Harry was nothing if not considerate. Before he made his way into the laboratory to talk to Teddy, he waited until after he and Sam had discussed their plan at length, and until he knew that Teddy and Nate were in a stage of the potion brewing that didn’t require Teddy’s full attention.
Teddy and Nate both had fresh cups of tea and were standing over their individual cauldrons stirring only occasionally. As Harry walked in, Nate moved to start cutting the next ingredient.
“Crush that after you cut it,” Teddy directed. “It’ll brew a little faster without harming the quality of the potion.”
“Are you sure about that?” Harry asked. “The antidote is pretty important.”
Teddy leveled Harry with a flat look. “I graduated top of my class, Harry, and I didn’t even need a marked up text book to do it.”
“Okay, I deserved that,” Harry conceded.
Teddy paused in his stirring to take a long sip of tea, and then carefully placed it to the far side of the table again. “And you can’t give me a hard time about helping the Winchesters either,” Teddy replied. “Not after you just volunteered yourself for what is technically an actual suicide mission – albeit a non-permanent one.”
Harry held up his hands in surrender. “That’s fair.” He paused a moment, as Teddy finished stirring and then broached the topic that he did want to talk about – “May I ask why you were near a werewolf in New Jersey?”
“No,” Teddy replied.
“If you were going to ask anyway, you should have just done that,” Teddy gave Harry a flat look. “I was curious, that’s all. As soon as I realized the hunters were there, I left – obviously I didn’t leave soon enough, or change my appearance enough to lose them. But lesson learned and I won’t be doing it again.”
Harry nodded, but then pressed on. “Were you curious from an Auror point of view? Because the offer to shadow someone at my office for a day or two-”
“I don’t want to be an Auror, Harry,” Teddy cut Harry off. “Would you just give it a rest-”
“Your mother was an Auror and I think she-”
“Well bully for her!” Teddy yelled. “She got what she wanted and I’m happy for her, we aren’t bloody talking about what my mother did or didn’t want!”
Harry pressed his lips together and tried not to lose his temper. He didn’t know what had happened to his and Teddy’s relationship, but ever since Teddy had graduated, it seemed that any prolonged contact ended up with one of them, usually Teddy, storming off in a huff. Harry missed the little boy who used to love rambling to Harry about the school year, his friends, and anything that crossed his mind.
“Were you curious because of your father?” Harry tried again, keeping his voice soft and non-threatening. Teddy crossed his arms and glared at the wall of frosted glass that separated them from the war room. Then he shrugged.
“Okay,” Harry said. “If you... if you ever get curious again, just let me know, and I can... I can show you the memories of your dad as a wolf, if you like. It’d be safer than you chasing muggle werewolves while you’re on holiday.”
Harry breathed out slowly and felt himself relax. It hadn’t been a perfect conversation, but they seemed to have at least come to a good conclusion. Harry rubbed his temple, and thought of how he really should have asked Nate to brew him a cup of tea too, while he had the kettle on. He saw Teddy’s mug on the table and wondered if just a sip would help. He knew Teddy wouldn’t mind; Teddy had been stealing sips from Harry’s tea since he was old enough to hold the cup.
Harry grabbed Teddy’s mug and raised it to his lips in one quick motion - but just as he took a sip, both Teddy and Nate yelled. “NO!”
The tea was horrible! Harry had to remember to turn his head away from the brewing potion as he spat what was in his mouth out onto the floor.
“That’s Teddy’s,” Nate said, quietly, his eyes wide.
“Merlin’s socks!” Harry exclaimed, sputtering as he tried to get the taste of his tongue. “What in the bloody hell is in this?”
Both Teddy and Nate were just staring at him. Teddy reached across the small table and carefully lifted the mug out of Harry’s hand, pulling it in and cradling it to his chest.
“Is he going to be okay?” Nate asked.
“He spat it out,” Teddy answered. “Get him something to rinse his mouth out with.”
“Ugh,” Harry continued, as Nate ran over to him with his own mug of tea.
“It’s different, I promise,” Nate said, at Harry’s skeptical look.
Harry took a sip from Nate’s mug, and much to his relief, it indeed contained actual tea. It was only then that their words caught up with him.
“Wait,” Harry said, looking at Nate. “Why were you concerned about whether I’d be okay?”
“... It’s Teddy’s tea,” Nate answered... nervously.
“Yes, and I’ve seen Teddy drink it, and he’s perfectly fine – so why would I not be?” Harry asked.
Nate’s response was only to tell Harry, “You can keep my tea,” and then level a glare at Teddy before he retreated back to his workbench to monitor his cauldron.
“Teddy?” Harry asked. “What are you drinking?”
“It’s a special blend,” Teddy answered, taking a sip. Harry cringed just watching him. “It’s an acquired taste.”
“Why on earth would you want to acquire that taste?” Harry pressed.
“It’s worth it,” Teddy shrugged.
Harry stared at Teddy trying to comprehend what he was hearing.
“Is this... is this one of Neville’s blends?” Harry asked. Teddy shifted on his feet.
“We came up with it together,” he finally answered.
“You and Neville...” Harry started, trailing off as he wasn’t sure exactly what words he wanted to use.
Teddy took a large gulp of tea and Harry felt his anger build as he watched.
“Are you drugging yourself?!”
Teddy’s eyes went wide.
“Did Neville get you hooked on drugs?!” Harry continued. “I’ll kill him!”
“Harry, no, I mean – this isn’t- uh, Neville only wanted to-”
“You are a child,” Harry yelled. “What was he even doing- Oh god, this is because he drugged you that time and I didn’t even-“
“What?” Teddy asked, his brow furrowed.“When did...” then Teddy smiled. Smiled. “Oh! I didn’t even put that together, what a sneaky bastard.” Teddy must have caught sight of Harry’s apoplectic expression, because the smile immediately vanished from his face and he put down his mug of tea.
“Right,” Teddy said, turning to Nate. “Can you watch both cauldrons for a moment?”
Teddy came out from behind his workbench, grabbing his mug along the way. Harry followed him out, and into the kitchen. There, on the table by the kettle, were various tins of loose tea, all with colour coded labels and weird names: “Sunday afternoon”, “Quidditch match”, “NL’s sleepy tea.” “Teddy’s Mix #14” was sitting a little apart from the others. Harry marched over and picked it up.
“What is it? What are you taking?” Harry asked. “Should we even be letting you brew potions right now?”
“You’re better off with me drinking it while I brew,” Teddy answered. “Especially today.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Harry asked. “Is it some sort of... performance enhancer?”
“It’s aconite, Harry,” Teddy sighed.
“What?” Harry replied, because he didn’t know what that- But he did.
“It’s-“ Teddy began.
“Wolfsbane,” Harry and Teddy finished together.
Teddy nodded. “Just a bit – too much and it’d poison me, just like it would anyone.”
Harry stared at his godson, trying to make sense of what he was hearing. ‘Especially today’, Teddy had said... Teddy had been tracking a werewolf in the days leading up to the full moon, which was today. But Teddy was a metamorphmagus like his mother – Remus had been so relieved. And Teddy had never shown any signs, never... the only way it could have possibly happened is if he had been bitten. Had he been bitten? How was that possible? The werewolf population in the UK was strictly managed and there were no more Fenrir Greybacks – Harry had made sure of it.
“How?” Harry finally asked in a breath. “New Jersey?”
Teddy looked confused. “I’m not a werewolf, Harry.”
“Then why?” Harry asked. “Why are you drinking wolfsbane on the full moon?”
Teddy shuffled his feet. “Does it matter?”
“Yes,” Harry replied. “I need to know whether I need to kill one of my oldest friends for... making drugs with my godson.”
“It’s not drugs,” Teddy rolled his eyes.
Harry sat down at the table and turned the tin over in his hands. When had Teddy started keeping secrets from him?
“Harry,” Teddy said on a sigh. “I didn’t want to tell you because... “ Teddy shrugged. “It’s stupid.”
“What’s stupid?” Harry demanded. “I don’t understand what’s going on at all, Teddy. Not at all.”
“I... I didn’t want my dad to know,” Teddy admitted.
“But your dad is dead,” Harry said bluntly.
The corner of Teddy’s mouth turned up, but before either of them could say anything, Nate was poking his head in the door.
“Potions are both done, near as I can tell,” Nate announced.
“I’ll come have a look,” Teddy told Nate and started for the door.
“You still haven’t explained why-”
“I just didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” Teddy said. “Stupid. See? Unavoidable. Just don’t be mad at Neville; without him, it would be even worse and I probably never would have gotten my NEWTS.”
Teddy gave Harry a rueful smile and disappeared into the corridor. Nate frowned at his back, before leveling a glare at Harry and following his friend. Harry turned his own glare at the tea tins, as though they might be intimidated into revealing their secrets. Then he caught sight of a tin labeled “Nate’s morning-after pill” and decided that he didn’t want to know all their secrets, just Teddy’s.
By the time Harry entered the laboratory, Sam was also there looking at the potions.
“Everything okay?” Sam asked, glancing between Harry and Teddy.
“No,” Harry said, at the same time that Teddy said, “Yes.”
“Oookay, then,” Sam raised his eyebrows. “Uh, do you still want to come with me, or do you want to stay and-”
“It can wait,” Harry replied, seeing Teddy tense up at the question.
“Yippy,” Teddy deadpanned.
Sam lay down on one of the two beds he’d prepared. He’s adjusted the beds so they were flat with a table between them to hold the potions, and a couple of chairs so that Teddy and Nate could keep an eye on their bodies in comfort.
Harry lay down on the other bed, still looking a little tense from whatever argument he’d had with Teddy. Sam wondered what it was about fathers and sons that led them to have such hard relationships sometimes. He had always thought Harry had it figured out with his kids, but apparently not.
“I won’t have any way to tell if you’re successful or not,” Teddy said. “So, if your Reaper doesn’t want to cooperate, then I hope they have a nice way of telling me to administer the antidote.”
“Cas will come back,” Sam said. “If we fail, then it’s all up to him anyway. This was the last idea that I had.”
“Well, it’s a plan, such that it is,” Teddy nodded. “You’ll still be tied to your body, so if anything happens-”
“Yeah, be careful, got it,” Sam interrupted. Cas and Gadreel had to have reached the gate by now, and Sam still had to convince a Reaper to grant him a favour.
“So much for the safety procedure speech before the flight,” Teddy muttered, and stepped back so that Nate could step forward.
Nate pressed his wand tip to Sam’s chest, a look of concentration on his face. “Anima,” Nate said. “Retinacula domum.”
Nate moved away to perform the spell on Harry.
“I don’t feel any different,” Sam said.
“Drink this then,” Teddy said, and handed Sam a small vial of the potion. “And I promise to keep you both alive on this end.”
Sam uncorked the vial at the same time as Harry uncorked his and drank it like a shot. It was, by far, the worst thing he had ever had in his mouth – he went to say so, only his head chose that moment to thunk heavily onto the thin pillow, which really did nothing to cushion the blow.
“Ow,” Sam said, sitting up in order to glare at hard bed. Why were surgical gurneys so damn hard?
Only, Sam wasn’t staring at a pillow, he was staring at himself – unconscious.
“I think it worked,” Harry said. Sam looked over to find Harry half sitting in his own body.
Sam hopped off the gurney and reached out to see if his hand would pass through Harry’s arm. It didn’t. It smacked right into it.
“Oy, what was that for?”
“Uh, sorry,” Sam said. “Last time we did this we could put our hands in each other.”
Harry looked horrified. “I don’t want to know, Sam!”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘last time’? You’ve taken the Draught of Living Death before?” Harry asked.
“No, it was... uh, astral projection. We had this psychic we knew that could do it.”
“Oh, interesting,” Harry nodded.
“Are they alive?” Nate asked, looking at Sam’s body. “That looked like it hurt, but he didn’t even flinch.”
Sam reached out to put his hand on Teddy’s arm to see if they could feel him, but his hand went right through like Teddy weren’t there, and Teddy didn’t make seem to be able to feel him – he was waving his wand and muttering strange words.
“Oh,” Harry said.
Above Sam and Harry’s bodies, Sam could see letters appear in ethereal blue. Sam had only ever seen Till perform that spell before, and it was interesting to see that the information made just a little more sense when it was in English. Only, it sort of looked like he was dead.
“He’s alive,” Teddy announced.
“I didn’t know he could do that spell before today,” Harry said, frowning at Teddy. “I don’t even know how to do that spell.”
“Till could probably teach you,” Sam shrugged. “Come on, let’s go to the other room to summon Tessa.”
“Can Reapers get through the wards?” Harry asked, following Sam out of the room.
“They’re Reapers,” Sam said. “You can slow them down, but you can’t stop them. And it takes a lot to slow them down.”
They reached the war room, where Sam took a deep breath and said, “Evoco Messori qui tangebant fratrem meum.”
“I think we got the boring end of this plan,” Sam could hear Nate say, faintly. He turned to look towards the corridor – did sound really travel that well in the Bunker? He couldn’t hear Teddy’s response though, but then Nate said, “True,” and “Oh, sorry, I didn’t know that...” before his voice faded away.
“No,” came a voice right in front of him, and Sam wiped his head back. Tessa was standing with her arms crossed, looking unimpressed. “If you want me to call the boss, the answer is no – you and your brother used up the last of your favours, when he didn’t kill you for that binding incident.”
“Believe me, I don’t want to bother the boss,” Sam replied.
“Then why are you on my plane,” Tessa asked.
Harry was looking at a Reaper. She wasn’t at all what he had expected. She wore black, but it was hardly a robe, and her jeans were blue... she was wearing blue jeans. Harry was looking at a Reaper in blue jeans. Wizards didn’t even wear blue jeans – at least, not at the office.
She looked a bit like Dean, Harry thought – if Dean were a female with black hair. It was quite possible that Harry’s brain wasn’t working quite right, what with his heart being in throat even though it was the next room over – where, incidentally, his brain was – and Sam was just casually talking to a Reaper like they were old friends.
“We need you to take us to heaven,” Sam stated.
The Reaper raised an eyebrow. “I only ferry the dead.”
“I know Reapers can transport the living too,” Sam stated. “Last year a rogue Reaper brought me to-”
“The keyword is rogue,” the reaper interrupted. “If this rogue was so helpful, why don’t you ask them your favour? Why perform a mockery of death, in order to speak to me?”
“He’s dead,” Sam replied.
The Reaper smiled.
“And you knew that,” Sam guessed.
“And it is why I cannot help you,” the Reaper replied. “I’m sorry, Sam.”
“Tessa...” Sam tried.
Harry had never considered that Reapers might have names. When Sam had said that he knew how to summon a Reaper, Harry hadn’t realized that Sam meant a specific reaper.
“Sam,” Tessa countered. “If I am caught going against my orders, than I am declared rogue and do you know what happens to rogue reapers?”
“I’m guessing that they don’t end up driving taxi’s in Kansas City,” Sam deadpanned.
“They lose the protection of Death,” Tessa replied. “And they become... corporeal.” The amount of disdain that the reaper poured into the last word told Harry how she felt about the possibility.
“And corporeal things can be killed,” Sam finished.
“By certain weapons, yes,” Tessa confirmed. “I’ve been a Reaper too long to lay down my life for a Winchester.”
“But that’s only if you’re caught,” Harry interjected, and then almost wished he hadn’t as the Reaper’s eyes swung over to him.
“Hello, Harry,” Tessa smiled. “It’s rare to meet someone who was given a choice. Unfortunate that you seem to regret it.”
“What? No!” Harry replied.
“He’s right, Tessa,” Sam pressed. “It’s just this one favour, and the boss doesn’t need to know-”
Tessa laughed. “Your grasp of theology astounds me.”
“Then, tell him, maybe he’ll be on our side,” Harry tried in one desperate last attempt.
Both Tessa and Sam turned to stare at Harry.
“Uh, I don’t think...” Sam said nervously.
“Are you really so eager to meet him again?” Tessa asked, at the same time.
“Of course not!” Harry said. “But someone has to stop Metatron.”
“Well, we do agree there,” Tessa nodded. “Ever since he attempted to kill the prophet, the gates of Heaven have been closed. The veil is thick with lost souls.”
“What?” Sam asked.
“Did you not know?” Tessa asked. “The souls can still flow to hell, but those destined for Heaven must wait at the gates,” Tessa closed her eyes and sighed, visibly pained. “They grow confused, scared... they scream. It is anathema to me.”
“He wanted to prevent the next prophet from awakening,” Sam concluded with a sigh, just as Harry realized the implications of what Tessa was saying. “If Kevin’s soul never reaches Heaven, then the switch won’t flip on the next one.”
“And that means that you couldn’t bring us to Heaven even if you wanted to,” Harry added. “Why didn’t you just say so.”
Tessa turned to him. “Because that’s not true. I could still take you to Heaven.”
“I don’t understand – if Heaven is closed to souls...”
Tessa waved her hand at their torsos dismissively. “This is not death.”
“So, you can take us, you just won’t,” Sam concluded. “Tessa – your boss – he’s helped us before... when it’s been about... keeping the natural order.”
“And do you keep it?” Tessa replied. “I’d argue you consistently fail in that regard.”
“But we try,” Sam replied. “And that’s all we’re doing here – we’re trying to destroy Metatron so that everything he’s done... the angels can fix it. They’ll be able to return to Heaven. The souls will be able to return to heaven too...”
Harry held his breath as Tessa glared at them, her brow still furrowed in annoyance. He may not know her as well as Sam, but Harry could recognize that if she truly couldn’t be persuaded, she would have left already. Part of her wanted to help.
“I can’t take you to your Heaven,” Tessa finally said, and Harry felt his hope deflate, and Sam seemed to do the same beside him. “You’ll be noticed.” She added, and immediately Sam perked up, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Don’t look at me like that, you’re worse than your brother.” Tessa said.
“What do you suggest we do?”
“I can take you to Harry’s waiting room,” Tessa replied. “Harry knows it well. He’ll be able to find the proper exit.”
“I- Wait. Do you mean-” Harry managed to stutter, but before he could form his question, Tessa had opened her arms and embraced them both, bathing them in a bright pure light. Harry closed his eyes reflexively.
When Harry opened his eyes again, he was in King’s Cross Station.