Sam made his way up to Teddy and Nate’s rooms the next morning. The hotel they had chosen was far swankier than the places that Sam and Dean usually stayed in. Sam felt out of place, until he got to Teddy and Nate’s floor and saw a couple making out in the hallway – that usually happened in the cheap motels too.
Sam could only see the back of the guy – a tall black man with broad shoulders, his girlfriend had drawn him down by the neck, so the only part of her that Sam could really see was the pale, delicate hand grasping the guy’s dark hair. Sam averted his eyes, and tried to focus on the door numbers – then realized that the couple were standing in front of Nate’s door.
Then Sam realized that the black guy wasn’t making out with a girl.
“Uh, Nate?” Sam asked, and the couple sprang apart.
“Sam!” Nate greeted, face flushed and lips kiss-bitten. “Hi! Uh, this is... this is Clay.” Nate waved to his date. Sam could see now that despite being nearly as tall as Sam, the black guy was fairly young – probably only in his early twenties at the most.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Sam winced. “Um, it’s nice to meet you, Clay.” Sam reached out his hand, and Clay shook it, still looking a little embarrassed and very confused.
“Sam’s a friend of Teddy’s father,” Nate explained.
“Oh!” Clay said, and seemed to straighten up a little. “Nice to meet you, sir.”
Clay had an American accent. Sam wasn’t sure if he was a wizard or not, but he was most likely a local, and definitely someone that Nate had hooked up with. Sam couldn’t help but glance at Nate. “Did you go out again last night?”
Both Clay and Nate’s eyes widened.
“No!” Nate said.
“Uh, I came here, sir,” Clay replied. “Nate told me about the mugging, and I came to make sure him and Teddy were okay and uh, I uh... yeah.”
Sam held his hands up. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. None of my business even if you had gone out.” Sam turned to Nate, trying to ease the awkwardness. “I uh, just came by to check up on you two, make sure you were okay myself – um, probably not uh, in the same way, though.”
Good job on easing the awkwardness, Sam thought to himself, and cringed.
Nate just laughed though, which set Clay off too, and Sam couldn’t help but break into a smile
“I also wanted to talk to Teddy,” Sam added.
Nate nodded. “Teddy’s still asleep, I think, but you can wait in my room and I’ll go wake him. Just give me a minute to finish saying goodbye to Clay – he has to go rescue people.”
“Rescue people?” Sam asked.
Clay looked embarrassed. “I work at the Starbucks about two blocks from here.”
“He rescues sleep-deprived people with his coffee making skills,” Nate declared. “He’s a hero!”
Clay rolled his eyes. “Someone met me when he was still jet-lagged.”
Sam laughed. “I’ll uh, leave you two to it then. Have a good day at work, Clay.”
“Thank you, sir,” Clay said.
As Sam walked past them into the hotel room, he heard Nate say, “You don’t have to call him sir, he’s not my father.”
“Yeah, but he knows someone who knows your father,” Clay replied, just before the door closed and the rest of their conversation became muffled.
Sam sat on the office chair, pointedly not looking at the bed, whose sheets were still in disarray. There was a connecting door between Nate’s room and the one next to it, where Sam figured Teddy was sleeping. He could just knock and wake Teddy up himself, but judging by how last night had ended, Sam thought it was probably best to wait for Nate. He needed to apologize to both of them anyway.
Nate was slipping back inside the room only thirty seconds later, looking a little abashed.
“Sorry about that,” Nate said.
“No, it was my fault,” Sam replied, and then nodded towards the door. “He seemed nice.”
Nate smiled the type of smile everyone seems to get when they’ve got a crush. “He really is.”
“Muggle,” Nate replied. “He thinks Teddy’s two people. Hasn’t clued in yet that they’re never in the same place together.” Nate smiled, and then his expression and tone shifted, “Listen, Sam...” Nate sunk sat on the end of the bed closest to Sam. “... before I wake Teddy, I just wanted to apologize.”
“For what?” Sam asked, genuinely confused.
“For Teddy, I suppose,” Nate shrugged. “He’s going through a hard time right now, and-”
Sam huffed a laugh, which caused Nate to look at him sharply.
“Sorry,” Sam said. “It’s just that I came here to apologize for Dean.”
Nate smiled and shook his head. “Well, we’re a pair, aren’t we?”
Sam nodded. “What’s wrong with Teddy?”
“PMS?” Nate suggested.
“Can he get that?” Sam asked, genuinely curious.
“No,” Nate sighed. “He can’t change his internal organs or hormones. It’d just be easier if that were it.”
“Oh, then what it is really?”
“It’s just... uh, he’s in a bad place emotionally, I guess,” Nate said, then sighed. “Ever since... well, since Mrs. Tran moved in, it’s been getting worse. She’s a very...er... strong maternal figure.”
Sam laughed. “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.”
“It’s just, Teddy never had a mum, you know?” Nate continued. “A Gran isn’t like a mum, even if she raises you – it’s a different relationship. And yeah, Teddy had Harry and Ginny, but Ginny was sixteen when Teddy was born – and she’s more like... “
“Like a friend who happens to be an adult?” Sam guessed.
“Yeah,” Nate nodded. “Harry too, though he’s been a bit more of a dad... but I’m not sure that’s helping any. He’s been... uh, well, he’s been after Teddy to get a real job, find a career. Because of the Black inheritance, Teddy’s doesn’t actually have to work for a living – neither does Harry – but Harry always has, and he doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone finds their calling at the age of seventeen.”
“And Mrs. Tran...”
“She doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone wants to be the first Asian-American President of the United States,” Nate said.
Sam nodded. “That would be pretty hard for Teddy to pull off, seeing as how he’s neither Asian nor an American.”
Nate shrugged. “I mean, he could appear to be Asian if he wanted, and I’m pretty good at making fake muggle documents, but...”
“But that’s not the point,” Sam smiled.
“No,” Nate said. “So, yeah, Teddy’s under a lot of pressure ‘to make something of himself.’” Nate actually used finger quotes, as he rolled his eyes. “And what no one seems to realize is that instead of inspiring him, everyone is just making him feel like a failure and a disappointment to... well... to the parents that he never actually had.”
Sam sighed. “I’ve been there.”
Nate raised his eyebrows.
“My mother died when I was six months old,” Sam explained. “And my dad died after... uh, doesn’t matter. I just... I know how that feels – feeling like you’re a disappointment to people who aren’t even around to tell you whether you’re right or wrong.”
Nate nodded. “Exactly. It might make you do really stupid things... like, go to New Jersey to have tea with a werewolf because you think it will somehow bring you closer to the father you never knew.”
“In any case,” Nate continued. “I just wanted to apologize and thank you and Dean for being there – uh, even if we could have handled it ourselves...in possibly less bloody ways... it’s the thought that counts?” Nate sighed. “I meant that last bit to be more confident.”
“Why don’t you go wake Teddy up,” Sam replied. “It’s my turn to apologize.”
Nate nodded and went to the door between the two suites, opening the door on his side, and then the one on Teddy’s, apparently neither had been locked.
“Hey Puppy,” Nate’s voice carried through the door to Sam. “How’re you feeling?”
Sam couldn’t sparse Teddy’s mumbled response, but he could hear Nate’s reply.
“A little, you were having a bad night. Sam’s in my room and-” Nate was cut off by Teddy saying something. “Shut-up,” Nate laughed. “He wants to talk to us, so put some trousers on.”
Nate came out through the doors, leaving them open behind him. “Teddy’s just getting dressed,” he explained unnecessarily. “Do you want a coffee or anything? There’s a machine.”
“No, that’s okay,” Sam answered. “I have to get back to Dean soon.”
Teddy came into the room then, and Sam felt like it was the first time he had seen him – as though last night hadn’t counted. He looked like Sam remembered. His hair was mostly brown, but with turquoise steaks that seemed to be growing wider and more plentiful every second. He was tall, a little lanky, and boy shaped. Sam could see why Clay didn’t realize that Teddy and the girl from the previous night were the same person.
“Is Clay gone already?” Teddy asked, still obviously half asleep.
“Yeah, just when Sam got here,” Nate replied. “Do you want coffee or tea?”
“Coffee,” Teddy answered, and then gave Sam a little grin, again, as though whoever Sam had met the previous night had been someone else. “Did you see Clay? Nate’s got a bit of a type.”
“Oh my god, shut-up,” Nate muttered. “Sam didn’t come here to tease me – he came to talk about last night.”
Teddy’s smile dropped at that and he looked at Sam warily. “Right, I’m... uh, sorry about... uh, sorry about leaving how I did. Was rude.”
Sam shrugged. “It’s alright.” It had been abrupt and a horrible note to end the evening on, but Sam understood. “Believe me, if I had a nickel for every time I wished I could just magically disappear while stuck in that car...”
Nate smiled. Teddy looked somewhat hopeful.
“It really is good to see you, Sam,” Teddy said, smiling.
“You too, Teddy,” Sam replied. “Uh, I actually came to apologize to you... about Dean... um... he’s not really himself. I never meant for things to happen like that. Yes, there’s a history between Dean and I and those particular hunters. They DID kill us once.” At Nate and Teddy’s wide-eyed look, Sam just shook his head. “Don’t ask. Anyway, uh, like I said, Dean’s been a bit... off. So, I’m sorry if he... if we scared you.”
Teddy rolled his eyes. “I’m not twelve anymore, Sam.”
“And I can look after myself,” Teddy added.
“I know,” Sam repeated.
Teddy nodded. “Okay then. I’m glad we understand each other. So...what’s wrong with Dean?”
Sam bit his lip, trying to decide what to say. ‘Don’t worry about it’ was his instinct, but he could hardly play it off like nothing when he was here apologizing for it.
“Is it really bad?” Teddy asked when Sam failed to answer.
“It’s... yeah, I think it is,” Sam sighed. “There was this demon, Abaddon – a knight of Hell – and Dean wanted to kill her, but the only person who can kill a knight of Hell is someone who had the Mark of Cain and the First Blade. So... so... Dean got the Mark and we found the Blade, and ever since then, he’s just been... getting more and more violent. When he has the Blade, it does something to him – I can’t really explain it.”
“So take it away from him,” Teddy shrugged.
Sam would have laughed if it were at all funny. “I can’t. He killed Abaddon just before we came here, and I thought that maybe I could convince him to not touch the thing again – but now he’s just gunning for Metatron – and he has a point. Metatron needs to be stopped – but I just don’t want it to be at the expense of my brother.”
“Metatron,” Teddy repeated. “Kevin told us about him – about how he kicked the angels out of heaven, and how he hurt Castiel.”
“He’s also the one that ordered Gadreel to kill Kevin,” Sam added. “We found that out a couple weeks ago.”
“It makes sense,” Nate said. “Metatron’s power comes from his knowledge of the tablets – Kevin was a direct threat to that, since he had the tablets and also has the ability to read them.”
“So, unless Metatron is defeated, Kevin will never be able to come out of hiding,” Teddy summed up.
“Is there a way to defeat Metatron without Dean having to do it?” Teddy asked. “Maybe if we gave Dean a different option, he’d-”
Sam shook his head and Teddy cut himself off.
“Metatron is safely hidden in Heaven – so, unless we could get to Heaven somehow without actually dying, there’s no way to reach him.”
“Then how does Dean plan to do it?” Teddy asked.
“I don’t know,” Sam shook his head. “My guess is to find Gadreel or another angel that’s working for Metatron and then torture them into luring Metatron to earth – or waiting until Metatron slips up and comes down to earth himself. I mean, short of finding a Reaper and paying them to take us to Heaven without killing us, I don’t know how else to do it.”
“Can you do that?” Nate asked. Sam started to regret not accepting the coffee that Nate had offered him. This was a fair bit to explain.
“Yeah,” Sam said. “But it’s not that easy – unless the Reaper’s gone rogue, only the dead or dying can see them. So, in order to talk to a reaper, you essentially have to kill yourself, or bring yourself to the edge of death.”
Teddy furrowed his brow. “Would the Draught of Living Death work?”
“The what?” Sam looked at Teddy, who seemed to be staring off to the side in thought. Nate looked like he was considering the question seriously.
“I’ve never tried it,” Nate said. “Do you think it makes you dead enough to talk to Reapers?”
“I did it once using a slight variation and an added charm,” Teddy replied. “Had a good walk around. I didn’t see any Reapers, but I only did it for five minutes and I wasn’t really dead.”
“When did you do that?!” Nate asked. Sam had never seen Nate angry before, but he thought maybe he was about to. “And where was I?”
“Hogwarts,” Teddy shrugged. “You missed out on not taking sixth year potions.”
“You took it in CLASS?!” Nate asked. “They aren’t allowed to-“
“I brewed it in class,” Teddy said, cringing a little bit. “We brewed the antidote too – then I took a vial of each. Then in seventh year, I had the idea for the variation, so I went down to the kitchens...”
“You relied on the house elves to give you the antidote,” Nate finished, burying his face in his hands.
“And then I told them not to tell anyone,” Teddy nodded. “Sorry.”
“Do I even want to know why?” Nate asked.
“Definitely not,” Teddy answered, shaking his head emphatically. “But I did score highest in my class in my Potions NEWT.”
Sam cleared his throat. “Uh, what does... what does this potion do?”
“It puts you in a death-like state,” Nate answered. “For all extents and purposes, you appear to be dead, but you don’t decay.”
“So, it’s like you’re in a coma?” Sam asked.
“Yes, I suppose, except that your body really appears to be dead,” Teddy replied. “When I tried it, I used a bit of a psychotropic variation that would make sure my consciousness stayed active. In addition, I cast a charm on myself that, I hoped, would tether my soul to my body, so that my soul would be called back when the antidote was delivered. I was able to walk around and see all the house-elves fretting... and I went out into the hall and the students couldn’t see me, but the Fat Friar could. He had the house-elves give me the antidote early and then he gave me a scolding.”
“Huh,” Sam said, his mind already working on the problem – it could be possible. It sounded exactly like the state they had been in when Sam and Dean had met that Reaper, Tessa.
Before Sam could ask another question, his phone rang. “Uh, sorry,” Sam muttered as he pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the caller ID. He wasn’t too surprised to find it was Dean. He had already been gone longer than he expected.
“Hey,” Sam greeted. “I’m with Teddy and Nate-”
“We good?” Dean asked.
“Uh, yeah, think so,” Sam replied.
“Good. Listen, Cas just called – apparently that thing we couldn’t help him with didn’t go so well,” Dean said. “All his little minion angels have abandoned him for the dark side.”
“Yeah, something about being framed for angelic suicide bombers? I don’t know – he was pretty upset about it,” Dean replied. “Hope Teddy’s attitude’s come around a bit, because if we could have done something-”
“Yeah,” Sam answered, because he didn’t know what to say. He doubted he and Dean could have done anything about suicide bombers, and even if they had tried – everything Dean went near these days tended to end more bloody than good. “Listen, tell Cas to meet us at the Bunker. I might have an idea for going after Metatron-”
“Yeah?” Dean asked, his voice perking up.
“Yeah, I gotta get some more info before we hit the road. I’ll call you in twenty with an ETA,” Sam said.
“I’ll check us out,” Dean said and ended the call.
Sam thumbed the phone off and slid it back into his pocket. “Is there somewhere I can buy that potion, or...?”
Teddy shook his head. “You have to make it.”
Sam cursed. Wizard potions required magic.
“I can make it for you in about two hours,” Teddy continued. “Of course, you’ll want the antidote too – that takes me a little bit longer. I just need the ingredients and a place to work.”
Sam stared at the teenager for a moment and considered his options. The kid was... a kid. Sam couldn’t help but still see the twelve year olds he had first met all those year ago. He didn’t want to drag them into anything – but, at the same time, the Bunker was the safest place in the country, and this was the first viable solution that Sam had heard.
“Uh, how do you feel about a road trip?” Sam asked.
“I’m on vacation,” Teddy shrugged. “Besides, this way Nate can have the weekend alone with Clay and not feel guilty about it.” Teddy turned a smile towards Nate, but Nate’s face was thunderous.
“If you think that I’m going to stay in New York, while you go off to...” Nate grit out. “You are not only out of your mind, you’ve forgotten what bloody House we were in.”
“It’ll be fine,” Teddy tried to reassure his friend. “I’m not going to take the potion WITH them, someone needs to deliver the antidote and-”
“I am coming with you,” Nate replied, glaring.
“...and you are coming with me,” Teddy sighed.
“Also, by the sounds of it, that tethering charm you used is the same one that I developed in seventh year Charms,” Nate continued. “You shouldn’t have performed it on a metaphysical level before I was done developing it – and certainly, you shouldn’t have done it without telling me.”
“What ingredients do you need?” Sam asked, half afraid that Nate would start being sensible and talk Teddy out of helping completely.
Harry had been looking at flats all morning with Linda Tran, and was now spending the afternoon trying to cut through the red-tape of getting access to Linda’s Muggle accounts in America in order to have them transferred to Gringotts. It didn’t help that the goblins still held a grudge about the whole break-in and dragon escape fiasco, even though it happened nineteen years ago. Of course, it didn’t help that in the years since, Hermione had been sure to make it illegal for the goblins to use and abuse dragons in such a manner. It wasn’t that he thought they were right to hold a grudge, just that he understood why they did.
Certainly, when Harry had thought about being an auror, he didn’t envision days of real-estate hunting and financial red-tape. If it were anyone else, Harry could fob it off on one of the junior auror’s or one of the administrative staff in the department – but Kevin’s, and therefore his mother’s, existence and position within the Wizarding World was a top level secret, which meant that these menial, frustrating and mind-numbing tasks, had to be Harry’s responsibility. Though, he thought, perhaps he could delegate at least the financial tasks to Maria – she didn’t have nearly the same sordid history with Gringotts.
Yes, Harry felt good about that decision. Maria was his second and therefore knew about the Trans, the Winchesters, and the Men of Letters. It made much more sense for her to handle all the bloody monotonous forms.
Harry wrote this out in a much more professionally worded memo and then set it and the paperwork into his outbox.
Now Harry needed something more interesting to do, as a sort of palette cleanser, before he even looked to see what other boring paperwork needed to be tended to. He took out his comm-mirror and twirled it around in his hand. He could check in with one of the teams, or he could see if Sam and Dean had dropped by to see Teddy yet.
The Winchesters had called him just the day before to say that they were passing through New York and wondered if he could remind them where Teddy and Nate were staying so that they might pop in to say hello. Harry had been surprised, because he thought that after he had asked them whether New York was monster-free, they’d just forget about it entirely. Those two always had much more interesting things to do than to visit someone.
Harry quickly glanced at the clock and did some time-zone calculations. Teddy and Nate were probably awake by then, and if they weren’t, it still wasn’t too unreasonable to wake them up.
Harry and Teddy had been fighting more and more over the past few months. Teddy always seemed to be short-tempered these days, or suffering from mood-swings of some sort. Still, there were days where Harry would stop by to speak to the Trans and Teddy would smile at him just like he always used to and seem back to his old self. When Nate had suggested the holiday, Harry had thought it would perhaps do Teddy some good. Teenagers were supposed to travel in their gap year. Harry thought perhaps Teddy would come home, realize how boring day-to-day life was in comparison, and then finally start thinking about careers to occupy his time.
“Teddy,” Harry said, as he flipped open the mirror. “Teddy?”
The image grew cloudy for a moment, and then Harry was met with the view of sky, and the bottom of Teddy’s chin, and then finally his face, as Teddy raised the mirror higher and changed the angle.
“Hi, Harry, in a bit of a rush, what is it?” Teddy answered.
“Oh, I was just checking in,” Harry said. “Sam and Dean called last night and said they were passing through New York, they were thinking of stopping by to see you – I was just wondering if you’ve seen them yet.”
Teddy laughed, but it was brief and sarcastic. “Yeah, figured it was you who told them our travel plans.”
“So, you did see them?” Harry asked. His stomach had sunk a little at Teddy’s tone of voice. He knew that he and Teddy were having a bit of a rough patch, but he had thought that Teddy was on good terms with everyone else.
“Yeah,” Teddy said. “We’re just in Grand Witch Village picking up some ingredients that Sam didn’t think he had – then he and Dean are picking us up and we’re going to... Kansas? Kansas, right?”
“Yes, Kansas,” Nate’s voice came off to the side. “Do you think we should pick up some books? I’m going to pick up some books. I don’t know enough about what we’re doing. I don’t know anything about what we’re doing....” Nate’s voice faded, as he walked away, or so Harry assumed.
“I know what we’re doing,” Teddy called after him. “It’s okay!”
“Teddy,” Harry called. “What are you doing? Why are you going to Kansas? What is happening?”
“Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” Teddy smiled into the mirror. “Isn’t that your specialty? I thought you’d be proud.”
Teddy was still angry at him, that much was obvious. Harry closed his eyes and remembered his sweet godson who used to adore him and smile so hugely every time Harry came to visit. Harry knew that kid was in there somewhere – somewhere underneath whatever ill-temper had consumed the eighteen year-old who was no longer smiling at him through the mirror when he opened his eyes again.
“Teddy, please,” Harry said, without even thinking of what he was asking for – information, a break from whatever argument they were having, his godson back – all Harry knew was that he was growing desperate for it.
Teddy sighed, and then started talking, “Dean and Sam are going after Metatron. They found out it was him who tried to kill Kevin – who wants Kevin dead. And we already know he... he’s bad news, right? And, so Dean and Sam are going to go after him, but... they need a couple of potions to do it. And I’m good at potions. I’ve brewed these ones before.”
“They told me they just wanted to say hello,” Harry shook his head. “They didn’t tell me they were planning to recruit you!”
“They didn’t lie,” Teddy replied, then paused. “Well, not about that,” he amended. “It was my idea. I volunteered when Sam explained everything this morning. It will help Kevin... and maybe Dean.”
“Why does Dean need help?”
Teddy heaved a sigh, as though Harry were torturing him, and Harry knew that this rare argument free streak of communication was about to end.
“I don’t know. Something biblical. Ask Sam if you want to bloody know everything. I’ve got twenty bloody minutes to buy some sopophorus beans or else this will be an entirely pointless conversation.”
“There’s no need to get-”
“Harry!” Teddy cut him off. “Please.”
“Okay,” Harry said quickly. “I’ll... I’ll ask Sam. Thank you for talking to me. I love you.”
“I love you too,” Teddy bit out. “Now I have to go. I didn’t have my tea this morning.”
Harry smiled, it felt thin. “Well, that would put anyone in a mood, wouldn’t it?”
“I’m not in a mood,” Teddy protested, moodily. “I’m just... it’s stressful. This is all very stressful.”
“I’ll talk to Sam,” Harry repeated. “I’ll talk to you again soon, okay?”
“Okay,” Teddy replied. “Bye then.”
“Bye,” Harry said, but he wasn’t even sure Teddy caught it before the image faded away, indicating that Teddy had snapped his mirror closed.
Harry took a deep breath. He’d call Sam and find out what was happening and make sure that Teddy really wasn’t in any danger.
He eyed the paperwork on his desk for a moment.
Right, Harry thought, he needed to travel to America and make sure Teddy was safe. That seemed like a reasonable plan. Obviously, the Winchesters needed as much help as they could get if they had started recruiting teenagers. They really should have just asked Harry to come help in the first place.