“Kevin is… alive?” Gadreel said slowly. Harry bit his lip, while Nate continued to look horrified. “The woman… Hermione… she lied to me?”
“Yes,” Harry confirmed. Across the table, Teddy patted Nate consolingly on the shoulder.
“Then I owe her my thanks,” Gadreel said, and Harry breathed out slowly in relief, as his hopes were confirmed.
“You musn’t tell anyone,” Harry said. “We… even after you expressed regret, I… we didn’t tell you because, if there is still even a remote threat to Kevin from Heaven-”
“You have my word that I will tell no one,” Gadreel said solemnly. “Even with Metatron defeated, there are those who have seen the power of the angel tablet, and may seek to use it for themselves. It is better that the tablet remains locked away, in pieces, and the prophet hidden. Angels are meant to protect the prophets. To harm Kevin - it went against every fiber of my being. I was a fool to believe my instincts incorrect and my path righteous.”
“Thank you,” Harry replied.
“Please, tell Kevin that I am sorry for what harm I caused him,” Gadreel continued. “And give Hermione my thanks for protecting the prophet when I failed to do so.”
“We will,” Harry promised.
Nate smiled, though he still looked mortified that he had let a secret slip.
“What about you, Gadreel?” Harry asked. “What will you do now?”
“Hannah has offered me a chance to redeem myself,” Gadreel replied. “I am to help restore Heaven and undo the damage that Metatron has caused. My first task was to restore your soul to your body. Once Castiel dismisses me, I will return to heaven.”
“Once Castiel dismisses you?” Teddy repeated.
Gadreel nodded. “A condition of my… parole, if you will. I am to be the lowest ranked Seraph and will not be allowed outside of Heaven without an approved guardian.”
Harry nodded, he wasn’t sure what to say. After seeing Gadreel’s extreme fear of returning to prison, Harry found himself glad that the angels had found a compromise in his punishment.
“Hannah has ordered all angels to return to Heaven,” Gadreel continued. “We have harmed too many humans since the fall and Hannah has decided that we must be reminded of the purpose and mission that God gave us before His departure.”
Harry nodded, before he could formulate a reply, they heard steps down the hallway as Castiel and Sam arrived. Nate leapt out of his seat and began pouring tea. Harry stood as well, turning towards the door in anticipation.
Sam looked a wreck. His clothes were covered in blood and sweat, he smelled vaguely of whiskey, and it was obviously that he hadn't slept in far too long. The full reality of the evening crashed into Harry at the sight of him.
Dean was dead.
“Harry, thank God,” Sam greeted and all but fell into Harry as he hugged him.
“Sam, I- Dean- I’m so sorry…” Harry said, fumbling for words as he felt the grief finally hit him.
Nate pulled Sam over to the table and forced him to sit down. He poured Sam’s tea and Gadreel brought over the plate of sandwiches that he had prepared. Sam seemed to be in a daze.
“Is there anything else you require of me, brother?” Gadreel asked Castiel.
“No, you may return to Heaven, give news to Hannah,” Castiel instructed. “And Gadreel, if Heaven should hear of where Dean has been taken…”
“I will tell Hannah that you wish to be informed at once,” Gadreel finished. Then he looked at Harry, Teddy, and Nate, “I would like to thank you for your forgiveness and trust.”
“You’re welcome,” Teddy replied.
Gadreel turned to Sam and his expression turned anguished. “Sam, I am so sorry. If I could-”
“Yeah,” Sam cut him off.
Gadreel nodded. “Please know that if I am ever able to make reparations in any way-”
“Yeah, I know,” Sam replied. “I’ll, uh, I’ll keep it in mind. And Cas tells me you were the one who saved Harry, so… thank you… for that.”
“Yes, thank you Gadreel,” Harry added.
“It was the least I could do,” Gadreel replied.
“I’ll walk you out,” Castiel offered.
Gadreel bid a final farewell as Castiel swept him from the room and then it was just Harry, Sam, and the boys left. Nate hovered behind where both Teddy and Sam sat at the table.
“Eat, Sam,” Nate ordered, placing his hand gently on Sam’s shoulder.
“Right, thanks,” Sam muttered and started eating sandwiches.
Nate didn’t remove his hand though, and as Harry raised his gaze to see why, he realized that Nate was muttering a spell. Harry darted his eyes down to Sam and realized that his clothes were no longer covered in blood.
Teddy smacked Nate’s arm and rolled his eyes. Nate shrugged and lifted his hands, and Harry had to bite back a smile as he saw Nate carefully tuck his wand up his sleeve.
“I’ll start on the washing up,” Nate declared, and moved across the room to the sink. There was already a stack of dishes, no doubt left over from Sam and Dean’s last few meals.
Harry turned his attention back to Sam and Teddy, who both sat across the table from him.
Sam took a sip of his tea and his eyebrows furrowed for a moment, then they rose in surprise.
“Did you make this?” Sam asked Teddy, after taking another sip.
“Yes, what do you think?”
“‘s good,” Sam nodded.
“How’s your head?” Teddy asked.
“Better,” Sam replied. “It makes me feel a little like… “
“Like you’ve slept?” Teddy prodded.
“Yeah, but not the way caffeine does,” Sam said. “More like… sobriety?”
Teddy nodded, as though that’s exactly what he had expected.
“I mean, I sobered up by the time I ran into town, but…” Sam trailed off.
“But a demon still stole the two things that mean most to you,” Teddy said softly. “And everything was spinning out of control.”
“Yeah,” Sam swallowed.
Teddy patted Sam on the arm. “It’s a version of my recovery tea. Now, eat your sandwiches before Nate comes over and starts mother-henning.”
Over at the sink, Nate was humming while he washed the dishes, seemingly completely oblivious to any conversation in the room.
Harry watched as Sam and Teddy both sipped at their tea in silence. They made quite the pair, both had eyes rimmed red from crying, disheveled hair, and looked wan. Although Sam’s clothes were clean, Harry could still see the blood staining his fingernails, where they were wrapped around the white tea cup. Harry was momentarily surprised to see that Teddy’s fingernails were the same - stained in blood. Harry’s blood. Harry slipped his left hand under the bottom of his shirt and ran his fingers over where the wound had been. The skin there felt new. He wondered if there was a scar.
“Are you okay?” Teddy asked, giving Harry a frightened look.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Harry replied. He quickly removed his hand and smiled at Teddy before taking another sip of tea.
“Are you sure?” Teddy questioned.
“Quite sure,” Harry reassured him yet again. Teddy seemed to accept the answer only grudgingly.
Harry turned his attention back towards Sam.
“Sam, can you tell me what happened?” he asked.
“Metatron killed Dean,” Sam replied. “I took him back here….” As Sam related the story of summoning Crowley and the disappearance of Dean’s body, Harry couldn’t help but watch Teddy’s reactions.
Teddy’s whole appearance changed with his emotions - something that only happened when he was either physically or emotionally exhausted. Harry listened to Sam, but at the same time, he was completely overwhelmed with watching his godson - realizing that he knew what every single change in Teddy’s appearance meant, what colour streak in his hair reflected his mood, the person foremost on his mind, his thoughts on what should happen next. Teddy was heartbroken for Sam, worried about both Winchesters, he wanted Sam to have courage and to find his brother’s body.
Yet, as much as Harry knew Teddy, he had seen Teddy in new situations during the trip, looking like he never had before. He had seen both an amazing side of Teddy - competent and assured in his spell work, potion making, and tea mixing - and a side that really scared Harry - the side that had shook apart in Harry’s arms with a panic attack, the side that had hidden pain from Harry for nearly two years at least. Harry couldn’t help but feel like he had let a giant parenting ball drop - that he had failed somehow.
Harry decided that his first mistake was not recognizing himself as Teddy’s father - foolishly thinking that there was someone more qualified and knowledgeable, just out of reach behind the veil. Maybe there was, but they were behind the veil and would remain there, Harry was not - Harry was the only father that Teddy had ever known and Harry couldn’t help but feel like he had never treated that fact with the respect that it deserved.
“... that’s when Cas called. And uh, yeah, I guess you were back for that.” Sam concluded, just as Cas walked back into the room.
“Gadreel has returned to Heaven,” he announced.
Nate shut off the taps and turned his attention back to the room.
“How about you?” Teddy asked. “Are you staying to help Sam?”
Castiel paused and looked concerned for a moment, before answering. “Yes, I… that is, I had planned to. Sam?”
“Yeah, Cas, that would be great.” Sam gave Castiel tired but grateful look.
Sam turned to glance at Harry. It wasn’t an question, really, it was just a glance - because Sam had been recounting the events of the evening to Harry and Harry had yet to really respond to them. At the same time, though, it felt like a question.
“I’m… not,” Harry said slowly. “Sam… I… I have to go home.”
Sam blinked at him for a moment and then nodded. He gave Harry a bittersweet smile. Teddy was looking at Harry with wide eyes, Harry wasn’t sure what Teddy had been expecting, but as soon as the words left Harry’s mouth, he knew they had been the right ones. He glanced between Sam and Teddy and knew that if he had to make a choice, his priority would always be Teddy, and right now, that’s exactly what he had to do. Teddy needed to go home. Harry needed to repair his relationship with Teddy - and he couldn’t very well do that if he were half a world away, nearly getting himself killed for the Winchesters… he wouldn’t have any relationship at all with Teddy if he were dead.
“I’m sorry, Sam,” Harry continued. “If you need… research, information, contacts in the Wizarding World, anything - uh, anything I can provide, please don’t hesitate to ask. But right now, I have to… I have to…” Harry wanted to say ‘I have to keep my own family together’, but that seemed exceptionally cruel.
“Hey, hey, don’t worry about it,” Sam said. “You have your family to think about. I get it, Harry - believe me, I get it more than anyone.”
Harry nodded. “Thanks, Sam.”
“If you need potions-” Teddy offered.
“I’ll let Harry know,” Sam assured him.
“I’m sorry, Sam,” Teddy said. “I… I thought we could save him.”
“Hey, no, it worked - it just wasn’t enough,” Sam replied. He pulled Teddy into a sideways hug. “Thank you for trying. I appreciate it.”
Harry watched as Teddy’s hair turned the same shade as Sam’s and he knew he had made the right decision.
Teddy and Nate stored the left over potion ingredients and put away the cauldrons, so that Sam didn’t have to worry about tidying up. Teddy carefully bottled and corked the leftover potions and wrote their approximate expiration dates in black sharpie on the labels. They worked mostly in silence. Dean’s absence from the world felt heavy in the room. Something they knew they could both feel, were both grieving over, yet could not bring themselves to speak about - not yet, anyway. Teddy knew that eventually, once he and Nate were home, they’d have a sleepover and whisper their thoughts to each other in the safety of a darkened bedroom; but Teddy also knew that night was days, if not weeks, away.
When they were finished, they made their way back to the war room, where Sam, Cas, and Harry had been discussing what Sam should do next. Nate started fidgeting as soon as they got there. Teddy shook his head, already knowing what the problem was.
“Sam has Cas to look after him, Nate,” Teddy said softly, so that the adults in the room couldn’t hear him over their own conversation.
“Cas doesn’t look so good either,” Nate argued.
“And Cas has Sam to look after him,” Teddy said.
Teddy could see that Harry had noted their presence, possibly even caught Teddy’s words. Sam and Castiel’s conversation seemed to have come to an end as well.
“Ready to go?” Harry asked.
“Thanks again for all your help,” Sam smiled. “Are you heading back to New York to finish your vacation?”
“Er, I’m not,” Teddy said, turning towards Nate as he said it. “I’m going to go back to the UK and… and stay at the Potters’ for a bit.”
Teddy hadn’t discussed this with Harry, but he knew that the invitation was there, unspoken, and Teddy felt like that’s what he needed - a chance to repair things between them, now that Harry knew… everything.
“Oh,” Nate said. “I… right… certainly, if that’s what you’d like. It’s just that… I told-”
“Nate, you don’t have to come with me,” Teddy said. “You should go back to New York.”
“I know you like to look after people, and I love you for it,” Teddy interrupted. “You know I do. But… If I need someone, well… I’ve got Harry now too. You deserve some time off.”
“Your friendship isn’t a burden,” Nate argued.
“I know,” Teddy said, placing his hands on Nate’s shoulders and looking him dead in the eye. “But, pretend for a moment that you could do anything you wanted right now, what would you do?”
Nate blinked at Teddy for a moment and then smiled. “I’d go to New York and fuck Clay.”
Teddy smiled. “Then go to New York, Nate, and fuck Clay. Fuck him well.”
“I only ever fuck well,” Nate replied with a wink.
“You’re the best fucker I know,” Teddy nodded seriously.
Sam coughed in way that sounded like he was trying to not to laugh. Teddy felt a rush of victory, knowing that in this dark time, they’d managed to bring a little lightheartedness.
“Boys, please,” Harry said, his hand covering his face in embarrassment.
Nate blushed, but he was smiling too, and Teddy knew that he was equally pleased with Sam’s reaction.
Teddy turned back to Sam. “Okay, time for hugs, before we leave.”
“You got it,” Sam replied.
They all took turns hugging - Teddy even hugged Castiel, which was a funny experience, given that Castiel seemed to hug rather stiffly as though there were some procedure to it that he was nervous about getting wrong.
“Call as soon as you find something- anything,” Harry ordered.
“Yeah, I know, just because you aren’t in the trenches, doesn’t mean you’re out of the fight,” Sam nodded. “I’ll let you know, I promise.”
“Take care of each other,” Teddy said. He had promised Nate they would, after all.
“You too,” Sam said, with a none too subtle glance between Teddy and Harry.
“Nate, I hope you enjoy… New York,” Sam said, biting back a smile.
“Thanks,” Nate said with a wink.
They made their way up the metal stairs and paused at the top, turning to wave one last time at the two figures below.
Teddy could feel the absence in the Bunker like a cold vice around his heart and, in truth, he was torn about leaving. But then Harry gently wrapped his hand around Teddy’s arm, and pulled him towards the door before letting go again - and all Teddy could think of was the warmth of Harry’s hand. He had almost lost Harry, not even just due to a spell and Harry’s constant desire to throw himself into danger, but before that, long before that, on that day at Hogwarts when he had decided to hide part of himself from Harry, and accidentally started pulling away completely. If Harry had died when they’re relationship was at it’s worst…
“Teddy?” Harry asked gently, as they walked through the dark corridor towards the outside world. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” Teddy answered, though his voice caught a little in his throat. “I just… it’s hard to leave.”
“I know,” Harry replied. “But… you can’t help anyone unless you look after yourself first.”
“Is that what you’re doing too? If you’re leaving on my account-”
“No,” Harry interrupted. He reached back and squeezed Teddy’s arm again. “I’ve been thinking of myself a bit too much lately. Don’t tell your Uncle Ron, but I think he’s been right in every argument we’ve had over the past year.”
Nate opened the heavy door to the open air and they walked out into a surprising amount of sunshine. It was weird, Teddy thought, for the world to look sunny when everything still felt out of balance and wrong in the building just behind them.
“It might be time for me to realize that I’m not seventeen anymore,” Harry continued. “I’ve got… I’ve got things that I am frankly unwilling to lose for the sake of a little excitement.”
Teddy stopped and stared at Harry. “You came here because you were bored?!”
“Oh my God,” Teddy muttered. “That’s it, you’ve just nominated yourself as my new test subject, if you need excitement that badly.”
“Thank goodness,” Nate declared, where he was walking ahead of them down the road. “The last experimental tea gave me the jitters for a week.”
“Uh, Teddy,” Harry said, tentatively. “Not to… stir up arguments, but… have you ever considered the Healing arts?”
Teddy rolled his eyes. Of course, it was too much to ask for Harry to drop the subject of careers. If he wasn’t still desperate to cling as hard as he could to Harry for fear of losing him, Teddy might just consider returning to New York with Nate instead of going home.
“I’d be a crap Healer, Harry,” Teddy replied. “For one week per month, I basically collapse under stress unless heavily medicated.”
“I’m not talking about being a Healer,” Harry said. Teddy raised and eyebrow. “I’m talking about your teas. I’m talking about research… proper research, with proper test subjects. You’re brilliant, Teddy, what I’ve seen you do in the last couple of days alone… I think you could help a lot of people.”
“Oh, helping people, my only weakness,” Teddy said, perhaps a tad sarcastically. “You’re pulling out all the stops today.”
Harry sighed. “Right, forget I mentioned it… Teddy, you know I’m proud of you even if you never work a day in your life. I just thought… maybe you’d like access to more resources.”
Nate threw Teddy a quick glare, too fast for Harry to see it, especially since Harry was looking at the ground in obvious defeat.
Teddy closed his eyes for a few steps and took a moment to push his defenses down a little. He thought of his lab in the attic, how it was a little cramped and didn’t really have everything he needed. He thought about how he’d exhausted the supply of Healing textbooks at Florish and Botts, and how he really needed someone to help with the more advanced chapters.
“Maybe,” Teddy conceded.
Harry’s head shot up and he smiled widely.
“Maybe,” Teddy repeated.
“Understood,” Harry said, visibly tamping down his smile. “I’m more than happy with a maybe.”
Teddy cast around for a subject change, before Harry started making plans - and found one immediately.
“Where are we even walking to?” Teddy asked, gesturing to the empty road and vast amount of American mid-west that stretched to the horizon. “New York? Britain?”
“At least you’re wearing comfortable shoes this time,” Nate declared.
Sam watched as Harry pulled Teddy into the dark corridor that let out of the building. He waved one last time as they faded from sight. He understood. He did. If Sam had a kid… well, he’d put him first, above anyone else’s problems. Hell, Sam had a brother, and Sam put him over everyone’s problems.
It was the right call. Sam thought of Kevin and how Sam could simultaneously miss him, but also be thankfully that he had escaped when he did - before the Mark of Cain, before… whatever Sam had to do next to find his brother. Yes, it would be nice to have help, but, above everything, Sam wanted his friends to be safe - so, until he had no other choice, he was more than happy to keep them safe, to let them go.
But whoever had written that note in Dean’s room had gotten one thing very wrong.
Sam would never let Dean go, not while Sam was still breathing.
He turned towards Castiel, who stood at his side. He saw the same resolve reflected back at him.
“Come on. We’ve got work to do.”