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Lessons in Trust and Loyalty

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Chapter 9

With the ten hour time difference between Sochi and California, by the time the full moon rose on the sky Teddy was curled into Harry’s side on Harry’s bed in his half-shifted form with the large wolf toy he had got from Derek clutched close to him. His tail was sweeping contentedly behind him and his little semi-morphed snout was sniffing Harry’s leg. The vanity was pulled close to the foot of the bed for better view and Derek was already smiling at Teddy and waving a little from the mirror, still decked out in his pajamas.

“We gotta stay home from school today,” Derek explained before adding shyly, “And thanks for the bigger mirror, it’s really cool.”

“Don’t mention it,” Harry replied with a chuckle. “I’m actually working on a way to project the images in a way that would allow an almost realistic way to talk to each other, but it’s difficult and I’m way too new to spell crafting.”

“Project the images? Like in cinemas?”

“Kind of?” Harry scratched his head, having little to no knowledge about how the projectors in cinemas worked. “I think. The idea is to project a realistic image into a room.

“Like a hologram,” came Peter’s voice from somewhere out of sight. “Like in Star Wars,” he added after a moment to which Derek’s face brightened up and his hazel eyes widened in wonder.

“Is that possible?”

“Is it?” Peter asked, sitting down next to Derek and smirking at Harry. Harry smiled back at him, happy to see that the boy seemed to be in a good mood.

“Hi, Pete,” Teddy chuffed through his little fangs, causing Peter to chuckle and flash his eyes.

“Hello, Teddy, interesting accessories,” he greeted the little boy, who grinned with all his teeth in return, before turning back to Harry. “Hello, Harry.”

“Good morning, Peter. How are you doing?”

“Okay. Better now that I’m seeing your face.”

“We just talked a few hours ago.”

“It always makes me feel better when I see you.”

“Seriously?” Derek whined, scrunching his nose. “Peter, that’s just so lame!”

“That’s Uncle Peter to you, brat,” Peter growled, and he must have done something because Derek jumped and turned to him with a fang baring snarl.

“You’re four years older than me, Uncle Peter, stop pretending you’re all mature and superior.”

“What big words for a lazy runt like you. Did you learn them from sweet Mieczyslaw perhaps? He seems to have a bigger vocabulary than you and he’s three.”

“Shut up.”

“Boys,” Harry interjected, lifting a brow at them, “do you need to go let some steam off?”

There was a moment of silence. Derek ducked his head, fingers clenched on his thighs. Peter grimaced and shrugged his shoulders before he shook his head and said, “We’re fine.”

Harry wasn’t so sure about that but let it go for the moment, steering the topic away from the moon. Instead he told them about the brief meeting he had with an Alkonost the previous night when he went for a walk after Teddy had fallen asleep. Peter seemed to soak up the story of the fascinating creature with a bird’s lower body and a woman’s torso, and asked intelligent questions that actually helped Harry gather his thoughts for the notes he was planning to take on the creature. Derek looked interested as well, but his eyes kept straying to Teddy, who, when Harry checked, was unabashedly staring back at his friend without saying anything.

Laura popped in every now and then during the night but according to Derek, she was too old to really have time for ‘babies’ now and had better things to do with her time. As it turned out, Talia was also home for a change, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering the date, but she mostly stayed out of the conversation flowing between the children and Harry, only coming by to say hello before retreating to her home office. It wasn’t what Harry had expected after their first meeting, but he decided to wait and see what Talia would do with their connection before passing judgment.

The night went without incident. Teddy was calm and only showed the slightest amount of distress when Derek and Peter were called away for lunch, but he just whined and chuffed out Derek’s name again and again with his face pushed into Harry’s stomach. Harry held him close, rocking his godson’s little body until he fell into a fitful sleep. By the time the boys got back to Derek’s room Teddy was snoozing in Harry’s lap and showed no sign of waking up for the rest of the night.

“It happens,” Peter said quietly. “He’s young and shifting takes a lot of energy no matter how fluid and easy it seems to be.”

“Thank you for being there for him. It was really kind of you.”

“Teddy is a sweet pup,” Peter replied but Harry could see his cheeks stain pink under the praise. Derek smiled wide, but his gaze was glued to Teddy and seemed wistful. “Maybe someday day, soon, you two can run with us?”

“Maybe,” Harry conceded, not wanting to ruin the peaceful atmosphere. “Is that your plan for the night? Going on a run?”

“Yes,” Derek agreed. “Mom says it helps get rid of the extra energy. We don’t change the same way Teddy does,” he added when he saw Harry’s confused frown.

“The full shift is an ability that takes a lot of control and energy,” Peter said, taking over the explanation. “Pups with their still developing minds have an easier time going into a partial full shift because they don’t really have a full grasp on their wolfish instincts yet. Cora is the same. She is all hyper now, but the moment the moon rises and she shifts, she’ll be out like a light in an hour. But the more we’re socialized among humans the harder it becomes to tap into our more animalistic side and it leaves us with a lot of pent up energy.”

“Is it impossible for you to learn the full shift?” Harry asked to which Peter shrugged and Derek scrunched up his nose.

“You need to be really in tune with your inner wolf to be able to do that as a Beta. Also have a mental stability that will allow you to stay mostly in control,” came Peter’s reply. “Of course, we’re not allowed to try. Not even Laura.”

“Is Laura different?”

Derek rolled his eyes. “She’s mom’s successor, so she thinks she’s better than anyone,” he said then promptly winced.

It didn’t take a genius for Harry to know that whatever Laura had replied with wouldn’t bide well for Derek. It reminded him of Ron with his own siblings. As bittersweet as that reminder was, he still couldn’t understand what had always made Ron jealous of him when he had everything Harry could only ever dream to have. But it was not the time to dwell on the past, and when Peter asked if everything was okay he just nodded with a faint smile.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m glad you guys have each other.”

“And you.”

“Of course. And me.”

“We’ll have to go soon,” Derek murmured, sounding forlorn. “Can I… Can I call Teddy before we go to sleep?”

Harry had to smile at that. “Yes. He’s always happy to talk to you.”

“What about me?” Peter asked, raising an cocky eyebrow at him.

“You can call Teddy, too, if you want,” Harry shot back with a little curl of his lips that turned into a smirk when Peter scowled. “What you don’t want to talk to my adorable godson? I feel like I should be offended.”

“Your cub is sweet, but I want to talk to you.”

Harry’s smirk gentled into a fond smile. “You know that you can call me anytime.”

“Good,” Peter replied smugly before he and Derek finally said their goodbyes and the connection was closed.

Harry shook his head and pulled Teddy close, burying his nose into the soft tufts of aquamarine hair and following his godson into the land of dreams.


It was just after dinner on Christmas Eve and Harry was ready to tear his hair out. Teddy was throwing a tantrum over not being allowed to call Derek until he put away all his toys, while Harry was trying to make sure that everything was packed for their trip to France to spend Christmas with the Weasleys.

Which included Ron and Hermione.

And Ginny.

He wasn’t sure which one of them he dreaded to meet again the most after what felt like decades, when in reality it was not even two years in Hermione’s case. A part of him wished he had stood his ground when Mrs. Weasley had started pestering him about spending the holidays with them, because as she had said,

“Harry dear, you became part of this family when you befriended my son on your first journey to Hogwarts. Just because your friendship isn’t what it used to be and you’re not dating my daughter any longer, you won’t cease to be one of us. Not to mention, your adorable Teddy needs to learn what it means to be a Weasley.”

Harry was man enough to admit that his breath had stuttered in his chest and his laugh might have been a tad bit shaky when Mrs. Weasley added,

“And Ronald, Hermione and Ginevra will just have to put on their big boy and girl panties and deal with it if they have a problem with it.”

Although, from what Harry had gathered from one of Luna’s less than tactful letters was that Ginny had not been idle on the dating front since their uncomfortable breakup, which was something Harry felt grateful for. He hoped that Ginny would find the perfect person who made her as happy as she deserved to be, even if it wasn’t him and never would be either. The thought that Ginny had already moved on gave him hope that things wouldn’t be horribly awkward when they met again the next day.

Hermione and Ron on the other hand… He had no illusions about tearful reunions and apologies. All three of them were stubborn to a fault, but looking back on their time together, Harry sometimes felt like it had always been him who gave up first, allowing either Hermione or Ron or both to steamroll right through him. And Harry, with his damned need to please everyone and keep the few friends who had seemed to like him, had just let them. He had forgiven Hermione for taking away his Firebolt without asking him just because she always knew better, just like he had forgiven Ron for abandoning him over his petty jealousy. It was water under the bridge now and there was no sense in dwelling on the past.

Friendships changed over time, sometimes not for the better. They simply grew up to be different people, whose lives didn’t line up anymore. They were grown ups who could deal with being in the same room for a day, and if things turned for the worse, Harry was sure that he could spend the time talking to other members of the Weasley clan until it was time to leave. Or just pack Teddy up, apologies to Mrs. Weasley and leave.

With a sigh, he waved his hand, summoning the last items he was missing from Teddy’s bag, idly wondering if he was supposed to start potty training his godson soon. He could always ask Mrs. Weasley about it, or even do a little research. Maybe that would take his mind off obsessing over seeing his old friends again. Who still lived in Britain and were in the middle of the political and social mess the Ministry had caused and was now trying to correct. Without much success from what Harry had heard through the grapevine. No matter how positive The Daily Prophet was trying to seem.

“Daaa, me done,” Teddy whined from the doorway, his face red and tear stained. “Call Derek now?”

“First we check your hard work, then you can call Derek while I finish checking if we have everything.” Harry couldn’t believe he was acting all organized and responsible, but there he was grasping his godson’s little hand and walking over to Teddy’s room that looked almost tidy for a change. At least the rug wasn’t littered with a sea of toys that Teddy refused to pack away because he would ‘come back to play with them later”.

“Good job, Teddy Bear,” Harry praised the little boy, whose face lit up in a pleased smile and reached up with both hands to be picked up. Of course Harry did so, and even scented him, gently rubbing their cheeks together that had Teddy almost purring into his neck in contentment.


“Good.” Harry nodded before planting a noisy kiss onto Teddy’s cheek, who giggled and did the same in return. “Now let’s get you settled for your call.”

Obviously, Derek was delighted, if barely awake, to talk to Teddy, but his face instantly soured when he understood that Teddy would be away for two entire days, both of which involved Christmas. It made Teddy cranky again as well, and by the time Harry deemed everything ready he found himself faced with two grumpy kids pouting and refusing to say their goodbyes.

“I dun wanna!” Teddy snarled, his eyes flashing gold. It was becoming more regular whenever his mood changed for the worse, and it didn’t faze Harry in the least anymore. “I want Derek! I wanna see Derek! No Weezies!”

“Mrs. Weasley will be devastated to hear that,” Harry replied simply, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Teddy scowled harder. “And Derek has his own family.”

“I don’t care,” Derek grumbled in answer, his face twisted into a frown. “Peter will flip out when he hears about this and I don’t want to spend Christmas with him like that. He’s unbearable.”

“And what would your mother say?”

“I. Don’t. Care.” Now it was rare for Derek to allow himself to become so snappish towards Harry, who blinked and tried to come up with a response that would not let the situation escalate. He firmly stomped down on the urge to order both children to behave. They had the right to be upset even if it was only about being apart for two days, and their attitude was becoming more than taxing for Harry. “Mom is too busy for us anyway. She’ll have her stupid party, won’t even notice we’re there. Except for Laura. Because she’s ‘Alpha material’ and her heir.”

Harry pinched his nose. It wasn’t the first time something like that had been dropped by either Derek or Peter, but usually their words had less bite to them. Now it seemed that Derek was just pouring all of his frustration over Harry’s head, finding fault and reason for anger in everything in his life. Which, if Harry wanted to be honest with himself, wasn’t exactly unreasonable. The past few months since the first full moon Teddy and Harry had spent with Derek and Peter thanks to their magical mirrors had been filled with a frustrating lack of Talia. Peter kept saying that she was in the middle of some grand case, which left little time for her to do anything but eat, sleep and train Laura when she wasn’t locked away in her office, and Harry really wanted to be understanding and mature and not intervene. But whatever was happening over there was taking a toll on Derek and Peter, as well as on Laura and Cora probably.

“Where is your mother, Derek?” he heard himself asking, and then had to suppress the urge to groan at his inability to just stay out of things. Alliance Bond or not, he had no right to butt into things that wasn’t his business. But Derek’s face turned even sourer if possible, and he knew he was making the right decision even if it would result in butting heads with Talia in the end.

“She went to the store with Cora and Laura. At least that’s what the note said,” he said with a sulking shrug. “Shopping for dinner. She sh…” He fell quiet for a second. “They just got back.”

“Okay. I’m guessing Peter is still sleeping?”

“Pretty much. Won’t be up before noon, unless Cora sneaks into his room to wake him up. Again.” Harry’s lips twitched.

“All right. I’m going to ask you to go down and call up your mother for me, then go to Peter’s room and chat some more with Teddy through the mirror in his room.”


“I would like to talk to your mother.”

“I’m going to get into trouble.”

“No, you won’t. Trust me.” And he would ensure that his words remained true.

Derek seemed reluctant to leave his room, but once Harry picked up a confused and not at all cooperating Teddy he heaved a sigh and did as he was asked. Teddy growled at Harry, something he hadn’t done before and something Harry refused to tolerate. He gently grabbed his godson’s chin and forced him to look into his eyes, staring at him until Teddy’s gaze dropped and he arched his neck in submission. Harry scented him briefly to show him that everything was fine and Teddy whined, burying his face into Harry’s neck.

“I know you were confused and you don’t want to be away from Derek for what feels like ages probably at the moment, but growling at me out of spite won’t help you get your way,” he said quietly. “Now, I’m taking you to your room so you can talk to Derek and probably Peter a little more, okay?”

“So’ry, Daa,” Teddy whispered, sniffling. “I just want Derek.”

“I know, Teddy Bear. But the Weasleys want to see us and you had so much fun last time, didn’t you?”

“But Derek…”

Harry sighed. He wasn’t sure if the direction the kids’ attachment was headed was healthy, but he didn’t have the heart to restrict their connection. At the same time the idea of maybe talking to Nicolai about allowing Teddy to meet some of the younger members of his pack could be good for Teddy. It would allow him to socialize more and make friends who didn’t live practically across the globe. For now though, he had another Alpha to have a talk with, one he really didn’t look forward to but had put off long enough. Even if it was Christmas and it was kind of inappropriate.

“Are you planning to have a screaming match with Talia?” was Peter’s opening question when his and Derek’s face appeared in the mirror in Teddy’s room. He looked barely awake, blinking owlishly with his hair reminding Harry of a rumpled bird’s nest. It was painfully adorable.

“Nothing like that. But I want you to activate your privacy stone and do not eavesdrop on our conversation.” He lifts an eyebrow when Peter opens his mouth to protest. “There will be consequences none of you will like very much if you do.”

“You’re no fun.”

“I don’t remember ever listening in on your private conversations.”

“That’s because you live too far for it to happen.”

“Or more like because I respect you enough not to be a nosy little shit.”

“Same difference.” Peter folded his arms across his chest with a huff. “But whatever. We’ll be good.”

“Thank you,” Harry replied with a smile, then ruffled Teddy’s bright blue locks and walked back to his own bedroom where Talia was already waiting for him. She didn’t look particularly happy to see him.

“You wanted to talk, Harry?” she asked, sounding polite but barely just. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s Christmas Eve and with four kids around I have my hands full.”

“Yes, well, timing has never been my forte,” Harry replied without the slightest ounce of regret in his tone. He even shot Talia a grin that was not returned. “The thing is this cannot wait any longer it seems, because your son is pretty much on edge and you’ve been too busy notice it.”

“Are you accusing me of neglecting my children?!” Talia demanded, back going rigid and voice slipping into something dangerous.

“No, I don’t,” Harry said coolly. “I could accuse you of wrongfully tricking me into forming an Alliance Bond with your Pack, using my lack of proper knowledge of my situation for your gain. After all, having a magic user who could achieve Alphahood without being turned into a werewolf must be a pretty great boost to your own status. I bet you also feel more powerful these days, huh?”

Talia looked decidedly paler than a few minutes ago. Her lips were thinned, but at least she had the decency not to deny Harry’s claims even if she showed no sign of shame either. Of course she didn’t regret her actions. As a relatively new Alpha with an impressive territory — or so Nicolai had said — she needed all the trump cards in her fold if she wanted to fend off her challengers.

“An Alliance Bond is a mutually beneficial bond,” she bit out. It only made Harry chuckle mirthlessly.

“Yes, except there is a huge power imbalance between us,” he retorted, refusing to be falsely modest about his magic. “You might be a born werewolf and an Alpha at that, but so far all you could offer me was new instincts that have gone haywire since our bond formed. And it wouldn’t be a problem, you know… No you don’t. You don’t know anything about me besides my goodwill and power. Things you chose to exploit without deeming to inform me. And that’s the problem Alpha Hale. You used my lack of knowledge and unfailing naivety and never once in the past half a year did you think it would be necessary to tell me what I should expect from this new bond I found myself and my godson immersed into.”

“Yet you never tried to dissolve the bond,” Talia said, lifting her chin but her tan skin looked ashen.

“And you have your children and brother to thank for that,” Harry retorted with a sneer. “I’m curious though, when did you decide to use me and leave me none the wiser? Was it the moment Teddy trotted up to Peter and you’ve seen us? Or did you at least wait until we exchanged some pleasantries before thinking that you need to snatch up what I can offer?”

“You’re trying to make me regret my choice to initiate the Alliance Bond, and in any other situation maybe I would,” Talia said, grim. “But when you’re a new Alpha with nothing but your children and your kid brother acting as your immediate pack against what is building up to be a long line of challengers for your territory, then you stop being picky about morals and do what it’s needed to be done to survive. Meeting you felt like the gods’ sign that I had a fighting chance, so I grabbed it. And it’s a decision I refuse to regret because the boost in power our bond provides ensures that my children and brother can live in peace instead of constant fear.”

Harry took a deep breath. He understood Talia’s motives and he couldn’t say that he wasn’t happy to hear that he was aiding her in protecting the children, but he had spent too many years being taken advantage of to swallow it from yet another person without at least receiving an apology from her.

“While I’m incredibly happy to hear that my magic helped you keep the children safe, it doesn’t change the fact that if only you’d have asked for it without playing mind games— If you had been honest, Talia, I would have helped. More than happily. Because I’m that kind of fool.”

Talia stared back at him for a couple of seconds, then out of nowhere she dropped her gaze and nodded. “I’m not going to list my excuses,” she said with a sigh, “and I’m not going lie in your face and tell you that I feel any regret. But I do apologize for misleading you and then taking the coward’s way out by staying away.”

Harry took a minute to study her in silence after that, letting her stew in her uncertainty about whether he would accept her apology or not. He didn’t believe she had malicious intents, after all, she hadn’t asked for his help directly. She had barely talked to him at all since their first meeting, actually. Which was another thing that irked him, because she was right. She had acted like a coward, hiding behind her work and in the mean time she hadn’t only avoided Harry but neglected the very children she was trying to protect with the power she had gained from Harry.

“Yes, you were a coward,” he chose to say in the end. “And you would have continued to be one if I hadn’t asked to talk to you. I’m not sure what that says about you, but while I can get over being used without my consent yet again, I cannot accept you forgetting your duties as a mother and sister. Because I might only have one child who is roughly the same age as your Cora, but so far I’ve noticed that being a parent to a werewolf child, any child probably, means more than providing shelter and safety. And definitely more than being their Alpha.”

“What are you saying?”

Harry smirked, wishing he had some fangs to flash himself. “I did some digging and reading, Talia. I have an immense hatred for being left in the dark about important matters that have an impact on my life and especially ones that can potentially harm my godson. And you know what I’ve found?” He didn’t wait for her reply. “I found that as your ally, I can question your leading skills and so far, I’ve seen that your pack is in distress over your near constant absence.”

“So what? Are you going to turn against me? Break the bond and try to take my territory?” she practically snarled, eyes flashing bright red.

“No. But I will demand you to reevaluate your past behavior and change it to benefit your pack. And more importantly the children you love and who love you.” He kept his tone hard, not softening when her eyes dimmed and she looked away as pain flashed over her face. “And you want to take this demand seriously, Talia, because the repercussions if you fail to act accordingly will be harsher than you can imagine. I don’t play around when it comes to children and I always keep the promises I make.”

“I didn’t mean to neglect my children,” Talia said quietly, resigned. “But I did and as much as I hate to admit it you are right to call me out on it. I’ll do better in the future, you can believe that.”

“Good,” Harry replied. He allowed himself a small smile, pleased that Talia was going to do better. He would never turn to her for help despite the bond between their packs, but he came to love the Hale children, especially Derek and Peter, and he wanted to see them happy and content. And he would do everything in his power to make them happy as well. “Now, I have a request. This is not a demand and you can say no, of course, but I would like our packs to meet before New Year’s Eve, maybe even celebrate the new year’s arrival together as a sign of turning a new leaf?”

Talia opened her mouth, and Harry didn’t need to be a genius to know she wanted to refuse on the spot. Instead, she took a deep breath and briefly nodded her head. “That sounds like a good idea. I know my children would be happy to see you and Teddy in person.”

“In that case, I hope I can that as an invitation to your home for the festivities.” He knew that he had told Peter that he couldn’t expect Talia to invite them to their den, to their territory, but he just didn’t care anymore. Things had changed and if Talia could take advantage of him and his power, then it was only right that Harry got to see the place he was supposedly protecting.

“Of course,” Talia agreed. “I don’t know how much my kids or Peter told you about our home, but we live in Beacon Hills, a small town in California. I could pick you up at the airport—”

“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary,” Harry cut in with a shake of his head and a small smile. “If you give me the coordinates to your home, we will be there on the morning of New Year’s Eve.”

“Ah… All right. I might have to ask you to put a spell or something on Teddy, too, unfortunately. We usually spend New Year’s Eve with the Stilinskis, and they are fully human without any knowledge of magic. Claudia knows about us, but young Mieczyslaw doesn’t yet and I doubt you want to deal with explaining the impossible to a bunch of people you don’t know.”

“Yes, maybe if they turn out to be trustworthy, but making rash decisions is not something I get to indulge in too often anymore. Maybe I should also learn the same thing about seeing the good in people… Anyway, I think we can agree that this was a talk we needed to have. I cannot say everything is fine, but hopefully, it will get better from now on.”

“I hope so, too. Turning you against us is the last thing I want to do, after all.”

“I would hate that as well.” Harry frowned. “I’m sure it won’t come to that, though. Now, unfortunately, I have a cub to put into bed, but we’ll see you in a few days. And Talia?”


“I think, keeping our visit from the kids would be a good idea. It could be your surprise to them.”

Talia’s eyes widened and she looked lost for words for a second before she dipped her chin sharply. “Thank you, Harry.”

“Anytime. I want those kids to be happy as much as I want the same for Teddy.” With a little wave he disconnected the mirrors and went over to Teddy’s room to somehow get his godson to say his goodbyes as well.

Teddy was almost fully asleep curled up in the middle of his bed with Peter reading him a story about what sounded like three evil piglets and the poor wolf. Derek was cuddled against his uncle’s side, snorting every now and then when Peter exaggerated the piglets evil deeds, and Harry’s instincts quieted instantly at the sight. He leaned against the door frame, watching as Peter wrapped up the tale, for a few minutes before he stepped inside, smiling at the boys.

“Had a good time?” he asked.

Teddy murmured something, making grabby hands at him and scenting his neck the moment Harry was close enough. Harry pulled his godson close and dropped a kiss onto his messy mop of hair, then he pulled the covers back and gently placed him on the bed to tuck the little boy in. He sat down next to Teddy and turned his attention toward Peter and a much more alert Derek; both were eying him with apprehension, although Peter was hiding it better.

“Everything went well, I assume?” Peter asked with pretend nonchalance.

“Did you expect something else?” Harry lifted an eyebrow at him, his smile cheeky.

“I know how my sister can be.”

“Well, she knew she was in the wrong from the start. And I might seem like a pushover but I can be persuasive when I need to.”

“That doesn’t make me happy if it means we’ll get the brunt of Talia’s anger.”

“Nothing like that will happen,” Harry near growled, good mood evaporating instantly. “I promised Derek and I always keep my promises.”

“Hmm…” Peter still looked less than convinced but Derek elbowed him in the ribs and he stopped arguing for a change.

“Thank you, Harry,” Derek said, his expression hopeful.

“Yes, thank you, Harry,” Peter echoed. “Now why don’t we talk about this funny little thing I just heard from these two here.”

“Peter, don’t start.”

“What? I don’t have the right to be upset over not being able to wish you Merry Christmas because you will be with a bunch of other people of your kind and out of touch? So out of touch that you can’t even take a portable mirror with you?” Peter spat, not hiding his rage at all. It stirred Harry’s instincts, the insolence grating on his nerves even though he understood why Peter would be upset.

He took a couple of calming breaths. He didn’t want to fight with Peter, not now… not before he had to face his old best friends and probably pretend that everything was fine. “Look, Peter. I am sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. Then again, you have been mostly absent for the past few days, so I couldn’t have told you that we are going to be away on Christmas Day anyway.” He chose not to mention that Peter had been absent because he was apparently dating some girl from the local high school, because Peter’s private life was no business of his. “And it’s only one day. We will be back before you even wake up on Boxing Day, so I don’t see the problem quite honestly.”

“Good for you, then. Well, I’m sure you have things to do still and I wouldn’t want to be the reason you left something behind before your trips, so I hope you have a Merry Christmas, I know I will.”

The way the mirror suddenly matched Harry’s reflection was ridiculously familiar by that point, but it didn’t leave Harry any happier. Not that he had really expected anything better from Peter and his teenage mood swings. He could only hope that his Christmas gift and the surprise visit would make up for whatever imaginary slight Peter got offended over. Harry really wasn’t sure why he believed that Peter getting a girlfriend, especially one older than him, would change the boy’s behavior and possessiveness over Harry’s time. Well, Peter was welcome to steam in his snit as long as he wanted, because Harry had more pressing things to worry about for the time being and he refused to be emotionally manipulated by a twelve year old’s tantrums anyway.