Chapter 1: Neither Heaven nor Hell
A Harry Potter/Supernatural Crossover
By Sif Shadowheart
Disclaimer: Naturally, neither the Harry Potter or Supernatural franchises belong to me. I’m just playing with them for a bit.
Warning! This fic is A/U and contains both SLASH and possibly MPREG with quite a bit of SPN-Canonical violence and pseudo-religious themes.
Author’s Note: This is my shot at a sweet, cuddly Harry instead of my normal BAMF-Smart Harry. That leads to what might seems as OOC moments with our darling cinnamon-roll. I’ve also played fast and loose with 90% of HP canon and set this in the first season of SPN so probably no spoilers for anything post S1 applies except on the whole angel/demon front but not the actual storylines.
Does any of that make sense? I’m frankly not sure anymore…
Also, if any of the first 700 words or so seems familiar, I have permission from my bestie of besties Loka Senna to borrow and repurpose their intro into their HP/SPN crossover “Waking Up the Devil” since their muse and RL have not been playing nice and they have no idea when if ever they’re going to be getting back to any of their fanfictions ☹
But I don’t believe in copy and paste so parts in this first chapter might come off as similar but its in no way an exact copy.
All that said, I hope you enjoy!
One: Of Neither Heaven Nor Hell
“So, here is a riddle to guess if you can, sing the bells of Notre Dame: What makes a monster, and what makes a man?”
~ Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
"Fuck!" John Winchester cursed as he and his sons finished clearing out the run-down barn they'd traced the murderous coven of bloodsuckers to.
Rather than walking into a tense covert-operation while they searched for the legendary Colt under the cover of the bright noonday sun, they'd found a bloodbath - and not the kind one would expect in a vampire hideout as what seemed like two differing groups went fang-to-claw…at least until the Winchesters arrived and helped hurry their demises along.
"Christ." Sam said while Dean echoed their father's sentiment, his machete hanging loosely at his side while he stood up from his crouch after taking one final head. "What the hell happened here?"
"Dunno." Dean growled as he started searching for the gun they were looking for among the remains of the bodies, John already working his way through the boxes and tables and assorted junk laying around after getting over his shock. "One of them mouthed offed to the others, maybe?"
"Doubt it." John answered absently as he pawed through piles of useless crap, setting aside anything that might be of use to them later including a rather nice set of throwing knives that had no business in a Wyoming barn. "Vamp covens are notoriously tight-knit. One of the fuckers might go off on their own if they get into it with the leader but they also stick by their own...it's one of the things that made them so damn hard for Elkins and others like him to stomp them out. In-fighting like this makes zero sense."
“Nothing’s been behaving itself lately on the monster-front though.” Sam pointed out, helpless to keep himself from knocking head with his old man. “Something has them all riled up.”
Probably the Yellow-Eyed-Demon with the way their luck tended to run.
Sam fell into the last remaining job of sorting through the papers his dad found like he'd never left hunting in the first place, easily slotting back into the rhythm of looting a monster's cache after doing the same with Dean over the last several months. Having their dad around just made the work go that much faster since John and Dean brought the papers to him and he didn't have to go looking for it. Maybe there might be some insight in the coven's records of who might be after them...besides the Winchesters anyway.
John and Dean had nearly finished looting the first-floor hideout when Dean spotted a thin leather-bound notebook wedged between two floorboards.
“Hey guys.” He called out, prying up the half-rotten planks with the dull backside of his knife to reveal a safe under the notebook. Staring down into the hidden cache he flipped idly through the ledger-journal-thing he’d found in addition to a sweet stash of what looked like real gold and silver after he’d taken a prybar to the safe. And along with it an old Colt .45 wrapped in a shirt and shoved in the hole. As if it wasn’t any more important than a falling-apart journal. “Yahtzee. We’re eating good tonight…and a while after.”
Sam and John sauntered over, the youngest Winchester letting out a whistle as his father stacked the coins, pure bullion maybe? And even bars of precious metals onto the dirty floor. He hadn’t found much from the paperwork they’d found, but maybe the book in his brother’s hands might have a better idea.
One thing bothered him though…
“This place was pretty well torn up and ransacked.” He commented quietly, almost to himself as he looked around, John busy separating the loot and weapons into two piles and Dean still flipping through the ledger in his hands, the Colt sitting on the floorboards between them as they worked. “What’s a brand new safe, even a cheap one like this, doing in a run-down barn?” He asked waving towards the gold and silver.
“I don’t think the safe is the issue.” Dean answered the nearly-rhetorical question, waving his dad and brother over to look at something he’d found, alerted by his tone and word choice. “Look at this.” He pointed to a series of entries at the very back. “I’ve found these entries going back months. The blood-suckers were stalking Elkins, tracking him the same way we do hunts. The problem is…” He drawled as Sammy gave a surprised lift of his brows as he took in the information on the pages Dean pointed to. “That Elkins wasn’t the only one. The coven leader, head vamp, or whatever wrote more than once that they were working one a project involving a guy,” here he rolled his expressive green eyes. “Refused to name, calling him It or The Weapon, like they had him…and were still afraid.”
“Any idea who or what this powerful creature is Dad?” Sam asked, not finding any reference to who this guy was or even what he looked like other than the head-vamp working on some kinda weapon using him. Then his eyes popped wide, looking around at all the bodies. “He’s not here.”
“What do ya mean, Sammy?” Dean asked, frowning. “There’s no one left alive.”
“That’s just it.” Sam pointed to another section of the notebook, one much earlier than the vamp’s tracking of Elkins. “This is dated back from 1998, Dean. That’s when they got their hands on this “Weapon.” It’s not the Colt,” he nodded his head towards the demon-killing-gun their dad was cradling like one of his own newborn children. “They just found that. Something had them spooked to the point that they were searching out weapons against Hell. Creatures, fighting Hell.” Sam raised his brows. “And the first weapon they tried out is, and I quote: a small, fragile little thing, half-grown. Hard to see that he’ll be worth the effort, but appearances can be deceiving. That sound like any of these undead assholes to you?”
“What’s your point, Sammy?” Dean asked, half-exasperated but willing to play along.
“If the vamps took the time to bring in a safe for their stash and the Colt.” Sam pointed out. “What’d they do with this other weapon they’d put so much time and effort into, huh?”
The three Winchesters traded a long glance, then spread out to the corners of the room, tapping at the floorboards in search of another hidden cache – one that potentially held a find just as valuable if not more precious than either a stack of gold and silver or a gun that could kill demons: an innocent, one who’d been waiting years if Sam was right to be saved.
It was John that found the hatch in the end.
Not inside the barn, but in an old storm cellar that was separate but still nearby…and boasting a brand-new chain and padlock holding the wooden doors shut…doors that were marked up with all kinds of symbols the Winchesters had only seen in some of Bobby’s more obscure texts on demonic lore.
Whatever was down there…the dead vamps didn’t want it getting out or anything else getting in, given that the chains were solid iron and the symbols probably kept demons or other monsters away…somehow.
A pair of bolt-cutters later and they were in…though even with the warnings inherent in the journal, they weren’t quite prepared for what they found.
As Sam had read earlier, he was a small little thing in the light of their flashlights, made to seem even more fragile, more breakable than is likely normal for the poor kid by being curled up on himself in the fetal position, not even the sound of breaking chains or the doors opening getting any response from the huddled figure on the – remarkably clean – mattress on the cellar floor.
Honestly…if it weren’t for the head-vamp noting that the “weapon” was male, there’d be no way to tell at first or even second or third glance whether the curled-up body was either gender for certain.
Light shone and gleamed off a thick chain that was shackled to one bare – and tiny – ankle, Sam already having plans to take the whole damn thing back to Bobby’s for the retired hunter to research the runes that were etched on it from the end bolted to the solid-cement wall to the two-inch thick cuff around the kid’s ankle. Nothing protected the “weapon” from the underground chill but a thick – flannel maybe – nightshirt, the kind you’d expect to find on a kid or an elderly person in winter and colored a dingy blue. Skin gleamed with an unnatural pallor, likely from years locked away from the sun by his vamp captors, and ink-black hair nearly blended with the shadows.
In the end Dean had the right of it, as blunt as it was:
“Not much of a thing, is he?” The green-eyed hunter noted as he followed his dad down the rickety steps into the cellar, his Sasquatch brother on his heels and having to duck way down to avoid rapping his head on the rafters.
Served him right, even if Dean and John both had to crouch a bit to avoid the ceiling, it was nothing compared to the hunched-over form of Sam.
The freaking giant.
“Looks about as dangerous as a kitten.” Dean continued with a soft snort. “Which given our luck probably makes him the creature version of a WMD.”
“That’s what they were trying to turn him into anyway.” Sam answered as he studied the chain and cuff, the male – far too young looking to really call a man but somehow tagging him as a kid or a boy didn’t seem right to him either – not so much as twitching. “Why isn’t he waking up?” He asked with more than a hint of concern in his voice as his dad finally moved to check the prisoner’s pulse and breathing.
John hunkered down next to the nearly-still body, counting off heartbeats that were far too slow as his practiced gaze flickered over the empty water jugs that looked just within arms reach but not seeing so much as a single food wrapper to go with them.
Hard to say – especially with the entire coven wiped out – but it was starting to look like that with finding the Colt, the coven had washed their hands of their pet project.
Though that left the question: why not just drain and kill him?
Why leave him to slowly starve to death?
And most of all…what exactly was he?
“I think we can get the chain free of the wall.” Sam finally said, worried eyes taking in the not-good-news look on his dad’s face as Dean continued to keep watch, just in case the male was playin’ possum. “But that cuff doesn’t have any kind of keyhole for us to pick.”
“We’ll take him to Bobby’s.” John finally decided, even as the danger of it itched at the back of his neck. Too many things could go wrong. But if this little stripling was really as dangerous and powerful as the coven seemed to think…it might be worth it to save his life if only to have him in their debt. “Get some food in him and the chain off of him and then see what we see.”
“Jesus, John.” Bobby commented, shaking his head at the sight of the diminutive form in a near-comatose state on his safe-room cot.
The Winchesters had roared in, near to taking a year off of Bobby’s life, with the tiny male out cold in the back seat of the Impala, Sam nose-deep in a journal and even Dean looking fit to be tied over the state of the being – if Bobby understood the story correctly from what John had told him over the phone – they’d found locked away and apparently starving.
With how Dean was able to haul the mite around, not to mention the poor thing being skin-and-bones, it wasn’t any wonder he was asleep – it wasn’t like he had any real fat reserves to keep him going like your average joe.
“I know, Bobby.” John replied, the sight of the man – hell, kid really, barely looked out of his teens – having given him more than one bad moment even with him being some kind of powerful entity if the vamps were to be believed…or their journal anyway. A journal that John’s son was still trying to decipher to figure out what-all had happened…and if the kid was dangerous in general or to them in the specific. “The IV should get him stable enough to get something in his stomach. After that?” He shook his head. After that, it’d all be on the kid and just how much fight he had in him.
Though if what Sammy had originally found was to be believed, that little pile of skin and bones had survived being held captive by a coven of vampires for going on eight years.
Anyone who could survive that could hopefully survive a bit of captor-neglect.
Or so John hoped.
If the demons were nose-up after the Winchesters before, they’d sure as shit be after them now that they had the Colt.
And that was not including that supposedly-powerful little thing that at the moment was about as threatening as a dandelion puff.
Or as Dean had put it, a kitten.
Boots on the stairs had the older hunters turning to find Dean coming down to take his turn watching over the boy.
“Hey.” Dean told them, nodding his head towards the stairs even as he moved to take the empty dining chair they’d hauled down. The kid couldn’t be left alone after all. For one, they still had no idea who or what he was. And for two, if he’d spent as much time as they thought trapped, they couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t panic when he eventually woke up, even with Bobby and his dad managing to use some tools and Sam’s Gigantor strength to get the cuff off of his ankle.
For his part, Bobby was just as interested in all of the sigils and runes and crap engraved on that cuff and chain to keep the kid captive.
Dean just wanted it off of him.
Even if, and at the moment it was a big damn if, the ninety-pounds-soaking-wet teenager was dangerous, it did bad things to Dean’s mind to see a kid with a big-ass cuff around him and bolted to a wall.
He’d hunted and killed a fair share of the things that went bump in the night but he liked to think he’d never been cruel with it.
Though he notably couldn’t say the same for his dad.
“Sam thinks he found something.” Dean finished.
“Okay.” John nodded, turning towards the stairs. “Keep an eye out, Dean, we still don’t know anything about this kid.”
Bobby snorted derisively, even as Dean gave a short wave and a ‘will do’ in response.
That was John Winchester all over: ornery as the day is long and more of a drill sergeant to his boys than a father.
“More information on what he’s not.” Sam told them as soon as his dad and Bobby cleared the stairs and entered the kitchen where he was posted up with the journal, a pen and pad of paper, and a couple of English-to-French and English-to-Latin dictionaries to help with deciphering and translating the journal. It was an ugly patois of languages, some of it English, the rest he did his best by but even then it was a dirty job that more than likely lost a lot of meaning and information in the translation. Still, he did his best.
After all, if it weren’t for the quick-and-dirty job he’d done on some passages, he wouldn’t have spent half an hour helping Dean clean up their new houseguest…because god knew his dad and Bobby didn’t have much by way of “gentle” in them anymore.
Bobby’d found some old clothes of Dean’s so they could get the little…being out of the dirty flannel nightshirt, but a quick basin-bath was the best they could do until he actually woke up, though he thought there might have been a flicker or two on the being’s face when they manhandled him into clean blue boxers and a ratty AC/DC shirt his brother must have grown out of a decade ago.
For a being of supposed phenomenal powers, he was teeny.
“Okay, what’ve you got?” John asked, already reaching into the fridge for a beer, tossing one to Bobby and then cracking open one of his own. Granted, that kid downstairs looked nothing like either of his boys but the state of him was giving him some bad moments regardless.
Especially the tats and scarification.
“How old would you say he is?” Sam asked leadingly, hazel eyes darting between his dad and his honorary uncle.
“Teens.” Bobby shrugged, not really giving it much thought.
“Not that his body looks it.” John added, more than familiar with what a teenaged boy should look like after raising two of them on the road. “He’s emaciated to say the least, you saw that for yourself.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing.” Sam ran his hands through his hair in frustration. “I’ve found where they found him, managed to decipher most of it. Unless I’m really off in my translations, that teenager hasn’t aged in the last eight years.”
“What?” John coughed a little on his current sip of beer.
“Yeah.” Sam scoffed a little. “They found him in some forest in Scotland during one of the terrorist attacks in the late nineties. One of the coven, guy named Sanguini of all damn things…”
All of the hunters in the room rolled their eyes at that bit of vampiric ridiculousness.
“Knew there was going to be an attack and the coven planned on feeding on the wounded.” Sam’s sneer of disgust was echoed by his father and Bobby, the same as Dean had done when Sam told him before he went downstairs to swap out watch duty. “Guess they found him in the woods, he’d survived some kind of attack or something, that part’s mangled too much to really translate, that should have killed him but didn’t. And, more to the point, they pegged him at seventeen at the time.”
“That’d make him twenty-five or thereabouts.” Bobby frowned. “There’s no way any home-grown human doesn’t age a day in eight years.”
“We already knew he wasn’t white-bread human.” John reminded them both. “So he’s a little weirder than we thought. If he’s as dangerous to demons as that book says he could be than I’m willing – for once – to deal with a little bit of weird…not that it’ll matter unless he wakes up.” John shifted a bit at the incredulous look exchanged between Sam and Bobby.
Not that it wasn’t warranted.
John had never been known as the most logical creature on the planet.
His hate for all things other was legendary at this point, that he was suddenly willing to play ball – even a little – with someone or something other was a bit out of character even from his own point of view…except.
They had a bead and a lead – finally – two decades after Mary’s murder on the demon that killed her and a way to do it.
Adding in a bit of firepower to that fight was worth it – in his opinion – even if it meant playing nice, for a while, with something distinctly other.
Though, as he’d reminded them, it was all moot unless they could get the kid – no matter how old he was supposed to be he looked like a damn kid – to wake up and up to fighting fit, supposing he was even willing to use whatever power or powers the vampires thought he had against the demons.
They knew what he wasn’t.
They’d tested him as soon as they got him to Bobby’s: holy water, silver, whatever they could think of and no reaction.
“We get any traction on those tats and brands?” Bobby asked, nodding towards the pad of paper that they’d used to copy as many of the marks on the boy as well as they could.
“Ah, yeah, a little.” Sam shook his head, shifting things around a bit and pulling the pad closer, covering the journal for the moment. “There isn’t a lot in here about what they did to him just what the end result was supposed to be.”
“Anti-everything WMD, right.” John nodded.
“Yeah, the coven leader thought of himself as a real Dr. Frankenstein.” Sam supplied with a grimace. He was going to need brain-bleach after reading as much as he had of the journal. “According to the ramblings they even opened him up and carved stuff onto his bones.”
“Like what?” Bobby blinked at that. That…was a new one for him or anyone he’d ever worked with.
“Doesn’t say.” Sam shook his head.
“’Course it doesn’t.” John snorted. “That’d be too easy.”
“Just that the purpose was to keep him hidden, idea was that someone or something was going to come looking for him.” Sam finished after his dad was done. “Anyway, a couple of the marks are easy, they’re demonic sigils, the others,” he shook his head. “I’ve never seen them before, I don’t even know where to start.”
Bobby leaned over, eyeballing some of the “sigils”.
“Those aren’t just demonic sigils.” He said after a long moment, rising to his feet and heading to his office, finding a specific book that was right next to his desk for easy access then flipping through it as he came back into the kitchen. “They’re the sigils of some of the Knights of Hell.”
“Knights of Hell?” Sam arched a brow, exchanging a look with his dad. Dean was going to pitch a fit when he was read-in on Bobby’s insight.
“Lore argues on who and what they are, even how many of them there are.” Bobby explained. “But they’re upper level demons, maybe even the first demons made.” He set the book down, a demonology compendium, tapping a drawing on one page then the one on the pad, a dead match. “That one, where was it?”
“Scarred into his back opposite his heart.” Sam answered after a moment.
Honestly, the only marks that weren’t scars were the tats on his palms – likely so that he wouldn’t lose range of motion in his hands – and the one mark that he couldn’t place to save his life over the guy’s heart.
“It was done with a really precise tool like a soldering iron or a wood burner for art or something.” John supplied. “All of them are like that that I could find: as precise as they could make them.”
“Well, however it was done.” Bobby told them. “It’s the mark of Beelzebub, the Knight or Prince depending on the Lore, of Envy.”
“That’s why it’s opposite the heart.” Sam clued in. “If they thought he’d survive it they probably would’ve tat’d it onto his heart.” At least that gave them a clue to killing the guy if they ever had to if bat-shit crazy vampires who had a hell of a better idea about what he was than them wouldn’t mess with his heart.
“It’s a good of a guess as any. And this one,” Bobby flipped a couple more pages then tapped another sketch. “Cain, wrath.”
“That one: Abaddon.” Bobby turned to another page, pointed out another sigil.
“Back of his neck.”
“Well, she’s Acedia or Sloth depending on the Lore.” Bobby enlightened them. “The original sin was Acedia, to be without care.”
“Why would that be a sin?” John asked, frowning. “Sounds more like a blessing to me.”
“Yeah, you’d think so.” Bobby replied. “Except rather than sloth a better translation would be selfishness. Next, that one.”
“Left palm.” Sam told him.
“And the reason your daddy is interested in him, though even he doesn’t know it yet.” Bobby eyed up the oldest Winchester with a snort. “Azazel, of Greed. Though you’d know him as the Yellow-Eyed-Demon.”
“Four of the seven sins.” Sam sat back heavily, rubbing his hands over his face. “What do you want to bet that if we take a closer look at him that there’s three more marks hiding on his body?”
The older hunters snorted.
That’s nothing but a sucker’s bet.
“Where didn’t we look?” John asked.
“I don’t know, Dad.” Sam answered, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “Inside his mouth, maybe? Under his hair? If it’s skin it can either be scarred or tattooed so it wasn’t like they had a lack of places to hide a sigil but it still doesn’t tell us why, why did they bother with all of this for eight years only to let him slowly starve to death in a storm cellar?”
“Azazel.” John bit out with a growl. “He’s growing stronger, more active, that has to be it.”
“They panicked.” Bobby nodded. “Makes sense. Scrapped the long-game and went for the immediate gain: the Colt.”
“Why?” Sam reiterated. “Why go through all that trouble and research and time and then just throw him away? Why the sigils, why any of it, if they knew about the Colt the whole time?”
“Why do evil fuckers bother doing anything?” John shot back. “What sigils are missing, or we haven’t found on him yet?”
“Belial, Gluttony.” Bobby answered after flipping through a few pages of pad and tome alike. “Asmodeus, Lust; and the big one: Lilith for Pride.”
“Why’s Lilith such a big deal?” Sam asked.
“Two reasons.” Bobby told him, scratching at his head. “First, because she’s the First. The first demon ever created by Lucifer himself. Second, Pride is always the head of the chain in any demonology I’ve ever seen. Signature sin of the big-bad himself. They were warding or doing some sort of consecration maybe…and calling on the reigning Queen of Hell to do it.”
Downstairs, where the being in question laid on a bed – granted, a cot but still – for the first time in years, emerald green eyes shot open and locked on watchful jade.
Chapter 2: Awake and Alive
Chapter Two: Awake and Alive
Dean knew that the trio of Sammy, Bobby, and his dad in the kitchen above his head were probably working things out that would piss him off later when he heard about it as they brainstormed and honestly: that was just fine with him.
Sitting there watching that chest with matchstick ribs barely move up and down as the fluid in the IV drip Bobby had tapped into a vein on an arm maybe half the size of one of Dean’s, he really didn’t need to be in the thick of the discussion over just what depths of sickness the vamps had delved into or what all they’d done to the kid. He’d rather be down here, making sure his heart didn’t stop without warning or whatever. Skin and bone: that’s all that was left of the kid. He knew it wasn’t life-long deprivation, at least not to the extreme the vamps had unleashed, because there were folds and sags of skin that used to be filled out, sunken-in cheeks and eye sockets, and Dean swore to god he could wrap one hand all the way around one of the kid’s skinny thighs.
It wasn’t natural.
It was torture.
The dehydration was clear to see with as little as a press to one brittle nail, Dean hoping that once it was time to change out the IV bag that that problem would be taken care of at least.
Though no amount of pushing fluids would do shit for the concave stomach that made him think of pictures from WWII concentration camps.
Dean protected people, seeing a kid – monster-maybe or not – look like this fucked with his head.
It’d been doing so ever since they found him chained to a wall in that cellar two states away, completely non-responsive and barely breathing.
If his dad hadn’t been there he and Sammy would’ve taken him straight to a hospital.
But his dad was there and wherever John Winchester roamed he was in charge no matter how much it bothered Dean or irritated the ever-loving-shit out of Sammy.
There was so much they couldn’t do for him in the basement of Bobby’s house, like feeding him through an IV or doing a tube-feed, things that he knew would help a shit-ton more than a simple saline drip and a bed-bath. He’d been kept prisoner for as much as eight years. Did his dad really think that who or whatever he was that they, the Winchesters, would be able to help him? And if helping him wasn’t the goal…then what was the point?
It was with these thoughts – and others – running around and around in his mouth that Dean watched over the small form, leaving him more than a little stunned when yellow-tinged eyelids fluttered open to reveal emerald green eyes that stared deep into Dean with more awareness than the hunter thought possible.
Harry didn’t know when he fell asleep.
When he gave in to the aching exhaustion that pummeled him at all hours.
Harry, really, didn’t know much of anything.
It wasn’t like Luther spent much time talking to Harry ever since the coven leader ran off Sanguini.
Sanguini was the only one who ever really bothered talking to their “pet” even as Luther cut him open and carved things onto his bones or branded him with a heat-pen or tattooed strange symbols onto his palms.
Though, he had to admit, if he felt any gratitude to Sanguini at all it was when the European vampire convinced the coven leader to brand him on his pubic mound instead of on his cock like Kate, the leader’s mate, had threatened him with.
That all changed after Luther and Sanguini fought, the end result of which was the older – but not stronger – vampire leaving the coven and Luther moving them all, Harry included, to a new base where Harry went from being hidden in a locked safe-room in the old manor house that used to be the coven’s home to a dirty bunker and chained to a wall. He never found out what it was that they fought over. He never knew what it was that happened to change…everything. Only that it heralded the beginning of the end.
It was almost a relief.
Life had never been kind to Harry after all, a short period of happiness lived in the looming shadow of a prophecy, then years of neglect and pain.
Harry was tired.
Tired of living through things that would kill anyone else.
Rather than being a blessing, all it had ever done for him was draw attention that he didn’t need or want.
Case in point: rather than allowing him to die, he’d been found after the battle by a coven of crazy-ass vampires that decided to use him as some kind of experiment for reasons that he could barely grasp and even half of that was only because of the shaky French he’d learned in primary school than had refined a bit by the TriWizard Tournament. Language immersion was a thing that did wonders, since while his knowledge of French wasn’t common-knowledge his being English certainly was, and French was the only language Luther would speak around him, leaving him to grasp what he could from the vampire’s ramblings as he cut or carved or branded him. Harry learned more than Luther ever thought he could from those ramblings.
But even then…they didn’t make sense.
Yeah, Harry had a habit of surviving things he shouldn’t, and another human couldn’t, so when the food stopped coming, he prepared himself for the worst just in case this didn’t kill him either, but even so he eventually just…drifted away.
That said, waking up to pretty jade green eyes was certainly not what he expected since none of the coven had eyes that color.
There was no question that he was alive.
He hurt too damn much for it to be otherwise and much to his own chagrin, he was all-too-familiar with the reality of living.
Though the IV line was new.
He honestly couldn’t remember if he’d ever had one of those before, indeed the only reason he really recognized the device and didn’t panic over the needle in his arms was from his aunt’s medical dramas she’d watch on the telly while Harry did his inside chores.
But it was the absence of something not the presence of it that surprised him the most.
Well, two somethings.
First: the enchanted cuff on his ankle suppressing his powers was gone.
And second: he couldn’t feel any Death magic surrounding him like it had done since the moment the vampires had stolen him away in the wake of a massive magical battle.
That said, he couldn’t be certain that the pretty-masculine face with the jade eyes wasn’t evil or some kind of monster, he’d learned too much about both people and magical beings over the years – Merlin, how long had he been gone? He didn’t even know… - to trust that it was a human or that it didn’t mean him any harm.
But he wasn’t a vampire so that was a start.
Harry opened his mouth to ask any of a dozen questions that ran first to his mind, only to give a weak croak instead, a croak that seemed to be the trigger to green-eyes to move.
Dean sprang into motion, snapping up a bottle of Gatorade from the floor and holding it up cracked it open so the kid could see the seal breaking, then helped the weak form sit up enough to take several long, slow sips of the bottle until he was either done or too tired to continue, it was kinda hard to tell given the circumstances.
At least the sports drink had plenty of sugar and other crap in it and should be easy on the kid’s stomach.
Having it with him was just a precaution, none of them had really anticipated that the kid would wake up so soon, as it was Dean didn’t think he’d be awake long enough to even bother with calling the rest of his family down to try and talk to the kid as eyelashes fluttered a bit, the green-eyed teen – and wasn’t that a kick in the ass, those had to be the brightest green eyes Dean had ever seen and he boasted a pretty impressive pair of his own – visibly struggling against falling back asleep.
He had a feeling that was going to be watch-shifts for the next little bit: helping him drink, watching him fight sleep, and waiting for him to wake back up, even if the kid had been aware enough to give Dean one hell of a once-over before trying to talk to him after his body had lost a lot of the tension that had snapped into his body when his eyes popped open.
“You’re in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.” Dean supplied, figuring that there wasn’t much harm in telling him that much after he’d been the captive of a vamp coven. “My family found you held in a cellar, you remember any of that?”
Harry nodded slowly, turning on his side and laying his cheek on the pillow – a pillow! – right arm with the IV hanging off the cot edge, left hand resting palm down across his chest.
“Ok, that’s good I guess.” Dean blew out a breath and looking up at the ceiling, warring with himself to keep from getting any closer to the undetermined-species-kid than he already was. Watching him move so slow and careful to shift onto his side was nearly painful let alone how it must’ve felt for the kid. “Look, you know what had you right?” He had to check.
Sometimes people repressed the shit out of anything other, finding any excuse at all but the supernatural to blame for what happened to them or their loved ones or even just some stranger on the street.
“Vampires.” Harr managed after a moment, the sports drink having helped a lot with his parched throat, but it had been a long time since he used his voice to do anything but scream.
“Yeah.” Dean nodded, hands clasped and hanging down between his knees. “Yeah, it was vampires. They’re dead and we found you in their cellar. You know why?”
It wasn’t like it was a lie after all, and now that he was a bit more awake to go with the alive, he could see the heavy door in the wall and what looked like cinderblock with strange script similar to the markings Luther had marred his body with.
Not like it was a view that inspired a sense of safety, even if he was glad to be rescued from Luther.
He’d keep the whole truth, as far as he knew it, to himself until he figured out what the angle of his rescuers was.
Dean chuckled a little, raising his brows in humor as he smiled.
“Yeah, that’s hard to argue with.” Dean lowered his voice as he saw the kid’s lashes lower and stay that way. “Rest up, someone’ll be here when you wake back up kid.”
About the time Dean was closing the sports drink back up, the kid had only gotten about half down him, and had it set aside, his head turned towards the door of the panic room hearing the sound of feet on stairs.
Sam’s boots came into view first, then those long Sasquatch legs, his baby brother finally ducking under the panic-room lintel, heavy tomes tucked under his arms along with the vampire journal.
“Figure anything out other than he’s got a permanent case of baby-face?” He asked as Sam set the books down on the small desk Bobby had stashed down there along with the cot, a lot of supplies, and a poster of Bo Derrick.
“Not really.” Sam huffed a bit of a laugh. “More information but no real answers.”
“Pretty sure he’s been marked with the personal call-signs of the seven Princes or Knights of Hell.” Sam told him in a matter-of-fact tone just tinged with frustration. “We know four of them for certain but we don’t know where the other marks might be since we weren’t really looking that hard the first time.” He shrugged, sitting down in the desk chair after pulling it sideways so he could stretch out his legs rather than keep them all bound up under a piece of furniture that was not built for someone over six foot. “And that Dad all of a sudden seems way too at ease with letting someone not-human live.”
“Yeah, he’s not really the live and let-live type.” Dean laughed a little as he crossed his arms over his chest as he turned a little to better face his brother. “But…”
“But.” Sam made a little gasping noise. “When it come to the demon that killed Mom he’s not afraid to shake down any tree.” He was friends with Missouri Mosely after all, proving that people can be other and John Winchester won’t burn them down. Though it wasn’t the best odds, strictly speaking, being only one out of probably thousands.
“True enough.” Dean rubbed at the back of his neck. “Which is a good thing ‘cause it’s looking like he’s going to pull through.”
“What happened?” Sam perked up, having already noted that the kid was on his side but figuring it was just Dean repositioning him like Bobby said needed doing every couple hours.
“He woke up.” Dean smirked a little at the shock on Sam’s face, not that he’d been any different when the kid’s eyes popped open. “Long enough to get some Gatorade down him and answer a few questions.”
“Like what?” Sam frowned, not happy at all that Dean hadn’t called them down when the guy woke up. And if he wasn’t happy, their dad was going to be furious. “Why didn’t you call us?”
“He was awake for all of five or six minutes, Sammy.” Dean snorted. “Hardly enough time to deal with the John Winchester form of chit-chat. Drank about a cup of that crap, said all of about two words, shifted position and fell back asleep. Hardly the stuff of vital importance.”
“What’d he tell you, Dean?” Sam scrunched his brows at his brother in frustration.
“It was more I asked a couple questions and he responded.” Dean relented. “He knew it was vampires holding him. Said they were crazy when I asked why. That was the sum of our exchange, Sammy. Not worth rousting Dad for.”
“That’s something at least.” Sam sighed, turning his head to stare down at the books Bobby had given him to look at while he went pouring through some others for the possible meanings of the rest of the marks on the guy. “He give a name?”
“Wasn’t awake long enough to really get to that, Sammy.” Dean rolled his expressive green eyes. “Surprised he had enough energy to turn let alone the rest of it.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Sam gave a huff of laughter. “I went through a skinny phase as a teen but this is…it takes a long time to whittle someone down that far and have them live through it Dean.”
“I bet.” Dean muttered. “Still,” he lifted his voice as Sam cracked open one of the books, Dean thought it said Solomon or something like it on the old leather spine. “Monsters crazy enough to do what they did with him? Wasn’t like they didn’t have the time to do this too.”
He jabbed one finger towards the bird-boned wrist, Sammy just nodding in agreement as he started in on the Key of Solomon.
Two days later and they were in the same holding pattern.
The kid would wake up for maybe fifteen minutes at a time if they were lucky, Sam enlisted to carry him from the ground-floor half-bath to deal with the results of finally getting steady fluids and something in his stomach for the first time in ages, he would drink down anything Dean or whoever handed him, though he flinched a little from gruff-voiced John, from water to Gatorade to bone-broth Dean had managed to sweet-talk from a noodle-shop in the small city nearby, answer maybe a question or two and then pass back out for hours before waking back up to repeat the process.
Harry, that was the kid’s name, Dean remembering to ask first thing after both his dad and Sammy ragged on him for not thinking of that when he woke up the first-time, was looking better for the steady fluids, his lips not as dry and cracked, voice coming out in a smooth and sweet tone, skin not as yellow, but he still slept way more than even Sam as a teenager.
If pressed, Dean would guess that he’d slept probably a solid forty of the next forty-eight hours, all split between couple-hour naps and a couple chunks of around four or five hours at a time but never longer since he’d been pulled out of that bunker in Colorado.
Dean couldn’t say he blamed him, Bobby’s panic room was a nicer cell than the last one Harry had made home, but it wasn’t home or freedom by any measure.
Sammy and Bobby worked away at the sigils and books and research while John put in calls to every hunter he knew, gathering information about demonic activity after Bobby had made a very salient point: the retired hunter/researcher in a normal year only heard of maybe three demonic possession in a year.
That year there’d been twenty-seven alone and it was only April.
Honestly, Dean still half-expected one morning to wake up and find his Dad had taken off with the Colt, leaving Bobby and his boys to deal with Harry on their own, same as the vampires had cut their losses with the kid.
At least they were treating him decent.
It was more than anyone could say the vampires did.
Emerald green eyes cracked back open with a matching yawn, Harry off the IV and able to stretch when he had the energy, and seeming to revel in the freedom of movement.
Something told Dean it’d been a while since he’d had that.
Bobby had picked up some kids’ nutrition shakes, blushing and grumbling that he thought they’d be easier on the kid’s stomach, Harry working his way from water and Gatorade to broth to the shakes and hopefully soon would be ready to take on simple things like soup, applesauce, and rice according to the research Sam had done.
Though, and it pissed Dean off even more than he already was, Harry seemed to know more than a normal person did over what he could eat and when, the implications of that not helping any of them hold onto their tempers.
With big kitten eyes and looking about as dangerous as a feather, it was easy to forget that the vampires thought Harry was some kind of big-bad-demon-be-gone or that was what they’d hoped he was apparently.
Dean still wasn’t sure where they’d gotten their information, but for all the years he’d spent hunting, he’d never seen anyone or anything less likely to jump up and start killing demons than little Harry who still wasn’t strong enough to climb the stairs up to the bathroom on his own.
“He’s bouncing back faster than normal.” Bobby noted as he tromped down the stairs to the panic room and noticed another bottle of Pedia-Sure tossed in the waste bin next to the door. “How long this time?”
It wasn’t anything had said out-right, but all of them were keeping a mental tally of how long Harry was wake and the gaps between consciousness.
“About an hour between wakes.” Dean leaned back in his chair, balancing on the hind legs as he thumbed through one of the books Sam had left with him more for education on demon lore than expecting him to do any research. He could. Dean had never been dumb. He just preferred action to reading. “Up for twenty minutes, down for an hour, up for fifteen, down for two.” He rattled off. “His body his starting to let him know it doesn’t appreciate what was done to it, that’s for sure, and he’s still way to light-weight and tender-gutted to risk pain pills on.”
Bobby grunted at that.
“No matter what the vampires planned.” He warned. “Kid’s not going to be fighting-fit anytime soon, even if he is recovering faster than normal.”
“I don’t know about that.” Dean smirked a little. “He lived through things we can only imagine, Bobby. I don’t think the condition of his body has a whole helluva lot to do with his ability to survive.”
Little did he know, but Dean was righter than he had any idea it was possible to be.
Just shy of a week after Harry’d been pulled out of a Colorado storm cellar, he sat up against the wall, legs turned spindly from who-knows-how-long of deprivation and hanging off the edge of the cot, Dean fussing a bit as he covered him up with one of the heavy blankets they’d all-but-buried him in when they realized he was having problems keeping warm with his weight-loss, as all four of his “rescuers” clomped down the stairs to his humble abode, taking whatever chairs there were in the case of John and Bobby while Dean and Sam were left to lean against the walls, Harry having gotten familiar with all of them in time despite spending most of his time still with Dean.
If he didn’t know better he’d say the brunet with jade eyes had adopted him when he wasn’t looking.
At least the tallest one didn’t almost have a heart attack every time Harry made like he was going to try standing or Merlin-forbid walking the way his older brother did…which was probably the problem.
Dean was so used to taking care of someone else he’d just clicked right into sick-little-brother mode.
It was heartwarmingly – and shatteringly – similar to how Mum Weasley once included him without thought with her brood, putting plate after plate of food in front of him and knitting him a sweater every Christmas.
He’d found out that date the third time he woke up.
He’d figured by that point if they were going to punish him or hurt him for asking questions they wouldn’t done already.
They’d found him a couple weeks short of eight years to the day of the Battle of Hogwarts, the day he’d died the last time and been taken captive by vampires.
And yet…when he looked in the mirror, other than being far-too-skinny even for someone who’d been underfed all his life since he was fifteen months old, he didn’t look any older than he was when he led an army into battle before walking to his own death in the Forbidden Forest.
Was there even anything left for him in England?
Did anyone survive?
Would anyone even believe that he was still alive after all this time?
The goblins might.
They always knew when someone was alive or dead.
But even then…could he even go back after all that had happened? Everything that Luthor had done? He wasn’t the same person anymore, that much he knew for certain. It was the only certainty he still had, after all, it wasn’t only in the forest that he should have died. Luthor’d given it his best shot as well over the years.
Facts were facts, he was awake and alive in South Dakota, if the first wasn’t enough to shock, what to do about the second was a problem in its own right.
He had no identification, no money, no nothing, even the clothes on his back belonged to the Winchesters and Mr. Singer.
Harry was at their mercy in a very real but still very different way than he’d been to Luthor and his coven.
And now, if he knew anything about the look on the eldest Winchester’s face, it was time to start paying the piper for his rescue and answer some of the questions he could see living just behind those dark hazel eyes that he passed down to his younger son Sam.
Taking the sports drink Dean handed him, Harry took a long sip then a breath before speaking.
“What do you want to know?”
Chapter 3: Twenty Questions
Facts were facts, he was awake and alive in South Dakota, if the first wasn’t enough to shock, what to do about the second was a problem in its own right.
He had no identification, no money, no nothing, even the clothes on his back belonged to the Winchesters and Mr. Singer.
Harry was at their mercy in a very real but still very different way than he’d been to Luthor and his coven.
And now, if he knew anything about the look on the eldest Winchester’s face, it was time to start paying the piper for his rescue and answer some of the questions he could see living just behind those dark hazel eyes that he passed down to his younger son Sam.
Taking the sports drink Dean handed him, Harry took a long sip then a breath before speaking.
“What do you want to know?”
Chapter Three: Twenty Questions to Save the World
“What’s your full name?” John started with that, since nothing they found in any of the stuff from the barn or what “Harry” had said filled them in on who – or what – he was supposed to be beside a vampire’s pet project. Pet being the operative word.
“Harry James Potter.” He replied promptly, then added since he knew it was coming anyway. “Born July 31, 1980 in Godric’s Hollow, England.”
The hunters traded a look at that confirmation of something they already knew.
Harry wasn’t old enough, physically outside of the wasting from starvation, to be twenty-five going on twenty-six in a couple months.
“When were you taken?” John continued.
They hadn’t asked or supplied certain information to try and cross-check what Harry gave them, a precaution that he’d insisted on even though his boys and even Bobby to an extent thought he was being paranoid.
More paranoid than his normal anyway.
“May 2, 1998 from the Forbidden Forest in the Scottish Highlands.” Was the answer this time, checking out against what they already knew and paving the way for the information they really wanted.
“Any idea why?” Bobby posed the next question now that the “test” ones were over with.
“Probably has something to do with my slight resistance towards death.” The corner of Harry’s mouth ticked up in a little smirk as his eyes flashed in amusement as the other men exchanged baffled glances over his not even trying to hedge. Why bother? They’d pulled him out of a vampire coven’s nest. And he wasn’t exactly unaware of his body’s ability to bounce back at a rate that had saved his ass more than once over the years.
They already knew he wasn’t human.
At least, not as they’d likely define the word.
And given that he was in the United States of America, he was going to make a minor logical leap and tag them as Hunters or something like them, a group that they’d learned at least a bit about in Remus’s third year DADA classes, since the werewolf had half-focused on magical creatures and how to survive them.
He’d been too out of it – at first – to make the connection, but he’d been awake off and on for days now, and those weren’t any ordinary books that the others read or combed through while they took turns babysitting him.
“And how does that work?” Dean asked with a cocked eyebrow.
“Not quite sure to be honest.” Harry told them with a little shrug. Not to say that he didn’t have any ideas but that wasn’t what they were asking now was it?
“What are you?” John cut to the chase on that one, not wanting to dance around.
“Human.” Harry blinked big green eyes at him. “At least as far as I know.”
“That it?” Bobby smiled a little, enjoying watching the kid dance around John probably more than he should. Still. Someone needed to do it every now and again. “Or is there anything else tangled up in that?”
“Wizard.” Harry cocked his head and smiled at the elder hunter. “Home-grown in England and trained in Scotland.”
Dean scoffed a little bit.
“What like Merlin?”
Harry just nodded, that smile never fading a bit as he lifted his drink and took another sip.
“How does that translate to you not dying?” Sam tried.
“No one’s quite sure.” Harry answered with a sigh. “Should’ve died when I was a toddler: I didn’t. Should’ve died when I was eleven: I didn’t. Should’ve died when I was twelve: I didn’t.”
“I’m sensing a pattern.” Dean winced. Jesus. And he thought growing up following his dad and training up as a hunter had been bad on the rough and tumble. That was kiddie-leagues to what Harry was describing.
“Oh, you have no idea.” Harry told him with an eye roll. “But that doesn’t tell me or you, why. I don’t know. And if Luthor had any idea he wasn’t talking.”
“Luthor, that’s the head-vamp, right?” John checked.
“Uh-huh.” More sports-drink. “Took me out of curiosity as far as I could tell – at first anyway. Then a while later the, uh, experiments started.”
Winces abounded, though Harry was still as calm as he’d been every time he’d been awake as far as they could tell.
Sam thought he wasn’t dealing with what’d happened.
The others were starting to think he was right.
“You know anything about what they all did to you?” Bobby asked, leaning forward. “We managed to untangle part of Luthor’s journal, but a lot of it was useless as far as figuring out the whys.”
The whats and hows for the most part were all-too-graphic.
“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” Harry quoted, thanking his ridiculous mish-mash of standard-English education, being friends with Hermione Granger, and what he learned at Hogwarts for the passage.
“Wait, I know that.” Sam frowned. “That’s Blake isn’t it?”
“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” Harry replied, smiling with his dancing eyes at the youngest hunter of the lot.
“Yeah, we got the Hell part.” John told him, arching a brow. “Didn’t want to go looking for the missing sigils though since we figured they might not be in the easiest-to-spot places.”
In wordless answer to the not-a-question, Harry tapped one hand to the back of his head, then over his pubis, then lifted his hands and flipped down his bottom lip to show them the last, not surprised in the least when they winced at the pain those places must have caused to be tattooed – in the case of his lip – or branded for the others.
Not that it really, well, was that bad compared to either a Crucio or having his skin split open to reveal bone, then having more things chiseled open and then having silver poured into them to make sure they took.
The thin scars over his individual ribs and his femurs were all that remained other than the engravings themselves to give proof of the horror he’d endured under Luthor’s charge.
“Why?” Dean asked, still baffled. “Why go through all of that? And why throw you away after all that effort?”
“Why is easy: they were afraid.” Harry answered. “Never found out what of, just that it was something that wasn’t a fan of, well, anything. As to the other, well.” Harry smirked a little. “I’m known to be a bit stubborn.”
“You weren’t willing to play ball.” Sam observed, more than a little impressed. “They couldn’t break you? Not once in eight years?”
“My unlamented family couldn’t break me in eleven years and every summer between twelve and seventeen.” Harry told them honestly. “I’ll bend, but breaking completely…” He sighed, finishing off the bottle of flavored water, sugars, and supplements. “It’s just not in my nature. Came by it honestly as it is, my Mum was the same way by all accounts.”
“What happened after you were first kidnapped?” Dean pressed, trying to sift through the mish-mash of information until he found something that would get his dad off of Harry’s scent and back onto worrying about Azazel.
“Woke up confused as shit with the mark of the Hallows on my chest and the scars I’d otherwise racked up missing.” Harry’s mouth twitched a little even as he nodded his thanks to Dean as the hunter passed him one of the kid’s nutrition drinks. He was on quite the strict diet plan. Gave him hope that John wasn’t going to get frustrated and see for himself how hard it is to kill Harry. It was definitely kinder on his system than his annual re-introduction to full meals at Hogwarts always was. But then even the Dursleys had never dared let him lose this much weight. “With a vampire I’d met a couple years before arguing with who I’d come to know as Luthor over my body. Almost escaped a couple times before they slapped that cuff on my ankle, thanks for getting rid of that thing by the way.”
“That’s what the sigil over your heart is? The Mark of the Hallows?” Sam frowned. “We looked through dozens of books and couldn’t find it anywhere.”
“Yep.” Harry sank down a little more into the pillows he was propped up on. He was staying awake more and more but he was still fighting chronic fatigue tooth-and-nail. “It’s from a wizarding kid’s story if you can believe it.” He quirked a half-smile. “I certainly didn’t until I woke up with the damn thing on my chest.”
“Yeah, lore can slap you in the face like that.” Dean agreed. “Can’t be complacent about that crap, you never know when it’ll come along and bite you in the ass.”
John turned what they’d already learned over in his head before finding his next question when the others turned towards him, he’d been quieter than the others had expected but his boys were doing a pretty damn good job of getting information from the kid-creature.
“What did you do to end up with that mark on your chest?”
Harry grinned, biting his lip a little and tilting his head towards the eldest Winchester in appreciation.
“Collect three objects of legend: a wand, a stone, and a cloak all supposedly belonging to Death, and then greet him as an old friend.”
“Die.” Bobby corrected in a deadpan. “I think you mean die, idjit.”
“Well, yeah, but it didn’t take, obviously.” Harry shrugged. “I didn’t know that at the time but well…” He waved a hand over his chest. “Proof of theory, right? It was only after that one, where there was no doubt that I really should have died that I started ringing up the others and figured it’d been going on longer than just then. Still don’t know why but now I definitely have a bead on the what.” He grimaced. “Kinda glad you found me to be honest, I don’t even know if starving would have done it or if I just would’ve gone into a coma until someone intervened.”
“You said you’re a wizard.” Sam continued even as Harry drained the Pedia-Sure, Dean trading the empty for a bottle of plain water. “What does that mean?”
“Wand-witch.” Bobby answered for him. “Natural-born magic user close as the lore can find. Not found too often over here, though.”
“Which would be why I was plucked out of Scotland.” Harry supplied since Bobby’d answered most of the question for him. “I was born with magic the way other people are born with blue eyes. My parents were both the same.”
“What can you do?” John prodded, keeping his keen interest under lock and key.
“Give a scientist an aneurysm mostly.” Harry huffed a laugh. “I spent so much time with a suppression cuff on and my body is so bad that right now about all I could do is make myself a night-light.”
“But healthy, you can do more.” Dean pegged it. “A lot more or else they wouldn’t have worked so hard to keep you even if the experiments or whatever failed, right?”
“Oh yeah.” Harry smiled. “Went to school for six years to learn magic and survived a magical civil war, twice. I had value to Luthor above and beyond him trying to turn me into a one-man anti-Heaven-and-Hell army.”
“That was the end-goal?” John asked, a bit amused at the very idea. “You should’ve bet on it Dean, could’ve won some cash.”
“What?” Harry frowned, confused.
“Dean joked that whoever the coven held captive would end up being a WMD.” Sam told him with a wrinkle of his nose.
“Not nearly for all that Luthor tried.” Harry told them. “The marks on me are a result of seven different rituals over the years Luthor had me. A lot of research went into them I can tell you that much, the same with the ones on my bones.”
“So, you have any plans on taking over the world, killing innocents, or otherwise creating mayhem?” Dean kinda smirked at the very idea of little kitten Harry doing any of the above.
“At the moment all I want to do is be able to use the bathroom without a guard.” He answered with a little huff of breath. “I’m afraid mayhem is a bit above my paygrade at the moment let alone the rest of your suggestions.”
“I’ve got an empty room in the attic.” Bobby told him. “Far enough from the front door to keep trigger-happy here from pitching a fit.” He jerked his head toward John. “You’re not anything evil we’ve ever run into before, I’ll give you that much, but I’m still not comfortable letting you out on the street either.”
“Fair enough.” Harry shrugged, then leaned forward as if imparting a secret. “I’m not exactly anymore ecstatic over sharing space with a bunch of hunters than you lot are.”
“How’d you know we’re hunters?” John asked suspiciously, gaining himself a scoff and an eye-roll.
“You’re not exactly the most inconspicuous people I’ve ever met, Mr. Winchester.” Harry told him with plenty of snark buried under his sudden yawn, Dean moving into action to help get him laying back down and repositioned, including taking the bottle of water and setting it to the side. “You think a people who are organized enough to have a school won’t know about a bunch of gun-toting cowboys that would kill-first ask-never running around the States?”
“He has a point, Dad.” Sam said after covering his laugh with a cough, the others taking Harry’s yawn and Dean’s mother-henning as a signal to clear out and let him sleep.
“You going to be okay alone down here?” Dean asked, squatting beside the cot. “Bobby’s probably going to need some help clearing out that attic room and Sammy’s better use doing research.”
“I doubt I’m going to be winning any forty-meter-dashes anywhen soon, Dean.” Harry laughed a little at the very thought considering the stairs were currently his mortally enemy. “Go. I’ll behave myself so long as you lot don’t get the magic-suppressing-cuff back out.”
“Sounds fair to me.”
Bobby’s attic room was about half of the attic, tucked nice and cozy under the eaves with one big casement window overlooking the junkyard, while the rest of the attic on the other side of the narrow hall was filled with boxes of forlorn Christmas decorations and the detritus of a life lived mostly in the same two-thousand square feet.
The main part of getting it ready was stripping off the dusty bedding and throwing it in the wash, opening up the window, and sweeping the bare wood floor.
More than a little sneezing and coughing went into this endeavor, Dean remaking the bed with more than a little relief, corners sharp and bedding tight like his Dad had drilled into him years before, tucking in the couple of things Harry’d been rotating through in one drawer of the skinny dresser Bobby’d stuck in there at one point, and then giving up with a shrug.
He wasn’t Suzy Homemaker.
Most of his life had been lived in a series of run-down motels and ratty month-by-month apartments, that he knew how to make a bed or sweep a floor at all had more to do with his Dad’s ideas of discipline and his Uncle Bobby handing out chores whenever they’d come to stay with the cranky hunter for a couple weeks here and there.
“We’re going to need to get him some clothes if he’s going to stay.” Dean told the room at large, which included everyone but the subject at hand, when he came back downstairs to the living room that had taken over as demon-research-central. “He can’t live in my old shirts and boxers forever.”
“Demons aren’t going to keep quiet too much longer.” John reckoned. “Words has to be out by now about what we found in that barn, it’s just a matter of time before they come knocking and we’ll be ready.” He patted the gun that was tucked, as always since they’d found it, loaded in a holster at his shoulder.
Old five-shot Colts weren’t the most common guns to find anymore, but a revolver holster of the right size wasn’t hard to find if you knew where to look.
“We can’t go to them.” Sam pointed out. “That’s just suicide.”
“We have what they want.” John mused, knocking back another beer. “And we have enough food to wait them out and let them come to us. What about those demon traps you were telling me about, Sam? Those really work?”
“Your boy asked me the same thing.” Bobby snorted. “They’re the genuine article John, like demonic roach motels. As long as they don’t come in force we should be able to manage something.”
“So we trap us a demon and then what?” Dean asked, arching a brow as he propped one shoulder in the living room doorway. “Question it?”
It’s not like Azazel was going to come roaring in himself, not with them having the Colt.
The vamps weren’t exactly discrete about what had happened with Elkins, and with the coven tossed before they even got there they had no idea who or what knew about the Colt let alone Harry.
Azazel was a lot of things but stupid wasn’t anywhere on that list.
“Better than flying blind all the damn time.” Bobby scoffed. “You boys managed to kick over a hornet’s nest this time. One you’re going to need help fighting clear of and even then I’m not sure it’ll be enough.”
“Then we better work on getting Harry healthy.” John told the others just shy of an order.
“C’mon, Dad.” Sam sighed, exasperated. “We haven’t even asked if he wants to help us.”
“He owes us.” John narrowed cold eyes on his younger son. “What’s more he knows it. He would’ve starved into a coma in that cellar. No one knew he was there.”
“He would’ve been buried alive.” Dean muttered, a dark look crossing his face at the reminder.
“Basically.” John nodded. “A little help with a demon-problem he’s been altered to hell and gone to deal with isn’t a whole lot to ask in return, I don’t think.”
“That’s extortion, Dad.” Sam rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest, bitch-face firmly planted. “He can barely walk and you want him fighting demons?”
“More like blackmail.” Bobby muttered, shifting his trucker cap on his balding head restlessly. “Not sure I like it.”
“If anyone has a better idea I’m listening.” John tossed back, smirking darkly at the echoing silence that followed his words, Dean turning in a wordless expression of his thoughts on the subject, snagging some more drinks to get into Harry before moving him up to the attic…a maneuver that would probably need Sammy’s help. “Then it’s settled.” John rose, moving towards his bag with the spray paint. “Where’s the best spot for some of these demon-traps, Bobby?”
The second week after hauling Harry out of his cell, the proof of his power was in full-force as his magic rushed to supplement his natural healing. He’d been right that a night-light, otherwise known as a Lumos, was about all he could do as far as active magical powers but when it came to the inactive, well, there were few witches or wizards on the planet who had magic more familiar with healing wounds, alleviating starvation or malnutrition, and generally keeping its host alive and well. It seemed like, to his new…guardians he guessed since wardens didn’t quite fit…that for every scrap of food he ate as he progressed to solid foods in addition to the nutrition supplements and sports drinks they kept shoving on him his skin plumped a little more and he was able to stand and walk around just a little bit longer.
Unnatural, to be sure, but with the sense they had of a guillotine hanging over their heads, they were more than willing to turn a blind-eye to the distinct otherness of Harry. Well. For the older hunters anyway.
From what Harry could tell, the younger ones were a lot more accepting of Harry’s personal brand of weird.
With his being able to move around more came the necessity of him gaining trousers, even if only soft athletic ones to wear around the house instead of the plain boxers he’d been content in while mostly bed-bound.
Granted, he wasn’t up to anything more than managing the stairs back and forth to the bathroom or reading in bed, but it was better than nothing and more activity than he’d been allowed for ninety percent of his captivity in the hands of the vampire coven so he’d take it.
That said, when after he’d been living in Bobby’s house – in one form or another – for two weeks or so, and the sound of the front door crashing open and shouts from the living room reached him in his little cozy attic nest, he was down those stairs with the shotgun he’d been shown how to handle in case of emergency with a speed and instinct he hadn’t used in more time than he liked to think about.
Only to come to a panting halt leaning against the living room wall at the sight of a young blonde woman – demon – trapped in one of the protective circles Bobby had been diligently drilling into Sam and Dean’s heads whenever they’d sit still.
She was young, or at least her host was, and had been brought to a halt by the demon trap a few paces inside Bobby’s front door, even as the hunter in question grumbled and set to fixing his door as the Winchesters circled the demon trap like wolves eyeing up a particularly tasty wounded deer.
The demon was baiting and bantering with the Winchesters, Harry had to admire her bounce-back given that it’d taken him all of two minutes to make it down the stairs, when she finally noticed him as he leaned against the wall.
Dean followed her shocked – if only for a split-second – gaze.
Cursing under his breath at the shaky form of Harry standing against the wall, Dean rushed over and helped him sit in one of the armchairs that didn’t get hit by the door-hinge shrapnel from Meg’s entrance.
“Oh, aren’t you just delicious.” Meg gave out a little giggle despite the devil’s trap she was stuck in. “I don’t know if I want to fuck you, eat you, or gut you little one.” Her grin turned wicked. “Though, why be shy? Why not all three?”
“Okay, wow.” Dean looked over at Sam who held an open tome in his hands. “Sam? Anytime now, that just pushed me over the edge of my weird-shit-I’m-willing-to-deal-with-today limit.”
“What?” She rolled her eyes. “You going to read me a bedtime story?”
“Something like that.” John scowled, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the fireplace…just about as far from the demon as he could get without actually leaving the room seeing as how they’d like some information from the hellspawn before they gank it. “Sam?”
“Deus, et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, invoco nomen sanctum tuum,” he paused, giving his dad time to ask a question before continuing.
“What’s Azazel’s end-game?” John asked.
“Hell on Earth?” Meg gave him a look that said duh, idiot.
And Sam continued the exorcism until his dad nodded at him to stop.
“... et celmentiam tuam supplex exposco ut adversus hunc, et omnem immundum spiritum...”
“What specifically is his plan to accomplish that?” John clarified.
“A Boy-King, a General, a Vessel,” Meg told them in a sing-song, knowing they’d never be able to put the pieces together.
Let alone that they were all the same thing…and reading an exorcism at the moment.
“Why does he want the Colt?” John asked.
“A gun that kills almost everything in creation?” She arched a brow even as she hissed as Sam started back up with the Latin. “Who wouldn’t want it?”
“Deus, et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, invoco nomen sanctum... et clementiam tuam supplex exposco ut adversus hunc...”
“Why did he kill my wife?” John continued, though his patience was waning.
“She interrupted him.” Meg gave a crazed smile, feeling more than a little crispy thanks to Sam’s Latin. What she would give to be able to pull that one’s spinal cord out through his throat.
“et omnem immundum spiritum, qui vexat hoc plasma tuum...”
“Interrupted him doing what?” John hissed.
“Creating his army.” Meg gave a wicked little laugh even as the wind started to rise, pages flipping through one massive tome sitting open on Bobby’s desk. “How are the visions, Sam? Have they started driving you mad yet? Seen any good murders lately?”
“Finish it.” Dean told his little brother. “Demon bitch isn’t going to give us anything.”
“mihi auxilium praestare digneris. Per eumdem Dominum.” As Sam finished the exorcism, black smoke poured out of the form of Meg Masters before disappearing down through the floor, assumedly returning to Hell. The body crumpled, then gave a little cough.
“She’s still alive!” Sam shouted, tossing the tome aside and rushing to the side of the real Meg Masters, lifting her from the floor and resting her head against his legs. “Meg, hold on we’ll get to a hospital!”
“Can you help her?” Dean murmured in Harry’s ear, the wizard shaking his head with a sad look in his eyes before he rose and went to investigate something across the room as the hunters knelt and surrounded Meg’s form, her body now feeling everything that was done to it while she was possessed.
“It’s too late.” Meg told them, shaking her head. “I fell, remember?”
“A body can’t survive a several-story fall, Sam.” John told him, resting one hand on his shoulder. “She’s dying.”
“She liked to keep me awake.” Meg coughed, blood dribbling out of her mouth. “Liked to torture me with the things my body was doing while I was helpless to stop it.”
“Yeah, sounds like a demon-bitch alright.” Dean muttered, reaching down and holding one cold hand. “Evil freaks.”
“She kept thinking one thing while you were asking about the Colt.” Meg told them. “Over and over. The Colt is the Key.”
“That’s it?” Dean frowned. “The Key? The Key to what?”
Meg Masters just shook her head and gasped her last breath, held in the arms of the family that a demon had used her to cause so much pain against.
“Guys.” Harry called from across the room where he was holding the tome that had flipped open in the wind – and power – of the exorcism. “I think Meg might’ve told us…whether she knew it or not.”
Chapter 4: Key to the Castle
“Guys? I think she might’ve told us…”
Chapter Four: The Key to the Castle
“What do you mean, Harry?” Dean asked, Sam still too torn up over Meg dying in their arms to really function, even as the older hunters snapped to attention at the wizard’s words.
Harry held up the tome, then sat down on the couch so that the others could crowd around him, even Sam after he’d covered Meg’s body with a crocheted blanket off of Bobby’s arm chair, they’d have to give her a hunter’s burial later.
Possession leaves behind traces and the last thing they needed was some other demon jumping inside Meg’s shell.
“An exorcism is a spell, right?” Harry asked rhetorically. “Spells draw power – and sometimes attention, some spells in the wizarding world can be traced in an instant if you don’t take precautions. You were asking about the Colt and Azazel’s plans…and I think something answered. Look.” He pointed to the passage that the tome had opened to.
It was more than just wind, it had to be, otherwise it would’ve just slipped through the pages of the open book until the end rather than stopping on a page about three-quarters through it.
“This is on the Gates of Hell.” Bobby noticed, frowning. “The passageways between the hell-plane of existence and the physical plane. Hunters of the past went through all kinds of trouble to close the damn things…but there’s still cracks.”
“Right.” Harry nodded eagerly. “What did the demon say again?”
“Azazel’s end-game was hell on Earth.” Sam repeated with an air of realization. “And Meg said that the Colt was the Key.”
“Jesus.” John reached up with one hand and touched the old five-shot revolver. “That’s one hell of a motive.”
“You can’t use that thing, John.” Bobby told him sternly. “We have to hide it. Now.”
“This is bigger than your damn vendetta, John!” Bobby shouted at the thick-headed hunter. “It’s the end of days if a true Hell Gate opens. And you wanna run around with the Key under your damn arm?”
“Even hiding it might not be enough.” Harry noted, eyes narrowed as he thought furiously. “They already know what tree to shake for the information. They’ll just keep coming unless it’s either publicly lost or hidden in a way that makes them forget about you ever having it in the first place…”
“I vote hidden.” Dean tossed out. “Since I don’t think you’d say anything unless you had a plan.”
“Might have.” Harry looked over towards the covered body of Meg. “But nothing that won’t keep for a couple hours while we take care of Ms. Masters and send her on with the honor due her.”
Harry cut off John at the pass.
“Besides which.” Harry arched a black brow. “Either way we go I need a bit more power than what I have at the mo’. My sprint down the stairs did me no favors.”
“You rest, Harry.” Sam told him, rubbing at his eyes. “I’ll get you something to eat and drink and then we’ll take care of…yeah. You just rest.”
“Yeah, Ellen, we lost it.” John told the owner of Harvelle’s Roadhouse over the phone as the others in the house watched him.
They’d had Meg’s hunter’s burial a couple hours before, when Sam had the idea to call someone, anyone, of his dad’s hunting buddies and muddy the water a little bit for the Colt, on the off-chance that the demons were really paying as much attention to what the Winchesters were up to as his dad seemed to think – and Meg’s actions tended to prove – they were.
“Elkins had it this whole time.” He continued, answering one of her questions. “The vamps that killed him took it then we took it from their bunker after it was tossed by whatever killed them. Some demon bitch did a damn good job of tearing up Bobby’s place and then took off with it while we were on a hunt….yeah. Yeah, you too Ellen.” John told her. “Keep an ear out for me will ya? Old 1835 five shot Colt revolver, pentagram carved into the grip. Mhmm. Bye.”
John clicked the cell phone shut and tossed it on the kitchen table with a sigh.
He wasn’t sure that would’ve done a damn bit of good but with the hoodoo Harry says he can work he hoped it bought them some time.
Though how long was the real question.
“You boys are going to have to split back up, you know that right?” Bobby posed the question. “Make like you’re huntin’ down the demon that stole the Colt out from under ya.”
“Yeah, figured.” Dean rolled his eyes. “What if we get caught?”
“The spell will keep the secret.” Harry told them, even as he dug into the yogurt Sam pressed on him with a sigh. He’d never liked the stuff and that was before it became one of his dietary staples to help him get on his feet. What he’d give for a good curry or some fish and chips. “Only the secret keeper will be able to tell anyone else.”
“Which will be you, for obvious reasons.” John drawled. “Make any headway on what’s been carved into your bones?”
Harry had taken a shot at Luthor’s journal, and he’d found a few things…but nothing relevant to what was going on with the Winchesters. Just more rambling about Luthor wanting to keep his new “family” safe. Not from what or why. Just safe.
“Not yet.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Bobby,” he nodded towards the retired hunter. “Has a friend at the hospital that’s agreed to get me in for x-rays, if we can see what they did I might have a better shot at knowing why they did it.”
“How long until you’re up to the hoodoo you need to do to hide the Colt?” John kept at him. He didn’t trust the creature they’d found in a vampire’s basement. He likely never would. But so far, he’d been useful. And in the fight against Azazel that’s all he gave a damn about at the moment.
“Couple days, probably.” Harry shrugged. “It’s not a hard spell, but labor-intensive. The more people or whatever know about what you’re hiding the more power it requires.”
“Well there’s us, Ellen, and some demons.” Dean counted off. “Not that bad, considering what it is we’re trying to hide.”
Harry shook his head. They couldn’t depend on that, which John rebuked his older son for before Harry could even mention it. Yes, Azazel may be holding his cards close to his chest, but maybe not.
“Meg” certainly knew about it.
There was no way for them to know how many demons the Knight had taken into his confidence.
And for his part, Harry would rather be overpowered than underpowered for this one.
“What all did you find at the nest anyway?” Harry finally asked a question that had been itching at him for the last couple weeks. “Well, besides me and the Colt anyway.”
“Some weapons, a safe.” Dean shrugged. “Luthor’s financing the Winchester-Singer hunting cooperative for a good while.”
“Safe?” That lifted emerald green eyes from the remains of the dreaded yogurt, locking on the Winchesters who all sat across from him, Bobby the only hunter on Harry’s side of the table. “You wouldn’t have happened to have brought that safe with you by any chance…would you?”
“Yeah.” Dean shrugged. “Why? We split the contents after we got here, didn’t figure hauling around a busted safe was a good idea but didn’t need a bunch of bullion rolling around in Baby’s trunk either.”
Harry climbed to his feet, batting at Bobby’s hand when the older man went to steady him.
He could at least stand on his own.
“I need to see that safe.” He told them, eyes bright. “There might be things hidden in it that only something,” he arched a knowing brow at John, well aware that unlike his sons the elder Winchester thinks of him as a thing to be used not a person. “Like me can find.”
Bobby led the way to the back porch where the busted-open safe sat beside the stairs, his dog Rumsfeld gnawing on the open door, the sound of his teeth scraping on the heavy powder-coated steel grating on Sam’s nerves as Harry in all his Dean’s hand-me-downs glory crouched next to it after Dean shooed off the mutt so Harry could get a good look at the thing.
“Hmm.” Harry hummed under his breath, cocking his head to the side as he peered into the empty hollow of the safe. “Anyway got a light?”
A flashlight appeared in his line of sight, green eyes lifting to Sam’s anxious face with a smile as one still-too-thin hand reached up and took the slender cylinder, clicking it on and then lowering back to the inky depths of the safe.
“This isn’t a new safe.” Harry commented, having heard the story of tossing the nest more than once by this time. “It’s the same one they had when they took me.”
“How do you know?” Sam frowned. He rather doubted the vampires had been showing off their cache to a prisoner.
“It was in Luthor’s office when he and Sanguini would haul me in for another round of threat for one.” Was his answer. “And,” he tapped a rune engraved on the interior. “This is Sanguini’s enchantment work. Same signature as the suppression cuff, I’d recognize it any day. I rather doubt he would’ve enchanted a new safe for Luthor after they had their falling out.”
“What was that over, anyway?” Dean asked as they watched Harry fiddle with the safe, clearly seeing something that they couldn’t. Score one for the wizard.
“Sanguini wanted to turn me.” Harry shrugged, ignoring as the hunters all hissed or cursed at that. “Turning a wizard gives them a fifty/fifty chance on whether they’ll keep their magic. By then Luthor’s put too much work into me to be willing to risk it even if they’d failed to get me to do anything they wanted and the Sire bond would’ve taken care of that problem.”
“Glad ol’ Luthor was such economist then.” Sam noted, scruffing at his jaw with his left hand. “Else you would’ve been a bloodsucker long before they found Elkins.”
“Yeah, no shit.” Harry snorted, then made a celebratory sound as something finally gave way. “Gotcha you Transylvanian bastard!”
“Really?” Dean arched a brow as Harry pulled back out of the safe, some kind of bag dangling in his hand from its tassels. “Transylvanian bastard?”
“Sanguini actually was, is, whatever.” Harry frowned. “Since from the sounds of it he wasn’t one of the vampires that were killed when the coven was attacked.” He shrugged. Oh well. It wasn’t like the vampire Prince was lacking in funds to hire a job like that done. Sanguini’s only problem would be that they fucked it up. “He was born according to the stories in Romania. Hold this will you?” He asked Dean, passing over the bag before reaching back into the safe.
Dean studied the bag, noting that it was on a leather cord of some kind, like a fugly necklace, then turned his eyes back to Harry as the wizard surfaced from the safe again, with time with a familiar journal that was the twin to the one they’d torn through over and over again as they tried to figure out what-all Luthor and his coven had done to Harry.
“I hope someone here reads Romanian.” Harry tossed the journal on top of the busted safe. “Since that’s Sanguini’s journal…and he’s a lot older than Luthor was.”
“You think he knew what Luthor was so afraid of?” John arched a brow.
“Not just that.” Harry explained as he held out his hand for the bag he’d handed over to Dean’s safekeeping. “He was frightened too. He wanted me: that was no secret. Told me he had ever since he met me a couple years before he helped kidnap me. But he wanted to survive more and thought that I was the best shot they had at it.” He tapped the cover, just as pristine as the day Sanguini had put it in the safe: likely for Harry to find. “He and Luthor split over the fight over me…why would he leave his journal behind?”
“He wanted you to know.” Sam felt some pieces of the puzzle surrounding Harry snap into place. “Were the vampires at the fight you were in to feed or because one vampire had an agenda?”
It made sense.
Harry’s been open that his accommodations became a lot worse after Luthor chased Sanguini out of the coven with Kate and the rest being either Luthor or Kate’s progeny even an old vamp wouldn’t have had much of a choice.
And why the – Romanian apparently – vampire hadn’t participated in Luthor’s experiments on Harry, why the vampire was never left alone with him when others were.
Harry wasn’t just a coven’s pet, he’d been one’s obsession.
That put Harry in a helluva lot more danger than they’d thought, if this vampire was still out there somewhere and Luthor didn’t just kill him.
“Luthor said one, Sanguini the other.” Harry shrugged then looked away, a bitter half-smile on his face. “Always at cross-purposes, those two.” He shook his head. “Anyway, if he wanted me to know then parts of that,” he jerked his chin towards the journal. “Might be in Latin or English.”
“Why not read it then?” Dean asked, perplexed.
Bright green eyes looked right through him then Harry said: “I’ve been in the mind of one psycho with an obsession with me. I’ll pass on the second go.”
Bobby cleared his throat, breaking the tension that had seemed to rise between the three younger men, gesturing with his hand to the pouch in Harry’s loose grasp.
“What about that?” The gruff old hunter asked. “That his too?”
This time Harry’s smile was bright and amused, in direct contrast to most that they’d seen cross his face over the last couple of weeks. There was just this…melancholy that seemed to cover Harry. All the time. No matter what they were doing, it followed his steps like a shadow. For his part, Bobby couldn’t blame him if the kid was depressed. He’d been held captive for eight years, everyone he knew before thought he was dead and they had no way to contact them or get him to England even if John would go for it.
Damn shame of a fubar situation all around.
“This?” Harry asked teasingly, holding up the mokeskin bag that he’d bought from the goblins ages ago. “This, is mine.”
“Why go through all the trouble to hide a single bag and a journal though?” John frowned.
“We’ve hid an entire society from normal sight.” Harry told him drily. “When it comes to hiding things either large or small you won’t find better than the wizarding world. Not really all that much trouble. As for the why.” He shrugged, moving through the door into the mud room and then the kitchen, the others following on his heels, Sam snapping up the journal. “This isn’t the first time, as you know, that I’ve survived something I wasn’t supposed to have done. Sanguini must’ve been banking on my Potter luck finally coming to the rescue after there wasn’t someone with active magic around to keep me under wraps.”
Harry couldn’t lie, he gave a rich belly laugh at the goggle-eyed looks of shock on each of the hunters’ faces as he stuck his arm shoulder-deep in the small mokeskin pouch. It was enchanted by the goblins to be keyed to his magical signature, making anything that he’d put in it – and those memories were more than a little shaky eight years down the line – still there, unspoiled and unmolested by his blood-drinking captors. He’d worn it on a leather cord around his neck, hidden by his shirt. A precaution given how eager his relatives always were to lock his things away.
Nearly as eager as they were to lock him away.
Hand closing on the first bit, his bag not enchanted to be bottomless the way Hermione’s had been but still expanded and weightless, he lifted out a handful of glittering coins opening his fist to show the hunters before dropping handful after handful on Bobby’s old kitchen table. There wasn’t much. He’d been on the run for months after all before the battle, not the best time to hit up Gringotts for a refill, but he had a small stack of gold, silver, and bronze that had the hunters blinking before he finally hit on something not coinage.
It was glass, and still humming with active enchantments that had him closing his eyes and blowing out a relieved breath.
He’d given up on ever seeing this again a couple months into his captivity when it became readily apparent that no miraculous rescue or even-more-miraculous escape was in the offing.
The size of his palm in length, twice that tall, and half that wide, it was a shrunken terrarium holding one of his last friends in the world with all of the deaths before and during the final battle. Sanguini had told him that much at least. Allowed him to grieve and killed his last hopes for a rescue all at once.
After all…when the only people who might care that you never returned from the forest were dead, who would care to try and find a supposedly-dead hero.
Dumbledore got his wish in the end.
Harry made a much better martyr than he ever did a soldier.
The terrarium was spelled for the comfort of the creature that called it home and had a linking spell connecting it to an account at Magical Menagerie that had the pet store on Diagon sending mice through the linked food repository to feed his friend and a Constant-Flow™ water source that Fred and George had patented.
That the spells were still linked was the first sign he’d gotten in the last two weeks that the Ministry at least hadn’t gotten its slimy claws on his vaults.
“What’s that?” Sam cocked his head. It looked like a mini-mouse cage or something but way too small for anything to actually live in it.
“A shrunken terrarium.” Harry smirked, then turned to look at Bobby. “Any chance I can set it up in my room? He could probably use the company after eight years on his own.”
“You sure whatever it is survived?” Dean frowned. That didn’t sound like any animal he’d ever heard of.
Even magical creepie crawlies needed feeding every now and again.
“The spells to make sure of that very thing are still intact so: yes, I’m sure.” Harry smiled, already looking forward to seeing his old friend.
“Don’t see why not so long as you vouch for whatever-it-is.” Bobby decided after eyeballing the kid. That big green puppy-dog-eyes were used was happenstance. Really.
“Brilliant.” Harry beamed a smile at that, setting the terrarium aside and then digging through the bag some more, searching for the one thing he knew was supposed to be there and the reason he’d started looking through it in the first place. Something that would help get him back into shape to cast the Fidelius sooner rather than later. Hopefully after that show of good-will Winchester senior will stop reaching for his sidearm every time Harry so much as breathes in his direction.
Paranoia thy name was hunter.
It’d only been after days watching him be too weak to do more than sleep and drink whatever was shoved on him that Dean and Sam calmed down and he didn’t think anything up to and including an act of a god would ever get Bobby to relax.
Harry had to wiggle it a bit to get it out of the pouch, the hard case never did like being stored there but there were few enough places he could put it that would have it on him at all times. Made of carved cedar, and cushioned with expansion charms of its own, the case the size of a small muggle first-aid kit was a household potion’s kit, the sort that like Harry’s terrarium could be linked to an apothecary…so long as the vault on the contract never reneged on their payment. Most common potions could be purchased through the kit, but others that were under Ministry watch or that required a healer you would still have to visit the apothecary in person to purchase or see a potion’s Master for them.
His case was linked to Mulpepper’s Apothecary, which had branches in both Carkitt Market and Knockturn Alley, since they were more expensive than Slug’s and Jigger’s, but their potions tended to be more efficacious and of higher quality for it.
The case had the hunters drawing near, carved as it was with visible runes for preservation, protection, and others that made the linkage spells function.
He just wished he’d had to foresight to get a linked bag or case to Gringotts as well so he could stop feeling like such a burden but if he transfigured the coins from his bag then the Winchesters could sell them to offset the cost of his care.
After the childhood he’d had…Harry didn’t care for being beholden to anyone if it could be helped.
The Winchesters had rescued him, a debt he would be hard-pressed to repay.
That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try and the Fidelius on the Colt was his first step in that direction, the gold and silver would be the first towards repaying or flat-out paying for his upkeep in the meanwhile.
Opening the case, he blew out a breath as he looked up at the hovering hunters.
“Looks like it’s your lucky day, John.” Harry told him, smile flirting over his face. “I’m going to need a lot less recovery time before I can hide the Colt than I thought?”
“Are those…potions?” Sam asked, brows flying up towards his hairline at the sight of row after row – way too many for the size of the case from the outside – of glass vials in a dozen different colors and sizes nestled in individual dividers cushioned with velvet. “Actual potions?”
Harry just nodded, running one hand over the stoppered tops in a gentle motion that read of him half-fearing they’d shatter before lifting each one and showing the labels to the hunters.
Pepper-Up, Boil-Cure, Essence of Dittany, Antidote to Common Poisons, Nutrition Potion, Blood-Replenisher, Hangover Cure, Skele-Gro, Calming Draught, Draught of Peace, Fever-Ease, Pain Reliever (Mild), Pain Reliever (Moderate), Pain Reliever (Child), Hiccoughing Potion, a vial of Bezoars, Bruise Removal Paste, Burn Healing Paste, General Cough Potion, Dreamless Sleep Potion, Invigoration Draught, Murtlap Essence, General Cure for Love Potions, Replenishing Potion, Star Grass Salve, Vitamix Potion, Wideye Potion, and Wound-Cleaning Potion, all single-use with more being supplied when the empty vial is placed back in the correct spot.
The ordering pad was still intact as well, beside an empty slot that would fill with whatever potion was requested…so long as it wasn’t an illegal or restricted item or one requiring a prescription, of course.
Harry had only used that ordering pad once in the two…well, ten, but really…years that he’d had the case: to order Oculus.
His glasses as he well knew from Quidditch, were a hinderance he couldn’t afford when on the run for his life and thanks to the secrecy charms that are imbedded in each case-contract Mulpepper’s hadn’t been able to tell the Death Eaters about any of the potions he’d ordered. Hermione had helped him transfigure his glasses’ lenses into plain glass and that was that. No one ever knew the difference.
“Wow.” Sam blinked staring down at the still-opened case even as Harry took some out of the case and set them aside. “I don’t even know where to start with all of that.”
“It’s like I told John.” Harry said absently, frowning a bit as he did some mental math, tallying reactions and which potions he could take together or not, which needed food, and so on. “We’ve hidden an entire society in Europe, Africa, and Asia from non-magical people for hundreds of years.” He looked up at cold hazel eyes, John’s feelings regarding everything other in no way abated by that doozy. “There’s more of us running around the globe than you could possibly imagine.”
“Why not here?” Dean asked the pertinent question.
“There’s two reasons why the Americas are one giant no-go zone for magical humans.” Harry shrugged, murmuring his thanks to Sam when the bigger man passed over a bottle of water at Harry’s request.
“Witch trials?” Bobby hazarded.
“That.” Harry pointed a finger at the elder hunter, knocking back his first round of potions and then some water to wash them down with a grimace. He hadn’t missed that taste at all. But he couldn’t deny the effects, already feeling stronger and not as fatigued from a single dose of Replenishing potion. “And the magic in the Americas is wild. Does strange things to the creatures here…and the humans if we stay too long.” He rolled his eyes a bit. “Wizards aren’t really that open to change. The idea of their very magic changing?” He snickered. “Nah, I’m afraid I’m likely the only one of my like you’ll run into in these parts.”
“Small blessings.” John muttered to himself, though not quite quiet enough if the bitch-face from his younger son was any sign, plus the eye-roll from his oldest.
“Okay, that’s cool.” Sam laughed a little as the empty vial Harry’d put back in place disappeared with a little pop and then a new, filled one took its place.
“That’s what I thought about just about everything when I found out about magic.” Harry told him with an amused glance even as he grimaced his way through a VitaMix and an Invigoration Draught, the Nutrition Potion and another Replenishing Potion having to wait for at least an hour…and some food. A Pepper-Up could wait until morning since he had to take it on an empty stomach for best effect, while the Nutrition Potion and VitaMix worked best with food.
Speaking of which, he rose and snagged a banana, figuring it would be one of the easiest things to eat that he didn’t have to worry about mingling with the potions in unexpected ways like a nutrition shake or sports drink might.
With potions…you just never knew unless you were a healer or a potions master and had all of that memorized.
“Let me see if I’ve got this right.” John said, scratching at the stubble on his jaw with one hand. “There’s a business out there – somewhere – and what? They make potions or whatever on demand and that case is linked? How do they get paid?”
“A contract.” Harry enlightened him. “I put in an order either using the pad or by using and replacing a vial, and the contract automatically takes the funds from my vault and puts it in there once the apothecary verifies delivery through the boxes.”
“Could you just make them yourself?” Bobby asked, keen on the subject as it was readily apparent to all of them that Harry was more than a bit perked up from just two potions, let alone the names on some of them.
“Could – yes.” Harry gave a rueful chuckle. “Should?” He shook his head. “Not eight years later with no practice between then and now. I wasn’t horrible at potions but I don’t have the resources: ingredients, tools, books, that I would need to really do a good job of it. Besides which, it takes time.” He waved a hand to the case. “That’s why there’s apothecaries and potion masters. Sure, some people buy the ingredients and do it themselves but if you have a trusted supplier and the money to afford it why invest the time?”
“Then I guess these,” Dean clinked a couple of coins together. “Aren’t a fluke, huh?”
“Not even close.” Harry stretched, feeling a hundred percent better from just one round of potions. “Give me a day.” He estimated, closing the potions case and gathering it and the terrarium in his arms, the coins going back in his mokeskin bag and around his neck. “And I’ll be ready to do that spell, John. Then you can get back to hunting Azazel and stop drinking all of Bobby’s whiskey.”
Later that night, after Harry hadn’t been seen downstairs even to eat, Dean taking up a plate of the plain rice and chicken John had picked up at the diner in town for the kid, getting fried chicken with fixings for the rest of them, Dean found Sam staring broodingly into the flames licking at the logs in Bobby’s fireplace, the new journal opened face down on the coffee table in front of him and a tumbler of Bobby’s good whiskey clenched in one hand.
“Woah.” Dean cracked a smile at his brother as he ruffled his hair before throwing himself into a chair next to him, leaning forward to help himself to the open bottle next to the journal. “I haven’t seen that look since before we found Harry. Somethin’ on your mind, Sammy?”
His little bro shot him a bitch-face before knocking back the rest of his drink, setting the glass down with a click that nearly echoed in the empty room, their Dad and Bobby having turned in an hour or so before.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Dean’s brows twitched together in a micro-frown before smoothing away. “What’s up, Sammy?” His eyes trailed over the journal. He could make a damn-good guess about what had his brother’s panties in a twist, but he needed to hear it from Sam if he didn’t want Gigantor to brood for days or longer over whatever it was.
“We can’t let him read it, Dean.” Sam told him several long minutes later. “If I didn’t want Bobby’s help on a couple of the translations, I’d just copy what we need and toss it.”
“Well, that explains the fire at least.” Dean mused, sipping on his whiskey and leaning out to pick up the journal, figuring Harry’d been right over there being parts in English, only to have one of Sam’s sasquatch-paws slam down on it, keeping him from touching the thing. “Okay, woah dude.” Eyebrows shooting upwards, Dean stared at the crazy-person impersonating his brother. “What the fuck?”
“You, you don’t want that shit in your head, Dean.” Sam explained, flipping the journal over and closing in a movement ripe with finality. “I don’t want that shit in my head but we needed to know what Luthor was trying to accomplish with Harry, for his sake if nothing else.”
“Yeah, no.” Dean shook his head, setting his glass aside and leaning on his bent knees, staring his brother down, green eyes locked on hazel-turned-black by the firelight. “I’m going to need more than that, Sam. What’s so bad that you don’t want me reading it, let alone Harry?”
Sam blew out a breath, picking up the journal and stuffing it under one thigh as he sat, not taking any chances on his brother’s rapid reflexes plucking it out from under his hand and taking a look out of sheer mule-headed curiosity.
Rubbing one hand over his eyes, he tried to explain.
“The first half of it transitions between Romanian and Latin like Harry saw earlier.” He told him. “It goes back to the early part of the century.”
“What, that only like…”
“The 20th Century, Dean.” Sam rolled his eyes in exasperation. “It starts in 1903 in Prague of all places and mainly just comments on major events, moves, shifts in his family’s hierarchy that kind of thing.”
“Let me guess.” Dean scrubbed one hand over his mouth. “He meets Harry in what, ’96, and that all changes?”
“Pretty much, yeah.” Sam lowered his head into his hands. “Some of that stuff he wrote…” He couldn’t even find words other than: “It’s sick, Dean. I know we joke sometimes about being turned into one of the creatures we hunt being worse than death but if this fucker had gotten his way it really would have been for Harry and with the Sire-bond he wouldn’t have been able to fight it.”
“Jesus.” Dean let his teeth click shut on the question that was begging to be asked, easily seeing in the line of his brother’s head and shoulders that Sam wouldn’t answer. They’d seen some shit in hunting so whatever that creep had written about Harry had to be bad otherwise Sam wouldn’t be nearly so freaked. “You’re saying that that cellar was the better alternative?” He arched a half-disbelieving brow.
“Yeah.” Sam gave a huffy-bitter laugh. “Yeah, I really do. Some of it…it’s really explicit, Dean.”
“Well, shit then.” Dean scowled at the logs burning in the fireplace. “Harry doesn’t read it. Done. I’ll back you up on that with Dad when he asks.” And they both already knew he would. “What about the rest of it, anything helpful or just more shit in need of brain bleach?”
Sam just nodded, lifting his head and resting his chin on his fisted hands, staring into the fire.
“He calls Harry something called the Master of Death.” He revealed. “It has to do with that Mark on his chest that he never explain all the way. Supposed to make the bearer immortal if they complete the task that went with the title from what I can figure out.”
“Well, shit then.” Dean blinked. “That explains a lot.”
“Yeah, except for the part that Harry’s been surviving the impossible-to-survive since he was a baby, Dean.” Sam shook his head. “I don’t think it’s that simple.”
“Fair enough.” Dean decided. Nothing ever was simple it seemed when it came to the occult in his experience. “What about the rest of it?”
“We were on the right track with the other marks.” Sam turned dark eyes on his brother. “Luthor was trying to consecrate Harry against the Seven Sins and Princes of Hell the way Sanguini put it. Making a weapon capable of fighting against them if Azazel ever got his way and unleashed hell on Earth.”
“Always nice to be right once in a while but damn.” Dean whistled. “That’s some fucked up shit.”
“There’s more,” Sam closed his eyes for a long moment, fighting exhaustion. “The ones on his bones: they’re different. Protection of some kind.”
“Okay, c’mon.” Dean rose, tugging Sam up with him and guiding him as he watched his brother visibly wilt and nearly pass out in front of him. “Bed. You’ve been working harder than anyone on those translations time for some shut-eye.”
“Check on Harry?” Sam asked, almost stumbling over his own feet as Dean all-but-tossed him into his bed in the room the brothers had shared at Bobby’s since they were kids.
“Promise.” Dean wrestled with Sam’s giant feet for a moment before he had his boots off and the overgrown lummox tucked in. “Get some sleep, Sammy. Anything else can wait ‘til morning.”
The light knock on his little attic room drew Harry out of staring at Igor as the miniature Hungarian Horntail made himself known as he flitted from spot to spot, the dragon having barely let Harry put him back into the terrarium after Harry had expanded it to its full size and Igor had almost leapt out to tackle Harry back onto the single bed.
Igor hadn’t always been big enough to knock Harry back – and likely still wasn’t if he was up to his full-strength – but things had a way of behaving strangely around Harry’s magic and Igor was only one of the many times something other-than-expected had happened with him.
What had originally just been a model had gained real sentience and even life after living in Harry’s dorm and on his dresser at school for the better part of nine months, behaving more like a cat with wings that could breathe fire than any like-like model or even a real dragon. Owl-order had taken care of arranging Igor’s living situation, something he’d never been happier for than earlier that day when he’d canceled the shrinking spell and the terrarium rose to nearly brush the ceiling, taking up almost half of the room to keep a mini-dragon the size of a cat content if not happy. Unbreakable glass and terrain similar to the dragon sanctuary in Romania, complete with a cave for Igor to store his “horde” of his own shiny shed scales made up the dragon’s home.
He hadn’t known if Igor was going to recognize him, but the flying creature had, hissing and purring as it nuzzled into him, proving it hadn’t been only Harry who’d missed his friend during the last eight years.
“Come in.” He called softly, knowing that most of the house was probably asleep, like he should be, but...Igor. His scaled-winged-kitty had needed cuddles and after the shit he’d been through…so did Harry.
He wasn’t surprised to see Dean, if anything he was amused at the ongoing proof that, yes, Dean had adopted him when he wasn’t looking.
Probably somewhere between having Harry unconscious in the back of his car and those first couple days where Harry couldn’t do much more than sleep, drink, and sleepily-protest whenever someone would haul him around like a kid’s teddy bear if he had to guess.
“Man, that thing.” Dean shook his head when his eyes automatically went to what Harry was watching. “I get the whole magic thing, but dragons and unicorns?” He snorted, shaking his head with a laugh. “Never thought those would end up part of my reality.”
“Why, sometimes I’d believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast!” Harr quoted with a quirky half-smile as he watched Dean struggle to place the quote then give up with a good-natured shrug. “Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
“Lewis Carroll, right?” Dean knew that much at least, smiling at Harry’s nod then jerked his head toward the terrarium. “What’s his name, Hatter or White-Rabbit?” He teased, having heard Harry toss out a couple of quotes now that weren’t particularly well-known.
Well, to people other than his brother anyway.
“Igor, actually.” Harry told him with a little self-deprecating laugh and shrug. “Which, now that I had my own personal Dr. Frankenstein trying to create a monster out of me is kinda depressing if fitting.”
“Igor?” Dean had to grin at that. “Yeah, I could see why that stings.”
Harry rolled his eyes, reaching out and taking the late-night nutrition shake the mother-hen had brought with him, gulping it down under two pairs of watchful eyes: one jade green and the other fiery orange.
“Happy, Mum?” He teased Dean right back, screwing the cap back on the empty bottle and tossing it to the hunter, who snapped it out of the air with reflexes that would’ve made Harry’s old Quidditch Captain ecstatic.
“Oh, thrilled.” Dean ruffled his hair, the limp and brittle tangle having been taken care of with care and a lot of Sammy’s conditioner, now falling down around his shoulders in choppy chunks that were proof of Luthor or someone in his coven hacking at Harry’s hair when it grew too unmanageable. “Get some sleep, princess.” Dean made his voice mockingly high, just laughing quietly as all it got him was a huff from the dragon and a one-finger salute from the “princess”. “Your dragon will keep watch while you sleep.”
Closing the door with a soft click behind him, Dean ran one last check on the doors of the house, then headed for his and Sammy’s room.
If Harry was right with how quick those potions of his will have him able to cast this secret-keeper spell, they’d all need as much sleep as they could manage ‘cause his dad was dead-certain to have them back on the trail of Azazel as soon as he picked up a fresh lead.