run every theory on time travel he knew through his mind.
His mate seemed to realize Loki was being honest.
The was a long silence.
“I guess we're two peas in a pod then. I was Undesirable #1 in England for two years running. I believe my charges included domestic terrorism, treason, and long list of other bull. The world seems fine to me, so you mustn't have tried to terribly hard”